That New Pro-Vegan Documentary On Netflix Made Me Want To Die

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If there's one thing you should always remember about science, it's that fact and truth are established after multiple studies converge on an answer. Even after that, further research might turn over what you thought was true of the other studies, because you were looking at it through too narrow of a lens. Single papers offer evidence, but rarely do they offer firm truths.

This reality is compounded by another factor in certain fields, like nutrition and medical science. There are business interests trying to sell you a product, and proof that a product is healthy is obviously a great selling point. On the other side, if you're an activist, proof that a product is bad can be just as useful. All of this can add bias.

What the Health, a new documentary on Netflix produced by Joaquin Phoenix, takes advantage of these realities. The documentary cherry-picks studies to "prove" that any animal-based product will cause cancer or diabetes.

Of course, we don't know for sure whether giving up animal products is actually good for your health in the long run. Some studies show that vegetarians and vegans live longer, but others don't, as Melody Ding outlines in The Conversation. Those that do suffer from a general health consciousness bias. Those folks that avoid meat and animal products could simply be living longer because they care more about their lifestyles in lots of different ways. They might also be younger and wealthier.

What does that mean for you? Well, avoid meat if animal welfare or environmentalism is important to you. Otherwise, if you're really interested in living longer (which is what everyone ultimately wants, right?) cross your fingers and hope your parents live for a long time. We use this quote a lot, but S. Jay Olshansky once told Gizmodo, "In the world of ageing sciences, if you want to live a long life, choose long-lived parents."

After that, don't smoke, and focus on a diet that minimizes processed foods and includes more vegetables. Maybe eat less, get out more, and focus on a real healthy lifestyle change like biking to work every day or giving up all desserts. Past that, you might have to rely on research or expertise backed by less or less reliable data that will point you in the direction the expert thinks best reflects the existing evidence... and maybe their ethics.

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Comments

    What the Health, a new documentary on Netflix produced by Joaquin Phoenix, takes advantage of these realities. The documentary cherry-picks studies to "prove" that any animal-based product will cause cancer or diabetes.
    It's less documentary and more propaganda, then? Seriously this sort of thing should be debunked and discouraged by the media and called out for what it is - misrepresentation of fact.

      You're the one spreading misinformation and spewing the exact same propaganda as the meat and dairy industry has been spewing for DECADES. I suppose you think it's just food preparation to reduce these intelligent blameless vulnerable souls to a shit in your toilet? And the Koreans Balinese Indonesians and Chinese simmering domesticated pet dogs and cats for an hour or more (cos that's how long it takes them to die, I have the BBC footage plus others) to fatten their soulless "human" bodies is simply food preparation too. See your stance turns our domination over the animal world into an EVER WORSENING HORROR SHOW. It's not nice old farmers humanely destroying well cared for beasts for the family and the locals anymore. The factory farming of animals today is an absolute bloody mind numbing crime. In Australia I've seen baby pigs swung HEAD FIRST by their back legs into concrete floors to kill them because they're not growing fast enough. This kinda brutality has become the norm over recent decades as we have to rely on men with ever more unstable and dubious characters to take these positions because decent men are TORMENTED outta the job. They know if they don't get it they'll break. The piglets are more often than not brutally murdered right in front of the pig motherso. I have thousands of horrific examples and video documentation to verify I'm not just some extreme liar. It's not okay for us, the top of the totem pole so to speak, to use our place at the top to turn a blind eye while we support the HORROR SHOW that is BILLIONS of animals torn apart every year WITH OUR WALLETS and our appetite for their flesh (about 80 million innocent souls depending on if you count fish and animals torn apart whilst still alive mind you for their furs) and the fact you STILL maintain its a food and health choice CLEARLY proves you've missed the point entirely. Utterly.Completely. Do you realise how many guys that work in slaughterhouses need serious psychological help when they can't face the bloody brutality any more and quit? It's minds and heartless attitudes like yours that just refuse to comprehend that us mindlessly doling out this kind of COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY horrendous torture and being responsible for oceans of innocent blood spilled IS SLOWLY BUT SURELY ERODING OUR SPIRITUAL AND MENTAL HEALTH as a society? We should be caring for the lowly, the mute, the VULNERABLE AND HELPLESS. not predating upon their tortured corpses.They've earned some living time IN THE SUN. I'm so over being nice and polite to deliberately ignorant cowardly bullies like you. Feel free to email me if you wish.

