Netflix Health Documentaries part II: Cowspiracy and Seaspiracy

In these corona times I thought it would be a good idea to follow up on my previous blog about netflixs’ health related documentaries. So below are two I’ve watched and my thoughts on them.

Cowspiracy | Cowspiracy, Keegan Kuhn | 9781608878437 | Boeken

This documentary is from the same people as ‘what the health‘ but cowspiracy focuses on the relation between the environment, polution and the animal industry. As most people know and what the data shows is that animal-stock for food has one of the biggest impact on polution of soil and air and the destruction of natural habitat. Either directly by destroying forrest land or indirectly by polution through manour or the food needed to feed the animals, which again causes destruction of natural forrest and land.

As with ‘What the health’ this is a personal discovery story which includes the political entanglement between environmental protection agencies and the industry & politics from which they should protect us. It does not go into too much detail about health, but again it does point out the need (or lack of) for meat and nutrition. It’s not really needed and we can get most of the protein from plant based food with a much lower footprint.

Again, this documentary is very much oriented towards the US but in the Netherlands this topic is very actual and the reason why the past months their were a lot of protest from farmers. The documentary shows a few interviews with several people and it’s interesting (for lack of a better word) to see how they (from the environmental protection agencies) try to avoid answering very obvious questions.

Now i suppose there is always a nuance and i think the world can have an animal stock for food, but it drives the point home that it starts with human behaviour and education. The last few years these documentaries, scientific studies, vegan and vegetarian diets and meat-substitutes have already started a shift in how people approach meat (or dairyproducts). So a very interesting documentary, sometimes a bit slow, but this in some aspects is better than its better known brother ‘what the health’.


Yesterday I watched a sort of ‘sequal’ to cowspiracy but with the sea being the centerpoint: Seaspiracy. Now, if you’ve watched cowspiracy and stopped eating meat….this will definitely make you stop eating fish all together.

The documentary is well made but tries to fit in lots of viewpoints and takes on our troubled oceans which make it feel rushed at some points.

On the other hand, it gets the message across, we are killing our oceans all the way through and thus are killing our selves. I thought I knew quite a bit but lots of interesting facts came up:

  • Fish/whale/shark poop feeds the oceans
  • Algea and oceans in general take up way more co2 than all rainforests take together (sort of logical since it’s really vast)
  • The movement of fish and other creates through the oceans vertically, also contributes to how oceans behave and nutrients are distributed
  • Almost 50% of the plastic soup is made up of fishing gear, not plastic straws
  • Fish population can recover quite fast…if left alone
  • Overall there is 90% decline over the past decades of fish/shard/whale/dolphin population
  • The MSC label of fish is a huge joke since there is little oversight and in some cases people who went along as observers got ‘lost’
  • Entaglement between crime-syndicates, governments and the fishindustry is enourmous, they don’t care about future generations, they care about money.
  • Warming of the planet is not the only cause of coral-reefs dying, overfishing (and destructing by huge fishingnets) is more releated to coral-reefs dying because fish (and poop) is what keeps corals alive.

Now like cowspiracy it takes the worst of what’s going on in the world and focuses on main culprits doing damage like Europe, China, Japan and the US, since in those place, fishconsumption in combination with sheer number of consumers and money is enormous. What’s also, again, apparent is that organizations like MSC or others pretending to protect the ocean all seem to be sponsored by companies who have other interest and close ties to the fishing-industry. They try to put a lot of focus on consumer-plastic being the real problem, but apparently around half of the plastic in the ocean is fishing gear. But that’s not mentioned anywhere on any site, and when asked, people of those organizations often don’t have a good response.

There’s also a philisophical angel about eating fish, as we learn more and more about if fish feel pain. And the way fish are being caught, like killing animals for meat, is quite often inhumane.

Now it does not take enough time to also shine light on improvements some fishing-industries might have made and how for example fishquotas are a (half) attempt at preserving the fishpopulation. I don’t know enough about the topic but I know there is for example ‘pulse-fishing‘ and the site Medium also gives some insights into initiatives being taken and this site contains a paper with a set of proposals. So going to read up on that.

Now in the end hoping people will stop eating fish (which is sort of the conclusion of the documentary) is useless, in my view it’s about bundeling the power of technological innovation, educating (from kindergarden to cool documentaries) and government to bring about change and stop overfishing and destruction of ocean eco-systems. Not by saying ‘no’, but to help the fishing industry achieve a sustainable level, teaching people about the oceans and consequences of human influence on them (where is Jacques Cousteau when you need him), and coming up with alternatives for fish as food.

Will I stop eating fish? Probably not, but I will certainly try to eat less and be more aware of my consumption. The ocean has always had a mystical and romantic influence on me and my diving experience in Australia and Thailand were magical. Would be a real shame if my kids would not be able to enjoy that experience. The weird thing is that it’s solvable right now, but changing people and whole ‘fish-oriented’ cultures is a hard task, but documentaries like these hopefully will open some eyes!

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