Netflix’s “You are what you eat”: another unscientific docufiction

There is a lot of talk these days about the Netflix docu-series “You are what you eat: twins compared”. Another confirmation that science comes after entertainment.

There are several documentaries, or it would be better to call them docufictions, against the livestock sector and animal production in general. But why? Maybe because it easily attracts audiences and money. Besides the highly biased documentaries “Cowspiracy”, “Seaspiracy”, “At the Fork”, “The Meat Lobby: Big Business Against Health?” etc., to mention some of them available on different streaming facilities, there is a brand new mini-series on Netflix, titled “You are what you eat“. The aim seems always the same: to provoke indignation in those watching, unveiling the unspoken truth by blaming livestock farming and fishing.

Let’s say it plainly. All these films contain the same ingredients: a mixture of shaky science, unbalanced animal rights activists’ views, and lots of random plot twists that make no sense. “You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment” is a documentary in which genetically identical twins change their diets and lifestyles for eight weeks in an experiment to see how certain foods affect the body (spoiler: animal-source foods are bad, of course). But as in the ones mentioned above, there is no scientific basis. These films are quite clever in using lies and distortions and try to tug at our heartstrings regarding meat production.

Disguised as a follow-up to a dietary study on twins, the time spent on the test is marginal compared to the time spent smearing animal production and its products: milk, meat, fish and eggs. But as with the previous anti-ASF “documentaries” already fact-checked and debunked, the truth soon comes out. As reminded by Juan Pascual, veterinarian and author of the book Razones para ser omnívoro, “the production is funded by the Vogt Foundation, whose aim is to promote a plant-based diet. Moreover, the doctor in charge of the study, Christopher Gardner, describes himself as mostly vegan and admits in the published paper that he has received funding from Beyond Meat, the plant-based burger company.”


“From a purely scientific point of view, the study is full of methodological errors“, – Juan Pascual comments – “For the first four weeks, the food given to the study participants is controlled, but after that, each participant cooks their food, making the study inaccurate. Each pair of twins has different goals, such as gaining muscle mass or losing visceral fat. Nothing is said about the participants’ other behaviours: smoking, sedentary lifestyle, etc., which are important factors, in addition to diet, that have a major impact on health”.

Regarding discrediting livestock farming and agriculture, they conflate direct and indirect emissions to claim that livestock farming emissions are higher than those from transport, which is false, according to FAO and EEA data. Unfortunately, those watching the mini-series will not know the main origins of CO2 emissions. They accuse those who eat burgers of burning the Amazon as if the timber trade, mining or oil drilling didn’t cause such problems.

“It was unfair and dishonest that every time the experts in the film mentioned meat, they showed a picture of fast food” – the nutritionist Diana Rodgers, comments – “Meat doesn’t mean ultra-processed food. There are plenty of healthy ways to balance a plate that includes meat. A steak with a salad and roasted broccoli differs from a fast-food burger with chips, sauces and a large soda, yet we’re often conditioned to think that meat equals unhealthy meals. Humans have been eating meat for about 3.5 million years. Still, it’s only in the last century that we’ve been flooded with so much ultra-processed, “hyper-palatable”, high-calorie junk food. It’s so far removed from what our ancestors ate. For this reason, we should find the causes of our recent and dramatic rise in lifestyle-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity in modern diets, including vegan ones”.

“In addition, the founder of a vegan cheese company tells viewers that cheese is as addictive as some drugs, which is not true, and false claims that a vegan diet can prevent diabetes, Alzheimer’s or stroke are common” – Juan Pascual continues. All the films distributed by the entertainment streaming services try to expose the hidden tactics of the food industry lobbies to protect their profits, revealing some hidden truth behind the meat and dairy industries that nobody will tell you. In short, it is a list of falsehoods and contradictions typical of vegan propaganda. Fishing and aquaculture are also discredited to expose the harsh realities of how farmed animals are raised for human consumption.


From a scientific perspective, the viewer should also know that the study’s results are not definitive. LDL cholesterol is lower on the plant-based diet, but they also lose a lot more muscle mass, which is pretty bad, and triglycerides are higher in the plant-based participants. The vegan group also had a decrease in vitamin B12 by 25% and HDL cholesterol, which are all negative changes that are known risk factors for increased heart disease. In other words, you are trading one good change (LDL) for two bad changes (HDL and triglycerides).

“Also, all these changes were over only eight weeks, so we don’t know whether these trends will continue” – Diana Rodgers adds – “Vitamin B12 is also a critical nutrient for brain function, and deficiencies can lead to depression, which is more common in vegan populations than in omnivores. There are no real sources of B12 in a vegan diet, and deficiencies are quite serious, especially for pregnant women and children, causing permanent brain damage in newborns. Why isn’t this mentioned in the film?”

Most of the vegans were also on their way to serious vitamin deficiency, and although the vegan group lost weight, they lost muscle, not fat. To lose body fat and maintain or gain muscle, you need to eat more protein, which supports muscle growth, and that’s what happened in the omnivore group, not the vegans. Based on these facts, nutritionists and health professionals should urge their patients not to go vegan because we lack the evidence to support it.

Interestingly, the majority of people preferred the meat-based diet, and only one vegan participant in the group said they would continue to follow a vegan diet after the study, as the vegans reported that they weren’t satisfied with this deficient diet. “That says that humans are omnivores, and a true omnivore diet is what we are designed to thrive on” – Diana Rodgers concludes.

Source: European Livestock Voice

The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.