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Has a documentary ever influenced you to eat more plant based?

JessBbodyJessBbody Member Posts: 421 Member Member Posts: 421 Member
Do documentaries, or reading health articles, books, etc., influence you when it comes to plant based eating?

Has any information that you've come across actually convinced you to eat less meat and dairy, for whatever reason appeals to you (ethical, health, etc.)?

About a month ago I watched 2 documentaries that were both advocating a plant based diet. They were both narrated by the same guy, but they both had different reasons for their claims.

The first was called What the Health and it was produced by Joaquin Phoenix (a huge vegan advocate). Its whole premise was that a plant based diet was the healthiest way to eat and that eating meat was a recipe for disease. It also emphasized the way animals are treated in factory farms and traditional animal agriculture, aside from just killing them.

The second was called Cowspiracy and it was produced by Leonardo DiCaprio (a known environmentalist). Its purpose was to show how animal agriculture is a huge burden on the planet and is contributing to climate change - more than even transportation.

I also watched a slew of short YouTube documentaries, such as The Weight of the nation, on obesity that also advocated eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables.

I understand that the two documentaries have their own agenda. They certainly weren't fair and balanced. But they did go some way in convincing me.

For example, they showed something that caused one expert to refer to cheese as "coagulated cow pus." I swear, since then I've found myself thinking of that often when I eat cheese. I also haven't eaten beef in a month.

I'm curious about the effectiveness of such agenda-driven information. I'm wondering if documentaries like this are actually reaching anybody, or if people just don't watch them because they don't want to radically change their diets. (Both of these are available on Netflix).

So I'm wondering, do these sorts of arguments influence you at all? Has anything you've seen or read caused you not to order a burger or have beans for protein instead of chicken? What are your reasons?
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Replies

  • AlexandraFindsHerself1971AlexandraFindsHerself1971 Member Posts: 1,602 Member Member Posts: 1,602 Member
    I find them vaguely interesting when they're not being ridiculous, but they don't affect me. I have various conditions that mean that I've had to eliminate a lot of common fruits and vegetables from my diet. Not willingly; I'd love to eat a nice pear instead of dessert, and I'd love to have a good bean soup for lunch, and a nice plate of beef with broccoli for dinner, but I don't want to live in the amount of physical misery I'd endure if I actually consumed those things. So being vegetarian or vegan is off the table until the gods decide to rewire my liver and my guts.
  • fstricklfstrickl Member Posts: 739 Member Member Posts: 739 Member
    It’s not a doc, but Okja made me think twice about eating animals. I still do eat animal meat (I’d say I eat about 75% vegetarian), however whenever possible I try to buy it from local farmers who do not run factory farms. Easier said than done though
  • JessBbodyJessBbody Member Posts: 421 Member Member Posts: 421 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Personally, I think shifting my thinking based solely on propaganda is a slippery slope to low intellectual standards and generally poor cognition. Any "documentary" that calls cheese "coagulated cow pus" without any counterbalancing factual material is propaganda, IMO.

    Generally, these are advocacy pieces, and should be seen as such. They're trying to sell us something, not to educate.

    Before you assume I'm a shill for Big Meat: I've been ovo-lacto vegetarian since 1974 (yup, over 46 years). My initial reasons for adopting that way of eating had to do with resource utilization, and a general ethical sense that decent developed-country people try to reduce the many unavoidable harms they create in a challenged (and mostly poorer) world. starting with the things that are individually easiest for them (so will vary by person - vegetarian was part of my "easy" - might not be for others, and that's fine).

    Vegetarians or fully plant based eaters can get good nutrition, and it's not hard, but it does require slightly more attention than it takes for omnivores. That said, most omnivores - if surveys are to be believed - would be better off nutritionally if they ate substantilly more plants than the average person does now. (From what I've read, it's statistically unusual to reach the minimal "5 servings a day" recommendation. Yes, some people do, and some omnivores exceed that . . . so there must be some statistically counterbalancing folks out there getting nearly none. That would be bad, nutritionally.)

