Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My take on 'What the health'

Netflix has just launched yet another controversial documentary which seems to have everyone (remotely interested in food/nutrition) talking. If you haven't yet seen it, these are the three main themes of the documentary, summarized: animal products are the source of many chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, a vegan diet is the answer to prevent and cure most diseases and lastly, non-profit organizations give people misinformation about the dangers of animal products because they are funded by major food companies. Quite loaded, isn't it? Read further if you want to hear what I think about all of this. 

To start, I think this documentary creates the opposite effect of what it aims to do, by presenting causal relationships cherry-picked from studies and scaring people, for example by saying that eating one egg equals smoking five cigarettes. While watching this, I agreed with some things but I couldn't help questioning some of the facts they presented. I thought the whole time "Can this be true?". And because the documentary is just one big enumeration of "shocking" and "scary" facts, I couldn't help but wonder whether it wasn't all just an exaggeration of facts picked from studies? 

I've read a couple reviews on What The Health (here, here and here), and some certified nutritionists have even checked some of the facts that came from different studies, concluding that the filmmakers have twisted some facts to their advantage, and used cherry-picked studies to support their views. I also noticed that there was a lot of use of 'causal relationships' and conspiracy, and I think that there are so many more factors that play a role in diseases, not only meat and dairy consumption. In Dutch, you'd say that this documantery is "kort door de bocht". 

Next to that, all experts that talk in this documentary are all vegans, which adds to the one-sided view of the whole movie. I would have liked to see other nutritionists or experts who aren't necessarily vegan but who could give interesting insights on the relationship between diet and disease. And yes, no wonder that the receptionist from a non-profit association is unable to answer questions about food and disease, it's not their job. No, this doesn't necessarily mean that they are "hiding things", but that you're simply talking to the wrong people and that you don't know how to politely approach these companies. 

This documentary just seems very subjective which reinforces the image of vegans being unreliable and dishonest. While Cowspiracy (by the same filmmakers) was also controversial, I feel like it was a much better documentary and more of an 'eye-opener'. What The Health was just too much, and not very credible in my opinion. Which is a pity, because I stand behind the main idea, that people should move towards a (more) plant-based diet which will have positive health and environmental impacts while also decreasing animal suffering. It just wasn't done in the right way. 

If you're wondering whether I've been continuing my vegan diet, you might have noticed that I've moved to a more vegetarian diet the last couple of months, with an occasional bite of fish restaurants. While I felt great eating plant-based only, I was missing some things like cheese and yogurt, so I have incorporated these back into my diet especially since I wanted to try so many different foods in New York. This is a selfish decision because I don't stand behind the dairy industry and it will never feel good on my conscience to eat animal products the way they are being produced now.

On the other hand, it feels good to be in 'control' of what I eat and make my own choices. Because I ate vegan most of the time for about two years, it still feels very natural to prepare vegan food and make conscious choices at a restaurant. I still don't drink cows milk, eat eggs or meat because those things don't taste good to me any longer, which is why trying to eat vegan for a couple weeks/months could be a great thing if you want to change your eating habits. Okay I'm rambling and this post is already too long, but I just wanted to give my opinion on What The Health, even if I'm the millionth blogger who does it. Let me know what you think about this documentary!

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