So this will not be the most scientific of reviews, but more of me offering my personal, dietitian opinion (mini-rant) on this documentary since I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my thoughts on it.
Within the first 22 minutes I wanted to pull my hair out, but nonetheless, I perservered on for review purposes. “Documentary” is such a loose term. The problem with “documentaries” like these, i.e., “scare tactics,” is that they can be done irresponsibly and with so much bias it makes my head spin. I don't mean to pick on, "What's the Health?" in particular because many documentaries use this method, but this one is current so yeah.. I'm going to pick on it.
First of all, processed meat isn’t great for us… WHAT??!! This is brand new information to me!! ::Sarcasm::
Sorry, but this should have been kind of a, “DUH,” moment for most of us.
No, processed meat isn’t GREAT. I think the consensus has pretty much been that nothing processed is GREAT for us. As a whole, I agree that we could stand to limit the quantity of meat and dairy in our diets. Should we encourage eating more vegetables and plant-based foods? HELL YES. However, this documentary OBVIOUSLY has an agenda to frighten people into becoming vegan. I am NOT anti-vegan. If you want to be vegan because of beliefs or values or the animals or you feel better eating that way… ALL FOR IT. DO YOU, BOO.
However, please give people accurate, unbiased information so that they can make an educated decision for themselves. If I wanted to convince you that a specific food causes cancer, I could more than likely dig up some obscure article that backs those findings and it’s probably sponsored by that food’s competitor. Not everyone realizes that when they watch something like this, though. Some people take it for face value and don’t do their own research to see if what they’re being sold even makes sense. This documentary is insinuating that other companies or organizations are biased in telling you to eat more protein and meat and yet, “What the Health?” is hypocritically doing the same thing for the exact opposite purpose.
Second of all… No, I don’t always think the government recommendations are exactly “up to par” and, yes, I think conflicts of interest may exist between pharmaceuticals and the government which is why I encourage others to take a more holistic approach to their health and choose whole, REAL foods most of the time. I’m not going to get into the statistics used in this documentary to scare people (such as, comparing eggs to cigarettes ::insert upside down smiley emoji here::) because other articles have already done a fabulous job of debunking those stats. Hit up Google for those.
Thirdly… Anytime in the history of diets ever that we have excluded entire food groups it realllyyyyy hasn’t gone very well for us. Allow me to refresh your memory… The low-fat diet. And now everyone wants to be Ketogenic and eat ALL THE FAT. The low-carb diet which resulted in Atkins which made everyone want steak and bacon all day long. Basically, all of these equate to us eating more of other shit we don’t need to eat more of (I disclaimered this wouldn’t be scientific so I can say, “shit”) or something that we would later say DID NOT WORK for the general population.
BALANCE GUYS. To insinuate that eating mass quans of sugar and carbs is all good as long as you don’t eat meat is frustrating to hear. So, we can eat biscuits and skittles everyday and in any quantity we want and it’ll be all good? C’mon, at least encourage healthful carbohydrate sources when you’re insinuating something like this. You know what a good carb source to eat more of is… VEGETABLES. What about taking an approach of encouraging people to eat more vegetables and the benefits of doing that rather than trying to create fear of meat?
To re-emphasize, I am not saying it’s wrong to be vegan or vegetarian and exclude meat. My philosophy is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to nutrition and I know vegans and vegetarians who do so healthfully. I know meat eaters who are healthy, too. There are SO MANY factors that contribute to health outcomes. A documentary supporting veganism is cool, but do so in a credible way. This documentary almost discredits vegans by being over the top.
All this being said, "What the Health?" has been successful in doing what it set out to do.. get people talking. The reason documentaries like these get so much attention is the same reason fad diets get attention. Everyone just wants to hear that there’s a quick fix. Stop eating meat and you’ll live forever (okay, I’m being dramatic, but this documentary is dramatic so we’re even). The thing is guys… there hasn’t ever and there isn’t ever going to be a “quick fix.” Eat whole, REAL foods MOST OF THE TIME. Live an active lifestyle. Take time to de-stress. Work on building a healthy, long-term relationship with food through mindfulness.
And most importantly… take information like this with a grain of salt (oooh… pun intended. I’m sorry, guys. Lame joke.). Do your own research. Don’t jump on all the bandwagons. And most importantly…
MS, RD, LDN