What the Health: What Law Schools Can Learn from the Documentary


In the documentary “What the Health”, Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn explore the benefits of a vegan diet. They explain that there is a causal link between dairy, eggs, and meat to diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and so on. They argue that these food industries have provided sponsorship to associations for diabetes and other illnesses. And these associations in turn support recipes including animal based foods.

Similarly, they explain that these food industries lobby to be included in the food pyramid and send out information pamphlets to nutritionists. And the scope of their influence goes on and on.

They compare the animal product industry to the tobacco industry. Explaining that all these industries have to do is stir up doubt about whether it is bad for you to eat animal products. Rather than convince you that animal products are healthy for you. Doubt is enough.

So if an animal-based diet is so bad for you, then why doesn’t every doctor recommend a vegan diet?

Anderson and Kuhn point out that medical schools spend limited time teaching about nutrition. Rather medical schools are focussed on treating diseases.

So what does this have to do with law schools?

I see a parallel with medical schools obsessions with treating diseases and law schools. Law schools are similarly obsessed with treating diseases. We spend almost all of our time talking about what happens after something went wrong. In turn, almost everything begins to look like a potential death trap.

But we need to spend more time talking about preventing legal problems. To do this, we need to understand causation. We need to understand the history of law and the sociological causes of legal problems.

We need to address questions like: What brings people to the courts? Why do some groups of people repeatedly choose not to use the courts? Why are court cases so expensive? Why are some groups incarcerated at disproportionately high rates? Why does it appear that we criminalize poverty and mental illness? What is missing in our social institutions that cause and exacerbate people’s interactions with the court system? And what can we do to prevent legal problems?

(Views are my own and do not represent the views of any organization.)