The subject of diet in terms of what is healthy and harmful to us is a seriously hot topic these days, and one that is overloaded with conflicting advice, depending on which angle you’re coming from and filled with confusion concerning what we should and should not be eating when we are searching for answers.
So when I was asked to watch the documentary ‘What the Health’ I wasn’t overly enthusiastic. Described by some critiques as ‘vegan propaganda’ this documentary produced and directed by Kip Anderson, Keegan Kuhn and Joaquin Phoenix, all themselves vegans, delves into an animal obsessed diet and the negative impact it has on our health and actually raises some really interest agendas. Not with the ethical debates of for or against eating another living creature, but more to do with the profit driven factory farmers, processed meat and dairy manufacturers and governments, whose unethical behavior and actions have impacted on our health and environment and have left us in the ‘disease trap’.
Opening with a quote from Hippocrates, the godfather of modern medicine:
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
This couldn’t be further from the truth in today’s modern world as the documentary graphically shows. Footage of pig carcasses being prepared for meat production with oozing pus filled boils was enough to turn my stomach; thankfully I live in a part of the world where meat production is still respectful of its historical and cultural traditions.
What this documentary does do quite successfully is to highlight the mis-information being given to people. The ‘factory farming’ meat industry, as it stands today, is quite literally killing people prematurely and is a contributing factor in the development of some of the major diseases like cancer, heart disease and insulin resistant diabetes. Once we are in the disease trap, most of our Dr.’s are nothing more than well-educated puppets under the control of pharmaceutical companies who advise them on what to prescribe. In fact tell them you are a vegetarian or a vegan and they will most likely attribute your choice of diet as a contributing factor. The ‘disease’ industry is big business and once they have got us, we are on a fast track to being unhappy, unhealthy and on expensive prescription medications for the rest of our lives.
But is a plant only based diet the best option? Do we get enough of what we need in order to stay healthy, purely from plants? This documentary would have us believe that a plant only based diet will provide us with all nutrients: protein, carbs, natural sugar and essential vitamins.
Interviews with Dr’s and yes, all were vegans, inform us that consuming 1 egg per day is the same equivalent to smoking 5 cigarettes per day in terms of negative impact on health, that sugar is not the demon we are all believing it is and that in actual fact the ‘focus on sugar has taken the focus off meat, diary, cheese and eggs’.
But what they are really talking about here is the negative effects of factory farming, where the end product really shouldn’t be labeled as meat at all.
Surely with all food products, if they are not being farmed ethically and in an environmentally conscious way, they are going to be detrimental to our health.
As the Hippocrates quote used at the beginning of the documentary states ‘all food is medicine and all medicine is food.’ A well-balanced diet containing all of the nutrients is the way we maintain our body and isolating one particular group in preference to substantiate ourselves is not going to achieve this in the long run, a plant only based diet does not provide us with all the nutrients we need and that is the truth. The choice of what we consume is a personal one, what is good for one may not be good for another but the choice for those of us who wish to eat meat and it’s by products now has major consequences, due to the profit hungry factory farms who seem to have no regard for the animal, the product they’re producing, the population consuming it or the environment.
For me this is where this documentary packs its biggest punch, not in the interviews with the Dr’s or the 2 week testimonials of people who switched to a plant only based diet and had great results, but in the fact that it is switching people on to what is actually going on within the processed food industry. In that respect, it is giving us the right information to make informed choices about what our body needs in order to escape the disease trap.
There are lots videos ‘debunking’ this documentary but there is one in particular that stood out. A fellow ‘former’ vegan and vegetarian turned farmer, he has some good points on why animals shouldn’t be taken out of the equation and the reasons against a plant only based diet. He doesn’t fully disagree with ‘What the Health’ admitting, like most of us who have seen it, that it does raise some serious issues. However we need to look at the bigger picture and see what’s really going on.
written by: Amanda Johnson