        Getting angry and telling everyone they are horrible people is unlikely to persuade them. Calm down and find a better way.

          We know the problem, how about offering a solution instead of just getting angry and name calling......

        Lol, what? I commented on vegan vs animal diets and their alleged health benefits or problems. None of that has anything to do with butchery or whatever the hell you’re on about.

        Also try using paragraphs next time.

          Severe lack of meat intake tends to result in mental issues like what this guy is exhibiting /sarcasm

            No, having to deal with meat eating halfwits who think they are clever is what makes vegans and vegos so exasperated.

              You don't have have to 'deal with it'. We're rarely the ones bringing up the topic. If it's so exasperating, stop talking about it.

        Hey trillian. Get some pork on ya fork. Might solve the high levels of salt you are currently exhibiting.

        Vegans are unbalanced, and scream at people.

          Its the lack of protein

        All that reading made me really hungry for a Double Whopper, btw anyone go to that Bacon Festival over the weekend?

        Look, I'm not a vegan myself, but I have been attending Cube of Truth events in the south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, it saddens me to see a vegan ranting like a crazed lunatic. I know how strongly you guys and girls feel about your cause, but you're simply being your own worst enemy and giving non-vegans more fuel to add to the fire that is the idea that all vegans are crazy.

        I have no doubt that given all the facts that most people would find the meat industry a travesty, however changing the minds of people who have grown up considering it the norm isn't something that's going to happen overnight.

        Please, for the love of the animals, if you don't have anything constructive to put forward, just keep your mouth shut. You're doing so much harm to the vegan-image, and as a result, destroying the goals you're setting out to achieve.

      No one likes a crazy vegan. Trust me, I almost went down that spirally path myself. Just cook your mates some bang up meals and leave it to them to decide, without the crazy lecture! If anyone is on the hunt for something yummy and different I can highly recommend Thug Kitchen, good stuff!

      Last edited 15/08/17 7:25 pm

    A health documentary, produced by Joaquin Phoenix. That paragon of forbearance, vitality and clean living?

      "produced by Joaquin Phoenix"
      Yep, and when I watched it around 2 months ago, that was the first thing I saw, and then went...ok, Im watching a Vegan sponsored film here...AGENDA FILTERS UP!
      It certainly "twisted" some of the science, to suit its own needs.

    "If there's one thing you should always remember about science, it's that fact and truth are established after multiple studies converge on an answer. "

    another day on giz and i'm reminded of fundamental truths. as a nutritional scientist, i can not attest to the cherry picking in this documentary.

    "like biking to work every day or giving up all desserts. Past that, you might have to rely on research or expertise backed by less or less reliable data like the handling of james d."

    couldn't agree more.

    "If there's one thing you should always remember about science, it's that fact and truth are established after multiple studies converge on an answer. "

    another day on giz and i'm reminded of fundamental truths. as a nutritional scientist, i cannot attest more to the cherry picking in this documentary.

    "like biking to work every day or giving up all desserts. Past that, you might have to rely on research or expertise backed by less or less reliable data like the handling of james d."

    couldn't agree more.

    Last edited 14/08/17 7:50 pm

    I am vegan. I didn't like this doco. Early on, he points out a study (haven't looked it up myself) that apparently shows a link between the consumption of processed meat, and heart disease/cancer, but then uses that against all meat products. Which clearly aren't the same thing.

    This doco has numerous issues.

      Recently there was a study conducted that linked eating processed meats with an increase in cancer risk, see Cancer councils stance on the issue:

      The consumption of red meat and processed meat is convincingly associated with a modest increased risk of bowel cancer. There is also strong evidence that the consumption of processed meat increases risk of stomach cancer.

      Cancer Council recommends eating no more than 700 grams (raw weight) of red meat per week. For good health we need less than this. Aim for a small 65g serve of cooked meat each day or 2 serves (130g) 3-4 times a week. Avoid consuming more than 455g of cooked lean red meat each week.

      https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/21639/cancer-information/cancer-risk-and-prevention/healthy-weight-diet-and-exercise/meat-and-cancer/#coyWZe3C0h6Q6M3E.99

        To clarify the above: I believe the comsumtion of red meat is essential to a normal healthy diet.

          There's nothing 'essential' in meat.

          You can get all of your nutrients without it.

          I used to think the same as you. I used to eat A LOT of meat.

