How accurate is the movie Cowspiracy?

  • It is superficially accurate until a lot more research and background uncovers the truth of just how full of bull-schitzen the film Cowspiracy really is. Then it’s undoubtedly one of the most inaccurate films I’ve ever had to watch.

    The whole premise about the film was very single-minded and quite shallow with only one simple message heavily implied at the end: Go vegan. It only appealed to the abolitionist veganism goal to convert every single human being on the planet to go completely meat- and animal-product free, and in turn get rid of all the domesticated animals. There were no compromises offered, no alternate solutions, nothing. Just, go vegan or face the consequences of being responsible for killing the Earth. I have been challenged on many fronts on how it’s “not a propaganda piece” but if a film only has one ultimate “solution” to the world-wide problem of feeding the world and climate change being a “plant-based diet” or veganism, then yes, it is a propaganda piece and not an open-ended documentary that allows further discussion once the film is done. Those are true documentaries. Cowspiracy is a mocking of those kind of documentaries.

    The remarkable superficiality of this mock-drama-doc is because of the quantity of facts, memes and graphics thrown out at the audience, not because of the quality. As long as there were a whole lot of facts against all aspects of livestock raising was thrown out there, regardless how out of date or erroneous they were, the producers knew that the inundation of such facts was going to overwhelm the audience so much to spring them into some kind of action. For me though, that action was to dig as deep as I could and pause the movie as often as possible to write notes. The more notes I wrote, and the more I paused, the more I could see just how much of a biased joke it was.

    The narrator/protagonist Kip Anderson’s sudden “realization” that he couldn’t affect climate change after doing all the things he was supposed to–like turning off the lights when not in the room, watching water consumption, walking or riding a bike instead of driving, etc.–because animal agriculture was causing all the problem was amusing. He was just one person out of 7 billion people trying to make a difference, he himself couldn’t affect climate change just by doing all those “greener living” things, though he would be a small part of the solution. Even more head-shaking was his “eureka” moment with just one email from a friend about meat-eating, although legit, but the way that he and his producers went about to find out about it all was just simply wrong.

    Since the film was a cunningly deliberate means to pit the omnivorous “meat-eaters” against the hard-core vegans, it only created the facade that ONLY those who NEVER eat meat are “true environmentalists” and maligned anyone else who ate meat, no matter if it came from the ethical, far more sustainably-raised operations, as the environmental destroyers and greedy gluttons of the Earth. That, in itself, was a huge problem I had (and still have) a big beef with. Literally.

    It was really hard to ignore the talking heads were, not so coincidentally, vegan. Although diet really shouldn’t have anything to do with what this film is trying to show, I ask the question, How is it not possible to notice that ALL of the expert were actually vegan themselves? Not one person of Kip’s “expert panel” were NOT vegan, and yet Keegan Kuhn responded, in his response to the critic’s response to the film, “The simple fact that their dietary choices would be used against their credibility is laughable. I would not consider them credible if they didn’t respond to their research and experiences and make the necessary changes for living more sustainably.(more here: Response to Criticism of Cowspiracy Facts) Not that I have a problem with the diet itself, but it’s really hard to shrug off how their diet choices suddenly made them better and more “credible” experts than some of the far more credible individuals out there that actually have a background in agriculture AND the environment.

    You see, the primary “expert” and “statistical advisor” (referred to as an “environmental researcher” in the film) that Anderson always was turning to is a vegan dentist by the name of Richard Oppenlander. (This whole “documentary” is actually based on his book “Comfortably Unaware“, as are most of the “facts” and statistics used.) Other well-known vegan “environmental experts” included “Dr.” William Tuttle, “Mad Cowboy” Howard Lyman, David Simon, and several others. Background checks on all revealed that literally none had any legitimate background nor experiences in agriculture and the environment. The only exception was Lyman, but I remain really skeptical of his stances because he literally went from one extreme from another: He went from industrial confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to abolitionist vegan, and didn’t even bother considering dabbling in nor looking at what was in between. Their “research” didn’t even cut it when they were mostly uttering the same rhetoric that I’ve heard uttered from other abolitionist activists in my lively discussions with them.

    What bothered me was how the non-vegans, including those from the environmental groups, were made out to be fearful of saying anything because the agricultural industry had some strong-hold on them, or keeping back “secrets” that really didn’t even exist. Not only that but most were made to look more clueless than their “expert” counterparts.

