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10 inspiring documentaries that will change your life

What are you up to this weekend? I’m still catching up on things, after spending last week in the UK. But I’m also kind of in the mood for a truly inspiring documentary, something life-affirming that can teach me something new. Here are a few of my favorites, which also happen to touch on very important subjects:

1. Beyond the Myth: The Truth About Pit Bulls

All dog lovers should see this film, which highlights the problem of discrimination against pit bulls, which can actually be wonderful companions. It also examines the harm done by negative media coverage and breed-specific legislation.

2. Vanishing of the Bees

Most of us know by now how important bees are to our ecosystem. This film explores the issue of them disappearing mysteriously, the detrimental effects on our food chain, and what can be done about it—including how the food choices we make every day may seal the bees’ fate.


Behind the fun palindrome of this film’s title is a serious message: What is happening to our food, now that corporations are controlling it? Narrated by former U.S. representative Dennis Kucinich, GMO OMG opens your eyes to the dangers and will inspire you even more to keep buying organic.

4. Shelter Me: Helping Lives, One Shelter Pet at a Time

For a very uplifting option filled with positive and heartful stories, try this one. Narrated by Katherine Heigl of Grey’s Anatomy fame, Shelter Me from PBS encourages all of us to adopt from a shelter—and shows how healing it can be to form a bond with our doggie companions, with first-person accounts from inmates in a women’s prison working to train dogs, a soldier with PTSD and a family that adopts two strays.

5. Blackfish

You’ve probably heard of this award-winning film. But if you haven’t seen it, now’s the time. Follow the sad story of captive killer whale Tilikum and learn the truth behind the issue of orcas in captivity. You’ll never want to support places like SeaWorld ever again.

6. Food Inc.

What’s more important, food that’s convenient and cheap or food that’s healthy? This film exposes the hard truths of factory farms and the food industry’s greed. If you’re an animal lover wanting to change your diet but need a little push, this may be all it takes to help you make more nutritious and environmentally sensitive choices.

7. That Sugar Film

Who among us is not addicted to sugar? Experts say it’s as addicting as cocaine or nicotine. Watch for an entertaining (and enlightening) look at one man’s journey eating processed foods with the equivalent of 40 teaspoons of sugar every day. Next time you go shopping, you’ll find yourself reading labels to find all that hidden sugar!

8. Forks Over Knives

Billed as “a film that can save your life!”, this documentary explores the powerful link between diet and disease. It uses the work and life journeys of two scientific researchers to show why we should reject “our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.” More importantly, they remind us that “food is medicine.” This one’s a must-watch for all of us, but especially for anyone suffering from chronic illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.

9. The 11th Hour: Turn Mankind’s Darkest Hour Into His Finest

Seven years later, this film examining the global environmental crisis is still relevant today. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio and featuring dozens of renowned scientists, it doesn’t just paint a dark picture—it also inspires hope and offers solutions and ideas for action.

10. The Cove

This one is probably the hardest for me to watch. But by reporting on the slaughter of thousands of innocent dolphins in Japan, animal welfare activist Richard O’Barry, who trained dolphins for Flipper four decades ago, brings to light an issue no one used to talk about and keeps hope alive that one day we may be able to end senseless dolphin slaughter forever. Go here for ways you can help.

What documentaries would you add to this list?

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