After watching What the Health documentary, here is my answer as a dietitian to “should I go vegan?”, and a few myths debunked.
After multiple people asking “what are your thoughts on What the Health”, I figured I should go watch the documentary finally, despite really not being sure I wanted to.
But before I get into this post, I DO want to emphasize that I am not saying within this post that being vegan is bad or “unhealthy”, I am simply talking about the documentary What The Health, and the things they portrayed (inaccurately) and claimed.
My Thoughts on What The Health
I usually stay quiet when the newest fad breaks out, but so many people began asking me about it, that I thought I’d write a little post about it.
No, I’m not going to tell you to go vegan…
And no, I’m not going to tell you going vegan is wrong either…
To maybe your surprise, as a dietitian I can stand behind the fact that it is possible to live healthy EITHER WAY. Vegan, vegetarian, or animal protein eater.
But what I am going to say, is be careful what you’re listening to on the internet nowadays. Like I talked about in my free, live class last week, the internet is full of lies and half-truths blown out of proportion.
I like to relate it to “fake news”… except it’s health fake news.
As you see frequently in the diet industry, companies LOVE to play off the TWO things that drive us to act:
Fear & Perceived Success
My Bullet Point Review From What The Health
- This isn’t the first time the filmmaker has come out with a storyline like this documentary. In Kip Anderson’s movie “Cow Conspiracy”, he suddenly wakes up one day and realizes consuming animal products is bad for the environment, begins contacting GreenPeace and the Sierra Club and questioning them, and goes on to “discover” that they are supported by processed animal food companies. SOUND FAMILIAR? What the Health, in case you haven’t watched it, is incredibly similar in storyline. Kip “wakes up one day” to realize eating meat is bad for his health, “feels betrayed” by various health organizations because none have told him that, calls into these companies like the ADA and AHA and questions them, coming to the “discovery” that they are backed by companies like Dannon.
- I AGREE, in general, that it would be good for our country to eat less factory farmed meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, and more plant foods. BUT it does not make it OKAY to demonize a certain macronutrient or food group, using scare tactics and over-stated “research”.
- I AGREE that our government has too many ties with the ag and pharmaceutical companies, BUT not with how this movie portrayed certain organizations like the ADA when they called up. Why would anyone expect a front desk employee to sit and be able to answer all these questions fired at him?
- Where I DONT agree: this documentary demonizes fat, saying sugar or carbs are not the problem of diabetes and many other illnesses. They also go on to say how bad eggs are for your because of cholesterol. Fat is not evil. And dietary cholesterol does not equally translate to the bad cholesterol inside of us. Eggs have many nutrients and vitamins. Eggs are not evil. Just like I don’t believe all animal protein is evil.
- There is no one-size-fits all answer for nutrition — it HIGHLY depends on genetics and your individual body. Some people thrive on plant based diets, some on keto diets, some on high protein diets, others on high carb diets…I cannot say enough that what makes one person feel great, could make another feel terrible. It’s all about experimenting and finding what your body does best with.
- Don’t get caught up in the business of fear-mongering when it comes to food. Try to plug your ears to all the nutrition noise out there, find what works best for YOU, and try your best to stick to that.
As a final point, I want to answer the question of “Should I go Vegan?”
Unfortunately I have a “boring” answer, because I’m not going to say yes or no. Am I vegan? No, I eat a lot of chicken, fish and other animal proteins. I feel good eating them, and I’ve come to realize my individual body feels best when I have a lot of protein at each meal.
But I do think, for the typical American diet that is filled with cheeseburgers, fatty cuts of red meat, and fried chicken..yes, having more plant-based diet could be a good idea. I also can say that certain diseases or health issues, like heart problems, definitely do best with more plant foods and less animal meat. Do I think eggs and dairy are bad for you? Certainly not. If you don’t want to eat them, that’s not “wrong” of you or an “unhealthy choice”… everyone is different and feels best with different diets!
That is why I think depending on YOU individually, vegan and non-vegan diets can be good. I cannot say it enough, but nutrition is NOT one-size fits all. You have to find what makes you feel best, and then put your energy into maintaining that 🙂
Any other topics you’d like me to talk about next? Take requests!
- If you do choose to go vegan, make sure you are getting enough of these 9 nutrients in!
- Want to hear some other nutrition myths? Click to watch this video!