Last month I wrote an article for my friend’s blog about eight must-see food and health documentaries now streaming on Netflix. Each documentary left me with an unsettled feeling, but none have been as impactful as this latest full-feature documentary, What the Health.
What the Health is a disturbing look at greed, corporate interests and just how crazy it is that doctors refuse to see diet as a contributor of our healthcare epidemic. I’m beyond disturbed.
Filmmaker Kip Andersen, and his co-director Keegan Kuhn (the same guys behind Cowspiracy, which was executive produced for Netflix by Leonardo DiCaprio), are at it again to expose the detriments of our meat-hungry society.
Andersen tracks down experts at leading health organizations, such as the American Cancer Society (ACS), American Diabetes Association (ADA) and American Heart Association (AHA) to ask them why they continue to promote a diet that they know leads to the very diseases they’re trying to prevent and cure.
My personal Hypocrite of the Year award goes to Dr. Robert Ratner, the Chief Scientific and Medical Officer for the ADA. I almost threw up after watching Anderson interview this man. I mean, I felt physically ill as I watched this interview in horror.
Dr. Ratner starts by saying the ADA’s mission is to “identify prevention of and a cure for diabetes.” Great!
But then when Anderson asks him questions about what a proper diet for someone with diabetes looks like, Dr. Ratner becomes extremely agitated.
“I can’t tell you what a proper diet is,” he says. Oh, really, aren’t you a doctor?
Dr. Ratner goes on to say in his most child-like tone that he “won’t get into diet” nor will he talk about “diet’s impact on diabetes.” Whoa. Seriously?
You can watch this trainwreck interview unfold in real time in the following video clip:
The truth is Dr. Ratner, like so many doctors, doesn’t know a darn tooting thing about nutrition. They don’t study it, they don’t care to study it, and nutrition is not part of their med school curriculum. Ask any doctor friend you know how many nutrition classes they’ve taken… the answer will shock you.
But what’s even more disturbing is when Anderson uncovers what might be behind Dr. Ratner’s hissy fit… it might just be that he doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds him.
Anderson Googled “American Diabetes Association Sponsor” and found that the organization accepts money from Dannon, Kraft, and other food manufacturers pushing animal products that have been linked in numerous peer reviewed studies to diabetes, cancer and heart disease. This is like the American Lung Association taking money from cigarette companies!
And how fun is it to see pharmaceutical company after pharmaceutical company “sponsoring” the ADA? Not cool at all if you ask me. I thought these organizations had my back?!?
The truth is that these organizations also take money – and I mean a lot of money – from pharmaceutical sponsors as well. Yep, these pharmaceuticals make about $1 trillion each year treating diabetes, heart disease and cancer with their drugs. This is BIG business. Why would anyone want to put the kibosh on such a thriving enterprise.
The ADA is not alone in its worship of the corporate dollar. The American Cancer Society and American Heart Association have blood on their hands too. But no need to beat a dead horse (no pun intended).
You can watch the film online (for a fee) or purchase a DVD for home viewing online. But just in case you don’t want to spend the money (although you should), here are some key takeaways:
- If a child gets diabetes, you take 19 years off his or her lifespan. Sad, I know. Why aren’t we more angry about this?!?
- Meat may be the the most detrimental food to our health – not sugar. I didn’t realize this.
- The ACS, ADA and AHA all share recipes on their websites that include meat (even processed meat, like bacon, that has been classified by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen). These recipes promote consumption of something that has been linked to creating the very diseases they are trying to prevent and cure.
- The meat industry may be using the tobacco playbook to create “doubt” – even though mounting research exists about the ill-effects of meat in the Standard American Diet.
- Dairy and milk do not build strong bones. That’s just marketing jargon. Fact – countries with the highest dairy intake also have the highest rates of osteoporosis.
- The USDA is responsible for creating our health and dietary guidelines (food pyramid, MyPlate) WHILE AT THE SAME TIME is responsible for promoting animal product consumption. Hello conflict of interest!
- Get familiar with the Checkoff Program. This is a federally funded program that promotes meat, egg and dairy consumption.
- The ag lobby is powerful. Wanna know just how powerful? There are laws (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) that criminalize whistleblowers and activists who attempt to “damage or interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise.” I’m not kidding – I can’t make this stuff up! (Also see Food Disparagement Laws – it’s what got Oprah in hot water with the cattleman. Geez, wonder how that law got passed by so many smart politicians.)
So you might be asking, “What the hell am I supposed to do about this?”
I feel the same way.
But there is a way and it’s to avoid animal products in your life and adopt a vegan diet. When you stop consuming animal products, you speak with your wallet by refusing to give money to an industry that is making people sick.
I know what you’re saying, I can’t be vegan. No way. No how.
I feel similarly.
But what you can do – and I can do – is make some changes over time. You can switch your cow’s milk to almond or coconut milk, for example. You can learn to make meatless meals a few nights a week and build your vegan recipe repertoire over time. You can also stop thinking vegans are weird.
Do you think you can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet? Think again. All protein comes from plants (and animals eat plants, so it’s just recycled protein when you eat it).
Think you’ll be weak and small if you’re vegan? Not so at all! Did you know that some of the biggest mammals on earth are herbivores – buffalos, elephants, rhinos, cows, giraffes and zebras. Are you still telling me there is no way to grow without meat?
Think you’re too sick so it’s not worth giving up meat? Oh boy, you haven’t done your research. There is a ton of research that shows a plant-based diet can reverse diabetes and heart disease in just a few weeks.
Think you’ll be nutrient deprived as a vegan? There is no vitamin or mineral (except Vitamin B12) that you can’t get from plants that you can get in meats. (And most people don’t consume organ meats – so they need to supplement with Vitamin B12 anyway.)
Think a vegan diet will make you sick? Oh man, have you not learned anything? Meat is making you sick. Really sick. Not plants. Use some common sense here, okay?
Remember, nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.“Health is like money. We never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” – Josh BillingsClick To Tweet
Watch the trailer below – you’ll be as disgusted as I am in no time!
Disclosure: Evolotus PR sent me a DVD of What the Health. All opinions are my own.