    The FAO and World Watch GHG Numbers

    The inaccuracies begin (and certainly don’t end) with the erroneous data pulled from Livestock’s Long Shadow (FAO, 2006). A graphic showed that animal agriculture was responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which was more than transportation, which was at 13 percent. Yet there was absolutely no acknowledgement that one of the authors from that book–Pierre Gerber–openly agreed that that their calculations were wrong and off-base after Associate Professor and Director of Agricultural Air Quality Dr. Frank Mitloehner pointed out their mistake (proof here: UN admits flaw in report on meat and climate change). The primary error made was that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported only tail-pipe emissions from the transportation sector directly from the IPCC, not life cycle emissions of that same sector. The FAO created life-cycle analysis of all livestock animals in their report, so such a comparison was literally, as Stephen Zwick pointed out, an apple-to-basketball comparison. Simon Fairlie wrote Are claims that meat is a climate crime a load of hot air?” on The Guardian which is worth checking out.

    Not only that but most people don’t realize that, unlike how the media pinned it almost 10 years ago now, the FAO/UN is not anti-beef/cattle nor anti-animal agriculture. Most of the authors were pro-CAFO and against sustainable, pasture-raised production practices, including managed pasturing and holistic management.

    The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) has since corrected their calculations and released them in 2013 to 14.5%, which is actually less than the transportation sector (FAO Key facts and findings). I didn’t see any sort of acknowledgement to to that change on the film, mostly because the number just didn’t provide enough shock-value as the original percentage did.

    The other GHG-related numbers that Cowspiracy used came from one particular non-peer-reviewed “scientific article” by from the World Watch Institute authored by Goodland and Anhang (2009). This particular non-peer-reviewed report has been widely rejected by the real scientific community for the dubious methods and numbers that were calculated and used to bolster their outrageous conclusion that 51% of GHGs were created by livestock. Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: The importance of getting the numbers right as a rebuttal report compiled by several environmental scientists that showed how G&A arrived at their numbers. For example, only half of the carbon cycle was used (the other half of carbon mitigation was completely ignored), and some scenarios were made up to maximize emission values. Not surprisingly, Cowspiracy didn’t even bother mentioning how G&A really came up with their outrageous number. All it showed was that it came from calculating the amount of carbon emitted from respiration, waste production, and clear-cutting of forests for grazing (Amazonian).

    Additionally, cattle grazing is not a carbon source like factory or vehicle emissions are. Cattle grazing is actually just a natural part of the carbon cycle where cattle are the main management tool for grasslands and for plants in grasslands to sequester carbon from the atmosphere–including the carbon and methane from their belches and flatulence–and put it back into the soil.

    Methane Emissions

    Methane (CH4) is infamous for being the second most potent greenhouse gas after nitrous oxide (NO2) and having a global warming potential that is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2) over 100 years. It tends to be the most noticed because ruminants, including cattle, produce methane through enteric fermentation. Methane is also produced in significant amounts from confined systems and their manure management, which means manure being kept in lagoons and holding tanks.

    Cowspiracy claimed that methane comes primarily from cattle or enteric fermentation. This is not true. This paper (http://www.atmosresearch.com/NCGG2a%202002.pdf ) shows that waste and fossil fuels are the primary contributors to total anthropogenic methane emissions at 24 and 26 percent, respectively. Wetlands contribute a huge portion of natural methane emissions at 72 percent, via the same link. (Let’s not forget oceans and melting sea ice also contribute quite a bit of methane to the atmosphere [New Study — Risk of Significant Methane Release From East Siberian Arctic Shelf Still Growing].) The Environmental Protenction Agency (EPA) puts Natural Gas and Petroleum Systems at 29 percent (Methane Emissions via EPA). Enteric fermentation, via the EPA, only makes up 26% of all United States methane emissions, and in the first study above, ruminants only make up 23 percent. Bison are also significant methane producers just like cattle, and yet no heck is being raised for raising these critters for meat. (Study done on methane emissions of bison versus cattle here: Methane emissions from bison-An historic herd estimate for the North American Great Plains) (Note that methane, of the overall total greenhouse gas emissions, accounts for only 10% of the total [U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report: 1990-2013]). The World Resource Institute per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC; Navigating the Numbers – WRI) includes both livestock and manure in their methane numbers. The EPA separated enteric fermentation from manure management, which accounted for only 10 percent of methane emissions.

