Netflix has launched a new four-episode documentary that sends a vegan message on the back of a study conducted by Stanford University in which comparisons of some health outcomes were done with identical twins fed different diets

The core of the documentary is the study published on 30th November 2023 titled “Cardiometabolic Effects of Omnivorous vs Vegan Diets in Identical Twins. A Randomized Clinical Trial” published in JAMA Network Open, and authored by Matthew J. Landry and collaborators from Stanford University. The effect of diet in 22 pairs of identical twins was studied, and researchers found that a plant-based diet improves cardiovascular health in as little as eight weeks. The participants with a plant-based diet had significantly lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, insulin, and body weight, all of which are associated with improved cardiovascular health, than the omnivore participants.

From May to July 2022, researchers selected 44 healthy participants without cardiovascular disease from the Stanford Twin Registry and matched one twin from each pair with either a plant-based or omnivore diet. Both diets were considered healthier than the average standard American diet, with vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains and void of sugars and refined starches, but the plant-based diet was mostly plant-based (except for honey, so it was wrongly labelled as “vegan” both in the study and the documentary).

However, the documentary does not follow the research in detail but only follows four of the twins who took part in it and some of the results (not necessarily the most compelling). Although the documentary allows viewers to visualise the randomised control trial, this is really only the narrative threat that allows the viewer to learn about the wrongs of animal agriculture and the advantages of a plant-based diet, as many experts are interviewed covering a diverse range of vegan issues (such as salmon farming, the environment, animal agriculture pollution, transitioning away from animal farming, etc.). Among others, experts like Dr Michael Greger, George Monbiot, and Dr Tim Spector, are interviewed. Also considerable part of the documentary is focused on promoting fake meats, eggs, and cheeses (even if these were not really an important part of the Stanford study).

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.