By VIVIANNA ONORATO
The recently released pro-vegan Netflix documentary, “What the Health,” has come to the attention of many health experts. The film, co-directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, has been criticized by some health professionals for exaggerating data, as well as misrepresenting science to promote a diet that avoids all animal foods, rather than one that strikes a balance between the various kinds of foods.
Throughout the video, the directors talk about the presence of processed foods in our diets, as well as the prevalence of chemicals that are used in their creation. Preservatives, flavor enhancers, and other items are often pumped into these foods with little to no regard for safety.
This is all in spite of the negative effect that it has in the human body, which often leads to unhealthy foods becoming a natural part of our diets. The documentary itself frequently offers facts and research studies to support their research, including papers that determine that diabetes and heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., all of which is directly tied into our diets.
As expected, the film is skewed towards a low-fat vegan diet. In the opening, Kip Anderson, a film producer by trade, describes his qualifications as a “recovering hypochondriac.” The film advocates for a vegan diet and an expert on the panel states there is no room for “moderation.” The word “terrifying” is used when describing food, as though to foster action against the meat industry. The documentary itself also frequently uses scare-tactic approaches to push its agenda of persuading viewers to a low-fat vegan diet, rather than arguing about the balance of foods, in addition to justifying the body’s need for meat.
Anderson tries many times to contact many representatives of nutrition associations and it was seen that many of them were unable to answer questions via phone. He repeatedly calls or shows up personally to major organizations, such as the American Diabetes Association and American Cancer Society, asking why certain foods are recommended on their websites. However, many of them declined to show their information; in fact, Dr. Robert Ratner of the American Diabetes Association refused to discuss the role of diet and diabetes citing that there are too many different types of diets possible to recommend one specific diet.
What the documentary is good at doing is showing how the diets affect a person’s well-being and health. A lot of food affects our well-being, including our health and aesthetics. However, the documentary does not go deep enough into advocating the differences in bodies and diets and, instead, chooses to lean into a one-size-fits-all approach to dieting.