In this review, I will share with you a very special documentary film, that is both the most difficult, yet important to watch for anyone who consumes any animal products as food or relies on any animals in their life, whether for clothing or entertainment.

Each day, unspeakable horrors are being committed all around us. These includes all sentient beings, both human and non-human ones. And while we cannot control or undo so many of them, we also can reduce and remove so many of them. If we stay unaware or ignorant, paralyzed by fear or annoyed by the inconvenience to change, we are directly contributing to so many of these horrors and allowing them to happen.

You cannot change if you don’t know why you should change.

On the other hand, when we allow ourselves to educate and inform ourselves, to consciously examine our habits and choices, and take accountability for our choices and the outcomes they lead to, we start to become positive change in action. And there is perhaps no more significant area that this applies to than how we (mis)use animals in our society.

Our everyday choices associated with the food we consume, the clothing we wear, the products we use and the entertainment we choose are either directly or indirectly contributing to the horrors we subject animals to in our society. And thus I wish to introduce you to “Earthlings” – a ground breaking documentary that presents the most comprehensive overview of how our modern animal-based lifestyles are impacting the animals themselves. The film goes on to examine the 5 major areas of our dependence on animals – as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and research. In detail, it is a movie that examines our spiritual conscience, morality, ethics, societal values and so much more.

The Background

Earthlings” is a documentary movie that was released in 2005. It has kept gaining popularity ever since, and upon its release in 2005 was the winner of several Film Festival Awards.

Shaun Monson is the mastermind behind this work of art as the writer, producer and director. The film is narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix and features music by Moby.

Shaun began this venture by doing work and promotion on the importance of spaying/neutering one’s pets in 1999 and based on the footage he found, he was moved to pursue this venture further. The movie than took 6 years to produce, as gaining access to the footage, was not an easy task, as the industries work hard on making sure that no one sees what really goes on behind the scenes.

Despite the critics saying that this film would “never see the light of day”, today “Earthlings” is recognized as the definitive animal rights film by organizations around the world, and is gaining popularity as we speak. It is definitely not a movie that is going away or about to be forgotten.

On the contrary it is a movie that is gaining momentum, as humanity is called to evolve and find a new and more loving and sustainable way of existing. Currently it is available in 10 languages, soon to be available in 20 languages, as it makes its way around the globe.

The film is 1 hour and 35 minutes in length, and every minute of the movie is very valuable and not to be missed.

The format for the movie features footage that was shot in various locations around the world, with some light music and Joaquin’s narration in the background.

The Content

In terms of content, in the hour and half that this movie spans, it was able to brilliantly touch upon every major point that people living in today’s world should be aware of, when it comes to the animals on this planet.

The movie has a beautifully touching introduction that begins with the 3 stages of truth:

  1. Ridicule
  2. Violent Opposition
  3. Acceptance

It moves on to explain, how over the years there existed racism, and sexism and to this day, perhaps more so than ever, speciesism. This is the idea of assigning different values or rights to members depending on their species, or in other words favoring one’s own species.

It acknowledges its purpose, in that it is demonstrating how animals have come to serve humankind.

The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right.

Isaac Bashevis Singer

The movie than moves into the following 5 parts, of which here is a summary:

1. Pets

In the Western world we have come to accept various animals, mostly dogs and cats as pets, but many of us never actually ask as to their origins. While some people are lovingly accepting pets into their households as another member of the family, others are treating these animals with the utmost brutality.

The importance of spaying/neutering your pet is also discussed, as an important step in the right direction.

2. Food

This part is one of the longest parts in the movie and of course comes as no surprise. The common slaughterhouse today is worse than any horror movie one can imagine. The acts of humans who hold no regard whatsoever for the sacredness of life are lived out in these horror houses, which signify the average animal product industry. Almost all people who eat animal products have no idea of the condition, fate, treatment and quality of the animals and their products that they eat.

Factory farming and slaughterhouses are discussed in enough detail here, to leave each viewer with a clear message of how their meat and dairy make it to their table each day. Every animal is considered here and what despicable fates await it along its entire life from birth to death, including pigs, cows and birds (chickens and turkeys). Ocean and farm fishing are also discussed as is the notorious and highly toxic Pfisteria outbreak, which rages on today and threatens not only our health, but that of entire ecosystems.

3. Clothes

This is an area that most people seldom think about or consider and that is how animal based clothes, most notably leather have made it from the animal to their closet. The discussion allows the viewer to know exactly where and how their leather goods made it to them, as well as the price that the environment and the animals pay for such choices. Fur products are naturally discussed as well.

4. Entertainment

This is another area that is often taken too lightly, and that is, how our entertainment choices affect the lives of millions of animals each day. All aspects are fully discussed here that include our use of animals for our personal sport pleasures, including: rodeos, fishing, hunting, dog racing, horse racing, roping, and bull fighting.

Zoos, circuses and fair grounds are also discussed fully, as to what they really provide in the bigger picture of things to us, our children and the world.

5. Scientific Research

This is a part that we often forget about today, as it is for the most part “out of sight, out of mind”, but the truth is around 10 billion animals a year today are used in horrendous ways in this industry.

The movie brilliantly dispels the myths, based on science itself, of why animal testing is actually harming, not helping us where health and medicine is concerned. It also speaks of the unfathomable fates of the animals used for military research, which in the end is used for nothing more than more violence.

