7 Things I Learned from “What the Health.”

Almost a year ago I watched the documentary Forks over Knives.  That day I stopped eating meat.  The documentary went into detail explaining how animals are treated on farms and in slaughter houses, and all the different toxins that are put into meat to preserve it.  I cried during the documentary. When I saw the way animals were being treated I was horrified. Those people were sick. They abused the animals, like literally punched and kicked the animals. Cursed at the animals. For nothing at all. And to know I was contributing to that abuse did not sit well with me.  The conditions that the animals lived in were appalling. Pigs had tumors. They were being starved so they started eating each other. The pigs even ate the tumors. And we are being fed these pigs. The chicken beaks were cut off because they pecked each other to death and ate each other. Animals in Kosher slaughterhouses were treated no more humane than in regular slaughterhouses. The creator of the documentary put everything on the table and allowed the viewers to make their own decision. Mine was to stop supporting the meat industry.

But I could not give up dairy. Well, I did not even try.

About six months into my Vegetarian lifestyle, I relapsed. I was upset with myself because I actually made it through the holidays without eating any meat products. I went home for Thanksgiving. Mind you, I’m only able to eat my parent’s cooking on holidays when I go home. But I did not eat any of my mom’s famous roast or my dad’s juicy ribs. Ribs you don’t even need bbq sauce for. My family was so surprised because I was the kid who would get upset if there was no meat on my plate. My mom told me that one day, when I was a toddler I even went as far as looking her dead in her eyes while I slid my plate of food off the table because there were only greens on the plate. Yea, I was that girl from the beginning.

But I adjusted. I became an advocate of the lifestyle. There were so many changes I experienced. First, I lost a lot of weight. 15 lbs to be exact. My face cleared up. I had more energy. I slept through the night. I was happier and experienced less anxiety.  I was going strong. Cooking separate meals because JC refused to stop eating meat. I learned different ways to eat veggies. I even started eating veggies and fruits that I never ate.

And then J.C.’s mom made Nigerian Chicken Stew when we visited. I hadn’t had it in so long. And it’s so good.  I gave in. That was the beginning of my downfall. I started to eat meat again.  I gained my weight back. I started to become more sluggish. I did not like how it felt. So, I decided that I was going to stop eating meat again, but instead of abruptly stopping, I was going to take it out of my diet slowly. So, I started eating meat only for lunch and dinner. Then it was just dinner.

Then I watched the “What the Health” documentary on Netflix. And my mind was altered once more. I learned so much from the documentary that made sense of my behaviors especially the allegiance I had to cheese.  Among what I learned were seven facts that I further researched. Ultimately, I decided to adapt a vegan lifestyle. I think it’s only right that I share what I learned. It is a lot information, but I urge you to read it and do more research so that you can make an informed decision about your health.

  1. There is a strong correlation between dairy and autoimmune diseases
    • In an autoimmune disorder, the immune system is not able to differentiate between normal and abnormal cells. This confusion causes the body to start to attack itself which can lead to life threatening symptoms and diseases. No one knows what cause autoimmune diseases, but scientists have proven that dairy perpetuates the effects of  the diseases. There are cases where people are on prescription drugs to help them live with autoimmune diseases. When those people adopt a vegan lifestyle, within weeks they can stop taking medication and they feel stronger. Certain examples of Autoimmune diseases are anemia, lupus, and diabetes; these diseases are known to disproportionately affect African Americans. One of the medical doctors in the documentary explained that its suspicious that the USDA has made dairy a vital part of the food pyramid, while, per a study done by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 79% of Native Americans, 75% of blacks, 51% of Hispanics, and close to 100% of Asians are lactose intolerant. That is more than half of each sub group’s population. Why would the US government create a food pyramid highlighting a food that causes health complications in most people of color? Easy: They want us paying for medication, they want us going to the doctor, or they want us dead. I’m saying no. I’m going to live a full and healthy life.
  1. Dioxin Exposure during pregnancy
    • Dioxins are groups of highly toxic chemically related mixtures that humans are exposed to through food, mainly meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish. Dioxins damage the autoimmune system and can cause developmental problems. The human body must find ways to release these dioxins to protect itself. In pregnant woman, the highest rate of dioxins are passed to the unborn baby. These dioxins create reproductive abnormalities and hormonal issues in the baby. Not only are the dioxins passed to the baby in the womb, but it is continuing when the baby is being breastfed.
  1. High Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) in Fish
    • PCBs are toxic chemicals that were created because they have very high burning temperatures and are used to prevent the outbreaks of fires. They are usually exposed to the environment or ocean due to equipment leaks or illegal dumping. Unfortunately, PCBs are mostly found in larger fish that humans tend to regard as the healthier fish such as salmon and tuna. The United States Environmental Protection Agency regards PCB as carcinogens, which are substances that are agents involved in causing cancer.
  1. Casein protein in dairy
    • Casein protein digests so slow that natural morphine like substances, called casomorphins, are created and acts like opiates in the bloodstream. Mere seconds after you digest dairy, the casomorphins are released, and creates an addiction to dairy products. This explains why I just must buy Queso EVERY time I go to a Mexican restaurant. The addictive effect that casomorphins have on dairy lovers is often compared to the effect heroin has on heroin addicts. That’s crazy right? And very scary. Casein protein has also been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and autism.
  1. Leading health organizations and their sponsors.
    • Leading health organizations are taking money from businesses that sell products that cause problems these health organizations allegedly aim to prevent. The American Diabetes Association is sponsored by Dannon Yogurt. The American Cancer Association is sponsored by Tyson and Redner’s Warehouse Market. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is sponsored by Eggland’s Best and Yoplait Yogurt.
  1. Duplin County, NC- hog farm
    • I urge you and hope that you will research Duplin County. I can’t begin to describe the living conditions that the people of that county are dealing with every day. It’s heartbreaking. Click here for more information regarding the residents of Duplin County, NC.
  1. The biggest and strongest animals are herbivores.
    • Elephants, Gorillas, Rhinos, and Horses among other animals are herbivores. This debunks the myth that vegans do not get enough protein and their bodies are weak.

Furthermore, I only highlighted the pieces of the documentary that stood out most to me. In order for you to make an informed decision, you must research for yourself.

Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think about “What The Health” and if it changed your opinion on how and what you eat.



Sandra Renee



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