          I've been doing research the last few months and have been mostly vegan since.

          Google or YouTube 'vegan bodybuilding'. It's quite interesting.

            " mostly Vegan" ?

              Yes, mostly vegan. I've been cutting out things step by step and I'm up to the point for the last month or so where the only animal product I eat is honey.

                I'm not sure about honey. Honestly I'm not sure I care about bee welfare. Also I wonder if the honey that is sold is more a byproduct of the bees going about pollinating the planet, and thus the apiarists are keeping us all alive by selling honey, really not sure....

                  Well I guess that's your decision if you don't care about bee's welfare. I do, but I love honey so much it's been the hardest thing for me to give up so far. I'm down to one teaspoon a day with my coffee - but I'm looking to remove it completely for these reasons taken from the PETA website:

                  Unfortunately, like factory farmers, many beekeepers take inhumane steps to ensure personal safety and reach production quotas. It’s not unusual for larger honey producers to cut off the queen bee’s wings so that she can’t leave the colony or to have her artificially inseminated on a bee-sized version of the factory farm “rape rack.” When the keeper wants to move a queen to a new colony, she is carried with “bodyguard” bees, all of whom—if they survive transport—will be killed by bees in the new colony. Large commercial operations may also take all the honey instead of leaving the 60 pounds or so that bees need to get through the winter. They replace the rich honey with a cheap sugar substitute that is not as fortifying. In colder areas, if the keepers consider it too costly to keep the bees alive through the winter, they destroy the hives using cyanide gas. Also, bees are often killed or have their wings and legs torn off by haphazard handling. According to the Cook-DuPage Beekeepers Association, humans have been using honey since about 15,000 B.C., but it wasn’t until the 20th century that people turned bees into factory-farmed animals

            Actually B12 can't be found in a vegan diet. I can't remember what it does, I only know it may take years to show up deficient and that pretty much every vegan website says that you need to take supplements for it, so I do.

              Vegan diets have an on its effect on Bone Mineral Density (BMD), the full effects of lower BMD wont show up until later in life (with hip fractures etc). There are additional vitamins that would require supplementation like vitamin B-12 and D and the n–3 fatty acid that are found in fish and seaweed would need supplementation. So in no way is a vegan diet a complete diet.

                I think you'd struggle to find anyone on a "complete" diet.
                It's laughable how angry people get about this topic, on both sides, when -I'm guessing here- the vast majority of people would pay little to no attention to what they are shoving in their faces. Again I'm guessing, but I'd say the average vegan has a far healthier diet than than much of the Australian population, yet it's always vegans that are accused of not getting enough vitamins/nutrients/whatever. Can't imagine a doctor ever telling me I eat too many vegetables....

                With all that said, our lunatic friend above may be eating a healthy diet, but she clearly isn't well.

                  On average a vegan diet has a lower risk of mutliple types of cancers, a lower risk of cariovascular disease and lower levels of obesity. So like with any (diet) it has its positives. I think when it somes to a complete diet the only way to do it is to mix it up, I would be more then happy to include a day or two a week of vegan or vegetarian into my weekly eating habits, if only for the increased intake of vegetables. Do you think that lab grown meat (https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/08/behind-the-hype-of-lab-grown-meat/) will allow vegans that are solely vegan for the ethical stand point to eat meat?

                This just isn't true.

                Calcium from things like spinach are absorbed into the body much more efficiently than milk. And talking about milk, it actually lowers your calcium levels - look it up. B12 can be found in other foods than meat. It would just take a lot of effort to eat that much so I take a supplement every other day.

                By the way seaweed is vegan so not sure what your point was.

                  I never mentioned anything about milk not sure what your point is there. I was just stating a fact not trying to nit pick. If you can meet your entire dietary needs via a vegan diet then go for it but like i said previously it would require some form of supplementation (as you have stated you supplement B12). Which part of my statement above isnt true?

                It won't let me reply to your question on vegans being able to eat Lab grown meat so I'm replying back here.

