what the health

Behind What the Health

I’ve been getting A LOT of questions regarding the Netflix documentary, What The Health. I was finally able to sit down and watch it and couldn’t help but wonder one thing throughout the 90-minute film (90-minutes of your life you cannot get back). WHAT. THE. FUCK. Then I debated even writing this because I don’t think it’s even worth a response. I’ve been putting it off.

The Headline

The best part about health, fitness, and nutrition is there is NO one formula for everyone. In fact, I don’t think there’s one formula that works for you all the time, your diet and fitness regimen needs to evolve as you do. For this film to claim that animal products have catastrophic effects for EVERYONE and that EVERYONE should follow a plant based diet is completely asinine. I think the best way to describe this documentary (and point of view) is to say it’s unfortunate. Any debate that doesn’t explore another point of view or an opposing view point does viewers a disservice. Instead of strategically and thoughtfully disseminating information on the benefits of a plant based diet, this documentary uses fear mongering scare tactics to threaten viewers with extreme consequences.

A raw vegan diet may be just the ticket you need to feel great, look great and have a ton of energy.

A diet that includes lean protein may be needed for you to look and feel your best.

YOU must decide, but to do so, you need ALL the information.

As I mentioned, this is 90-minutes of your life that you can’t get back. If you wanted to pick each segment of this docu apart, you could. I’m going to discuss (debunk, if you will) four of my key takeaways.  People, this is MY opinion. Albeit, supported by FACTS and SCIENCE. Two things I don’t think this docu knows anything about, to be honest.

1. Sponsorship

The filmmaker, Kip Anderson, is SHOCKED to learn that organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen are sponsored by companies like KFC, Tyson and Dannon Yogurt.

Kip, I ask you, have you been living under a plant based rock? Not-for-profits need MONEY, and they’ll take it from whoever will give it to them. Brands and companies buy everyone from the Instagram influencer you follow on Instagram to a .org – all it takes is the right price. Consumers need to check their naiveté at the door and hold themselves accountable to do their due diligence and do some basic research before making purchases or getting on board with any trend or diet. Yawn. Old news.

I was curious to know who sponsored Kip throughout this cinematic adventure. It turns Joaquin Phoenix produced What the Health. Joaquin, who is an expert in nothing. So that’s super interesting. PETA also contributed significant funding. Weird?!

This film also interviews STEVE-O FROM JACKASS as an “expert” opinion. I believe his contribution is claiming, “Serving chicken at a diabetes meeting is like serving alcohol at an AAA meeting.” And no, that’s not the same thing. Not even remotely close. So while Kip is berating organizations for being sponsored by unhealthy partners, I would say What The Health is no better off than The American Heart Association. Pot/Kettle.

2. How Processed Meat Becomes Processed Meat

Regardless of your view point, if you want this documentary, there is some shit you just can’t un-see. Again, it’s not surprising. The terrible conditions in which cows, chickens, pigs and other livestock are held captive and slaughtered is fucking disgusting. But we’ve known this for, like, a decade. Right? Again, consumers have a responsibility to understand the sources of their food. You can’t buy anything off the bottom shelf at a grocery store and expect to get a high-quality product. Meat in America is pumped full of sodium, hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics. Is this THE cause for diabetes and health decline in America? NO. Again, the scare tactics used as scientific information is truly baffling.

This documentary reveals a study that took samples of meat from FAST FOOD CHAINS like KFC and McDonald’s resulted with finding carcinogens. No. Shit?! That’s why you pay .99 for your meal.

(I’m getting really worked up right now, I don’t know if can you tell?)

Not all meat is created equal. Some meat contains antibiotics, hormones and comes from animals raised in unsanitary conditions. Some meat is antibiotic and hormone free and comes from animals who are grass-fed and free-range. If you’re worried about where your meat comes from, check out local farms and ranches in your area. Ask your Whole Foods or local grocery store where the butcher orders meat and educate yourself on what you’re putting in your body. Don’t just assume that all meat is produced inhumanely.

I mean, this film claims that animal products are life threatening. That’s pretty serious. Should we write an open letter to France, Italy and Greece, some of the healthiest nations in the WORLD and let them know about this?! Countries that have diets consisting primarily of meat, fish, poultry and cheese day-in and day-out, yet their obesity and mortality rates are far less than that of America…

3. The Difference Between Sugar, Carbs and Fat

This film lost all credibility the second it proved that its “experts” do not understand BASIC nutrition like how carbs are digested and processed by the body. Their experts claim that carbs cannot make you fat. But like, they can. These experts also claim that fat and not sugar cause diabetes. When you overload your body with carbs your liver turns those into fat and triglycerides. They get stored in your body as fat and can lead to weight gain. Carbs can’t make you fat? What about regular soda? What about sugary cereals? What about white bread? What about potato chips? What about anything that comes out of a bag in the center aisles of the grocery store?! Carbs can absolutely lead to weight gain. For the record, and over consumption of fat can as well. Nutrition is a science which must be monitored, tracked and evaluated constantly. Even in moderation, you have to be mindful of what you’re putting in your body. An over consumption of one thing WILL lead to an inbalance. Regardless of what that is.

I don’t pretend to be a doctor or an expert in the prevention of diabetes, but from a physiological stand point, this information is misleading and inaccurate. Not only is this information is WRONG, but it’s dangerous to spoon feed these kinds of statements to viewers out of context. Read more about how your body processes carbs and fat here, here and here.

4. General Health Decline in America

According to HealthData.org, there are an estimated 160 million Americans who are either obese or overweight. Nearly 30% of American boys and girls under the age of 20 are obese, a number which has dramatically increased since the 1980’s. Is the problem here animal products? Is it meat and cheese? Fuck. No. The obesity epidemic is over three decades old, and the problem goes far beyond genetically modified beef.

  • Americans eater fewer vegetables, fruits, and nuts than ever before
  • It’s easier to grab a pre-packaged meal than cook a clean meal
  • We sit on our ass and watch TV as oppose to prioritize our movement
  • Portions are out of control and sometimes 3x the standard size of what they SHOULD BE
  • Americans are overworked, stressed and unhappy
  • A general lack of funding for healthy nutritional and educational programs in schools
  • A severe lack of healthy food and produce available for all income levels in all regions of the country
  • Over consumption of sugar which can be found in EVERYTHING from chips, to soda, to juice

In my mind, that’s the real problem. American’s aren’t prioritizing health or their education on how to be healthy. This epidemic has a domino effect, parents pass bad habits to their kids, and those kids turn into unhealthy adults who perpetuate this decline. Food producers and restaurant leaders are unfortunately less than ideal partners who push the envelope on calorically dense entrees and aggressive portion sizes. It’s up to each individual to put themselves first and do whatever it takes to ensure a healthy quality of life.

The Conclusion

There is nothing wrong with a vegan diet if that diet works for you. There is nothing wrong with a high-fat diet if that diet works for you. There is nothing wrong with a moderately healthy diet if that’s what works FOR YOU. What is fundamentally wrong is cherry-picking scientific studies, misinterpreting data and straight up selling misinformation and claiming it as scientific fact. If you’re looking for health advice, I would suggest against an extremist view point and opt for well-rounded research, and experimentation to find out what works best for you.

Rant over.

Cover Image via What the Health.

2 Comments

  1. Amen! So glad you posted this. I had the same WTF reaction to What the Health. I wish I could get the 90 minutes back. While the documentary was painfully ridiculous on many levels, it still made me question somewhere in the back of my mind whether my eating habits that have worked for me for the last 15+ years have been completely wrong. I feel a lot better after reading this, so thank you!

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