In March of this year, a buzzy new documentary about the health benefits of a plant-based diet called What the Health made its appearance on Netflix. Sounds harmless enough, right? However, what this documentary also covers is claims that eating meat and other animal-based products causes devastating health effects to the human body. The creator of this film, an outspoken vegan named Kip Anderson, was also the mastermind behind the 2014 documentary called Cowspiracy, which made claims that cows are rapidly killing planet Earth. These claims have been widely criticized for being backed by severely faulty science. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the “science” claims made in What the Health are just as cringe-inducing and there is one claim in particular that had me reeling – that eating just one egg a day is as bad as smoking five cigarettes for life expectancy.
Anderson states that he actually “found a study that suggests” this claim, but the accuracy of it is questionable, to say the least. The film even recruits a medical doctor (namely Dr. Michael Klaper, who is a notorious advocate for veganism) who says “there’s nothing healthy about eating the yolk of an egg.” Well, let’s analyze these claims.
This documentary is claiming the cholesterol in egg yolks raises your blood cholesterol to levels deadly enough to put eggs on par with cigarettes. Well, this claim is stuck in the 80s! It’s 2017 and already widely known in the scientific and health community refined sugar and saturated fat raise blood cholesterol, not dietary cholesterol. In fact, studies say that the phospholipids found in egg yolks can improve heart health.
According to the American Lung Association, a cigarette contains 600 chemicals which form 7,000 more when burned. Not to mention, 69 of these chemicals are cancer-causing. Additionally, 67% of smokers will die from smoking and you may be surprised to hear that most of these deaths come from heart disease, not lung cancer. Can the same statistics be applied to the daily egg-eater?
An egg is an excellent source of 14 essential nutrients which include all nine essential amino acids, iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A and antioxidant carotenoids. Also, it’s the food source with the highest quality protein you can find. And let’s not forget about the yolk which What the Health claims is nothing but “a concentrated glom of pure saturated fat and cholesterol”. Well, it actually contains 3 grams of protein and all of the nutrients mentioned above including choline which is an essential nutrient that has been shown to help heart and brain health.
The bottom line? There’s nothing to fear from eating eggs and egg yolks and it’s certainly not the same as smoking. There is also nothing wrong with being vegan as long as you are consuming all of your essential nutrients in the proper amounts. In fact, a plant-based diet harbors a host of health benefits. However, there is something wrong with using scare tactics conjured up by inaccurate science and testimonials from medical professionals who are hardly neutral on the subject of veganism.