Having watched Cowspiracy and What the Health, I was fully prepared for the Vegan Propaganda to come.
Let’s first agree that anecdotal evidence of people saying “I set a personal best after changing to a plant based diet” has NO value. If you’re an elite athlete, you’re expected to set personal bests throughout your career.
Unfortunately that already strips back this 75 minute documentary to bare bones. We lose the footage of Nate “I eat eggs and seafood” Diaz winning a fight, an Ultra runner, a 400m runner, an olympic lifter, a strongman and the narrator himself.
In total anecdotes make up 39 minutes, including a meat/bean burrito experiment on night time erections, which ends with the doctor stating “now, this is not a scientifically validated study”. Other examples include people switching from the Standard American Diet to a vegan one, where it’s painfully clear to anyone with an understanding in nutrition that the benefits come from the huge increase in their vegetable intake, regardless of whether they eat less meat.
The rest of the documentary is utter garbage. There’s comparisons between meat and smoking, in the sense that “scientists were wrong once, they can be wrong again”. Early on they “bust” the myth that meat gives you energy. Who thinks that?! Every athlete knows your muscles store glycogen from carbohydrate, that’s why triathletes consume sugary sports gels when they run, not just whey protein.
“Plants contain all the amino acids”. Great. In what amounts? Celery contains protein, but you need to eat 10kg of it to meet your daily needs, so just because something contains a nutrient doesn’t mean it will be sufficient.
There was a study on whey protein vs rice protein used at one point. If you read the study you’ll see they used 48 grams of each powder (a standard serving is 30 grams) to prove that you get enough amino acids from the rice protein. They seem to have chosen this value because it allows rice protein to meet the needs, while whey exceeds them. Personally, I read that a blend of 2/3 Pea Protein, 1/3 Rice Protein and a digestive enzyme gives a similar amino acid profile to whey. It tastes bad enough that you have to blend it with an apple or banana, but if you’re willing to do that then it saves you a lot of money in the long run.
“Plants have 64 times more antioxidants than meat”. Great, I’m not ONLY eating meat, just because I’m a carnivore doesn’t mean I’m banned from eating blueberries. People don’t eat meat for antioxidants, what a f**king stupid comparison.
“Subjects were able to bench press 19% more total weight after a beet juice supplement”. Now the graphic (below) conveniently removes the word total, giving you the impression that if you were lifting 100kg you can now lift 119kg. In fact it was a study done on 3 sets of bench press at 60% 1RM, meaning 60kg in the example above. Total weight means one group could have performed 7,7,6 reps (20 total) and the other managed 8,8,8 reps (24 total) to achieve their ~20% improvement.
“Vitamin B12 used to be obtained from bacteria in the soil, but with pesticides now both vegans and meat eaters may need to supplement”. So you’re saying that neither diet provides optimal levels, but forget the fact that meat eaters are likely to be much closer to optimal than vegans.
“Our bodies can’t make our own Vitamin C, that’s proof of how reliant we are on plants”. GREAT. Again, I’m not banned from eating fruits and vegetables. One medium bell pepper provides 150% of your daily requirements of Vitamin C, that’s why I eat several a week as part of a BALANCED diet.
I’ll finish with a few of the studies, because there really is no need for you to spend 80 minutes letting your brain decay by watching this crap.
The Oxford Vegetarian Study: Controls for smoking and BMI, but not other lifestyle factors. The average vegetarian diet could be better because it cuts out a lot of fast food, or maybe vegetarians are generally more health conscious so exercise more.
Testosterone, SHBG and Oestradiol: Concludes that the vegan diet has little effect on total or free testosterone.
Hormones and Diet: IGF-1 was 9% lower in vegans than meat eaters or vegetarians. IGF-1 is something people trying to gain muscle will look to increase.
Ketogenic Diet and Body Composition: The study was 8 weeks long, and it’s known that ketosis and the subsequent adaptations require 2-3 months to be reflected in performance. A ketogenic diet is <50 grams of carbs a day. As a meat eater I eat 250 grams of carbs, so again they’re substituting ONLY eating animal products instead of a diet that CONTAINS animal products.
Milk Intake and Risk of Mortality: I will literally quote the conclusion in the paper “Given the observational study designs with the inherent possibility of residual confounding and reverse causation phenomena, a cautious interpretation of the results is recommended.
Egg Consumption and CVD: This is not the kind of study that proves or disproves anything. More people will eat fried eggs in a full English breakfast than boiled and chopped in a salad.
Meat Intake and Mortality: Use of a food frequency questionnaire at baseline, then a 10 year follow up. Asking someone how frequently they eat certain foods is notoriously unreliable, and any changes in diet in the following 10 years were not recorded.
Below I’ve added a recent video I made about Chicken and Cancer, which includes some of the common misinterpretations that give less credibility to the sensationalist headlines we see.
Overall this documentary was not quite as sh*t as What The Health, but it wasn’t far off. 1.5/10