The movie concludes with some final facts, thoughts and words to really open up our minds and hearts. It acknowledges that at this time, “ignorance is this species best defense” and that it only prevails because people do not want to find out the truth, they find it impractical, inconvenient and a little too real.

The movie finishes off with what some will see as a negative and yet others as a positive ending. The way we have come to treat these animals and alongside the environment, is coming to bite us back.

People are still slow to make the connection, but chronic diseases today are almost all tied to our insane amounts of animal product consumption. We have pathogenic outbreaks and we are finding it harder and harder to control these disease causing microorganisms. And of course we have environmental pollution from all this that is starting to make some people in these industries realize that this type of work is only going to get harder.

Indeed there is hope, nature is fighting back, because in the end as the movie says whether you use the paradigm “what goes around, comes around”, we always “reap what we sow.” There is no getting away from that, so the time is now to MAKE THE CONNECTION.

Personal Commentary

To begin with my overall thoughts, the movie was phenomenally produced! It had the right atmosphere, the right facts and the right footage to really drive the messages home.

Was it easy to watch what we do to other species who share the planet with us? Of course not. In fact, going into viewing it, I had that love-hate relationship with it. From one angle, I have read enough on this topic from other books like “Thanking The Monkey” to have enough images and facts of what happens to animals to last me a lifetime. God knows I am thankful each day for being a vegan, and knowing that I am not contributing to these horrors anymore.

From another angle however, I wanted to see it. I wanted to see it because I wanted to be able to share this information and Shaun Monson’s work with others out there. I wanted to contribute to increasing global awareness on this very critical topic. I want to help people wake up. I want to continue to heal the planet.

Ultimately, I did have to prepare myself before I watched it mentally not to cry through the entire movie. I manged to get by with tears welling up in my eyes, and some trickling down my face, but that was unavoidable.

If you have at least a bit of a heart within you, yes this movie is going to make you cringe at times and evoke some serious emotion, but that is not a good enough reason not to see it. In fact, we need to get back into feeling deeper today, as our world has turned too many of us into programmed, emotionless robots.

The movie is truly a work of art, and it easily falls into the top 10 documentaries ever produced to increase awareness on our planet. This one particularly, on the plight of animals worldwide.

Yes it is inconvenient to find this out. Yes it is going to make you rethink your ways, and yes it may lead you to make some major changes in your life, but that is what evolution of the human being and spirit is all about.

People in our society always seem to fall back on poor excuses like “but it tastes so good…” Well here is an idea, if you love it so much, why don’t you allow yourself to see how this particular meat that you love so much ended up in your grocery store and hence on your plate.

And for people who are the most in-your-face about “leave me and my meat alone“, simply allow yourself to see this movie, and then listen to your conscience, while you have an honest, personal reflection with yourself.

Most of us too have this attitude that “well, I didn’t do that to the animal, so why should this be my problem…The reason is, that everyone knows that consumers drive demand. The more we seek animal products at the stores, the more animals are tortured and killed horrifically each day.

For too long now, we have lived unconsciously. Most of us still do. We blindly follow what the masses are doing in society, not for a second stopping to consider or think about the bigger picture.

Animals are being tortured from birth to death, and even beyond their death, if you consider all those who are skinned or bled, while they are still technically alive and moving.

How much longer are we going to pretend that this doesn’t exist, or that it does not happen, or that it doesn’t impact us personally?

We have mothers out there who want the best for their children, yet many refuse to even consider not feeding them flesh of animals that is laden with drugs, pesticides, toxins and proven to be the main contributor of chronic diseases and health problems today.

We have a spiritual movement today on the planet, yet many of these people who seek “love and enlightenment” still consider it okay to somehow eat the tortured and inhumanely treated flesh of animals.

It is said that this movie is nicknamed the “vegan maker” and rightfully so. For anyone who allows themselves to watch this from start to end, is bound to make some serious changes in their life.

And why is that? Not because the pain and suffering of these animals is unfathomable. Not because the images are grossly disturbing. But because we are loving creatures at our essence. Deep within we seek peace, for ourselves and all beings, and that is why allow yourself to be transformed.

Ignorance has gotten us to a point today in history where chronic diseases are raging. People cry over the family member they lose or over their own pain and suffering, but so few are making the connection.

Our environment is in a state of crisis. Our waters are heavily polluted, as is our air and soils, while microorganisms are going all out of control of their symbiotic balance with us. Yet again, so few are making the connection.

In conclusion, this movie is not trying to make you feel “bad” or “sad” or pointing any fingers. It is simply saying “WAKE UP AND MAKE THE CONNECTION“.

You don’t need to wait till it is too late, we can show that we don’t always need a crisis to wake us up, but the time to act is now. We just need to stop burying our heads in the sand.

We as a race of species are amazing and capable of so much when we let love prevail. We have taken on racism and for the most part achieved a dignified life for all colors and races of people. We have taken on sexism and for the most part achieved an equal view of women. We are now taking on speciesism, and I know that love will prevail and we will see an Earth, where all creatures live with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Make the Connection!

Watch Earthlings

To view this film, here are a few options:

  • Visit the official “Earthlings” site, where you can learn where to watch the film or purchase a DVD copy of it
  • Watch Earthlings on Netflix (if you have a subscription)
  • Watch Earthlings here on Vimeo for free