- Cholesterol, Saturated Fat, Sodium (can be the major concern in animal products)
- 450+ Drugs known to be given to Animals for an array of reasons
- All Protein is Originally produced by plants
- Humans are NOT true Omnivores…Our Structural Physiology Shows it.
When it comes to eating choices, when it comes to lifestyle choices in general, people often times make decisions based what they are told by others. Whether that information is being relayed via social media, mainstream media, by a friend, by independent films or documentaries, one thing should remain constant… we should do our own research! Regardless of where we get out information, we should always ask questions about the validity of the information and the quality of the source. It is human nature, and perfectly acceptable, to argue in favor of the side that we stand on. With that being said, it is also extremely important that we do not do so blindly, without merit or cause. We must attempt to become educated about the facts and that means understanding the ins and outs of both sides of the discussion. If we fail to do so then how can we make well informed decisions? Underlying bias, resentment and lack of information can lead to extremely passionate debates and potentially misleading arguments on any point. Just a little food for thought.
What the Health…yea, what the heath is right! Allow me to start by stating up front that I am not a vegetarian, not a vegan, I eat plenty of animal protein and other animal based products. With that being said, I thought that the documentary was very thought provoking. Over the years I have heard about the potential health benefits of eating a low to no animal product diet. I have also heard plenty of positive information about ketogenic dieting, modified Atkin’s, low fat, high protein and so on and so forth. So, when I decided to watch WTH I told myself, as I always do, to remain open minded but critical as well. It is easy to take information for face value however I believe that it is important to reflect and digest new information. That is the only way that I am able to determine whether it makes sense to me or not.
My understanding has always been that the potential benefits of plant based dieting are dependent upon the individual, their goals and their ability to implement a well-balanced diet using plant sources only. With my relatively limited experience in dealing with plant based dieting I believe that in order to provide your body with everything that it needs to function optimally (protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.), eating a diet that is completely void of animal products requires special attention to detail and a certain amount of knowledge. My point here is that when we are subjected to new information which may lead to us to make drastic changes in our lives we should take the time to actually think about it.
Here in the United States as well as other parts of the globe, many of us live fast paced lives that revolve around instant gratification and capitalistic advancement. Whether we are talking about pharmaceuticals, food, textiles or any other consumer product industry that you might list, we are constantly lead to believe that we have a need for more. Unfortunately, that message can be a major source of physical, psychological and environmental pollution. So, when we observe form a distance it can cause our perspectives to become distorted and the bigger picture to become blurred. It is by getting closer and looking deeper that we are able to see things a bit more clearly…hopefully.
What I would like to do is take a look at some of the information that was presented in WTH and play devil’s advocate a bit, just for the sake of hopefully provoking a little bit of thought for anyone who might be reading. My overall take away from watching WTH was that the production and consumption of animal based products such as meat, eggs and dairy is largely responsible for many of the health issues that we as humans’ experience. Here are a few figures that were mentioned in the documentary:
- 2/3 of all Americans are overweight
- 350 million people suffer from diabetes world wide
- 1 in 4 deaths in US is caused by cancer
- over 17 million people die each year from cardiovascular disease
Now, I do not think that the intended message was that every single individual represented by those numbers suffers as a direct result of the animal processing industry. That is fair, even with a tremendous amount of research causation is very difficult to prove. There are so many other factors to consider and accounting for and tracking all of them seems nearly impossible. However, in my opinion, when there is mounting research supporting a theory that information should not simply be dismissed. I also think that it is important to take a look at the source of the information. Published scholarly articles, research journals and scientifically backed studies my accredited organizations are in my opinion generally strong and often reliable sources of information, but not always. The harder you look the more confident you can be in your decisions.
One thing that I find myself doing often is listening to the terminology people use when presenting an argument. Obviously, the goal of any debate is to prove that your perspective is accurate and your opponents’ is not. We all get that but do not allow the details to go unconsidered. If someone is trying to convince me that A causes B they might say that something like there has been a “correlation” shown that A “directly effects” B or evidence “links” A to B. What does that mean? How strong of a “correlation” has been shown? What is the “direct effect” of A on B? How often does A seem to be “linked” to B? Try to be aware not only of what is actually being said but also try to think about whether there might be a underlying reason for the specific the way information is worded. Again, I am simply playing devils’ advocate, not passing judgement on the accuracy or validity of the information presented in this particular documentary.
What I found most interesting, and potentially most upsetting, about the WTH documentary was the information presented on the implications of the relationships between organizations like the American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Association, American Heart Association and the animal processing and pharmaceutical industries. I am not saying that this information is or is not true but it is definitely interesting. For instance, I did not know that the ADA, ACA and the AHA received so much funding from companies in the animal product and pharmaceutical industry. That one particular piece of information is not going single handedly sway me, personally, one way or the other however it is going to make me question a few things and make me look at little harder. Another piece of information that I found to be interesting was the perspective that in the U.S we take a “Disease Model Approach” to medicine. Essentially, this means that our medical care system is in the business of treating people that are already sick as opposed to preventing them from becoming ill in the first place. Is that true? If that is true, what other implications might that have? This is the sort of critical thinking we need to implement.
Another interesting point that was presented in WTH was the distinction between omnivores (plant/meat eaters) and frugivores (mainly fruit eaters). The differences in physiology between the two were clear and looking at how humans compare anatomically to the two in regards to our chewing patterns and digestive tract were thought provoking for me.
By Vic M.
B.S. Exercise Science, NSCA-CSCS Certified