There is a new docuseries out on Netflix called “You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment”. It follows 4 sets of twins who take part in a study (of 21 sets) to determine the impact of diet on our health. The difference between this study and others like it is that it basically takes genetics out of the equation. In most studies, it’s hard to truly determine results since people are so vastly different. But when you study people who have the exact same DNA… well, you get more of a true comparison.
Vegan vs. Omnivore
Each twin was given a different diet to follow. One was to follow a vegan diet and the other an omnivore. The first two weeks they were given all the food they needed to eat. Then the next two weeks it was up to them to prepare their own foods following the dietary guidelines given. What I loved about this was that each diet was set up to promote health and developed to provide adequate nutrients.
Of course, the twins that were on the vegan diets were concerned about getting enough protein, iron, and calcium. The challenge for the omnivores were getting enough fiber and antioxidants. They all got extensive blood work and tests done so that they could truly see the changes their diets have on their overall health. Could 4 weeks actually be long enough to see any change?
It wasn’t all about the twins.
It wasn’t all about the twins and the study. While I do wish more was included about the twins’ journeys and we got more insight into their every day lives why partaking in the study, I do love how the docuseries put a spotlight on the impact animal agriculture has on our health, on the wellbeing of animals, and of course the destruction it has on our environment.
When we purchase our meat from the grocery store, we imagine (if we think about it at all) the animals strolling around on beautiful rolling pastures and living the best life. That is not the case. 98-99% of all of the meat in the US comes from factory farms, where animals are crammed into spaces living amongst waste and disease.
And to prevent the spread of infections, farms animals are given antibiotics. In fact, 25 million lbs. of antibiotics are given to the animals we eat per year, compared to the 3 million lbs. that humans use per year.
All of those antibiotics unfortunately don’t even prevent pathogens from getting into the meat we buy. 1 in 25 packages of chicken contain salmonella, and 1 in 5 contain E.coli. No food, including produce, is allowed to be sold in grocery stores that include pathogens except for meat. There are actually legal levels that are allowed. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any level of pathogens in my food. That is seriously troubling.
We should talk more about the environmental impact.
I’ve talked about it before, and I will talk about it again and again. The environmental impact that animal agriculture has is something that needs more light. Driving an electric car or reducing our plastic use is all great, but the biggest change we can make is eating less (or none at all) meat and dairy.
Animal agriculture is the biggest producer of greenhouse gases. The livestock sector creates more than the entire transportation sector combined.
The rainforests are being destroyed to make room to raise more cattle for food.
Hog farms literally spray animal waste on nearby fields to prevent the waste ponds from overflowing. If you live near one of these farms, this waste is also being sprayed on your house and property. Imagine the smell, or not ever being able to sit outside. This also causes health issues within these communities from the bacteria the hogs bread. All to produce pork products.
Change is possible, and people are making a difference.
NYC Mayor Eric Adams (who is vegan) recently made the default meal in all NYC public hospitals vegan. His belief is that food is medicine and people shouldn’t be eating the food that in most cases got them in the hospital in the first place.
Former chicken farmer, Craig Watts, could no longer be a part of the cruelty. So, he completely transformed his operation, teamed up with Mercy For Animals, became a mushroom farmer and created Transfarmation.
Michelin-starred chef, Daniel Humm completely changed his restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, in NYC into a 100% plant-based establishment. People thought he was crazy, and that the restaurant would tank. But guess what. It didn’t. It is still one of the most exclusive restaurants to dine at, all without any animal products.
Ok, now back to the twins…
The results were not that surprising – at least not to me. People were able to build muscle while on a vegan diet. Those eating plant-based lowered their bad cholesterol, while those eating the omnivore diet remained the same (or even went up a little). Those on a plant-based diet reduced their inflammation and blood pressure. The omnivores had the opposite results. The vegan diets included more fiber and therefore had healthier gut microbiomes.
What was surprising to me was the changes to biological age. We all have our actual age based on when we were born, but our biological age (how old our body actual is based on our lifestyle) could be quite different. By the end of the study, the twins eating the vegan diet were all biologically younger than their twin eating the omnivore diet! And they were able to make a change in their biological age in a short period of time. This proves that it doesn’t take long to make positive changes to our biology through diet and lifestyle.
The biggest mistake that people make when going on a vegan diet, especially when eating whole foods, is that they don’t eat enough. And don’t eat enough carbohydrates. Then their metabolism slows down, they feel sluggish, and blame it on the vegan diet. When you don’t get enough fuel, your body uses muscle as energy. If you don’t eat enough, regardless of what type of diet you eat, you are going to lose muscle. It’s easy to get the calories in when eating “junk”, but getting enough whole food calories takes a little more planning and effort. But its worth it to gain optimal health.
The docuseries ends with a follow up several months later with the 4 sets of twins that were featured. And what was discovered was that all the twins, even the ones that were following the omnivore diet during the study, had all cut out a majority of animal products from their diets or are eating 100% plant-based. The biggest takeaway from this study was the plants ARE better for us.
Time after time, its proven that eating a diet that primarily comes from plants (if not entirely) is not only beneficial to our own health, but also better for the planet and of course for the animals.
I highly recommend watching this docuseries for yourself. It’s filled with so much information and inspiration from people who are just trying to live better. I know I got a lot out of it to apply to my own life and I hope you find the same.
Here’s to making choices for our health, the environment, and of course the animals. <3