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Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
A movie poster showing a cow with a sunset in the background
Promotional release poster
Directed byKip Andersen
Keegan Kuhn
Produced byKip Andersen
Keegan Kuhn
StarringKip Andersen
Howard Lyman
Richard Oppenlander
Michael Pollan
Michael Klaper
Will Tuttle
Will Potter
CinematographyKeegan Kuhn
Edited byKip Andersen
Keegan Kuhn
Appian Way
A.U.M. Films
First Spark Media
Release date
  • June 26, 2014 (2014-06-26) (Los Angeles)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a 2014 American documentary film produced and directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. The film explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment—examining such environmental concerns as climate change, water use, deforestation, and ocean dead zones—and investigates the policies of several environmental organizations on the issue.

The film won the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 South African Eco Film Festival[1] and the Best Foreign Film Award at the 12th annual Festival de films de Portneuf sur l'environnement.[2] Cowspiracy has been criticized for asserting that animal agriculture is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental destruction,[3] with other sources assessing the impact as being less than is stated in the film.[4]


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, and Oceana.[5][6][7][8]


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.[9][10] Screenings are licensed through the distributor, as well as through the now-defunct Tugg Inc. website.[11]

An updated version of the documentary, executive-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, premiered globally on Netflix on September 15, 2015.[12]

The 2017 documentary What the Health was written, produced, and directed by the same production team (Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn) as Cowspiracy.[13]

Featured individuals[edit]

Co-producer/director Keegan Kuhn speaks at the Cowspiracy conference in Berkeley, September 2016.

The following individuals were featured in the film:


Cowspiracy won the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 South African Eco Film Festival,[1] as well as the Best Foreign Film Award at the 12th annual Festival de films de Portneuf sur l'environnement.[2] It was also nominated for Cinema Politica's 2015 Audience Choice Award.[14]


Cowspiracy has been criticized for claiming that animal agriculture is the primary source of greenhouse gases.[3] Scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have consistently reached the consensus that the leading cause of anthropogenic warming is the combustion of fossil fuels accounting for about two-thirds of emissions, not animal agriculture.[15][16]

Doug Boucher, reviewing the film for the Union of Concerned Scientists blog, disputed the film's assertion that 51% of global greenhouse gases are caused by animal agriculture.[4][17] He described the 51% figure as being sourced from a 2009 Worldwatch Institute report by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang[18][19] not from a peer-reviewed scientific paper. He claimed to have observed methodological flaws in Goodland and Anhang's logic, and said that the scientific community formed a consensus that global warming is primarily caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels.[4] He stated that the scientific consensus is that livestock contribute 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, far lower than the 51% stated by the film and the source article.[4] A 2018 peer-reviewed meta-analysis found that a "no animal products" scenario would deliver a 28% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Cowspiracy Wins Audience Choice Award". The South African Eco Film Festival. April 9, 2015. Archived from the original on April 16, 2015. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Le FFPE récompense les films gagnants de la 12e édition". Festival de films de Portneuf sur l'environnement. April 27, 2015. Archived from the original on May 29, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Blundell, Nicholas. "A Critique of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret". Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Boucher, Doug (June 10, 2016). "Movie Review: There's a Vast Cowspiracy about Climate Change". The Equation blog. Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  5. ^ Kanner, Ellen (August 4, 2014). "Meatless Monday -- 'Cowspiracy:' The One Thing No One Talks About". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  6. ^ Animal Agriculture: A Neglected Agent of Global Warming? Archived 2017-02-23 at the Wayback Machine 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
  7. ^ "Cowspiracy". Village. February 19, 2015. Archived from the original on February 24, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  8. ^ "Burgers Are Ending the World, Says Cowspiracy". SF Weekly. June 25, 2014. Archived from the original on March 11, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  9. ^ "Cowspiracy IndieGoGo campaign page".
  10. ^ Alison Homewood. "Beware Cowspiracy – and the spread of the vegan virus -- New Internationalist". New Internationalist.
  11. ^ "Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret". Tugg Inc. Archived from the original on 2017-02-20. Retrieved 2014-10-09.
  12. ^ "Exclusive: Interview With Directors Of 'Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret' On Netflix, A Controversial New Documentary". Decider. August 27, 2015. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  13. ^ Jackie Day (January 23, 2016). "Cowspiracy Film Makers Announce NEW film: What the Health!". My Vegan Journal.
  14. ^ "Vote for the 2015 Audience Choice Award!". Cinema Politica. April 6, 2016. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  15. ^ Solomon, S.; et al., "TS.2.1.1 Changes in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide", Technical Summary, archived from the original on October 15, 2012, retrieved August 18, 2012, in IPCC AR4 WG1 2007.
  16. ^ "AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis". www.ipcc.ch. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Goodland, Robert; Anhang, Jeff (Nov–Dec 2009). "Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?". Worldwatch Magazine. Worldwatch Institute. pp. 10–19. S2CID 27218645.
  19. ^ "What if the key actors in climate change are...cows, pigs, and chickens?" (PDF). A Well-Fed World. Retrieved 2023-01-16.
  20. ^ Poore, J.; Nemecek, T. (June 1, 2018). "Reducing food's environmental impacts through producers and consumers". Science. 360 (6392): 987–992. Bibcode:2018Sci...360..987P. doi:10.1126/science.aaq0216. PMID 29853680.

Works cited[edit]

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