About a month ago, a friend convinced me to watch a chilling documentary that would supposedly steer me away from eating meat ever again. Lo and behold here I am, a month later, and am still going strong in my quest to eliminate meat from my diet– with the exception of sustainable seafood. The name of that documentary is What the Health. For those of you who haven't seen it, here is a rundown of some of the most horrifying things this movie taught me about the meat and dairy industries. Get ready to adopt a plant-based diet.

1. Processed Meats Are Carcinogenic

For those of you who haven't seen it, here is a rundown of some of the most horrifying things this movie taught me about the meat and dairy industries. Get ready to adopt a plant-based diet.

beef, sausage, pork, meat, bacon
Andrew Zaky

Yep, let's just go ahead and rip off the band-aid now because this news is not going to get any easier to digest as we go along. According to What the Health, eating processed meats such as bacon, sausage, deli meats, and hotdogs could be just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. The World Health Organization found over 800 studies across the world that link processed meat consumption to cancer. Furthermore, a daily serving of processed meat increases the risk of colorectal (aka colon, bowel, or rectal) cancer by 18%. Processed meats are classified by the WHO as a Group 1 carcinogen, which is the same as cigarettes, asbestos, and plutonium. Yuck. 

2. Sugar Does Not Cause Diabetes

coffee, tea
Katie Walsh

According to diabetes expert and researcher Dr. Neal Barnard, "diabetes is not and never was caused by eating a high carbohydrate diet, and it's not caused by eating sugar". Diabetes is instead caused by diets that build up high levels of fat in the blood stream, such as animal-based diets. This fat, in turn, causes insulin resistance which prevents sugars from getting into cells– forcing it to remain in the blood stream. Weight loss bariatric surgeon Dr. Garth Davis agrees. He cites a study showing that carbohydrate consumption is in fact inversely related to diabetes. Fat, not sugar, is the actual thing that causes diabetes– and how can you avoid fatty foods? With a plant-based diet. 

3. Animal Proteins Are the Leading Cause of Heart Disease

BBQ, sausage, Grilling, beef, meat, barbecue, steak, pork, sauce
Shelby Cohron

Dr. Michael Gregor, M.D. claims that the harmful effects of eating meat are not something that happens later on in your life, but something that happens almost instantly when you eat animal-based proteins. The meat supposedly causes inflammation in your arteries that essentially paralyzes them. This clogging of the arteries can also be linked to a lack of oxygen in the brain's nerve cells which may eventually lead to dementia according to Dr. Michael Klaper, M.D. He says this is oftentimes mistaken for Alzheimer's disease

4. White Meat Is No Better for You Than Red Meat

turkey, meat, chicken
Helena Lin

It's hard to determine how many times I've heard someone say "I don't eat red meat" as if that makes them somehow less of an omnivore than their red meat-eating counterparts. When asked if chicken is better than red meats, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., said "It's a question of whether you want to be shot, or hung". Although morbid, he might have a point. Chicken is one of the leading sources of sodium in the average American adult's diet. Researchers found carcinogens in every sample of chicken taken from fast food restaurants in the US. 

5. Most Humans are Predisposed to Be Lactose Intolerant

sweet, milk
Katherine Baker

73% of African Americans, 95% of Asians, 70% of Native Americans, and 53% of Hispanic Americans are lactose intolerant, according to Dr. Milton Mills, M.D. If you think about it, milk is packed full of hormones for the sole purpose of making a little calf blow up into a big fat cow. Not to mention, there are apparently one million somatic pus cells in every spoonful of milk. The US Dairy industry claims that there is no health risk due to this, but do you really want to be drinking pus?

6. Leading Health Organizations Promote Meat and Dairy Products

The documentary's interviewer, Kip, attempted to coordinate meetings with representatives from leading health organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society, the Susan G. Komen organization, and the American Heart Association. All of these companies feature meat and dairy products in their online guides to healthy dietary choices and recipes. If that seems odd to you considering the research that links these products with illness, check out who sponsors these health organizations. You will see corporations such as Dannon, Tyson, KFC, The Texas Beef Council, and more. It comes as no surprise that all but one of these representatives refused to speak with Kip about this issue.

Remember to take all of this with a grain of salt. Many sources will skew research findings or only report the ones that support their agenda. I've done my fact checking and these are the key points from the documentary that I've chosen to share because they've influenced me to change my diet accordingly. If I could not find reliable sources to back up claims made in What the Health, I did not relay them here. In no means am I attempting to push my lifestyle upon anybody else, nor do I condemn others for eating meat. As far as I'm concerned, however, I'll be sticking to black bean burgers.