    So, my opinions: Would it be better if the average person ate more plants, and less of something else? Yes, for varied reasons. Should everyone stop eating meat or other animal foods? Not essential, IMO. Is meat-eating unhealthy? No. (That idea seems ridiculous to me, from an evolutionary perspective.) Should we collectively be trying to reduce the environmental and other deleterious impacts of modern meat production practice? Sure, that would be a good thing, and would apply to not just meat, but other food production, goods production, etc

    Do these specific Netflix "documentaries" - the ones you mention and other similar ones - influence my thinking and eating? No. I try to educate myself about issues around the food I eat, and the impacts of its production methods, and take reasonable steps in my personal behavior accordingly . . . but advocacy pieces are not a great source of education, IMO. Kind of the reverse.

    Do well-researched factual articles, and especially research studies or careful balanced investigative reporing influence my thinking? Sure, I hope so. About plant based eating specifically or uniquely? No. Many food
    production methods cause harm. So do other aspects of our developed-world lifestyles.

    It's trendy to demonize meat, and Netflix is notorious for delivering the long-form version of clickbait.

    Thank you for providing a cogent argument that isn't too insulting to my intellectual capabilities :)

    I've heard from you and others here that Netflix "documentaries" are not reliable sources of information, and that's not the first time I've heard that. I'm wondering who these experts panelists are, doctors and environmental scientists, who are willing to put their names out there and make these claims, if they don't have their own studies and research to back them up.

    Granted I haven't read the studies, but I've found that in my readings of psychology, there is almost always a study that will wholly refute another study trying to prove the opposite hypothesis. Maybe it's different for medicine and climate change.

    I see the cheese thing stood out for a lot of people. Without going into detail of the visuals involved (so as not to "gross everyone out"), it had to do with the way the cows were handled and mistakes that can be made. I don't think that all cheese is, well, what I said. I think that must have been an exaggeration for dramatic effect. And probably by the worst propaganda pusher.

    In any case my aim is to see if things like this actually influence people to change their eating habits. I wanted to know if the makers of these films are getting their message out. I've seen from you all that it doesn't, and they're not. Films like this are not to be trusted, you say.

    I appreciate those of you who mentioned reducing meat consumption for environmental reasons. I admit that's where the second film "got" me the most. Since your knowledge came from more legitimate sources it gives me incentive to do further research before I cut out meat for the "wrong" reason, e.g. A Netflix film convinced me to do it.

    Thank you, everyone, for your feedback.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 17,085 Member Member, Premium Posts: 17,085 Member
    JessBbody wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Personally, I think shifting my thinking based solely on propaganda is a slippery slope to low intellectual standards and generally poor cognition. Any "documentary" that calls cheese "coagulated cow pus" without any counterbalancing factual material is propaganda, IMO.

    Generally, these are advocacy pieces, and should be seen as such. They're trying to sell us something, not to educate.

    Before you assume I'm a shill for Big Meat: I've been ovo-lacto vegetarian since 1974 (yup, over 46 years). My initial reasons for adopting that way of eating had to do with resource utilization, and a general ethical sense that decent developed-country people try to reduce the many unavoidable harms they create in a challenged (and mostly poorer) world. starting with the things that are individually easiest for them (so will vary by person - vegetarian was part of my "easy" - might not be for others, and that's fine).

    Vegetarians or fully plant based eaters can get good nutrition, and it's not hard, but it does require slightly more attention than it takes for omnivores. That said, most omnivores - if surveys are to be believed - would be better off nutritionally if they ate substantilly more plants than the average person does now. (From what I've read, it's statistically unusual to reach the minimal "5 servings a day" recommendation. Yes, some people do, and some omnivores exceed that . . . so there must be some statistically counterbalancing folks out there getting nearly none. That would be bad, nutritionally.)

