The first food documentary I saw was “Supersize Me” and I was so disgusted that I never wanted to eat McDonalds again. At 15 years old, I told my mother and grandmother about the dangers of eating fast food and how it was very unhealthy for us and we should never eat it again. It wasn’t until weeks later that I realized, as a family we didn’t eat fast-food as much as Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker, did. So I went right back to eating a 4-piece Chicken McNuggets and medium fries with a large Hi-C Orange drink.
One night as a bored college junior I watched “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” I was already on the verge of becoming a full vegetarian and I thought the documentary would give me new insight into what I should and shouldn’t be eating to become a healthier me.
The documentaries were changing the way that I thought about food.
At the end of the documentary, filmmaker Joe Cross convinced me to not only go ahead with being vegetarian, but try juicing. Of course at the time I did not have the means to buy a juicer and I was in Central New York where I was surrounded by ice cream shakes, hot chocolate and endless amounts of coffee.
For a while, because I was living in an on-campus apartment, I was able to keep up my vegetarian lifestyle. I dropped a lot of weight and I felt really good about myself. I thought Joe Cross was right and I wished I had watched his documentary a long time ago.
About a year and a half after I watched “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” I slowly went back to eating bad foods. I was a senior in college and I was mainly focused on finishing coursework and applying to graduate school rather than eating what was supposed to be good for me. I did however keep in mind that I should be eating more plant-based foods and by my second semester I was back on track to being fully vegetarian.
I told most of my friends about the effect “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” had on me and encouraged them to take a look, to which they would reply, “I’ll watch, but it’s not going to change me.”
That is until “What the Health” came out in March 2017. One day as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and I saw many of my friends tweeting about “What the Health.” Immediately I go to Google and find out it’s just another food documentary.
Immediately I told myself I would not watch it because it probably told me what the other documentaries told me. Stop eating fast food, exercise and eat a plant-based diet. But something weird was happening, my friends who were eating steak and potatoes were now all of a sudden going vegan.
An acquaintance of mine, Devon Mitchell, was the first to announce that because of what he saw, he would go vegan. He tweeted, “An hour vegan and I already feel better.”
He’s been vegan since seeing the documentary in early July.
“Watching the documentary really just lit a match for me to just get a healthier diet started for myself,” he said. “What was discussed in the documentary were things I had previously known, but what really did it for me was the discussion of the corporate side of the food market.”
I gave in and watched the documentary myself. It was very eye-opening; starting out with news reports of meat being linked to diabetes and cancer. There were also three characters that filmmaker, Kip Andersen followed throughout the film. There was a lady who was overweight and had severe asthma and heart issues, a 61-year-old women who had arthritis and a middle aged man who was on diabetes medications. By the end of the film they were either off of their medications or they had downsized to half of their medicine intake.
The corporate side of the food market that Mitchell talked about shocked me as well. Organizations that are supposed to be helping the people who need them, The American Diabetes Association, The American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen, are taking money from companies who give Americans the most dietary issues. For example, Susan G. Komen was sponsored by Yoplait, a yogurt company, and according to the film dairy is one of the leading causes of breast cancer amongst women.
“After watching the documentary I went cold turkey,” said Mitchell. “I can honestly say I don’t miss eating meat as much as I thought I would. I’m still learning as I go.”
This documentary might have done it for me. I’m going to be more cognizant of what I’m putting in my body and how harmful it is to not only me, but the animals and the plants. As for Mitchell, he says he works out and doesn’t have any issues gaining muscle, he’s become more lean and has slimmed down unnecessary fat.
“For anybody that is really interested in one day becoming vegan, I would recommend just doing your homework and prepare yourself for that lifestyle,” he said.