*See update at the end of the article for some great articles debunking the newest plant based nonsense documentary on Netflix "The Game Changers"
About 1-2x year, we get another Plant Based (vegan or vegetarian) documentary or book hitting the mainstream market fueled by propaganda, fear tactics, bad science, and confirmation bias.
For nutrition professionals like myself, we typically ignore these until about a dozen clients/friends/family members ask us about it. Then we realize this thing has some traction, and we need to watch/read it so that we can properly respond, and set everyone’s mind at ease.
As someone who takes their job seriously, I keep up with all of the current nutrition research, and I’ve read everything relevant that I can get my hands on from the past century of data. This is one of the reasons I get behind LCHF and/or ketogenic lifestyles, because the data supports it. I didn’t start by deciding I like keto diets for some emotional reason, then go back and try to find data to support my decision, while ignoring or manipulating contrarian data (cough…confirmation bias…cough).
So when something like “What the Health” comes out, I will gladly watch it with an open mind, but I’m also going to be shocked if they somehow found some compelling information that I wasn’t already aware of.
Typically what happens, is that they find a new way to cherry-pick studies and compile “expert” interviews, and present it in a way that triggers emotion. The average person with a real job outside of the nutrition world would be hard pressed to take the time to verify the info, or have enough knowledge of how scientific studies work to critically evaluate data (like the difference between relative and absolute risk, or the difference between a prospective cohort study and a randomized control trial, or how nobody takes food recall questionnaires seriously in the scientific community unless they are trying to prove an un-provable point).
5-10 years ago when some nutrition BS hit the mainstream, I would typically tackle the rebuttal process myself in a blog post. These days, I love the fact that I can just google one of about 5 specific people’s names along with the title of the newest propaganda, and one or more of these nutrition bad-asses has already written an amazing piece dismantling the nonsense, doing a far better job than I would have.
This time, I give you Robb Wolf. He really knocked it out of the park with his review of “What the Health”. As I was watching the film, it was easy for me to spot all of the scientific molestation, but Robb went super deep with his dissection, and I even learned several things from him on the topic.
So please give his blog post a read, and share it with your vegan/vegetarian friends, or anyone who watched “What the Health” and wasn’t aware of the level of bullshit that just got shoved down their throats.
One thing Robb mentioned that I really commend him for, is the idea that us meat-eating assholes automatically support factory farming/CAFOs and accept inhumane treatment of animals, we don’t care about the environment, and we’re just a bunch of bacon loving sociopaths that remain “unenlightened” because we don’t see the Vegan light. This attitude just prolongs finding real solutions to some actual problems.
What the Health- A Wolf's Eye Review
Last note, as this is one point Robb didn't address and it is an annoying thing that continues to bug me regarding mainstream nutrition advice. Fiber sucks.
Quite a bit of time in this documentary was dedicated to talking about how people don't eat enough fiber, and "Paleo" people are going to have their arteries "clogged" with cholesterol. This is nonsense. Fiber should be limited for optimal health, not exalted. If this is news to you, here's a few great resources on the topic:
Diagnosis: Diet- The Truth About Fiber
Mark Sisson- Dietary Fiber is Bad for Sex, That's the Only Claim About it That Isn't a Myth
Fiber Menace- Book by Konstantin Monastyrsky