As a nutrition major, I love watching the food documentaries on Netflix — there's always a new perspective that I've never heard about. When I stumbled upon "What the Health?" I was immediately curious to see what it was all about.

If you haven't seen it yet, the entire documentary follows narrator Kip Anderson as he searches how to prevent, and even reverse certain chronic diseases, like diabetes. Anderson uncovers a lot about the consumption of animal products, and how they could actually play a role in causing these diseases. 

beef, bun, cheese, hamburger, lettuce, bacon
Monica Cheng

Instead of including animal products in your diet, Anderson suggests following a whole foods, plant-based diet. After watching, I felt inspired to change up my eating habits. If it's possible to get enough nutrients following this way of eating, I thought why wouldn't I do it if it comes with added health benefits? Here's why the documentary "What The Health?"

inspired me to try a more plant-based diet. 

Plant-based foods are more natural

pepper, carrot, tomato, vegetable
Christin Urso

If you've already watched this documentary, then you know how graphic Anderson gets about the animals being raised for meat production — it’s quite disturbing. You get the see the conditions of these animals and how closely their are kept to each other— making it extremely easy for illnesses to spread from one animal to another. It was hard to watch knowing this is where the animals products I eat come from.

Unlike animal products, you won't have to worry about hormones and antibiotics being added to organic plant-based foods in order to bulk them up or kill diseases. These types of foods are good on their own, without having anything to enhance it.

Eating plants doesn't just mean eating vegetables all day long. Sure, these foods are eaten a lot, but there are so many other types of foods that come from plants: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lentils, nuts, and seeds are just a few suggestions.

Animal products aren't necessary for a complete diet

sweet, vegetable
Delissa Handoko

I've always thought that you needed to eat meat to get a good amount of protein in your body — that's not actually the case. There was no scene or line in “What the Health?” that convinced me of this fact. Rather, it was the people in the film who had been eating plant-based diets and leading perfectly healthy lives that showed me it was possible. If those people could do it, then so can I.

You can get enough protein through plant-based foods, you just have to know what to eat. Beans are a great source of protein and can easily be incorporated in so many meals. The only thing that I had to watch out for was my vitamin B12 intake — a vitamin that naturally comes from animal products. The easy solution for this was to buy some supplements at the store. 

If animal products are causing chronic diseases, I'm better off without them

farmer's market, carton, Fresh, Eggs, egg
Caroline Ingalls

"What the Health?" talked so much about animal products playing a role in chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Websites for these diseases even encourage people to eat animal products as part of a healthy diet in order to help fight the disease.

However, research has shown that in countries where residents consumed animal products at a high rate (this includes meat, eggs, dairy and fish), those same countries also had high rates of 12 different types of cancers. Research by a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic in 2013 strengthened the theory that eating animal products increased one's risk of heart disease. And according to another study done by Harvard researchers, those who eat more red meat were more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 

So the studies are there. When the documentary mentioned the correlation between eating animal products and diseases, I was shocked. How could these groups continue to encourage eating these foods when studies were saying otherwise? And when Anderson went to interview groups like the American Heart Association, they immediately deflected all of his questions on the matter — seemed a little sketchy, if you ask me.  

This might have been the biggest reason why I wanted to try going plant-based. If there's a natural way to prevent a chronic disease, then I think it's worth a shot. The documentary even says that a plant-based diet can help reverse chronic diseases

"What the Health?" did change my outlook on food and encouraged me to change my diet. While I still eat plant-based as much as I possibly can, I still treat myself to some animal products now and again. It's okay to treat yourself sometimes (that's right, this doesn't apply to just sweets). But one thing is for certain — a healthy diet links directly to living a healthy life.