I Watched Netflix's What the Health—an Hour Later, I Wanted to Go Vegetarian
Let me start off by saying that I've never once considered cutting animal products out of my diet. I consider cheese to be a food group, I add chicken to almost every salad, and I will gladly spend $20 on a lobster roll whenever the opportunity presents itself. Culinary preferences aside, I've always been of the opinion that meat is a necessary part of any balanced diet; that animal protein is what fuels your workouts and brings life to your complexion.
Which is why I'm surprised to say that after watching the new What the Health documentary on Netflix, I've actually considered veganism, or at the very least, cutting meat out of my diet (which I've now done for the last week). Created by filmmakers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, and produced by the same team behind Cowspiracy, What the Health isn't trying to scare viewers into giving up animal products via graphic imagery or an appeal to emotion. Instead, it suggests that the corruption and corporate influence in the health industry is keeping our country sick.
In the same way that organizations like the National Rifle Association give money to certain political parties in an attempt to influence legislation, What the Health suggests that food corporations and pharmaceutical companies empty their pockets to national health organizations to change our perception of what a "healthy" diet looks like (indirectly shortening life spans in the process).
The focus is on red and processed meats, poultry, and dairy products in particular—foods that have been linked to life-threatening ailments like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, but are continuously recommended to us as being a part of a healthy, balanced diet. In fact, the Cancer Council has classified processed meats, including ham, salami, sausages, bacon, and hot dogs, as Group 1 carcinogens (the same class as cigarettes). Yet the organizations we look to for unbiased health advice recommend bacon-wrapped shrimp, processed and canned meats, and beef and pork recipes as healthy options.
Moreover, when Andersen tries to ask these associations about the link between disease and diet, and why they're recommending foods linked to the very diseases they're trying to prevent, their responses are astounding—they either refuse the interview altogether or abruptly cut the interview short. One hospital employee even openly admits that they're in the business of treating illness and disease, not preventing them.
It's worth mentioning that critics of the documentary claim it is too one-sided and pushes a meatless agenda without considering the opposing viewpoint. With that being said, I encourage everyone to watch the documentary themselves and form their own opinion. Blame my stereotypically millennial distrust of institutions, but for me, the corruption and greed alone was enough for me to at least consider a dietary change.
What were your thoughts on the new documentary? Watch it for yourself here, and share your opinion below.