The film does an effective job of revolting viewers into rethinking their food choices, shaking any faith in the USDA and Congress and mourning the loss of the American farmer. Truly, "you don't want to know how the sausage gets made" is a cliché for a reason: It's nauseating. (Or maybe that saying took flight because the meat industry doesn't want anyone asking questions.) The information is well-presented, but the film gets increasingly difficult to stomach with images of animal abuse. Portman narrates with a quiet calm that's juxtaposed with troubling stories and images of animal abuse and environmental nightmares that sufficiently leave viewers with, well, a lot to chew on. Perhaps not everyone will agree with its message, but Eating Animals' conclusions are fair, offering solutions that include veganism and sustainable animal agriculture.
That said, while Big Ag is an easy villain to target, the movie lacks balance. No explanations, justifications, or counterpoints are offered from corporate farms. The only opposing perspective comes in an unfair presentation: The owner of a new meat processing plant that sits where a notorious slaughterhouse used to be is clearly exasperated when he catches an animal activist filming his place. He explains that all the cameraman had to do was ask for a tour; his employees go through training, they care for the animals, and they aim for transparency. That conversation is followed with footage from 2008 of injured cows being rolled by forklifts by the former business, likely appalling viewers, who may not realize it's of a totally different company a decade ago. And, frustratingly, the film ends with mixed messages. Two of the hero farmers the film follows sell their sustainable farms to Perdue and Tyson, confusing those who were led to believe that those companies were the enemy. For all the work the film does to prove that industrial farms are the devil, it doesn't give enough guidance on farm names that the viewer can trust.