Dr Michael Mosley’s science documentaries have earned him a reputation for fearless self-experimentation.
Dr Michael Mosley’s science documentaries have earned him a reputation for fearless self-experimentation. In Pain, Pus and Poison: The Search for Modern Medicine he had himself injected with barbiturates; in Infested! Living with Parasites he got intimate with a tapeworm; and in his latest, Horizon: Should I Eat Meat? (BBC2), the rock’n’roll Doc embarked on a diet high in red and processed meats. Not his most daring challenge, perhaps, but still the one most likely to actually kill him in the long run.
Mosley’s goal in this documentary was to cut through the confusion created by a never-ending stream of contradictory health reports and provide us fatties with the skinny: should meat be included in a healthy diet? Yes or no?
His investigation took him along the winding roads of southern California and up the even more winding path of a human colon, and at every stop along the way he asked the dieticians and scientists he encountered to describe their own meat-eating habits. It was an interesting approach – and would have been even more so if the documentary had also taken into account the environmental and ethical arguments. For some vegetarians these are just as compelling, if not more so.
The problem with focusing on health matters is that these seem to have confounded even the experts. By the time that Mosley revealed the recent finding that saturated fat isn’t that bad for you after all – it’s the lean parts of meat, apparently, which might be causing heart disease – a good proportion of his audience were probably reaching for a bacon sandwich in despair. Several thousand miles of travel and lots of contradictory evidence later, Mosley seemed to arrive back in the same place he started: at home, eating meat.