    The EPA clearly showed that dairy (total 1,271 kilotonnes) and swine (total 922 kilotonnes) production are the primary sources of methane from manure (http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/ghgemissions/US-GHG-Inventory-2015-Chapter-5-Agriculture.pdf pg. 5-9). In these systems manure is primarily stored in lagoons and holding tanks. Manure from beef cattle is lower still than even poultry systems (129 kt versus 120 kt, respectively) because majority of beef cattle are on pasture, and the manure created from such animals in feedlots is in dry form, not wet or liquid. And the manure that hits the ground in pasture soils is quickly attacked by all sorts of organisms from flies to earthworms and bacteria, which carry nutrients down into the soil and are made available to plants as soil organic carbon. Liquid manure is only made available to plants if it’s spread onto fields, but not when it’s stored in storage tanks. (http://savory.global/assets/docs/evidence-papers/exploration-of-methane.pdf)

    Methane generally has a shorter half-life than carbon dioxide (12 years compared with 5 to 200 years, respectively), and is broken down fairly quickly in the trophosphere by hydroxyl radicals (OH) into water vapour and carbon dioxide, hence creating a methane sink in the atmosphere (Methane Sinks – Atmosphere). Methane sinks are also created in the soil via methanotrophs. These bacteria oxidize methane and puts it deep into the soil surface. Methanotrophs are present in both forest and grassland soils, and are part of the reason why manure from livestock on pasture are not such big methane emitters as commonly thought.

    Every livestock producer always makes sure that there is a relatively even layer of manure on the land over time, no matter if it’s cropland or pasture land, spread by the animals themselves or via machinery. Manure contributes to increased organic matter in addition to the plant matter left behind after grazing, and increases the nutrient load of soil through the nitrogen and phosphorus content often found in manure. (Note that cattle aren’t grazed so that everything is removed. Cattle are and should be grazed so that over 40 to 70% of plant matter is left behind when they’re moved to the next pasture or paddock.) The only problem that manure will create is when it accumulates in piles or lagoons from confined intensive feeding operations and overflows during a storm, or when it’s stored improperly, or accumulation comes so fast there’s issues with what to do with it all. But when there’s a lot of land available to put the manure on, and other producers may be willing to have the manure from that operation put on their land, these issues become considerably uncommon.

    But there really was no acknowledgement on how livestock manure is one of the best natural fertilizers to use for crops and pastures. Yet they tried to shock everyone by stating how the amount of manure produced per day would be enough to bury several large metropolitan cities. It was really sad to see that it wasn’t in their interest to show how manure is incorporated into the soil to help plants grow. Instead they blatantly lied to everyone by showing how millions of tons of manure are leached into waterways which eventually flows into the ocean, and thus causing these massive oceanic dead-zones. They couldn’t show how nitrogen-based fertilizers are the more significant cause of this, not so much animal manure.

    Water Usage

    Cowspiracy numbers on water consumption by the livestock sector were inaccurate and just plain misleading. Especially with regards to Californian water usage, and that used by both dairy and beef production. Beef production was particularly concerning when they ignored that most of the water that is used to feed and raise beef cattle comes from the sky.

    California was made as an example for concerns with water shortage, and blame, of course, was placed on animal agriculture. According to the film, 55 percent of water was dedicated to animal agriculture compared with only 5 percent for domestic use. (Note: Even though California is the top fourth state for number of cattle and calves in the country, it’s not the top for beef production. California is much more a dairy state than a beef one. See here: http://www.beefusa.org/beefindus….) Also stated in the film was that, “…1500 gallons of water was used by Californians per person per day, and close to half of that is associated with meat and dairy products.” My research found this to be a bit misleading. According to the same link used on the Cowspiracy Facts page, the latter half of that statement is actually based on California’s water footprint by sector, not by how Californian’s water use amounts were associated with what they ate! The pie chart on this site (California’s Water Footprint, Pacific Institute (2012) page three [3]) indeed showed that 47 percent of water use was dedicated to meat and dairy production (and 46 percent to other agricultural uses), but it clearly stated on that page that “...especially large water footprints [were] due to the amount of water-intensive feed required to raise the animals.Only 1 percent of water use goes into hydrating, washing and processing animals. The rest is for growing feed and fodder for livestock in the form of alfalfa, pasture, corn and grain crops for silage, and hay, in that order.