    So, my opinions: Would it be better if the average person ate more plants, and less of something else? Yes, for varied reasons. Should everyone stop eating meat or other animal foods? Not essential, IMO. Is meat-eating unhealthy? No. (That idea seems ridiculous to me, from an evolutionary perspective.) Should we collectively be trying to reduce the environmental and other deleterious impacts of modern meat production practice? Sure, that would be a good thing, and would apply to not just meat, but other food production, goods production, etc

    Do these specific Netflix "documentaries" - the ones you mention and other similar ones - influence my thinking and eating? No. I try to educate myself about issues around the food I eat, and the impacts of its production methods, and take reasonable steps in my personal behavior accordingly . . . but advocacy pieces are not a great source of education, IMO. Kind of the reverse.

    Do well-researched factual articles, and especially research studies or careful balanced investigative reporing influence my thinking? Sure, I hope so. About plant based eating specifically or uniquely? No. Many food
    production methods cause harm. So do other aspects of our developed-world lifestyles.

    It's trendy to demonize meat, and Netflix is notorious for delivering the long-form version of clickbait.

    Thank you for providing a cogent argument that isn't too insulting to my intellectual capabilities :)

    I've heard from you and others here that Netflix "documentaries" are not reliable sources of information, and that's not the first time I've heard that. I'm wondering who these experts panelists are, doctors and environmental scientists, who are willing to put their names out there and make these claims, if they don't have their own studies and research to back them up.

    Granted I haven't read the studies, but I've found that in my readings of psychology, there is almost always a study that will wholly refute another study trying to prove the opposite hypothesis. Maybe it's different for medicine and climate change.
    If you read multiples, and go to mainstream, trusted sources for summaries, there is a "weight of the evidence" effect. One wants to be looking for that "weight of the evidence", the consensus of the boring academic authorities (not the flashy marketers), and that sort of thing, IMO. There are hallmarks of who is truly trying to figure things out, vs. who is trying to support what they already believe.

    You can find one study to support *anything*. What's the quality of that study? What are its limitations? Who has criticized it, and on what basis? What do the meta-analyses say? And so forth.

    Any one study is a brick in a coherent wall of evidence . . . or just a brick lying around on its own. It takes more investigation to know which of those applies, in any given instance.
    I see the cheese thing stood out for a lot of people. Without going into detail of the visuals involved (so as not to "gross everyone out"), it had to do with the way the cows were handled and mistakes that can be made. I don't think that all cheese is, well, what I said. I think that must have been an exaggeration for dramatic effect. And probably by the worst propaganda pusher.
    The cheese thing stood out because (1) you kinda emphasized it, and (2) it's one of those emotional-trigger things we've seen people mention before. Yeah, cows can have infections. They're overplaying it in the docs.
    In any case my aim is to see if things like this actually influence people to change their eating habits. I wanted to know if the makers of these films are getting their message out. I've seen from you all that it doesn't, and they're not. Films like this are not to be trusted, you say.

    They do influence people to change their eating habits. There have been quite a few threads I've seen here where people have watched these "documentaries", believed them, and headed off in a new dietary direction. (I'm not saying the majority of people do this - but some, not super rare.)

    There are other threads where people parrot what the docs and similar sources say, the milk = pus, "only human eat milk of other animals", and that sort of thing.

    I suspect that when people change their eating pattern after watching a trendy video or two, it doesn't usually stick for life. That's just a guess, though, based on watching people and their eating behavior, over quite a span of life so far. (I'm 64.) Particularly in our teen and young adult years, we tend to try on a lot of different roles and lifestyles. Most don't last. A few do. New converts tend to exhibit a certain . . . religiousity.)
    I appreciate those of you who mentioned reducing meat consumption for environmental reasons. I admit that's where the second film "got" me the most. Since your knowledge came from more legitimate sources it gives me incentive to do further research before I cut out meat for the "wrong" reason, e.g. A Netflix film convinced me to do it.

    How do you know how legitimate our sources are? I didn't see where any of us cited any. 😉 You don't want to fall for that either, yaknowhatImean?

