In his upcoming documentary, the legendary Sir David Attenborough calls for a mass dietary shift to plant-based foods in order to re-wild the Earth and save the planet. Called A Life On Our Planet, 94-year-old stresses in the film that humans can no longer wait to take drastic action if we are to avoid complete climate and ecological breakdown, and that it has become increasingly clear that the planet simply “can’t support billions of meat-eaters.”
A Life On Our Planet is described as Attenborough’s most personal exploration into his decades-long career documenting the destruction of wildlife and the environment and his “witness statement” for the natural world. Set to premiere on Netflix later this year, the WWF and Silverback Films co-produced documentary comes with a bold message from Attenborough that humans must make dramatic changes to our diets in order to save the planet.
“I had the most extraordinary life. It’s only now I appreciate how extraordinary. The living world is a unique and spectacular marvel,” he says in the movie trailer. “Yet, the way we humans live on earth is sending it into a decline. Human needs have overrun the world.”
I had the most extraordinary life. It’s only now I appreciate how extraordinary. The living world is a unique and spectacular marvel. Yet, the way we humans live on earth is sending it into a decline. Human needs have overrun the world.
Sir David Attenborough
But Attenborough makes clear that this film is not meant to guilt viewers into changing their habits. It’s a documentary aimed at showing how each and every one of us can act right now.
“If we act now we can yet put it right. Our planet is headed for disaster. We need to learn how to work with nature rather than against it and I’m going to tell you how,” the wildlife broadcaster, filmmaker and environmentalist said.
His advice to the world, which is revealed in the movie trailer, is to reduce meat consumption or make a full switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet. “We must radically reduce the way we farm. We must change our diet. The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters.”
While Attenborough himself does not consider himself a “doctrinaire” vegetarian or vegan, he revealed in a recent interview that he does not have the same appetite for animal meat anymore due to the state of the planet and the realisation of the enormous damage the meat industry has caused.
We must radically reduce the way we farm. We must change our diet. The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters.
Sir David Attenborough
Currently, the global livestock industry is responsible for nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the largest user of land resources, driving unsustainable practices such as deforestation that fuels mass biodiversity loss. According to a report by the WWF, slashing animal meat consumption by 50% would not only reduce carbon emissions, but also save 12,000 species per year and salvage 1.72 million square miles of land.
Experts have also urged for a shift away from traditional animal farming practices amid the coronavirus crisis, which has exposed the vulnerabilities in the meat supply chain, from unsafe working conditions for employees to being the perfect breeding ground for new zoonotic diseases. Researchers from the U.N. recently highlighted the world’s appetite for animal protein as one of the key drivers of emerging pandemic-potential diseases.
“This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time,” said Colin Butfield, WWF’s executive producer for the film.
The documentary will screen in select cinemas across the U.K. and other parts of Europe, as well as in Australia and New Zealand, on September 28 this year before being widely released. Those who watch the movie on the big screen will be able to enjoy an exclusive viewing of a conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin, renowned television presenter.
Lead image courtesy of Our Life On Our Planet Film.