The BBC is supposedly all about impartial, objective, informative, educational programming.
Indeed, part of their remit is ‘Promoting education and learning‘
On their ‘purpose remits‘ pdf, it says: BBC journalism should be independent, accurate and impartial.
I’m about to tell you of a programme that did not promote education and learning but instead promoted ignorance, and the journalism most definitely flouted all of the above criteria.
Sometimes the institutions we are led to believe are the most trustworthy can actually be the most harmful because people question them less.
I would much rather some trashy TV channel brought out a programme blatantly discrediting veganism, than what I witnessed last week on the BBC.
At least then we’d be able to say ‘….well, it’s Channel Crapola, no-one takes that shit seriously.’ And most people wouldn’t.
So what was the offensive emission that sent my bullshit radar into overdrive?
I just saw a repeat of a programme called ‘Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets‘ (apparently it was first broadcast in July).
The presenter talks about the upsurge in ‘clean eating’ blogs and personalities – some of whom I referred to in this post, and explores their correlation with an increase in orthorexia (orthorexia is a state of worrying about eating the ‘right’ things to the point that it impinges on quality of life).
There is a legitimate argument to be had here. No-one is denying this. But it becomes very clear, just a few short minutes into the show, that its main aims are to discredit veganism, and eating healthily.
There is no difference made in this programme between veganism, and those who are purely eating more plant-based for health reasons. In fact, some of the blogs mentioned aren’t even plant-based, espousing bone broth, eggs and ‘happy meat’ as they do.
How they can be lumped in with veganism when veganism is at core based on ethics and social justice is some lousy-ass journalism on the part of the researchers of this programme.
It happened continually throughout, however. The agenda was practically waving at you.
The presenter decides to try…well…I’m not sure whether she decides to try veganism, clean-eating, a plant-based diet or what.
At one point she pulled everything unhealthy out of her fridge, then whined that there was no ‘joy’ left in there.
The thing is, her fridge was full of crap. There was barely one unprocessed thing in that entire space. If her fridge had been full of fresh produce, great bread, yummy leftovers from the dinner she made the night before, cool dairy alternatives and homemade treats, that fridge would’ve still been full.
She then went to a branch of one of the most expensive health food shops in London (one at which, in 27 years as a vegan, I have NEVER purchased anything), pointed at a bag of £5 kale chips, and declared healthy eating to be expensive and for the middle classes.
Uh…I shop mainly at Asda. Since when did beans and rice cost more than meat and dairy???
A dietician is interviewed and leads us to believe that it’s unwise to cut out dairy as you’ll forgo a good source of calcium.
This in fact, is the science on dairy; and this page gives you lots of great plant-based calcium sources. Both these pages are run by doctors. If I know where to get this information as a humble nutritionist – why the hell doesn’t this dietician?
Talking of which, online nutritionists are of course disparaged. It’s pointed out that some of these bloggers became a nutritionist with online courses of just 20 hours.
You wanna know something frightening? DOCTORS only get 20 hours of nutrition study!
The presenter then enrols in a course that costs just £29. Of COURSE this is a BS course. Twenty-nine pounds??? I only wish I’d found one that cheap when I did mine! This doesn’t mean all nutrition courses are BS.
And sure there are bad nutritionists; but there are bad doctors; bad lawyers; bad teachers etc, all of whom have studied for years. I’ve personally suffered the consequences of a string of bad doctors. I certainly suffered bad teachers. And bad dentists? How long ya got?
At some point near the beginning of the programme, a sentence that mixes veganism, plant-based eating and clean eating all together says that these diets are not based on science.
Why weren’t the plant-based doctors interviewed? Dr’s Greger, McDougall, Barnard, Klaper, Campbell etc. These guys would have told a totally different side.
No actual plant-based expert was interviewed at all. There was no balance or fair reporting on the health benefits of a whole food, vegan diet.
Nothing is mentioned of the fact that the prime way to stop all forms of environmental degradation is mass adoption of a plant-based diet. You’d think they’d stick this in somewhere wouldn’t ya?
The conclusion to this shambolic shit-fest came from a dietician who bleated, as you might expect, ‘…eat a little bit of what you fancy; eat in moderation; eat food that looks like food.’
How fuzzy and ambiguous is this advice? People fancy all sorts of unhealthy foods all the time. We know that moderation kills (I wrote about moderation here); and bacon looks like food to lots of people, yet it can do this.
A staff member at an eating disorder clinic said it was dangerous to cut out food groups, but never mentioned which ones! We know it’s actually optimal for health to avoid animal products and replace them with whole foods, but the positive side of eliminating certain foods was never mentioned.
I don’t even know which part of this programme was the most bullshizzy. Whoever in the BBC let this tripe go out must be absolutely TERRIFIED of vegans.
All I can say is this effort was manipulative, misleading, misrepresentative, biased, unbalanced, and seemingly went out of its way to be deliberately confusing.
Also, as Dr John McDougall says, people LOVE to hear good news about their bad habits, so I can imagine lots of people rubbing their hands together with glee after this programme aired.
It just worries me that because it’s the BBC, some people WILL believe this garbage to have credence.
Let’s not forget. The BBC is publicly funded, so they want to keep their funders happy. Most of the public are not vegan. The BBC possibly figures that making vegans look wacky, extreme and unhinged will make the general public feel warm and fuzzy and better about NOT being vegan. They will then have positive associations with the BBC and keep funding it willingly.
As someone who doesn’t tolerate sexism or anti-vegan propaganda, I fell out of love with the BBC ages ago having witnessed both from them often. But it worries me that because it is widely believed that the BBC are trustworthy when it comes to presenting information, some people will suck this shit up.
I’m extremely proud to declare that not one single penny of mine funded this excuse for a programme.
I don’t care if it’s the BBC, NPR, PBS or whatever other ‘well-meaning,’ ‘educational,’ ‘impartial,’ channel. Always question; look for the peer-reviewed science, and do your own research.
Dr T Colin Campbell in his book ‘Whole’ talks about how PBS (a reputable American channel known as being educational and impartial) didn’t end up interviewing him about his findings on diet and cancer despite showing initial interest, because they probably realised how unpopular his views would be and didn’t want to risk a funding backlash.
It would seem that no mainstream media outlet, however supposedly ‘respectable,’ is immune to this.