    I'd argue that when some source like these docs hooks you, it ought to raise questions or even red flags in your mind. If they hook you emotionally, do they have facts to back up their perspective? (Who disagrees, and what do they argue?) When sources trigger emotional responses in me, I feel suspicious, and check further. That emotional response makes me think I may be being played.

    That a few of us disagree with these docs, enough to post, is really meaningless. You'll probably get some believers who post on the thread, if they see it.
    Thank you, everyone, for your feedback.

    Question everything. 😆
  • krose4514krose4514 Member Posts: 30 Member Member Posts: 30 Member
    Contrary to what most people are saying here, I certainly have been influenced by such documentaries. What has influenced me, however, is not the ‘gross’ factor or the nutrition factor either (if I could easily change my eating habits for better nutrition I would have given up sugar long before meat!). It’s also not the pure ethical argument - I see no problem with killing animals for food, I see this as the circle of life.

    What such documentaries DID open my eyes to was how incredibly cruelly animals are treated when raised for meat on factory farms in the US and how this process is largely influenced by desire to profit by meeting the huge demand for meat in the US that far surpasses any true ‘need’ that we have. My clear takeaway from this was that it was very important for Americans to significantly *reduce* (but not necessarily eliminate) their meat consumption. As a result of such documentaries, I did end up going purely vegetarian for a short time (about 6 months). I say short time not because I just forgot/gave up/stopped caring, but because I moved abroad shortly thereafter. I moved somewhere where I would have very little control over my food, where vegetarianism isn’t a thing, and where animals are not raised on factory farms! For these reasons, I shifted back to meat eating not only due to need, but also due to the fact that my major concerns were not relevant in that context.

    Since returning to the US, I have also returned to hugely limiting my meat consumption. I do not buy it at the grocery store, I do not cook it, I only (sometimes) eat it when going out to a restaurant or when someone else is cooking for me. I don’t see myself going back to my old ways thinking meat is a required part of every meal any time soon. The environmental argument is also starting to make more of an impact on me and reinforcing this approach. And, yes, this all came from a documentary I watched back in college!
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member Posts: 24,313 Member Member Posts: 24,313 Member
    JessBbody wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Personally, I think shifting my thinking based solely on propaganda is a slippery slope to low intellectual standards and generally poor cognition. Any "documentary" that calls cheese "coagulated cow pus" without any counterbalancing factual material is propaganda, IMO.

    Generally, these are advocacy pieces, and should be seen as such. They're trying to sell us something, not to educate.

    Before you assume I'm a shill for Big Meat: I've been ovo-lacto vegetarian since 1974 (yup, over 46 years). My initial reasons for adopting that way of eating had to do with resource utilization, and a general ethical sense that decent developed-country people try to reduce the many unavoidable harms they create in a challenged (and mostly poorer) world. starting with the things that are individually easiest for them (so will vary by person - vegetarian was part of my "easy" - might not be for others, and that's fine).

    Vegetarians or fully plant based eaters can get good nutrition, and it's not hard, but it does require slightly more attention than it takes for omnivores. That said, most omnivores - if surveys are to be believed - would be better off nutritionally if they ate substantilly more plants than the average person does now. (From what I've read, it's statistically unusual to reach the minimal "5 servings a day" recommendation. Yes, some people do, and some omnivores exceed that . . . so there must be some statistically counterbalancing folks out there getting nearly none. That would be bad, nutritionally.)

    So, my opinions: Would it be better if the average person ate more plants, and less of something else? Yes, for varied reasons. Should everyone stop eating meat or other animal foods? Not essential, IMO. Is meat-eating unhealthy? No. (That idea seems ridiculous to me, from an evolutionary perspective.) Should we collectively be trying to reduce the environmental and other deleterious impacts of modern meat production practice? Sure, that would be a good thing, and would apply to not just meat, but other food production, goods production, etc

    Do these specific Netflix "documentaries" - the ones you mention and other similar ones - influence my thinking and eating? No. I try to educate myself about issues around the food I eat, and the impacts of its production methods, and take reasonable steps in my personal behavior accordingly . . . but advocacy pieces are not a great source of education, IMO. Kind of the reverse.

