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Cowspiracy: How Animal Agriculture Is Destroying The Planet & What You Can Do About It

By September 13, 2015January 19th, 202417 Comments

“[Animal agriculture] is one of the largest industries on the planet, with the biggest environmental impact. And they are trying to keep us in the dark about how they are operating…”

Will Potter, independent journalist & TED Senior Fellow

A little over a year ago, I shared an amazing conversation with Kip Andersen & Keegan Kuhn, the dynamic filmmaking duo behind Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. If you missed that episode, I encourage you to check it out here— it’s one of my most popular episodes to date.

An Inconvenient Truth meets Blackfish, Cowspiracy is an incredibly sobering and powerful (yet also funny and entertaining) documentary that takes a hard, unflinching look at the incredibly negative impact of animal agriculture on the health, well being and sustainability of our planet and it’s precious, dwindling resources.

Whether we are talking about carbon emissions, climate change, the blindingly rapid destruction of our rain forests, over consumption of water, species extinction, the depletion and destruction of our soil, the pollution of our rivers, lakes and oceans or the obliteration of natural wildlife habitats, you might be surprised to discover the very inconvenient and uncomfortable truth that animal agriculture is the industry by far most responsible for the global environmental catastrophe we currently face.

If this is true, then why aren’t we talking about it more?

Cowspiracy is the rather shocking tale of what Kip and Keegan discovered trying to answer this very question.

The little indie film that could, Cowspiracy is a true grassroots phenomenon. Crowd-source funded, rejected by the film festival circuit and lacking distribution, Kip and Keegan spent the last year traveling the country in a van attending independently organized, homespun screenings. Getting the word out one screen at a time, one audience at a time.

Then something truly amazing happened. The film fell into the hands of Leonardo DiCaprio. The biggest movie star in the world didn’t just fall in love with the movie, he came on board as Executive Producer with a mission: that Cowspiracy become required viewing for everyone and anyone who gives a slightest damn about the health of our planet.

This week that mission moves towards reality. On Tuesday, September 15, Cowspiracy will premiere on Netflix worldwide. For those of you that have already seen the film, this is a new and improved cut — tighter with updated facts, it demands another view.

The impact of Leonardo’s name and credibility on the film’s reach is astronomical and cannot be overstated. I am extremely proud to be an early supporter and associate producer on this project. I’m excited for mainstream audiences to finally discover this important film. I’m over the moon that Kip and Keegan will now be recognized on a mass level for their incredible work.

But mostly I am excited for the dynamic environmental conversation that will inevitably ensue. And the positive changes to follow.

Picking up where our first conversation left off, today’s podcast covers a lot of ground, including:

  • the broad effects of animal agriculture on society
  • ethical & environmental concerns
  • the fallacy of ‘sustainable’ livestock
  • the Alan Savory myth
  • soil & ecosystem degradation
  • educating charitable organizations 
  • grass roots vs. mainstream media
  • how Leonardo DiCaprio got involved
  • the Netflix effect on enviro advocacy

Kip and Keegan are truly breaking paradigms. Making the world a better place. And changing lives with what I think is the most important film of the year.

I aspire to their level of courage and advocacy. And I sincerely hope you enjoy this exchange.

Peace + Plants,


Listen & Subscribe on iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher


Check out Cowspiracy: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

A new cut of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson and Appian Way Productions, will be available exclusively on Netflix in all territories September 15, 2015!

Pre-order your copy of The Sustainability Secret: Rethinking Our Diet to Transform* by Keegan Kuhn, Kip Andersen & Chris Hedges (Release date – Oct 20, 2015)

Background, Context & Reference:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

*Disclosure:Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

The Plantpower Way  is now available at these fine retailers!

Amazon*  |  Barnes & Noble  |  IndieBound  |  Penguin

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  • dogulas says:

    Great interview! Excited to invite family and friends to watch it on Netflix tomorrow! Rich, have you ever reached out to Phillip Wollen? This might be my most favorite speech on the topic.

  • Thanks so much for covering this Rich. This is something that needs to be talked about, and it is about time we are bringing this to light. Look forward to watching it when it premieres tomorrow!

  • susan says:

    Fantastic podcast guys! Rich, it would be awesome if you could connect Kip and Keegan with James Balog of Chasing Ice
    Cowspiracy does a fantastic job of showing where the problem of climate change originates and Chasing Ice visually shows us what that looks like in reality. The two together would be impossible to ignore by even the most ardent meat eaters. Thank you for all you’re doing!

  • Tommy F says:

    9/15/15 will be the day Veganism went mainstream! What Earthlings evoked from the heart.. Cowspiracy connects from the intellect. It’s an emotional feeling, when you hear about big-name people watching this movie and immediately commenting that they need to make a change and are pledging to go-Vegan. I just hope that Netflix doesn’t bury this movie in the background.. that they feature it prominently on the New Releases and Popular pre-queues, where most people’s attentions are grabbed. If you have to search for it, it will not have quite the impact that it’s capable of.

    I think everyone should try to do their best, to get the message out tomorrow, encouraging their personal network of friends to fire-up their Netflix when they get home from work, and check out the (non-graphic) documentary Cowspiracy. The more everyone reaches out to their personal network, the more quickly this vital message will spread. NOW is the time! This is likely the most important, pivotal point in Veganism going mainstream. And the fact that California is in it’s most dire state of water drought.. the timing couldn’t be more perfect, to really get people’s attention. (Two months of non-showering, is no trade-off for a hamburger).

