What the Health

When people think of summer, they envisage exotic vacations spots, euphoric cookouts, and a plethora of opportunities to show off their “beach bodies.” Whether the goal is a flat tummy or rock-hard abs, we always seem to sabotage ourselves in the fall, accept our fates for the winter, and then panic to reach the same goal again in the spring. But this summer, the term “beach body” had people who were everyone else’s body goals taking a second look at themselves.

The summer body trend was officially more than skin deep as society worried less about their muscles and more about the organs stored behind them. Society was rapidly inquiring about the benefits of veganism, due in no small part to “What the Health,” a documentary that began streaming on Netflix over the summer.

The infamous documentary was released on March 7, 2017, but wasn’t streaming on Netflix until June 16, after which the interest in veganism ascended rapidly. Google trends shows a rise in the search term “vegan” in the U.S. from 44 percent the week of June 18 to a peek of 72 percent the week of July 30.

The documentary had a more direct impact on some people’s lives, causing them to change their diets and the way they consume food in general.

Kennedy Robinson, a senior at Valdosta State University, went completely vegan after watching the documentary.

“Since watching “What the Health,” my diet has taken a huge turn,” Robinson said. “I went from occasionally eating meat to cutting meat out cold turkey and even deciding to eliminate dairy. It opened my eyes to things I didn’t even know about the food industry. Since then I have lost weight, had more energy, and don’t feel as sluggish after eating. I accidentally had coffee with creamer once, and it tore my stomach to shreds.”

A student at Clark Atlanta University also changed her diet after watching “What the Health” and noticed the positive effects of eating less meat and dairy.

“I cut out all meat except chicken and seafood,” Danielle Jones, a senior, said. “I try to stay away from dairy products, and I do see changes. For example, I tend to get bloated faster if I stray away, and I find myself to be more productive and consistent with working out.”

The documentary was rumored to be biased due to accusations of exaggerated facts; cherry-picked studies; pro-vegan sources, including pro-vegan organations and doctors. “What the Health” producer Kip Andersen and co-producer Keegan Kuhn are both vegans too.

Some of the most referenced facts, such as “Eating an egg a day can be as bad as smoking five cigarettes per day for life expectancy,” or “Drinking milk will give you cancer,” were proven to be exaggerated.

According to an article featured on Time Health by Alexandra Sifferlin: “That assertion is based on outdated information, and recent research suggests that the effects of eggs are nowhere near comparable to those of cigarettes. Recently, national nutrition experts declared that cholesterol, found in foods such as eggs, is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption. Other research has shown that the kind of cholesterol you eat isn’t solidly linked to cholesterol levels in the blood.”

One of the main arguments made was the conflict of interest between food companies and nutrition groups. Companies such as Oscar Myers, Kraft, and Dannon do sponsor the American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association websites, but information pertaining to the recommended recipes was omitted. Andersen argued that those health organizations were advising people to eat meat while understanding that meat was the cause for certain diseases. He neglected to mention that the first thing those organizations have on their nutrition pages are meat substitutes. They also advised that cutting back on meat would be beneficial and included beans and lentils as healthier substitutes.

So, if you are considering veganism, I would advise you to do your own research. Try that specific diet for a couple of weeks and pay attention to what makes you feel best. Some people flourished on a vegan diet, and some people were not completely educated and suffered from a lack of protein. Some people are pescatarians while others are complete omnivores, and both have people benefiting and suffering because they don’t know their bodies. Prosper, know yourself, and good luck.

Documentaries For Healthier Food Habits

Food, Inc

This documentary takes a look at the economical side of commercial farming in America and the problems caused by mass producing food.

Super Size Me

In this film Morgan Spurlock documents his experience of eating only McDonald’s for every meal during one month.

Sugar Coated

“Sugar Coated” looks at the sugar industry’s tactics and compares them to the tobacco industry. This film wants them to take responsibility for today’s health issues.

Written by: Candace Mitchell

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