    What’s interesting is that green water still makes up a majority, (69 percent green versus 30 percent blue, according to this link on pg. 16 http://pacinst.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ca_ftprint_full_report3.pdf) related to that exact statement above. Goods and services produced in CA, has 63 percent blue water and 36 percent green. The graph on pg. 19 shows animal feed (irrigated and non-irrigated pasture, and other feed crops) as 15.2 million acre-feet, and alfalfa, straw and hay at 5.5 million acre-feet. The former is 32 percent blue and 65 percent green; the latter is around 80 percent blue water. I know it doesn’t prove much, but it still shows the real data on how the numbers are attained.

    The host of the film had also claimed that it *supposedlytakes 2,500 gallons of water to make one pound of beef. Per my calculations and answer to another Quora question asking “How much water is needed to raise a cow for slaughter?” I calculated that number out to be only between 140 to 200 gallons to make a pound of beef. And that was really only for the finishing phase. Some calculations for the rest of the animal’s life were a lot more complex than what it seemed, especially since the larger an animal grew, the more water it would drink.

    The water footprints over the entire nation were really taken out of context. The report on farm animal water footprint as done by Mekonnen and Hoekstra (2012), now not exactly the best report for showing water usage, had laid out the numbers in metric measurements, not imperial. It divided water use into three different categories: Green (precipitation), Blue (surface and ground water) and Grey (waste water). The beef footprint had actually 96.7% weighted average that comprised of green water. Three percent, in total, only comprised of blue and grey water. Thus the attempt to show how unsustainable beef is in respect to water consumption is a huge fail, especially since over 96 percent of the water that goes into producing beef (90% which is what cattle eat, not drink) comes from the sky. And here’s another hard reality which many find hard to accept: All beef cattle are grass-fed, most are just not grass-finished.

    “Grass-fed” cattle, or cattle that are simply on a forage-based ration that includes both grazing and/or hay, does not necessarily mean cattle are grass- or pasture-finished. However, sadly the marketing labels them as that even though “fed” is just past-tense for “feeding” and feeding encapsulates ALL aspects of raising and feeding cattle, from birth to fattening. Grass-FINISHED, on the other hand, directly tells you that cattle have been finished and fattened on standing forage, which includes standing corn, an 80% alfalfa-mix stand, crop-residue, or even grazing annual wheat that hasn’t headed out yet.

    Sadly Cowspiracy gave a pretty huge implication that all beef cattle are born and raised in the feedlot up until slaughter. Very. NOT. True! ALL beef cattle are born on a “grass-fed” or pastured-cattle operation (note the non-market-label definition I had above), and raised on such before they get fattened on a 80- to 90-percent high-energy ration. That means for 12 to 18 months of their lives, beef cattle are grazing and/or eating hay before the commercial grain-finishing begins. And finally, cattle are held in the feedlot for only 4 to 6 months before being sold to slaughter. They are fed feedstuffs which include grains (not only grain like many suggest) that may or may not have been irrigated, depending on their source.

    Those that are finished on pasture may take more land and more time to finish, but the fact that they’re unsustainable is still not true.

    Controversy over “Grass-Fed” Cattle

    The film tried to claim that “grass-fed beef” or grazing cattle is bad for the planet–“more damaging than feedlot beef”–using, ironically, facts and statistics straight from the conventional/industrial cattle industry against those cattle producers that utilize holistic management practices and managed grazing to conserve biodiverse grasslands and feed cattle at the same time.

    Yet it completely misses the point that there has been grazing animals on the planet for eons, and much of the land that is being used for grazing has been adapted to be utilized by grazing animals for millions of years. Over 200+ years ago there was estimated that between 30 to over 70 million bison were present roaming and grazing much of the US and Canada. Let’s not forget the vast elk and pronghorn herds that numbers in the tens of millions of well, both which were (and are) grazing animals.

    There is currently over 98.4 million cattle, 9.3 million of that which are lactating dairy cows (plus 4.2 million are replacement dairy heifers), and 12 million currently finished in feedlots, leaving over 70 million beef cattle (via USDA Cattle Inventory as of July 24, 2015) that would more than likely be on pasture and range in the United States alone. As I mentioned above, all beef cattle are grass-fed, most are just not grass-finished.

