I’m a total food documentary junkie! I’ve probably seen every food doc on Netflix, so of course I jumped at the chance to watch a new one when I heard about What the Health.
The film has been getting tons of buzz lately – both positive and negative – and all the differing reactions can be hard to understand. I am not saying that my opinion is THE one and only correct one, but I thought I’d share my own thoughts on the film as a nutrition student and dietetic intern who is currently learning the field of nutrition. So here goes! Read on if you want my two cents on the matter…
My first and biggest point is that you always have to take these things with a grain of salt. This is a completely one sided movie with a vegan agenda. I don’t think that discredits all that they’re saying, but you just have to make sure to not take every word at face value. Realize that it is only one side of the story.
I really disliked the scare tactics that this film used. One often quoted claim they made is that eating an egg is the equivalent of smoking 5 cigarettes in terms of damage done to the body. I would disagree. Many claims are worded for shock value, which is not surprising in the movie world, but it is doing a disservice to the general public just trying to learn about health!
Here’s what I DO like about the movie. I do agree that factory farming is not doing much (if any) good for animals, for our health, and for the environment. I also agree that industry funding is a sticky situation that can create marketing to hurt our health. And I do agree that we should all eat more plants.
I don’t think I could ever go strictly vegan simply because I think it is unsustainable to be strictly anything. That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with a truly plant-based way of eating. What exactly does that mean? It means eating a diet based on plants! Making most of your meals contain a majority of foods that come from the ground. Have vegetables as half of your plate, try dark leafy greens with at least lunch or dinner (or BOTH!), mix in some plant based proteins and take #MeatlessMonday for a spin. Focus on plants, but don’t deprive yourself. I think eating well ultimately comes down to this whole foods plant based approach, and thinking about source when you do consume animal products. Ideally I would only eat farmers market meat and eggs, but that’s not in the budget right now. I try to go for organic meat and grass fed beef as well as pasture raised eggs when I can. It can also be helpful to rethink your snacks! Think outside the box and try a veggie side as a snack rather than something packaged. Part of the reason I like ‘whole foods plant based’ better than ‘vegan’ is because it puts the focus on including plants rather than simply eliminating animal products. Vegan does not always mean healthy! Fun fact: Oreos are vegan. Keep that in mind.
Taking in all the conflicting nutrition information and dogmatic approaches to the trendy diet of the moment is overwhelming – even for me! With many nutrition topics, you can even find research to support opposing sides! I think what it all comes down to is coming back to basics. Eating well is simple and easy. We all know vegetables are good. More is better when it comes to your veggies and fruits! Think about quality and think about what’s wholesome. You probably don’t need a study to tell you what your body truly needs. Tune in, look for REAL, and look for PLANTS……just don’t be too strict about it 🙂
If you’ve seen the movie let me know your thoughts! And what is your approach and opinion on healthy eating?