You Are What You Eat: the twin experiment

You Are What You Eat: the twin experiment

We recently wrote about how the Veganuary initiative is gaining momentum, with not only consumers, but also supermarkets, restaurants and product manufacturers joining campaigns for Vegan January. It’s hard not to see it as good timing for Netflix’s new series, which was added to the popular streaming service’s site at the beginning of January.

After Game Changers, Netflix has now come up with another documentary, a 4-part miniseries to be precise, comparing the health and environmental impacts of an “omnivorous” and plant-based diet. The series is based on research that was published in 2023. The study looked at the health of identical twins for 8 weeks, with one twin on a meat-and-dairy-egg, omnivorous diet and the other on a plant-based diet.

Why were twins studied?

It is difficult to compare the results of people with different genetic ‘heritages’ and living in different circumstances. Everyone is unique and reacts differently to the food they eat. Since identical twins have the same genes and very similar living conditions, it was possible to observe and compare the effects of diet and exercise in their case by eliminating genetic factors.

The challenge was completed by 20 pairs of twins. They did more than just eat the menu they were given. They underwent regular laboratory tests (blood, urine and stool samples), and at the beginning and end of the programme they were tested for muscle mass, body fat percentage, cognitive ability, brain and gut health, and their weight.

The program was led by American nutritionist Christopher David Gardner, but the 4 episodes also feature several appearances by Dr. Michael Greger, an American physician, who is best known to the Hungarian audience for his book How not to die.

Apple with pear?

The series does not appeal to the unimpressive disproportionality of comparing raw vegetables (salads) with the junk food that Americans regularly consume. Within both diets, healthier versions are prepared for the subjects. Yet the results in just 8 weeks are staggering.

The 4-part series not only shows the effects of diet on health and well-being. It looks at how the meat industry affects the environment, but also at how people are not rational in their dietary choices.

We won’t tell you the ending, of course, just in case you watch it, but it’s certainly another milestone on the road to widespread acceptance of plant-based foods that Netflix has put such a science-based series on its schedule. The series has consistently been in the top 10 most watched Netflix content since its release.