    Cattle are no different at being as good grazers as bison were (and are), and bison are just as likely to severely overgraze an area as cattle are. Bison prefer grasses over forbs (or “wildflowers”) and when subject to a small area to graze for some time, their selectivity can overwhelm grass growth and allow the more weedy forbs to come in. Cattle do not have such negative effects as bison do, tending to select for a broader forage base than bison and able to help manage both grass and forbs growing in a pasture. Bison, then, are best suited for large tracts of land than smaller fragmented areas, the latter best suited for cattle. Cattle need to be controlled more like bison on large areas to prevent them from spreading out too much and creating uneven grazing patches.

    Cattle grazing, when properly managed (cattle movements are controlled so that they graze one area for a short period of time, then are moved to allow that area to rest for a long period of time), actually assists in maintaining and even increasing biodiversity of a rangeland than simply leaving it be. Also, Cowspiracy only showed the extremes: From a ranch with well-managed, very lush grassland managed by the Markegard Family Grass-fed in the Sonoma and San Mateo counties of California, to the severely overgrazed and denuded public lands of Nevada that is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and used by the few ranchers that continue to hold a grazing lease to these lands for their cattle. Ironically, we are forced to believe that almost all lands in the US, if not the entire world (which is undoubtedly implied) are as abused and devoid of biodiversity as the example they made of BLM-managed rangelands. From my own experiences, and from what I have seen of other pictures shared by other ranchers around the US, Canada, and the world, that is the biggest blatant lie I’ve ever heard.

    I have personally visited several rangelands and grasslands in Alberta, Canada, for example, that are as biodiverse as they can ever get with well-managed grazing practices. This is from working with a rangeland research team in performing range health assessments on various sites, and having to identify numerous plant species on several sites in just a small area. The areas I visited were anything but denuded and overgrazed. I’ve no doubt that there are indeed areas in the world that are desertified and denuded from poor grazing practices, but there are also many areas that are incredibly biodiverse. The one area (pictured below) that I helped perform a range assessment on was so beautiful I was completely blown away by what I saw. And it was all managed using cattle.

    This one is down at Cypress Hills, Alberta.

    This is another area I have to share, which is in the dry mixed prairie grassland of Southern Alberta, near Brooks. Pronghorn and other wildlife were not uncommon on this ranch, as a matter of fact every day there was always wildlife to see, whether it was water fowl, deer, or song birds. And of course if I didn’t see them, I could hear them, and that included coyotes. This ranch had cattle, plenty of them, and they were all managed and used to maintain these native grasslands (which covered about 95 percent of that entire ranch) as nothing else could.

    I have more to share on my blog: Cattle Grazing Makes for some Beautiful Alberta Country! on The Bovine Practicum

    A commonly held misconception about how there’s not enough land to produce enough grass-finished beef for everyone in the United States, if not the world, was certainly exacerbated by the film with Anderson’s attempts to come up with the calculations for this presumption. Yet, I found these calculations to be heavily flawed for three obvious reasons.

    1) The number he came up with–3.7 billion acres–was only based on one single ranch (the Markegard’s), which had a stocking rate of “1 cow per 10 acres.” Now I’m not sure what Doniga Markegard meant by that, whether that was their true stocking rate, or whether that was based on an edited-out question of how many cattle they graze on their land, not animals collectively. See, the Markegards had a lot more than cattle (Belted Galloways) to manage, they also have sheep, pigs, and chickens that are pasture-raised. That means they have four species to manage. If Doniga indeed was answering a question about her cattle herd alone and not the rest of their animals, then one full-grown cow per 10 acres would be sufficient because they still have enough room for grazing sheep and feeding pigs and chickens without running over-stressing the plants and the land of their ranch and thus running out of enough forage for all their animals.

    2) There was absolutely no mention of stocking rates or how they are determined, nor was Anderson even interested in how they come up with their stocking rate (and if they even mentioned anything it was carefully removed). There wasn’t even a mention of how stocking rates (or stocking densities) vary widely across the entire country, all based on influential factors like location, climate, soil, vegetation, cow size, herd size, time of year, and many others. Stocking rate is X number of animals grazing a certain size of land (Y) over a grazing season (usually 4 or 6 months long). Stocking densities is the same except the time spent on pasture or a paddock is also a variable (Z). And that single stocking rate he used for his calculation is not an accurate representation of the stocking rates or densities over the entire US.