    Do well-researched factual articles, and especially research studies or careful balanced investigative reporing influence my thinking? Sure, I hope so. About plant based eating specifically or uniquely? No. Many food
    production methods cause harm. So do other aspects of our developed-world lifestyles.

    It's trendy to demonize meat, and Netflix is notorious for delivering the long-form version of clickbait.

    Thank you for providing a cogent argument that isn't too insulting to my intellectual capabilities :)

    I've heard from you and others here that Netflix "documentaries" are not reliable sources of information, and that's not the first time I've heard that. I'm wondering who these experts panelists are, doctors and environmental scientists, who are willing to put their names out there and make these claims, if they don't have their own studies and research to back them up.

    Granted I haven't read the studies, but I've found that in my readings of psychology, there is almost always a study that will wholly refute another study trying to prove the opposite hypothesis. Maybe it's different for medicine and climate change.

    I see the cheese thing stood out for a lot of people. Without going into detail of the visuals involved (so as not to "gross everyone out"), it had to do with the way the cows were handled and mistakes that can be made. I don't think that all cheese is, well, what I said. I think that must have been an exaggeration for dramatic effect. And probably by the worst propaganda pusher.

    In any case my aim is to see if things like this actually influence people to change their eating habits. I wanted to know if the makers of these films are getting their message out. I've seen from you all that it doesn't, and they're not. Films like this are not to be trusted, you say.

    I appreciate those of you who mentioned reducing meat consumption for environmental reasons. I admit that's where the second film "got" me the most. Since your knowledge came from more legitimate sources it gives me incentive to do further research before I cut out meat for the "wrong" reason, e.g. A Netflix film convinced me to do it.

    Thank you, everyone, for your feedback.

    Doctors are just people. Yes, they're people who have received specialized training, but they're capable of having errors in their reasoning, making venal or financially motivated decisions, or just being wrong. Usually the answer to "But why would a doctor say [x] when it isn't right or can't be proven?" can be found in one of the above.

    edited September 24
  • janejellyrolljanejellyroll Member Posts: 24,313 Member Member Posts: 24,313 Member
    krose4514 wrote: »
    Contrary to what most people are saying here, I certainly have been influenced by such documentaries. What has influenced me, however, is not the ‘gross’ factor or the nutrition factor either (if I could easily change my eating habits for better nutrition I would have given up sugar long before meat!). It’s also not the pure ethical argument - I see no problem with killing animals for food, I see this as the circle of life.

    What such documentaries DID open my eyes to was how incredibly cruelly animals are treated when raised for meat on factory farms in the US and how this process is largely influenced by desire to profit by meeting the huge demand for meat in the US that far surpasses any true ‘need’ that we have. My clear takeaway from this was that it was very important for Americans to significantly *reduce* (but not necessarily eliminate) their meat consumption. As a result of such documentaries, I did end up going purely vegetarian for a short time (about 6 months). I say short time not because I just forgot/gave up/stopped caring, but because I moved abroad shortly thereafter. I moved somewhere where I would have very little control over my food, where vegetarianism isn’t a thing, and where animals are not raised on factory farms! For these reasons, I shifted back to meat eating not only due to need, but also due to the fact that my major concerns were not relevant in that context.

    Since returning to the US, I have also returned to hugely limiting my meat consumption. I do not buy it at the grocery store, I do not cook it, I only (sometimes) eat it when going out to a restaurant or when someone else is cooking for me. I don’t see myself going back to my old ways thinking meat is a required part of every meal any time soon. The environmental argument is also starting to make more of an impact on me and reinforcing this approach. And, yes, this all came from a documentary I watched back in college!

    I am intrigued by the argument that it's morally appropriate to end someone's life for pleasure or convenience but that one cannot take measures to make a profit off of doing so. If it's okay to eat someone, why would it be inappropriate to cause them discomfort, pain, or distress in the process? Presumably the "circle of life" contains all three of those experiences.
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