Blog Post by Coach Julie
NCI Certified Nutrition Coach L1 & Mindset Coach
In an interview with Vegan.com, Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, commented on her disdain about the documentary “What the Health.” She said, “As a vegan health professional, I am sometimes mortified to be associated with the junk science that permeates our community. . . . I’m disheartened by advocacy efforts that can make us look scientifically illiterate, dishonest, and occasionally like a cult of conspiracy theorists. I wish What the Health had stuck to these kinds of observations and supported them with an informed discussion of the evidence. Instead, it cherry-picked the research, misinterpreted and over-stated the data, highlighted dubious stories of miraculous healing, and focused on faulty observations about nutrition science. Most of the misinformation in the film is due simply to a poor understanding of nutrition science and research. But some moments struck me as overtly dishonest.”
Vegan diets have clout, especially if you're pursuing them for moral reasons. Many people that take on vegan diets have been doing so to try and honor animals and protect them from inhuman treatment. That is a very good reason to transition to the vegan lifestyle. The way you eat, however, does not determine your moral character. Should you choose to use your nutrition as a way to express your beliefs and values, I think that's great. That does not give you permission to judge people that don't hold the same views as you. I, also, believe in the moral treatment of animals and am a huge animal lover. However, I feel better eating animal products and I do my due diligence to only source my animal products from sources that treat the animals in humane ways.
The problems that have arisen from this new vegan movement are blatant fear mongering and dogma. We have seen a radical portion of the vegan population touting claims that meat causes cancer, fat leads to diabetes and sugar is not unhealthy. These claims are inherently false. These radicalists have cherry picked information in order to incite fear in people in order to "recruit" more people to their way of life. Time Magazine wrote an article breaking down all of the false claims that were touted in What The Health. The film did get some elements correct, it wasn't complete bullshit. However, they definitely overly inflated a lot of their claims to try and claim their dietary lifestyle was far superior and healthy to other dietary modalities. If you're interested in another great article debunking the film, I would check out this great article on Vox. The article refers to the film as "sensational" and I couldn't say it any better.
You can read the full article yourself at Vegan.com. The point is, you cannot take one piece of material as gospel. Especially when the people funding and creating the piece have a bias. Usually if there’s a bias, there is also fearmongering, cherry picking, and a ton of dogma. There are perks to plant based diets for SOME people. That doesn’t make it right for ALL people. Not ALL meat causes cancer. Sugar DOES cause health issues. Fat does NOT cause diabetes. Always do research and check all of your sources. Look at both sides. To be honestly open to learning and growing as a person, you have to listen to both sides and take them both seriously. Otherwise you are deciding on something with a bias rather than a decision rooted in education and evidence.
Kayli is a certified personal trainer and online coach that specializes in fitness, wellness, nutrition, mindset, mobility and everything in between.