                Your link doesn't work, and I can't speak for all obviously, but if based purely on ethics, it would have to go right back to where that original cell culture came from.
                I can split it a few ways;
                If an animal died to give up its cells, then no. If it was killed yesterday, or in a thousand years time the same culture is still being used to grow steaks, the ethics would be the same, an animal was killed.
                If an animal was injured (think biopsy or whatever the steak equivalent of a core sample would be) and suffered afterwards, I'd say no.
                If the animal had a sample taken (think cheek swab) and was otherwise unharmed, some would say no, some would say yes.
                In general it comes down to consent. If something can't give consent, then what right do I have to force it? This is still true for something like a cheek swab. Would I want to have the right of consent if someone wanted to take cheek swab from me and create Geushetat steaks. Yes I would, but some would argue I was unharmed and shouldn't care, others would say my rights had been violated. It's a hard one.

                If the steaks are created from scratch, molecule by molecule. No issue, but I think that's a ways off.

                  @geushetat Interesting way of looking at it, however a cow can never consent to anything as it has no way of specifically commnuicating with you. Does your way of thinking also apply to VETs operating on animals (humans require consent to perform medical operations). Its a hard line to take consider if you take one biopsy with a cow under anesthetic over killing millions of cows, is that more ethical?

    You mean movies like Okja that's meant to sway people away from meat.
    Don't know why but these documentaries and movies just makes me wanting bacon more.

      Perhaps you just have a prejudice that makes you unconcerned about the unnecessary suffering and death of any species not your own (assuming you care about the suffering and death of your own).

    mmm fakon and fakon comment blocking. I don't see the issue with Dirty sausages In my Omlettes Tonight at least Sometimes.

    "cherry picked" lol.

    check out http://www.whatthehealthfilm.com/facts/

    There are time stamps for the published and peer reviewed studies relating to the comment made at that point in the movie.

      I suggest you look up what peer reviewed means. Very few of those linked studies have been.
      Most of the doctors cited are shilling diet books.

      I can claim my paper claiming i am the eternal lord of Earth is peer reviewed by getting my mates to agree to it. Peer reviewed is only reputable if the people reviewing it are not biased/ Shrills working for you.

        All hail the Eternal Lord of Earth! Bringer of sarcasm and whitty comments. :-P

    People are omnivores by design so whatever.

      Exactly, 2million years have dictated what our best diet should be, not the last 50.
      The science says more veg, less meat, well fvck me, guess what we evolved on...
      ...more veg, less meat.

      If evolution didn't want me to eat meat then all meat products would taste like kale.

      People aren't omnivores by design.

      Our teeth are designed for mulching up soft things, not ripping into meat, just look at a tiger's teeth as an example.

      Our closest relatives are the ape family - they are all vegetarians.

      Our digestion system isn't designed for meat. Animals who are omnivores or carnivores have extremely strong acid to break down the meat, our system is quite alkaline.

        People aren't omnivores by design
        So we have been eating meat for over 2 - 2.5 million years, around the time taken for us to turn from ape to human. 2 million years of evolution is a lot of change...and a lot of mutation/selection in environment (design is a bad word when it comes to evolutionary theory), sorry but thats how evolution works. Sure we don't hunt and kill our meat with teeth/claws like carnivores, but we certainly started using our brains and fashioning weapons to do the job instead over that period. Humans evolved on veg AND meat...period. Its scientific fact, to go against it is "conspiracy theory madness".

          It's not conspiracy theory madness.

          Sure we've eaten meat when we could get it - we're scavengers after all.

          This doesn't mean it's good for you - it's loaded with calories and fat which would be sought after when you don't know when your next meal will be.

          Today, we have mastered the art of agriculture and there's just no need for us to eat meat anymore.

          If you can actually go out and kill an animal with your bare hands or a tool, then skin it, cook it and eat it then go for it. But have you ever wondered why this isn't such a natural thing for most of the population?

          There's such a disconnect when you go to Coles, buy some lamb that's nicely wrapped and eat it, without actually thinking about where it came from or what kind of life it had.

