We were asked to do an advanced screening and review of “What the Health,” a documentary film created by the producers of “Cowspiracy.” “What the Health” focuses on the effects of nutrition on health. The movie comes out March 16-20 online.
A powerful documentary
This is a really powerful documentary, and for those of you looking for a way to convince your omni friends and family that a plant based diet is the way to go, this is an excellent option, especially if your audience is motivated more by their own health issues than the welfare of animals. But even if you don't have a burning desire to convert anyone to veganism, this film is well worth watching. There's a lot of good information here.
After the credit roll, our narrator, Kip Andersen, begins by telling us he is a recovering hypochondriac, and has a family history of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This resonated with us immediately, as Jane realized she was in the same boat genetically 10 years ago. This prompted her to do some research, and after reading some of Neal Barnard's writings, we wound up going vegan.
The filmmakers touch on other issues as well. They visit towns negatively affected by industrial farming practices. They discuss big pharma and the ties to chronic illness, increased prescription drug usage, and increased profits for pharmaceutical companies; the lack of nutritional training medical professionals receive during their education; and maybe most disturbing of all the ties between agencies that are supposed to provide us with unbiased health information and corporate sponsors.
Oh my God, you want me to jump off this building, don't you
My favorite moment in the film is when Kip asks Dr. Milton Mills, a critical care physician, whether you need to eat meat to ingest complete protein, and Mills replies, “Oh my God, you want me to jump off this building, don't you.” He explains that all protein is made by plants; that it is not necessary to eat animal tissue to get protein. He then goes on to explain that plants are the only things that can take nitrogen from the air, break that nitrogen apart, then incorporate that nitrogen into amino acids and make protein.
80 grams of plant-based protein
So, according to Mills, any protein you get from an animal is simply recycled plant protein. Then we are shown graphic illustrating that 2,000 calories of brown rice and broccoli results in 80g of protein. However, as much as I love broccoli, I don't see myself eating nothing but broccoli and brown rice all day.
Plant proteins have a much more beneficial effect on our physiology
According to Mills, “Plant proteins have a much more beneficial effect on our physiology.” The documentary goes into a detailed explanation of what happens in your body as you eat and digest animal products. And then there are a few graphics showing how we are not true omnivores, rather frugivores. This debate has raged on the internet for a long time, but the most compelling argument here is that we do not have the mixed anatomy of a true omnivore, our intestinal tract is too long, and our canines are not effective enough to rend living flesh from bone.
We also get to hear firsthand from well-respected and knowledgeable professionals in the health fields. Heavy hitters include Dr. Michael Gregor, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Milton Mills, Dr. Garth Davis, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, just to name a few of the interviewees.
My only concern is that the filmmakers use the term “processed meats” to include all meat. For example, Kip is incensed that the American Heart Association has recipes featuring processed meats ? beef. The definition of processed meat can be confusing, if you care enough to look it up. However, to my understanding, beef or turkey in and of themselves are not processed meats. According to The World Health Organization the definition of processed meat is: "meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation."
Release date: March 16, 2017
Regardless, I hope this documentary goes viral. There is a lot of really good information here that would benefit the general public immensely. “What the Health” will be available to watch online for four days only, March 16-20, 2017. Half the proceeds from the online release will go to Food Not Bombs.
The movie will premier in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles before the general release:
What The Health NYC Premiere
What The Health LA Premiere
March 8, 2017 at 6:30 PM
What The Health SF Premiere
March 9, 2017 at 6:30 PM
Clay Theater - 2261 Fillmore Street - San Francisco, CA 94115