When Angelina Jolie announced her preventative mastectomy, perhaps you presumed my first reaction was snark because she isn't vegan. You would be wrong in that presumption. I honestly felt sorry for her. However, if your own reaction to her surgical news was snarky, you were not alone.
Internet critics lambasted Jolie as an attention whore, with accusations ranging from "she just wanted a boob job" to "she's covering up her eating disorder and her marriage troubles by becoming the Patron Saint of Breast Cancer" to bitter throwing-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater analogies like "so I guess I should chop off my feet to prevent future ingrown toenails" and "I should amputate my head just in case I start getting headaches"
The comment I feel epitomized the largest overarching sentiment, however, was this one from a celebrity blog:
"I would have more respect for her if she had to pick up extra shifts at McDonald's to cover the costs. My mother just got diagnosed with breast cancer three months ago. Estrogen positive, fast growing, with pathology coming back that appears it is genetic in origin. She is a nurse. She has insurance. Think her insurance is covering the BRCA testing? Hell no. Its so nice, this wealthy fantasy health care world that Angie lives in and none of us can afford to follow. For the rest of us peons, even with insurance, its massive debt and death anyway. Until there is a time in this country when ALL its citizens are treated equally when it comes to health care and your options for treatment, I have no sympathy for the bitch. Take your expensive fake boobs and shove them up your holy ass Angie."
The large number of people who did not sympathize with Jolie expressed outrage at the broken status of the American health care system. The comment above does just that, but it also goes deeper.
First, there's an unconscious reference to fast food and with it the welfarist government that supports livestock production at all costs, including human costs. The system is so bad and so wholly pervasive that service jobs in fast food are often the only option for many working Americans as industries thrive almost solely around disease-causing food and the commerce of treating food-caused disease.
Second, a fully insured woman, ironically a nurse, has no coverage for BRCA gene testing. This is very typical of "basic" insurance plans in America. Forget any form of advanced genetic testing unless you are on the finest insurance plan money can buy, for instance, if you are Angelina Jolie.
Third, Angelina Jolie has never worried about medical bankruptcy -- for the average American, including myself, it is a far different story.
In 1950, a three day stay in a deluxe hospital room in America cost about $20 - $30 per day. Adjusted for inflation, the room costs would amount to about $150 to $200 in today's currency. Without any medical tests, IVs, nursing care, or doctor's visits, room and board in a modern-day American hospital costs anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 per day. I can't think of a single luxury hotel that charges such exorbitant prices for rooms.
No one is certain what mysterious 1% vacuum sucks up all of this wealth. Is it doctors? In the US, average physician earnings are about 78 percent higher than physicians in other countries, not to mention nice kickbacks, vacations, and trinkets handed to them as bribes from big pharmaceutical companies looking to have their drugs pushed. Nevertheless, doctors simply aren't making as much as they did in say, 2002, and even a surgeon making $300K per year doesn't begin to explain why a routine coronary bypass costs as much as buying a condominium on the beachfront in cash. Doctors may be raking in good money but hospitals and publicly-funded nursing homes in America are notorious for cutting their nursing schedules to bare bones, overtaxing the few nurses who haven't been fired until they are squeezed to do the work of six or seven people.
At any rate, Angelina Jolie has access to medical professionals that most of us will never meet because she is a wealthy, wealthy woman.
The best money buys the best medical care, right?
I don't think so. I think Angelina Jolie's doctors aren't telling her the whole story, mostly because they don't know the whole story. Most doctors only receive a few hours of nutrition training in medical school. Pragmatically, they don't know any more about the subject of nutrition than you or I do. If you encounter a health problem, your doctor is far more likely to offer a solution he knows -- drugs and/or surgery.
If I were Angelina Jolie's loved one, I can't say I would disagree with her decision to have her breasts amputated and replaced. What I would take issue with is that her doctors have seemingly made no mention about the effects of a whole foods, vegan diet on all cancers, including cancer of the breast. Jolie may have removed the potentially cancerous tissue from her breasts and ovaries (she has opted to have them removed as well, which will throw her into instant menopause) but if she continues to eat meat, dairy, and eggs, she will still provide the perfect environment for cancer to grow in other non-plasticized parts of her body. If her raison d'être for mutilating herself was longevity for her children's sake, then she should absolutely follow suit by removing cancer-causing animal products from her diet for the same reason.
Though a pseudo-scientific fringe fantasizes that meat, dairy, and eggs are necessary for our bodies to thrive (including laughable information on Inuit peoples by the Weston Price Foundation, an "organization" of Paleo fatties whose founder died of an animal-product caused heart attack) it has become resoundingly clear that meat, dairy, and eggs wreak mayhem in the fragile environment of our cells. Sure, cancer may be genetic, but meat, dairy, and eggs are the on switch that makes it happen.
So why would anyone, even Angelina Jolie, go on eating meat, dairy, and eggs knowing that they can and do trigger asthma, irritable bowel disorder, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and good old cancer? Perhaps because meat, dairy, and eggs are profoundly addictive. We live in a culture that denies there is a such thing as a meat addict, yet in a country where nearly 70% of the population is overweight to obese and slated to die of animal product-caused deaths of a thousand cuts like heart disease and diabetes, I would beg to differ.
Angelina Jolie claimed in an interview that going vegan "almost killed" her -- sounds like something a heroin or cocaine user would say. She probably suffered withdrawal. Plenty of people trying to quit meat, dairy, and eggs do and like drug addicts, they find themselves succumbing to their old bad habits because withdrawal is damn hard to deal with.
I think Angelina Jolie was misled by unethical, lazy, greedy doctors who took her money and her breasts without giving her the readily available keys to health. She will now have to deal with the repercussions of implants because a bunch of techno-narcissists and their primitive surgical techniques gave her no other choice. All implants leak heavy metals, byproducts of silicone, into the body. All implants need to be completely replaced every ten years or less with major surgery.
Hopefully Jolie will be able to have her tissue replaced by something better than a plastic cutlet by the time she has to get hers done again. Even before they are replaced, implants are well documented to burst and leak. Even when implants don't leak, they leach hormone disruptors and carcinogens into the fragile human body.
As rich and as well-doctored as Jolie may be, she is still facing menopause and predictable deterioration caused by chronic under-eating and the consumption of known cancer-promoters like steak and cheese. The silence from her highly paid doctors is deafening.
For once in her charmed life, Angelina Jolie has made herself impossible to envy.