5 Best documentaries worth watching on Netflix and YouTube

That is a 60 m drop, friends.

Can I just add some nice things to your to-binge list? Last night, my sister recommended watching Social Dilemma. While I wait for inspiration to come so I can finally get to it, I would like to share some insightful documentaries that I have previously watched on YouTube and Netflix, for you know, times when you just cannot decide what to click on.

1. The Wonderful World of the Woods

I have to start with a nature documentary, right? The Wonderful World of the Woods explores the life of the German forest across four seasons. Stunning.

Originally aired in German as Geheimnisse den Waldes (it was as if the sky opened when I understood it in German), the English narration is personable and makes you invest in the unfolding magic and mystery of this gorgeous forest.

Highly recommend this free full-length documentary on YouTube for nights when you want to relax and feel safe and secure in the way only nature can provide.

2. Switzerland – an Alpine Country

Did you know there is more than chocolate and rich people in Switzerland? In fact, its unique nature is far more valuable. Its landscape is so unique and surprisingly elemental. The vistas and animals are breathtaking, and I mean that literally, not in a travel magazine buzzword way. The next time you feel lockdown fatigue, watch this documentary on YouTube and let wonder take over the claustrophobia.

3. The Game Changers

The vegan elite athletes featured on this documentary are unreal. I have so much respect for their hard work and lifestyle choices. Go watch The Game Changers if you are a sports fan and curious about a plant-based diet.

Obviously, this Netflix documentary is biased towards plant-based diet so use your own judgment. The science it presented is correct but it is not complete. There is also no point in demonizing any food or lifestyle since this rarely brings about sustainable change. Still, informative and fascinating to watch!

4. We are What We Eat

It takes zero effort to ignore the fact that too much sugar and salt is bad for our body. But when we see brain cells devouring itself as a response to our poor diet choices, then we start to pay attention.

This DW documentary did an excellent job in communicating its science – simple, accessible, and relatable. Even the smartest documentaries can fall short on that.

I particularly loved its discussion on how our diet choices affect our mental health and the genes we pass to children. I feel it is important to watch We are What We Eat because it gives us an option and helps us to make an informed decision.


5. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

David Chang is not Anthony Bourdain but his zeal and curiosity are infinitely entertaining. I came for the food but stayed for the rich exploration of the psyche of his celebrity guests. It was a pleasant surprise, how insightful the episodes were, both the fun and deep ones.

My favorite is the finale: Phnom Penh with Kate McKinnon. I appreciate how it provided a glimpse of the main challenge of the modern man, this truth haunting our core that we often dismiss, or are uncomfortable talking about. I found beauty in the struggle, I suppose, because this is our unexamined lives reflected back at us, well, in between delicious spoonfuls of curry and pho.

I am so interested on your thoughts, if you watch or have watched these documentaries on YouTube or Netflix, or if you have recommendations for the best documentaries I could watch some time, too. Thank you!

96 thoughts on “5 Best documentaries worth watching on Netflix and YouTube

  1. Switzerland – an Alpine Country -> This makes me want to go to Switzerland so badly… It has been my #1 dream destination for the longest time…

    David Chang is the same one in Ugly Delicious right? I liked how he defended Domino’s pizza from food snobs 😀

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    1. My sister’s boyfriend is on the same boat. I sent him the link to the documentary and it hit the spot perfectly. Yes, that is David Chang, and I remember the Domino’s discussion. I like that about him. He is genuine. With B,L,&D, I like the added element of travel and the exposition with the guests. There is a lot to be learned other than good food and I really appreciate that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will try that one. David is fun to watch & yes, he is truly genuine— I was watching earlier today when they had their sonogram. Priceless!

        I need Switzerland for a longer trip… i hope God gives my 40 days back 😅 (it got forfeited due to covid crisis)

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                  1. Thanks for the reminder 😀

                    Food shows are amazing! When I was a kid, I loved that cooking show with the Dazas and Wok With Yan 😀

                    How about you? Were you able to get caught up with those shows? Or were you still too young to have seen it?

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                    1. Agree, food shows are a treat. I have not watched these shows but I know Sandy Daza is one of the early Filipino TV chefs, if not the first. Is he? I remember watching a lot of Food Network when I was younger. My earliest memories are of Rachel Ray and Barefoot Contessa. What is your favorite cooking show? I think mine would be The Delicious Miss Dahl. Apart from the homecooking, I like the extra elements – the literature, English cottage and countryside, the music. It was just well-thought.

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                    2. Their mom was the first, then he continued her show I think… ohemgee, Barefoot Contessa & Rachel Ray! I knew of them post-college 😅 I lived in a studio apartment in college and I didnt have any appliance but a boombox 🤣

                      I like almost everything on Food Network! I love Chopped, Iron Chef and shows like Bizarre Food 😅😅😅

                      I love Rachel’s energy; Barefoot Contessa is too zen for me 😅

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                    3. Ah yes, Iron Chef. As a child, I thought it was real and wondered why was the chairman so rich? I also enjoyed the commentary of Alton Brown. It was like a sports contest. And love how you say BC is boring in the nicest way possible. I might steal that one. Haha!

