Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Movie Poster for Cowspiracy
Directed by Kip Andersen
Keegan Kuhn
Produced by Kip Andersen
Keegan Kuhn
Starring Kip Andersen
Howard Lyman
Richard Oppenlander
Michael Pollan
Michael Klaper
Will Tuttle
Will Potter
Cinematography Keegan Kuhn
Edited by Kip Andersen
Keegan Kuhn
Distributed by A.U.M. Films
First Spark Media
Release date
  • June 26, 2014 (2014-06-26) (Los Angeles)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a 2014 documentary film which explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and investigates the policies of environmental organizations on this issue. The film looks at various environmental concerns, including global warming, water use, deforestation, and ocean dead zones, and suggests that animal agriculture is the primary source of environmental destruction.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has disputed the film's assertion that the majority of greenhouse gases driving climate change are produced by animal agriculture rather than fossil fuel emissions[1], which runs counter to scientific consensus.[2]


The documentary was directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, and explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and investigates the policies of environmental organizations on this issue. Environmental organizations investigated in the film include Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Rainforest Action Network.[3][4][5][6]


The film was crowdfunded on IndieGoGo, with 1,449 contributors giving $117,092. This funding was 217% of their goal, and it allowed them to dub the film into Spanish and German and subtitle it into more than 10 other languages, including Chinese and Russian.[7][8] Screenings are licensed through the distributor, as well as through Tugg Inc.[9]

An updated version of the documentary, executive-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, premiered globally on Netflix on September 15, 2015.[10]

The 2017 documentary What the Health was written, produced, and directed by the same production team (Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn) as Cowspiracy.[11]

The following individuals were featured in the film:


Cowspiracy won the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 South African Eco Film Festival,[12] as well as the Best Foreign Film Award at the 12th annual Festival de films de Portneuf sur l'environnement.[13] It was also nominated for Cinema Politica’s 2015 Audience Choice Award.[14]

Doug Boucher, reviewing the film for the Union of Concerned Scientists, disputed the film's claim that 51% of global greenhouse gases are caused by animal agriculture. Boucher describes the 51% figure as being sourced from a 2009 Worldwatch Institute report by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang,[15] not from a peer-reviewed scientific paper. He asserts methodological flaws in Goodland and Anhang's logic, and claims that the scientific community has formed a consensus that global warming is primarily caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels.[1] Boucher states that the scientific consensus is that livestock contribute 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions - far lower than the 51% claimed by the film.[1]

Boucher's review concludes: "Movies like Cowspiracy aren’t believable, not only because of how they twist the science, but also because of what they ask us to believe: that the fossil fuel industry—the ExxonMobils of the world—aren’t the main cause of global warming... and that thousands of scientists have covered up the truth about the most important environmental issue of our time."[1]

On June 1, 2018, researchers Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek published a peer-reviewed meta-analysis for Science magazine.[16][17] In their study they estimate that the food supply chain is responsible for 26% of anthropogenic GHG emissions. Within the food supply chain, animal products (including fish farms) account for 58% of GHGs, implying that animal products account for 15% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions.

Mainstream media coverage was quick to publicize this scientific meta-analysis, starting with The Guardian (UK),[18] Newsweek,[19] the Independent (UK),[20] and ScienceNews. Newsweek openly suggests people go Vegan in its headline: "Want to Save the Planet? Go Vegan, Study Says."

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Boucher, Doug (10 June 2016). "Movie Review: There's a Vast Cowspiracy about Climate Change". The Equation blog. Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  2. Herrero, Mario; Wirsenius, Stefan; Henderson, Benjamin; Rigolot, Cyrille; Thornton, Philip; Havlík, Petr; de Boer, Imke; Gerber, Pierre (November 2015). "Livestock and the Environment: What Have We Learned in the Past Decade?". Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 40: 177–202. doi:10.1146/annurev-environ-031113-093503.
  3. Kanner, Ellen (August 4, 2014). "Meatless Monday -- 'Cowspiracy:' The One Thing No One Talks About". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  4. Animal Agriculture: A Neglected Agent of Global Warming? The co-producers of the documentary film "Cowspiracy" discuss the environmental impact of Intensive animal farming - and why mainstream organizations have been silent about it. November 20, 2014, The Real News
  5. "Cowspiracy". Village. February 19, 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-04.
  6. "Burgers Are Ending the World, Says Cowspiracy". SF Weekly. Jun 25, 2014. Retrieved 2015-03-04.
  7. "Cowspiracy IndieGoGo campaign page".
  8. Alison Homewood. "Beware Cowspiracy – and the spread of the vegan virus -- New Internationalist". New Internationalist.
  9. "Cowspiracy page on Tugg".
  10. "Exclusive: Interview With Directors Of 'Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret' On Netflix, A Controversial New Documentary". Decider. August 27, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-28.
  11. Jackie Day (January 23, 2016). "Cowspiracy Film Makers Announce NEW film: What the Health!". My Vegan Journal.
  12. "Cowspiracy Wins Audience Choice Award". The South African Eco Film Festival. April 9, 2015. Archived from the original on April 16, 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-09.
  13. "Le FFPE récompense les films gagnants de la 12e édition". Festival de films de Portneuf sur l'environnement. April 27, 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-28.
  14. "Vote for the 2015 Audience Choice Award!". Cinema Politica. April 6, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-24.
  15. Goodland, Robert; Anhang, Jeff (November–December 2009). "Livestock and Climate Change" (PDF). World Watch. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-04-17.
  16. Poore, J. & T. Nemecek, Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science 01 Jun 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 987-992 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaq0216
  17. Poore, J.; Nemecek, T. (1 June 2018). "Reducing food's environmental impacts through producers and consumers". Science. 360 (6392): 987–992. doi:10.1126/science.aaq0216. PMID 29853680 via
  18. Carrington, Damian (31 May 2018). "Avoiding meat and dairy is 'single biggest way' to reduce your impact on Earth". the Guardian.
  19. "Want to save the planet? Go vegan, study says". 1 June 2018.
  20. "Going vegan is 'single biggest way' to reduce our impact on the planet, study finds".
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