Opinion: What The Health

Netflix released Okja in June, and there were immediate ramifications. Headlines sprung up all over the place claiming (keyword, claiming) that throngs of people were going vegan after watching the friendly CGI super pig. And it seems as though Netflix is continuing to promote the rethinking of a meat diet with their latest release of the documentary – What The Health.

However, there’s just one problem. It turns out that claims in Netflix’s pro-vegan documentary What The Health are mostly grounded on invalid research. An investigative report by Tonic reveals that the health claims the movie makes nearly all stem from bad science.

The reason why the claims are invalid is their basis on epidemiological research. This questionnaire-style research generates hypotheses that scientists later research with valid scientific methods. Epidemiological research can only prove association, not causation, so while it indicates possibilities, it’s not an affirmative truth.

Furthermore, clinical trial studies utilized to justify claims did not study enough subjects. Generally, you want large samples for these experiments to best find conclusions. Most of the studies What The Health uses only have one or two test subjects, meaning their evidence is scientifically inconclusive.

Subsequently, Tonic found that 96% of the film’s data could not validly support health claims made in the film. That’s, quite frankly, absurd. In fact, this sort of fear mongering has also led to numerous viewers being coerced to go vegan.

Statements such as ‘drinking milk causes cancer’ or ‘eating processed meat is as bad as smoking’ not only are based on selective use of information, but also confuse viewers as nutritional science isn’t definitive. What The Health reads as more of a conspiracy theory and less of an educational experience.

While I’m all for an increase in information on eating healthy, what I can’t stand for is a manipulation of the facts that don’t actually educate the viewer and instead indulges in fear mongering to promote an agenda. Hell, I’m not going to stop eating bacon based on a documentary that may be only 4% valid – and you can fight me on that!

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