What The Health... What the Fuck?

What The Health... What the Fuck?
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Meat kills you dead. Take it from this hypochondriac. 

You can't flip on Netflix these days without being slapped by some health docuganda (see what I did there? Documentarty + Propaganda?) telling you that everything you know is made of poison and that you should be suspicious of anything that isn't directly controlled by you. But don't fret too hard, there are usually lifestyle hoops you can jump through, to avoid all of this, and a supplement or gear line you can buy off their website that will help you live forever.

They say to follow the money, right? 

And so goes the latest vegan hype, "What the Health?" made by some dude named Kip. Could Hippie Kip have explored the environmental dangers of large-scale food production or what, exactly, all the Big Agri money that gets funneled to government food institutions, is paying for? Naw, that might lead somewhere (and you'd have to do real investigative journalism, not an hour or two on Google and Pub Med.) No, it's much easier to blame all of societies health problems on nebulous boogeymen like TOXINS! and INFLAMMATION! and cherry pick a few studies and interview a few pro-vegan buddies to confirm your anti-meat bias. 

Guys, these docugandas are garbage. They use appeals to emotion, scare tactics, and data manipulation to steer you towards the conclusion they want. Let's take a look at the most common elements of bullshittery these movies use: 

Studies Show

One study says this! One study says that! A lone study done by Doctor Nobody from Nowhere City blows the lid off of fifty years of steady evidence collected by the ADA! ... The thing about studies is they don't mean much, until they are peer reviewed (checked for mistakes by other scientists) and replicated (done again by a different team, with the same result.) The thing is, a study can be flawed without the original team realizing it. The study might not have enough subjects or go on long enough, or it may have confounding factors (the other things about groups of subjects that could be affecting the outcome) that there is no conclusion you can draw with any certainty. The reason why we trust what we do is because it is usually backed by varying studies and mountains of papers. Not just one exclamation from a plucky lab coat. 

Why is No One Talking About This??

Which brings me to the next trope, why isn't anyone screaming in the streets about this dubious information I just presented??? In the movie, Hippie Kip calls up receptionists and Office Managers asking them about red meat studies and institutional policy. When the inquiry is above their paygrade (which is anything beyond "can I speak to...,") he laments that no one will answer his hard-hitting questions. And when he does have a sit down with a real person, the real person tells him to fuck off as soon as Hippie Kip starts lobbing his little flaming Veganese cocktails. Why won't he talk to me? I don't know Kip, maybe everyone is sick of every jackhole with a video camera and an internet connection trying to distort half-baked interviews with hack editing to make them look stupid. And maybe no one is talking about any of this because there is no evidence to support your claim, other than a study your crunchy doctor friend did that no one has heard about. Talking about a thing that's not really a thing just legitimizes that thing. That's why no one is talking about it.

When In Doubt, Go Eddie Bravo

When you need to convince people you are right but you don't have a lot of evidence to stand on, just jump on down the conspiracy rabbit hole. Kip wants us to think eating animal products causes diabetes, cancer, asthma, and is responsible for 70% of all death, but he has no real proof... so, in order to build up a scary case, he must present a shadowy conspiracy to make you doubt all the information doctors and government agencies give you. Vague declarations of Big Agri and Big Pharma lobbying and keeping you sick to sell you more pills and paying off all the Doctors to make sure you are dependent for life and are never cured. The food pyramid is racist. Our food is all pumped with toxins so you have to keep taking pills and so on. I mean, if we can't trust tens of thousands of scientists and hundreds of thousands of farmers, government agencies, the people of the ADA, the CDC, any large food corporation, all members of congress, any Doctors or students in medical school... who can we trust? Kip. He's the only person who wants to see us happy and healthy - everyone else is a shill who wants us permanently dependent on pharmaceuticals or dead. The sad part about this section is there are lobbying problems and cover ups and horrible repercussions to living by a hog farm, but all this black cloak reptilian overlord shit doesn't go anywhere, except to confuse everyone and make them more emotional and more distrustful of everything. It simply creates more irrational and directionless behavior.

Testify!

This is the dangerous part. It's where fringe doctors and "health experts" (who all have a web store - link on the film's website!) start rattling off really terrible and scary information, like "statins don't help you" "Your doctor is getting paid to keep you sick" and one interviewee insinuates it's common to see health freaks drop dead on the gym floor at 39 because of their paleo diet. They trot out the vegans who all say they are healthier, fitter and stronger than ever now that they only consume plant-based food, and even more terrifying is the people with serious health problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma, that have stopped taking all their prescribed meds and opted for kale juice instead. All their problems simply disappeared! Do you hear that, Susan in Belvidere? Throw your inhaler in the trash and eat carrots. Cured! If I have to tell you that peoples anecdotes and testimonials don't mean shit - I have so many things to sell you! Link in my webstore!

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What does all this imagery even fucking mean?

How can you know what the hell is going on anymore? By cutting through the bullshit. Be aware of statistics without context, one-off studies, and accusations without real evidence. Realize when you see ominous images of smokestacks and shadowy corporate men on TV that don't necessarily relate to the message, they are only there to set your mood. And think about your life. Has your doctor ever told you to eat salami all day and take pills? No, they tell you to eat more veggies and exercise. But when you don't and subsequently, your blood pressure rises to hypertension town, they give you a damn pill to lower your risk of stroking out. Is the government telling people to drink pop all day for their health? No. The food guidelines specifically state plant based foods are healthful. Meats and dairy are put in smaller proportions. Added sugars and trans fats are vilified by everyone. This isn't a conspiracy. The ADA cannot tell you the perfect diet because there is NO EVIDENCE a perfect diet exists. 

But we all want it to and that is the root of the problem. Actually, I'll let Kip tell you. In the beginning of the film, he claims he's a "recovered hypochondriac." He saw some death in the family due to heart disease and cancer and became hyper-vigilant of everything he put in his body. (I believe the term for this is Orthorexia.) At the end of the film he flat out admits "Although I could possibly get away with eating a little bit of meat and dairy without ill-effects to my personal health...I could no longer support an institution..." etc. 

Did you catch that? 

Although he knows he'd be okay if he ate some meat and dairy, he's still going to stand by all the scare tactics and hype he just fed us. He will go all in with a vegan lifestyle because it makes him feel clean and safe and righteous. Recovered, my ass. He's still terrified of cancer and wants you to be too, so you'll buy into his meal plans and supplement lines. Link in web store!

 

Further Reading: 

It's the Sugar, Stupid!!! : A case against overreacting about sugar

Meat and Cancer: Some Perspective : Everyone needs to chill about the latest meat study.