“What the Health” documentary sparks the vegan debate

By Brennan Sullivan, Reporter

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Title screen of documentary “What the Health” released in Mar. of 2017. Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A documentary released earlier this year, titled “What the Health,” has raised significant discussion on being a vegan and whether the lifestyle is as necessary to achieving optimum health as the film suggests. “What the Health,” directed by Kip Anderson, who was also behind the documentaries “Cowspiracy” and “The Sustainability Secret,” aims to advise viewers on the dangers of certain food products and why cutting some everyday foods out of the American diet might be crucial.

First off, the film’s promotion of veganism is due to the health benefits of a vegan diet and not the immorality of using animal products. It starts off with a clip of Dr. Robert Ratner of the American Diabetes Association said that, “We are in the midst of a diabetes epidemic…” where 1 in 3 Medicare dollars is spent in caring for people with diabetes and 1 in 10 for total health care dollars. Another physician that was interviewed, Dr. Joel Kahn of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity, said that 70 percent of deaths are eating habits and lifestyle related and can be prevented. After various clips of doctors warning of the path Americans are heading down, it goes into which foods should consequently be cut out in order to avoid public health peril.

Part of the reason for the controversy created by the documentary is because it advises against eating certain foods that were formerly accepted and presumed to be completely healthy. The main product that “What the Health” strongly advised against eating is processed meats such as turkey, ham, chicken and steaks. It highlighted a report released by the World Health Organization that classifies bacon and sausage as carcinogens to humans. Another major claim is that eating one egg a day is equivalent to smoking five cigarettes a day. However, Time Magazine debunked this claim in an article they published criticizing the film, by contending that the information they based it off of was outdated and “recent research suggests that the effects of eggs are nowhere near comparable to those of cigarettes.”

The documentary has received general support from the vegan community as they already practice these lifestyle habits. However, critics of the documentary have contended that a healthy life is achievable without going vegan, and that, like most biased arguments, it must be taken with a grain of salt.

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