Cowspiracy: Revelation or Cheap Trick?
Kip Andersen, Filmmaker, Cowspiracy and What the Health
Nicolette Hahn Niman, Author, Defending Beef
Jonathan Kaplan, Director, Food and Agriculture Program, National Resources Defense Council
Are environmentalists afraid of stepping in cow dung? The documentary film Cowspiracy contends that large environmental groups are turning a blind eye to the harmful effects cattle have on ecosystems and human health. Environmentalists bristle at the charge and point to work promoting vegan and vegetarian diets and campaigns against factory farms and other aspects of the animal agriculture industry. The film, which was backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, presents “a sensationalist conspiracy where none exists,” according to Greenpeace executive Robin Oakley.
However a growing number of environmentalists are praising cows and claim they can be climate healers rather than the villains they are often made out to be. They contend that a cow’s methane-rich burps can be offset if cattle grazing patterns are carefully managed. The result, they say, can be pretty landscapes and healthy soil that stores both carbon and water. Is that just spin from cattle ranchers? Does Cowspiracy use green groups as a foil to make a sensational film to generate buzz? A conversation about the future of an American icon in the age of climate disruption.