Fact-Checking The Vegan Netflix Documentary ‘What The Health’

I’ve been vegetarian for 26 years. Never managed to make the leap to vegan though. Cheese and eggs. Cheese and eggs. I’m working on it.

Here’s my motivational breakdown:

It’s been interesting to witness the abrupt mainstreaming of vegan and plant-based diets in recent years. But less interesting to have so many friends suddenly start lecturing me how cruel the meat industry is, how unhealthy red meat is, how environmentally damaging. Thank! You!

More striking is the amount of people who’ve said:

“Have you seen it? What the Health? The vegan documentary on Netflix. OMG. You gotta see it.”

So I did. I watched the What The Health documentary on Netflix, directed by Kip Andersen (sorry, SEO).

It is powerful, moving and shocking without being gory or alienating. But my journalistic spidey-sense started pulsing as I watched it. It’s kinda too powerful. Too certain of itself. Too sure. Some of the facts raised the BS-detecting hairs on the back of my neck.

So I gathered the team and we dove in to produce an interactive scene-by-scene, fact-by-fact visual analysis of the documentary. Have a play to see how true the film is.

SPOILER: it’s a mix. Classic misinformation-age / post-truth fare. There’s chunks of truth, some misleading facts, a few outright falsehoods, some very old science, some recent science. All intermixed. Blended into a modern smoothie. Tastes good, feels healthy, but who knows what’s hidden in the ingredients list?

Well, we do now.

It’s saddening because the scientific evidence is in, and vegans are right. Plant-based diets are a choice for good – health, emissions, animal welfare, land use, kindness. Every way you look at it, vegans, you are ethically correct. So please – there’s no need to lie.

» See the interactive
» Read the data

Research & writing: David McCandless, Stephanie Tomasevic, Duncan Geere, Miriam Quick
Code: Omid Kashan