    Also, the news reports of Almonds being the cause of water over- consumption, just smells to me like the dairy industry, trying to hypocritically pull the legs out from under the booming almond milk industry.. having felt a tectonic shift in consumer attitudes concerning dairy products.


  • Karen says:

    This was great! I also sponsored Kip and Keegan’s Indiagogo campaign and received my own CD of Cowspiracy. I showed it to one of my sons last September who is now 20 and a member of the Swedish alpine ski team, and he said immediately afterward, “well, I guess I am vegan now” (he is doing great, though a bit tough when traveling in the Alps). I also have been a member of Surfrider Foundation since I grew up in Laguna Beach and love the ocean, but Chad Nelson, the Executive Director, came across as a real bozo in Cowspiracy. I began sending e-mails and wrote a long letter addressing the animal agriculture issue and the severe dead zones in our oceans. I said I would not be renewing my membership until they started addressing these issues…… They have never responded back and I am no longer a member. They recently ran this campaign though: 😁
    I am excited to watch Cowspiracy again tomorrow the 15th!!!!!

  • Kate H says:

    I just watched Cowspiracy for the first time a couple months ago and am practically tackling strangers on the street to tell them about it. Being on Netflix is a huge help in spreading the word about this incredibly important message.

  • bereniceweber says:

    Great podcast, can’t wait to watch the new cut of Cowspiracy on Netflix, and I will play it endlessly until people ‘get it’, my DVD is getting thinner already. I am a big fan of Rich and Julie, I have been a vegan for a while but after reading Finding Ultra I started exercising again, thank you Rich! And of course I am huge fan of Cowspiracy, this year for my b-day I asked my friends to watch the film, instead of gifts, 2 new vegans so far…Thanks so much for mentioning Truth or Drought, I am thankful to be part of the team designing graphics, leaflets and signs for Truth or Drought following the brilliant direction of our founder and researcher Lorelei Plotczyk. We are working on a California Citizens’ Action Campaign: Save Water, Eat Plants! Please visit our site for more details:!Take-Action-Save-Water-Eat-Plants-California-Citizens-Action-Campaign/cjds/55e48c450cf2de902a79e023. Thank you Rich Roll, Keegan Kuhn, Kip Andersen, there is hope for this planet with people like you.

  • Dawn Fredryk says:

    One of the most amazing podcasts I’ve listened to. Solidified my pledge to go all vegan, and I will be promoting!

  • Mark says:

    Great interview! I finally got a chance to watch Cowspiracy yesterday when it came out on Netflix. It’s such an incredible film – easily the most important environmental film on climate change ever made. I’ve been sharing the link, tweeting about it, and wrote a blog post about it since

    I’ve been vegan for 20 years now, and there is definitely a shift happening towards increased consumption of plant foods, and a decrease in the consumption of meat and animal products. The movement is growing. Still I feel like there is so much more to do, and the urgency to do it now!

    I hope that Cowspiracy inspires more people to go vegan. Even more so, I hope that environmental organizations wake up to this reality, that people put pressure on them, and they start to get behind the movement against animal agriculture. Some very big voices with lots of money and influential power in those env orgs.

    So what more can we do as individuals?

  • Alex Curtis-Slep says:

    Loved the episode! Going to watch Cowspiracy tonight 🙂

  • trialondude says:

    I am a huge fan of Rich and Julie. But when I watched “Cowspiracy” the other night, I couldn’t help but feel a bit helpless. Most of my family and friends still eat meat. Despite my easing my opinion into them, I still have many friends who scoff at my positions, saying things like “We’re the top of the food chain. That’s the way it goes,” or “Cute pig, I bet he tastes good, too.” I find this closed minded, and difficult to break through.

    I’m left with the fact that in order to turn things around there has to be some ground on which we both can stand otherwise it’s just futile. With that in mind I was a little disappointed to see that the facts of “Cowspiracy” take things all the way to absolutionism. It reminds me of our right wing leaders who think they should have control over a woman’s body, without taking into consideration anything about history, socioeconomic class, or frankly, biology.

    How can we invite people into this conversation without pointing fingers at them, yelling at them, and getting their backs up so nothing changes?

  • Lolos Vegan&Raw Restaurant UK says:

    Thank you Kip and Keegan for making this movie!!! You deserve every success and recognition for bringing this subject to the mainstream! The masses won’t be able to keep their heads in the sand for much longer!

  • Peter Arkson says:

    Although I think that the basic idea is correct, I think many of the “facts” presented are misleading and the conclusion for abolitionist veganism to be misguided. It’s unfortunate that a good premise (environmental problems caused by and associated with the livestock industry) was coopted for an agenda that is fairly easily undermined.

  • Kristin says:

    I’m going to ask people not to buy me gifts for my birthday or any holiday, but to simply watch this documentary as a gift to me and the planet!

  • steve says:

    Loved Cowspiracy, thanks for the Netflix tip. Pretty sobering, we have our work cut out for us…plant power!!

  • David Barr says:

    I first heard about how animal agriculture is a major contributor to green house gases a few years ago in the news but brushed it off thinking people need to eat and cows fart. Then read the book “Healthy Eating Healthy World” by J. Morris Hicks and got it intellectually that animal agriculture is the biggest cause of global warming. Just watched “Cowspiracy” and now get it on an emotional level that we need to act now.

  • Luke Jones says:

    Massive that these guys are now on Netflix. Gonna reach a shed load more people, which is great!

    Here’s the infographic I made on the main facts from the film if anyone is interested:

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