Holiday Time is Movie Time!: Your Short List of Animal-Friendly Movies

The holidays are upon us and hopefully you have some time off to enjoy them with family and friends. What better way to be together, cozied up in the house, than to share animal-friendly movies?

I’ve combed through the archives─wanted to ensure most, if not all, are available for free on Netflix─to give you my three top selections within the following categories: (1) Animal Welfare; (2) Food, Health and the Environment; and (3) Animal Narratives.

Please keep in mind these are not exhaustive lists. So many more animal-friendly films are as deserving as these. However, in searching for these movies, I found myself overwhelmed by how many there were. So, in the interest of not overwhelming you, this is my short list.

At the end I’ve included a link to a wonderful list of animal-friendly films appropriate for kids kindergarten through sixth grade.

I’ll leave you with a quote that especially inspires me during the holidays, but one that I aspire to always:

“Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.”

– Albert Schweitzer


Animal Welfare

Blackfish (released 2013) 
The story of Tilikum, a captive killer whale that has taken the lives of several people, underscores problems within the sea-park industry, man’s relationship to nature, and how little has been learned about these highly intelligent mammals.


The Cove (released 2009)
In Taiji, Japan, local fishermen hide a gruesome secret: the capture and slaughter of dolphins. Activist Ric O’Barry, who trained dolphins for the “Flipper” TV series, joins forces with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Ocean Preservation Society to expose the brutal practice, risking life and limb in the process.

Tyke Elephant Outlaw (released 2015)
The life of Tyke, a circus elephant who went on a rampage in 1994 in Honolulu and died in a hail of gunfire. Her former trainers, witnesses to her rampage, and animal rights activists discuss the use of animals in the entertainment industry.



Food, Health and the Environment

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (released 2014)
Filmmakers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn address the effects of cattle on the environment.



Forks Over Knives (released 2011)
Researchers explore the possibility that people changing their diets from animal-based to plant-based can help eliminate or control diseases like cancer and diabetes.


Vegucated (released 2011)
Vegucated is an American documentary film that explores the challenges of converting to a vegan diet. It follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks.



Animal Narratives

Buck (released 2011)
American cowboy Buck Brannaman has a unique way of communicating with horses, and it’s exactly this unorthodox style of training that inspired the novel “The Horse Whisperer.” In this documentary, director Cindy Meehl gets to know the real-life Buck as she reveals his fascinating story about how an abusive childhood helped teach him the compassion and insight needed to train horses, not with punishment but by treating them the way he would treat humans — with respect.

Harry & Snowman (released 2015)
The story of immigrant Harry deLeyer and the plow horse he rescued from slaughter.



Okja (animated; appropriate for children; released 2017)
For 10 idyllic years, young Mija has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja – a massive animal and an even bigger friend – at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when family-owned, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where an image-obsessed and self-promoting CEO has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission.


Animal-friendly Movies for Kids

For holiday viewing with kids in kindergarten through sixth grade, check out PETA’s great list of animal-friendly movies that teach important life lessons.

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