The moment Kip Andersen introduces himself as a “recovering” hypochondriac, What the Health (Netflix) starts to unravel. He’s being far too kind. Andersen is a paranoid hypochondriac who Googles medical symptoms when he’s not making risible documentaries like this one (he also made Cowspiracy).
Andersen plays an ingénue, appalled by the links he finds on the internet between disease and the meat and dairy industry, almost as if he hadn’t just made Cowspiracy. At one point he finds a study that says “eating one egg a day is as bad as smoking five cigarettes” and presents it as fact.
He’s backed up by a roster of subjective scientists including Dr Michael Greger, who doesn’t enjoy bacon or cheese and once wrote a book called ‘How Not to Die’ which, presumably, will ultimately disappoint its readers. Oh, and Steve-O, a pioneer in the field of medicine and star of Jackass, who recalls storming out of an dinner in aid of diabetics because the buffet offered chicken. For Steve-O, this was like “offering alcohol at an AA meeting”. No, I haven’t got a clue what he’s on about either. It’s that sort of film.
It’s frustrating to watch, because there are many valid points to be made about the damage being done by the over-consumption and production of meat and dairy to our health and to the planet. But Andersen’s failure to confront the organisations he attacks (he drones lengthy questions to baffled receptionists) and his reliance on confirmation bias and pseudo-scientific half-truths render his film useless when it comes to making them.