    3) Land is not fungible. As mentioned in 2) stocking rates vary because of climate, soil and location, but also because of topography and soil type. Later in the film they tried to show how much more “sustainable” vegan diets were because of less resources needed to feed a vegan human, and how much more land is needed to feed cattle. Yes, more land is needed to feed cattle, but much of that land contains plants that are inedible to humans and which are grown in areas where crop production cannot occur. The Markegards are no exceptions. There isn’t much land suited for crop production, so the rest is used for feeding and/or grazing livestock, especially ruminants like cattle.

    These alone made his calculation completely moot and worthless overall.

    I feel sorry for the Markegards because of how they were treated and how they were made to look in the film. Personally I felt that they were doing an outstanding job on their ranches with four species to manage. But even though they tried to be transparent with their own operation, neither Kip nor the producers were interested in how they managed their land nor their animals. If Doniga or Erik even had mentioned anything, it was completely edited out to continue to try to show just how ridiculous pasturing or even Holistic Management is, even though it is truly anything but.

    Allan Savory and Holistic Management

    Allan Savory and his holistic management practices weren’t even covered in the film, just irately dismissed because Anderson considered Savory to, “definitely be not someone [he] would take ecological advice from.” This is all because Savory made the mistake of thinking that culling elephant herds by the tens of thousands would improve the already degraded land some 40 years ago.

    And that was the only “explanation” given to not bother with his practices anymore. I consider that quite pathetic. See, Savory more than just admitted to his wrongs and apologized, which he has done openly and numerous times. He has since learned from his mistakes and done something about it. One commenter below tried to parallel him with a convicted pedophile. The problem with that analogy is that while the pedophile was said to be regretful for his actions only, and so forgiven allowed to be near children again, Savory has gone far beyond anything parallel to that. He has created the Savory Institute and Holistic Management and has done a lot more research to discover that what he had believed as a young man was the wrong way to go, and went about to prove it. Since then he and his several partners had influenced 40 million acres of land all over the world with holistic management, all with successful results, and also over 2 million acres of grassland. (See http://savory.global/assets/docs/evidence-papers/holistic-management-overview.pdf and http://savory.global/assets/docs/annual-reports/2013-2014-ar.pdf)

    I said it and I’ll say it again: Allan Savory practices what he preaches. Not only has he recognized his mistakes, but he has moved on since and proved to the world that what he thought was right in the past is in fact wrong and has proven why. That is someone worth trusting with ecological advice. There’s no excuse not to believe him nor to dwell in the past simply because of a mistake he made that resulted in thousands of lives lost. I cannot understand how someone will not trust a man like Savory when he deliberately has gone out of his way to provide the evidence that less animals on grazing lands is NOT good for the planet.

    And you know what’s even more ironic about this? Cowspiracy and its like-minded followers is actually pushing for the exact same thing that Savory is being vilified for. They aren’t doing it exactly (although PeTA is infamous for killing 99% of all animals that come through its doors, just as an example) as how Savory had done it, the way they are going about their “rescues” is by slowly, yet surely, ensuring the eventual extinction of all domestic animals, from the rangy, self-reliant beef cows to the intensively-raised, high-maintenance chickens.

    Conclusions

    Many, many other things were not even mentioned in the film. There was no mention of anything about soil, nothing about impact of monoculture crops on native rangelands, no mention of how wild lands are going to be impacted by no more livestock or unmanaged wildlife, and many others. There wasn’t even a mention of how manure from livestock is needed or used to help gardeners. (I suspect those three guys that were looking after their garden were lying about where they were getting their soil nutrients, just by the suspiciously guilty-look on their faces when they looked at the camera.) But it’s all a facade to support the ideology of a vegan agricultural system and ignore the obvious importance of animals to all ecological systems, man-made or natural.

    Overall, I found Cowspiracy to be a film that pushes a single, uncompromising, fundamentalist ideology already predetermined by its creators. It doesn’t leave any open-ended questions that engages and encourages discussion about food, agriculture, and the environment, nor about what to eat, how to produce it, and why. All it did was provide a seemingly easy solution all prettied up with rhetorical shock-value facts and statistics, as well as create an even deeper and wider crevasse between two different yet similar interest groups–the ethical omnivores and the vegans/vegetarians choosing not to eat meat because of how animals are treated in CAFOs–which, as Caroline Watson put it in her review, “closes down sensible and productive dialogue that may just help us save the planet and feed the world.” And in doing so, it has also done nothing than to add fuel to the out-of-control fire of many commonly-held misconceptions, misperceptions and misinformation about a large sector of agriculture that so few truly understand and really know about thanks to the media-savvy extremists.

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