            Hey Franky.
            Well as for the goodness of meat, the science is certainly saying its not "great", especially in large quantities, I don't disagree with you mate, I follow the science.
            But my post wasnt about "good or bad" in relation to meat, it was about evolution, and the fact that we have very clear scientific evidence telling us we have been eating meat for 2.5 million years. Now, that isn't meant to be an excuse to justify eating meat. Its simply a truth, that meat has played a part in our evolution (there is some evidence that early human brain development was actually enhanced by eating meat, a possible side effect, again, doesn't justify it).
            Just because our genes didn't mutate to give us better capabilities to eat meat, doesn't mean we shouldn't be eating meat. Evolution, as in the effects of the environment on our development doesn't guarantee outcomes which are always beneficial to our survival in that environment. There are many enhancements I could have gained to make me a better vegetable eater too, but, I'm always left at the whim of random gene mutation, that's what drives evolution, plus human brain development has greatly "changed" they way we evolved. But, in the end, meat must have (causality) drove a part of that process over 2.5 million years, we just don't fully understand yet how it changed us, but the science is "pointing" to advantageous outcomes from eating meat (again, I stress, not a justification for meat eating).
            Sure, most people don't go out and hunt animals now, but I dont see many people going out and gathering veg either... but again, brain development has given us technology (tools), we now have no need, but 100 years back and beyond...that story was way different, it was very common for most to go out and hunt/gather, and more so the further you go back past the outcomes of our technology.
            But, in the end mate, I get where you are coming from, and agree, I never doubt good science, (over the last year or two, Ive certainly cut back on meat after reading the studies) but I'm certainly weary of films with agendas, its just good science to be a little skeptical.

              Well said BA, pretty much where I am coming from too.
              A balanced diet is best, we should mix a little meat with other food,
              no omnivore was designed to eat a 1kg steak and chips.

            You are way off track here, putting your beliefs above fact. We have been eating meat for longer than we have 'mastered agriculture', it's the reason there is still lactose and gluten intolerence at a much larger scale than meat intolerence. We also captured and killed our own meat for thousands upon thousands of years before we planted a bunch of wheat in a row. The only reason we don't all hunt for our own meat now is the same reason why most of us also don't have a vege patch in the backyard or make our own bread, commerce.

            Oh and all Chimpanzees (our apparant closest relative) and some Apes do eat meat, because like us they are omnivores. What they do differently is limit their intake to a safe level, which is what any human should do.

    The debate about veganism versus omnivorous should not be based on health and longevity issues. Human bodies are not designed to prey upon animals as a source of food and meat should only ever be considered as food only when no other food is available to them. The hunger urge sets in when vegetables, nuts, berries, fruit, grains are not readily available to them in their natural environment. In times of famine, humans call upon their intelligence and whatever resources are available to them for butchering of animals. Today, humans eat meat because it's convenient and because we have been conditioned to do so. It apparently has all the vitamins and minerals and protein one could ever require. However meat does not contain enough vitamins and minerals and man can not live on meat alone. As for being a staple source of protein, this too is an overrated fact. How is a cow or any vegan animal building up muscle? There is plenty of gluten protein in wheat, nuts and all grains. Don't forget the amount of toxins and ureaic waste matter and cortisol too, that you are ingesting when eating meat. Cortisol is a hormone that creates stress and causes our muscles to contract for strength giving the meat eater a shorter and stockier appearance than a vegetarian. So why is there so much cortisol in meat? When you see meat at a butcher or supermarket, you are not just seeing a hunk of protein. You are seeing the byproduct of a living conscious intelligent thing, not dissimilar to us. If you were tortured and butchered brutally, how much cortisol would your body release into the blood stream just so that you could cope with the inhumanity of terrorism against you? Please don't eat meat. It's not good for you on many levels. Vegans do live longer!

      Vegans do live longer!
      Evidence please....

        It will be a long wait.
        As I say to anyone of a fad diet, come see me when you are 105 and let me know how it went.

    @grumpyrang
    We are out of replies again.
    Yeah that's kind of what I was getting at. It's a line that each individual person chooses and when it comes down to the nitty gritty examples, the line will be in a different place for everyone. I'm okay with honey, others aren't.

    To answer is it better, sure it's better. But there still wasn't consent, so for me, either option would still be wrong.

    Now nitty gritty example, if it's meat grown in a lab, why does it have to come from a cow, roo, or any creature that explicitly cannot give consent? If it's just meat in a Petri dish, why wouldn't a sample be taken from a human that gives consent, and then everyone eats that. Or even every person that wants meat have their own Steaks made out of their own cells.

      @geushetat
      I think you would have very a hard time getting people to eat human meat even if it was their own flesh. Also there is a direct link between eating human meat and prion disease which can cause neurodegenerative disease. It is definitely food for thought? ;-)

        I know it would be difficult, that's why I said it. There really wouldn't be any difference other than the okay ethics, and people's ewwww factor. And if it's all lab grown I'd think there shouldn't be any disease issue either. Maybe, I don't know...

        Anyway. Probably time to end this one. Good chat.

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