Although there are those who opted to go vegan decades ago and have remained dedicated in their decision to do so, I remember the exact moment when my social media feeds were in a frenzy with declarations from people ready to drop their double-cheeseburgers to go vegan. It was in 2017, shortly after the film What The Health was added to Netflix. Directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the documentary delves into the impact meat and dairy consumption have on our health.
The film was scary. It wasn't scary in a The Texas Chainsaw Massacre kind of way, but it certainly made you fear for your life. In fact, the words shown at the start of the What The
Health trailer proclaim that the film is a "darker story of lies and deceit." Ironically, that phrase could easily fit into the trailer for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or plenty of other horror films. The words "epidemic,""morbidly obese," and "millions of deaths" are also thrown around for what seems like added fear-mongering.
Upon the release of the film, it swiftly prompted people to go pescatarian, vegetarian, or even full-on vegan. Initially, it seemed like a great thing: people finally taking into consideration the foods they're putting into their bodies. But then the plethora of social media posts on "Why I went vegan and why you absolutely need to" started to feel a lot like shaming. And that's when things got weird.
I was pescatarian around the time of What The Health's release, so for me it seemed like validation. Validation that the torture of not eating bacon would pay off in the long run. My not-so-aha moment came when I realized that being pescatarian didn't necessarily guarantee a healthy lifestyle. I was still loading up on starches, gorging on too much seafood, and not getting enough protein. So, after nearly a year of going pescatarian, all it took were a few pork and veggie dumplings while in Hong Kong for me to tap out. They were absolutely delicious, by the way.
Is it time for us all to collectively hop off the vegan train? Realistically, no. As I mentioned before, there are those who have been vegan for years. They went vegan without the influence of a Netflix documentary or social media peer pressure. Also, we can't deny that vegan dishes host a plethora of health benefits. Thankfully, I think we've found ourselves at a time where veganism isn't nearly as trendy as it once was. Now that the smoke and mirrors have cleared, we can take a step back, take a look at the receipts, and then decide (without outside influence) if veganism is a lifestyle we're willing to consider.