Thompson-Weeman: Why the Heck Would Anyone Listen to “What the Health”?

Over the holiday weekend, you may have found yourself scrolling through Netflix trying to find something to watch. One of the options I hope you skipped is a ‘documentary’ called “What the Health.”

“What the Health” is based on the claim that meat, dairy, fish, poultry and eggs are causing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, obesity and cancers – and the animal agriculture industry is colluding with health groups to cover it all up.  It was produced by the same team that brought us “Cowspiracy,” which was based on the conspiracy theory that the animal agriculture industry is paying off environmental groups to cover up the environmental impact of producing meat.

The claims made in this film are outright ridiculous – which I hope will help anyone watching it to apply a healthy dose of skepticism. Some of the main claims –

·         Eating one egg is the same as smoking five cigarettes. (Obviously not)

·         Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. (False)

·         Milk contains pus. (No, it doesn’t)

·         Processed meats cause cancer. (Not true)

It’s worth noting that nearly everyone featured in the film is vegan, and the list of interviewees includes a former director of public health and animal agriculture at HSUS, a scientific advisor to PETA, staff from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (which started as the “scientific arm” of PETA, around 8% of its members are actually doctors) and someone from the Plant Based Foods Association. What a shocker that this group would come to the conclusion that a vegan diet is the answer to any health issue out there.

Take this opportunity to share accurate information about the role meat, poultry, dairy and eggs can play in a healthy, balanced diet. The Animal Agriculture Alliance’s Meat Matters resources are a great place to start.

Have you watched or heard about “What the Health”? Share your reaction in the comments. 


Editor’s Note: Hannah Thompson-Weeman is Communications Director at the Animal Agriculture Alliance. The opinions in this commentary are expressly those of the author. For more information on the Alliance, go to: