“What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film follows intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases – and investigates why the nation’s leading health organizations don’t want us to know about it. With heart disease and cancer the leading causes of death in America, and diabetes at an all-time high, the film reveals possibly the largest health cover-up of our time.”
[Text from the official web site ]
This DVD was sent to us by a couple of farmers that my wife met at the Vegan Fest this year. They said they collaborated to its research and wanted us to see it and donate it afterward to our local library (unfortunately, the DVD has no French track or subtitles and, this is Quebec after all, our library would not carry it). I am always eager to acquire new knowledge, so I gladly watched this documentary about how food influences our health.
The first part of the documentary is telling us how bad our diet is for our health: process meat is bad, sugar is bad, eggs are bad, milk products are bad, even our medication is bad for us. They are at the source of all the ills of the world, make us feel unwell and cause cancer and diabetes. In the middle of the documentary, I thought: “Hey! They just want us to stop eating!”
In the second half, their investigation reveals that the institutions that are supposed to protect us, like the American Cancer Society or the American Diabetes Association, are not telling us the whole truth about food and are still promoting harmful diets, because they are sponsored / financed by the same industry that produces what makes us sick in the first place (like meat or milk).
This documentary makes me feel quite uneasy because, even if I agree with most of what it is saying, the bad methodology behind the message completely muddled its intent. This is exactly the type of reporting that give a bad name to investigative journalism. It is alarmist, it exaggerates its claim, and, worst of all, selects the data in order to offer biased and misleading information.
A good documentary should be balanced. If they claimed that they were denied interviews with people having opposing views, they don’t seems to have put much efforts into it and some of the interviews seemed “faked” or ”acted” (one interview with an hospital rep with her face pixilated, in the parking lot, saying that the interview is cancelled doesn’t feel convincing or a parodic scene in McDonald’s board room doesn’t say at all that it is a reenactment so it can cause confusion in the mind of some viewers). They have plenty of testimonies for patients and doctors that are espousing their views but none with opposing arguments. Andersen seems insincerely confused when a doctor put an end to an interview when he starts citing studies and statistics, but everyone knows that if you cherrypick studies your can make them say anything you want, so it is no really an argument…
Unfortunately, What the health is not really a documentary but rather simply vegan propaganda. This is not only my opinion: it is a fact and most reviews I have read (like in the Independent, National Post, Time or on Wikipedia) concur one way or another.
I totally agree that the food we eat is the cause of most of our times’ diseases and that we should promote a much healthier diet. And, sometimes, exaggerating our claim helps scaring people into healthier choices, but if it is made in a disingenuous manner it simply destroys all the credibility and trustworthiness of the message. We should eat as much as possible plant-base food, less meat (no process meat at all and as little as possible red meat) and less sugar, but humanity has eaten eggs and milk products for millennia and we are still here (and I like too much yogurt and cheese to stop eating them!). We should also exercice as much as possible and take medication only in last resort. However, the claim made by this movie are really too preposterous to be believed!
It’s nevertheless interesting to watch, sometimes funny, but it really should be taken with a grain of salt.
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