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  2. Love this list! I am most attracted to The Wonderful World of the Woods and might watch that tomorrow. I’ve seen a bit of Social Dilemma while my husband was watching it, but it was too depressing ( like revisiting Cambridge Analytica ) so I haven’t finished it yet. Will have to wait for the right mindset!

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    1. Thank you. Yes, same. Since documentaries are long, I want to feel inspired to watch it so I can focus and really get something out of it. Sometimes, I watch in installments. When my focus is wandering, I stop and do it like a series. I can really recommend the Wonderful World of the Woods – it is such a treat and I ended up watching all three parts. That is three hours of my life! Worth it though. The autumn part was lovely.

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  3. I don’t watch much documentaries. But these are interesting though, especially the Better Brain Health, I just saved it to be watched later on my free time. 😊 Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. It was really inspiring for me and I learned a lot. It made me wonder how my diet change affected my mental health because I am in a much better place now than, say for example, 10 years ago when my diet was mainly coffee and junk food.

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      1. I didn’t have a fave for B/L/D. I have a love/hate with the host guy.

        For food-travel shows, I prefer I’ll Have What Phil’s Having and Somebody Feed Phil.. though I found S3 of Feed Phil to be a little week.

        One thing I liked about the movie (I cannot remember it’s name, ever) is the link between meat and inflammation. By joints have been really bad again. I wonder if part of the reason is that I started eating meat again around May. I don’t have much, but I have it. And I practically live on cheese. Something for me to consider!

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        1. I agree with David Chang! He is not for everyone. I did not like him when I first discovered him but now is an acquired taste. I have watched Somebody Feed Phil, too! The Israel episode was a dream. I really want to visit the vegetarian restaurant they featured. And on ‘we are what we eat’, I agree, the inflammation concept bothered me, too. I eat processed food rarely but have dessert every day. What I wondered from that documentary is how much sugar or salt is too much? Or is it an immediate reaction? I hope the science quantified that.

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          1. The docu with the athletes showed the blood reactions are pretty much immediate. The erection test cracked me up!!! Mainly cause the guys were so embarrassed!!

            My fav ep of Phil was Lisbon!! I got to meet him and his wife at a local event related to the show. I was disappointed that they completely ran out of sampler foods before I got anything (it was horribly crowded) and the after-presentation “surprise” treat was Krispy Kreme. I don’t like donuts!!!

            Phil was great on stage but pretty over it after. His wife on the other hand, not part of the show, was HYSTERICAL and clearly would have invited everyone home if she could.

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            1. I thought they could not have chosen more awkward participants than college jocks. It was funny. Oh, sorry to hear about that. I have not watched many episodes of the series actually. I think only Israel and Denmark.

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                  1. Just saw 2 short docs (hour, combined) about trans people in NZ and Samoa. I’m stunned that there are NO gender reassignment doctors in NZ!! There was 1 but he retired. Even when he was working, the waitlist was 35 YEARS.

                    PACIFIC HEARTBEAT, “Born This Way: Ava’s Story” and “The Rogers”

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  4. NHK World has tons of outstanding documentaries and docu-shows . The shows Documentary 72 Hours, Journeys In Japan, and The Professionals are all particularly good But I also like Cycle around Japan, Lunch On (they document people and their lunches), Japan’s Top Inventions, Kabuki Cool, and Cool Japan.

    I recently enjoyed “Tsuriko’s Tea Jouney:… the one on Japan (there’s another, shorter, one in Germany).

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    1. Thanks for the recommendations. I will look up the one on tea. I love tea. Plus tea documentaries are also filled with nature! Some of these documentaries are on YouTube so you can keep going minus Netflix. Honestly, there is no shortage of free high quality documentaries there. Also, I just share my sister’s Netflix. Haha!

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          1. I’m a coffee fanatic. Been drinking it since I was four!! I used to sip the bits people left behind because it had grounds in it back then. Now it doesn’t like me.

            I love rituals and getting to see bits of the chaji ceremony was cool.

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            1. What do you mean it does not like you? I used to be addicted to coffee, literally. I have stopped drinking it for maybe five years now. I have not attended a formal tea ceremony and am not sure how I would feel about it. If you enjoy rituals, you would love Bali. Participating in rituals important to the community is one of the highlights of our wellness retreats. It is not performed, mind you, but actual participation out of the generosity of the community. It is magical. I do not think I will tire of it.

