Hi, my name is Miko Vergun and I am the editorial intern at 350PDX. A few facts about me: I teach myself how to play piano, ukulele, guitar, and dance. I am also 15 years old. This year, I get to do many other things at 350PDX but my main job is watching movies and writing film reviews. This is part of my job because I am trying to find out what are the right movies to engage more people especially youth, in this movement. Since it is my job to write film reviews, I will always find good points to write about. However, it is also my job to be honest, so I will also have something to criticize. Just to reassure you guys, I will do my best to not come off as attacking the director(s) or the movie.
Anyways, the first movie that I am doing a film review on is called Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. For those who don’t know, Cowspiracy is a documentary focusing on exposing the harm of livestock agriculture. To be honest, I didn’t really like it. Personally, I would give it a 4 out of 10. I don’t really want to recommend it to anyone because of the way the director’s opinions were displayed, but I’ll go into that later.
The main reason why I thought that this wasn’t a good movie was because it focused more on individual change, rather than systemic change. I thought that it was awesome that he took small showers, and even used his bike for his mode of transportation. However, studies have shown that systemic change is more effective, rather than individual change. Because it focused on individual change instead, I felt that the director was assuming that it was easy for others to change their attitude and behaviors.
I thought that the title was very clever, and it did make me interested in watching it. I’ve heard so much about this film and I thought that it would be more about informing others what livestock agriculture was and how it is connected to climate change. But the more I watched, the more I found that this was just a movie that put down other organizations to get the director’s point across. It just really frustrated me, and I found myself pausing the movie every now and then just to prevent myself from exploding.
This brings me to a whole different subject: humility. How did we come to this point, where we’re just putting each other down, or competing for who’s the best organization? I mean we are all part of the same movement, we have the same goal.
I’ve known for a long time that our actions are affecting this planet. And it all connects to climate change. There’s a reason why it is called the climate crisis. According to google, crisis means “a time of difficulty, trouble, or danger.” Because there are so many ways that we are emitting large amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, we are creating the crisis. And because of that, we are endangering not only animals, but ourselves. They way I see it, the more we argue about what is more important, the more difficult we are making it for us to solve this problem. If we could just work together, we could totally turn this around. That’s the power of a movement. But first we need to work on humility. Obviously there’s a lack of humility here, which is causing ignorance.
In one of the scenes, a man named Howard Lyman said “You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products, period.” I completely disagree with that. I eat animal products, and guess what? I am a Climate Change Plant for the Planet Ambassador. I was elected into the Global Youth Board for Plant for the Planet and I’m going to Germany soon to represent the Pacific Northwest and Oceania. I am part of a huge lawsuit in Eugene with 20 other kids who sued the Federal Government for violating our rights to life, liberty and property for allowing the promotion and extraction of fossil fuels. Guess what, the judge ruled in favor of the youth (us) denying the motions to dismiss the case. I am an intern at 350PDX. I eat animal products, but I am engaged in system change, and this is where my focus is.
And here’s another thing, while we’re on the topic of ignorance: I thought that the director and some of the people who were interviewed were very ignorant of other cultures. In the movie Dr. Richard Oppenlander said, “If we really are concerned about sharks, we would ban fishing.” Think about that for a second. I don’t know about you, but I come from a culture where the people eat fish. Some people depend on that fish so I think that banning fishing would be too extreme. Look at the bigger picture: this movie is mainly about animal agriculture. There’s a huge difference between mass fishing and fishing. Mass fishing is basically fishing for large amounts of fish because there is a high demand for it on the market. With this process it is much easier for the fish to be wasted and thrown away and that is the main problem of animal agriculture. With subsistence fishing, you’re fishing for yourself or maybe even your family. You catch what you’re going to eat and you’re not planning on wasting any of it.
And for the record, I come from the Marshall Islands where we have a shark sanctuary. And if it weren’t for the US missile testing that happened there, which is still polluting the water with radiation, there would still be fishing. But by setting up a shark sanctuary, we have shown our respect for sharks. The strong dependence on fish for food and for the Marshallese culture, requires the islanders to fish sustainably and protect the ecosystem.
This movie had a lack of respect toward other cultures and I felt that they were very opinionated. I eat meat because I believe that it is healthy for me. I felt that the movie was attacking not only my opinions, but also my Marshallese culture (and other animal dependent cultures as well).
To conclude, I would not recommend this movie to anyone. Even if you were watching it for educational purposes, this would not be the kind of movie you should watch. But I must say, though I already knew about animal agriculture being a huge problem, I didn’t know how it was connected to the climate crisis. But because I watched this, I learned a little bit of history and some facts. The directors were very good at their research. However, I suggest that if they were considering on making another movie that they research other cultures as well.