The cure to many of our diseases and ailments is right under our nose, but the institutions that should be sharing this information are paid by corporations to ensure that we don’t get it. This moral crime is uncovered in an explosive new documentary film called What The Health, which will be available for streaming on Thursday, March 16th.
On March 7th, hundreds of New Yorkers attended the world premiere of What The Health. Co-directors Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn held a Q&A after the screening.
Co-director Keegan Kuhn, Nutritionist Dr. Ruby Lathon & Co-director Kip Andersen at the world premiere of What The Health in NYC (Photo by Lukas Maverick Greyson)
Among the many shocking revelations in the film is that charities like the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, organizations that should working to improve public health, are withholding life-saving information and promoting a harmful diet in order to curry favor with their corporate donors. “When I was healed, I couldn’t keep quiet,” said Dr. Ruby Lathon, a Certified Holistic Nutritionist who is featured in the film. “I couldn’t believe that there’s a secret out here that you can heal with food.”
Natasha Brenner, a NYC-based animal rights activist, turned 95 on December 16th, and, apart from a few aches and pains, she is a picture of health. Ms. Brenner, a vegetarian since 1992 and vegan since 2012, attributes her longevity to meditation and her plant-based diet. “It was very hard to give up cheese, but my consciousness was raised. It’s just very satisfying to know that you’re not hurting, killing or injuring an animal.”
During her career, Ms. Brenner worked in copy editing, public relations and real estate investing. In recent years, however, she has dedicated herself exclusively to animal rights. Over the past decade, Ms. Brenner and her husband Noah, who died in 2014, participated in weekly protests and rallies to ban horse-drawn carriages from the streets of midtown Manhattan.
Natasha Brenner educates tourists about the cruelty of NYC’s horse-drawn carriage trade.
While her participation in the street protests has declined in the past two years, she continues to be advocate online. “I’m on the computer every day doing animal actions and petitions.”
Animal rights activist Natasha Brenner turns 95
While Brenner admits that she is “amazed” that she is “still here,” her friends and family are not at all surprised. “She’s as sharp today as the day I met her five years ago,” said Mickey Kramer, a friend of Brenner, who is a mere 48 years younger. “And you should see her play ping pong… amazing.”
Animal rights activist Natasha Brenner celebrates her 95th birthday with friends and family
When asked what she wants for her birthday, Brenner took a bite of her mango chick’n and said, “for all animals to be treated with respect and kindness.” And, without missing a beat, she added, “and to be six inches taller.”
Some participants marched in fruit and vegetable costumes; others carried posters promoting animal liberation. But their messages to the public were consistent: “Animals are not food.”
On April 3rd, animal advocates took to the streets of Greenwich Village for the 9th annual Veggie Pride Parade, attempting to awaken their fellow New Yorkers to the plight of animals exploited for food and the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Curious onlookers fumbled for their smart phones to document the unique and unexpected parade and to take selfies with a giant pea pod.
Racial, ethnic and socio-economic diversity at the Veggie Pride parade.
The parade began in the “Meatpacking District,” a neighborhood that was once dominated by commercial butcher shops. Today, those businesses, which have been priced out of the trendy neighborhood, have been replaced by restaurants that, of course, serve meat (for now).
Parade onlooker wearing Canada Goose fur coat expressed excitement about seeing the parade.
When the parade spilled into Union Square, where it ended, organizer Pamela Rice staged a spirited rally, and parade participants indulged in vegan fare sold by local restaurants and food companies.
By observing the actions of adults, we are taught as children that animals exist to serve our needs and desires, not their own. Our sense of superiority to other animals is so ingrained that society gives virtually no thought at all to imprisoning them in zoos, labs and factory farms, thereby stripping them of the freedom that they instinctually desire just as much as we do.
Our behavior can best be described as speciesist. As a word and as a concept, speciesism is not yet a part of the public discourse. In an effort to help animals, however, social justice groups are working to change that, employing creative methods from provocative street theater to dramatic protests.
Launched just two months ago, a NYC-based organization called Collectively Free has been stopping people in their tracks with their “Swap Speciesism” events. At Meatopia, a carnivore festival where whole animals were cooked, Collectively Free turned the tables – and turned many heads – by serving samples from a whole human.
On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops
Wearing a pig mask, Kate Skwire, a Collectively Free performer, used humor to capture the attention of passing carnivores:
“You look like you’d like a piece, m’am. Are you hungry?”
“These are humanely raised, grass fed, local, happy humans.”
“Now tell me that isn’t delicious.”
“This one had a very good life. You don’t have to feel bad about eating this meat.”
The execution (of the event, not the human), was so creative that some Meatopia attendees stopped to give them props. Robert Jensen, one of the participants, said, “A few people said things like ‘I’m not vegetarian, but this is really creative.’ Others said, ‘that’s sick!’ to which we responded ‘it’s sick the other way around too.’ Then they became lost in thought.'”
Photo: Collectively Free
Another participant, Miriam Lucille, said, “I was holding a sign that says ‘Why love one but eat the other’ showing a dog and a pig, and one man looked at the sign, nodded and said, ‘That’s very true.'” A lot of people took photos because it was eye-catching, and that’s always a good thing.”
photo: Collectively Free
A San Francisco based group, Direct Action Everywhere, is also aiming to “Disrupt Speciesism” through dramatic and controversial actions inside of and in front of restaurants and grocery stores around the world. A video of one such protest not only went viral but also made national news. In the video, activist Kelly Atlas enters a restaurant and delivers an emotional account of her baby girl Snow, who is an injured chicken rescued from a battery cage.
In 2013, filmmaker Mark Devries made made a critically-acclaimed documentary about the issue. In Speciesism: The Movie, Animal Liberation author Peter Singer sums it up nicely: “The fact that animals are not human isn’t a reason to give less consideration to their interests.”
Humans might be more powerful than other species, but we are far from superior. In fact, because we are the only species that is destroying the planet, some might argue that we are inferior.