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              1. I have chronic GI issues and coffee now makes them 1000x worse. In high school I was drinking 2 pots of coffee a day, every day, by myself!! I named my cats after coffee (Mocha, Espressa, Cappuccino, Tiramisu, and Biscotti). Glad to know I’m not the only addict!!!!

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              2. My personal belief, esp after noticing how thin everyone is in shows before the 90s, is that corn syrup is the root of all evil. I don’t do anything about it… but it’s my belief.

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                1. I do not know anything about corn syrup, but I can see sugar effects on my body and can leverage that, if not the science I can access. My skin tends to act up when I have too much sugar. It is not the only trigger, but one of them.

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                  1. Sugar gives me intense heartburn most, but not all, the time. People think I must guzzle sweets but it’s actually carbs to which I’m addicted.

                    Refined corn syrup is in literally almost all processed products these days. It’s an unnatural product and became an additive right around the same time American’s weight ballooned.

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  5. I don’t dispute that plant based is really good for the human body, but the Game Changers just didn’t rub well with me. I feel like they should’ve done the study with random people and followed them over the course of some time in order to get more accurate results. It almost seemed biased.

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    1. It is definitely biased. I enjoyed it for the athletes. When I trained muay thai competitively, I was eating plenty of chicken and believed the protein made a difference in my performance the next day. After switching diets, I do not feel a loss of energy even when working out. Psst. Were you able to work out?

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      1. Muay Thai sounds like fun! I’ve been toying with the idea of learning juijitsu or however it’s spelt. I have started exercising again 😊 I’m doing CrossFit and it feels amazing! The horrible mood I was in has gone away now 😅

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        1. Oh, happy for you! Muay thai is fun but it is hard on the body. Jiu jitsu is softer but still demanding. Is there a teacher near you? I have tried it, actually even together with Markus, but I choose muay thai because I enjoy kicking. I have not done it since I tore my MCL but will definitely train again.

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  6. Ooooh, I love documentaries! The first one about the German forest sounds pretty amazing! Usually nature documentaries are my go to, but lately I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of archeology documentaries which I’ve really enjoyed! I’ll check some of these out, thank you!

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  7. These are all interesting shows, Micah. I think the idea of being a vegan athlete is interesting. When I was younger and I did a lot of spinning and cycling, we were always told to eat lots of animal protein. I never did as I have always been more of a carbohydrate and legumes kind of person.

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    1. Go carbs! What is the staple food in South Africa actually? Yes, I found the vegan athletes incredibly fascinating. Results of diet change can be seen really quick with athletes because the performance can be measured. It was truly inspiring to see. When we changed our diet, I was afraid it would affect my energy, too. Fortunately, this is not the case!

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      1. I’m glad to hear that, Micah. In South Africa it depends on the background of the person. There are 11 official languages in SA, 9 are traditionally spoken by native African people, 1 by people originating from the Netherlands and English. Each group of people has its own culture, customs and foods. Native AFricans eat a porridge called mielie pap with sugar beans. They also like beef and chicken. Afrikaans people eat a lot of meat cooked on an open fire, its called braaing. English people here are the same as they are everywhere and eat traditional English foods like fish and chips. We have a lot of salad because it gets very hot here during the summer time.

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  8. Love the recommendations! Definitely curious to watch ‘We are what we eat’ and ‘The game changers’. I’ve been a vegetarian since high school but been trying to turn vegan over the past 1 year and it’s been really challenging because no alternate tastes as good. Might be motivating to read about athletes and how they manage with vegan eating.

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    1. Vegetarian since high school? Wow. Why did you choose this diet? Yes, please enjoy the documentaries. I found them really insightful and entertaining. Really interested on your thoughts.

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      1. I was visiting a village in India and ended up seeing a live chicken getting butchered in front of me. That was it for me, I just couldn’t get myself to eat meat again. 🙈

        Will definitely watch these documentaries!

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        1. Oh no… In Bali, they have ceremonies where they behead a chick. Markus is always quick to protect me, of course. But I know what is going on there. Crazy how perspective change once we realize that that slice did not come from the packet but from a living, breathing thing.

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          1. Truly. I was so freaked out that I stopped eating meat right that moment. It’s been a decade to that now and I still can’t get myself to eat meat no matter how good it looks. When and why did you become a vegan?

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            1. A decade, wow! I am not vegan, but I do not eat meat. Never thought it would happen in my life! We did our yoga teacher training in Rishikesh in 2018 and ate all vegan. My body adapted so fast I could not eat meat again without having diarrhea or stomachache or any other digestion problem. You could say that the diet change came naturally. It has been two years now and it has been a wonderful learning process. I like eating plant-based. It is light and easy on the body. Cooking it is fun, too! See, I am from The Philippines and it is very hard to eat plant-based here without cooking yourself, so the joy of cooking adds to my pleasure of eating this way. I do not think I will be able to eat meat again, even if I want to, and I really do not want to.

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