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Common health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and various cancers are prevalent in our society. Unfortunately, these diseases are the leading causes of death in Africa and among the diaspora.

Amidst a global health crisis, hospitals are facing unprecedented levels of activity. While some traditional health systems address root causes, most modern systems focus on managing symptoms, leading to a reliance on medications that primarily benefit pharmaceutical businesses and perpetuate a cycle of illness and profit.

One frequently overlooked factor is our dietary choices, particularly the consumption of animal products. Despite the widespread belief that eating animals, drinking their milk, or consuming their eggs is ‘natural,’ ‘normal,’ and ‘necessary,’ it prompts us to question whether this assumption truly holds merit.


Do we need to consume animals in order to be healthy?​


The idea that consuming animals is essential for optimal health is challenged by the historical evidence of civilizations that have thrived on vegetarian and plant-based diets for centuries.


Throughout history, various cultures across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa have been abstaining from eating animals, demonstrating that a balanced and nutritious diet can be sustained without relying on meat. It is through colonisation that we learned to eat as much meat.​


Despite this fact, there is still a common belief that our health depends on consuming animals, usually to get proteins, although all proteins originate from plants. The planet’s most robust creatures, such as elephants, rhinos, and gorillas, thrive on plant-based diets. Instead of relying on animals as a middleman, why not get protein directly from the source?​


Beyond ethical and environmental considerations, this approach offers health benefits by avoiding LDL cholesterol—the ‘bad’ cholesterol exclusive to animals. Accumulation of LDL cholesterol can lead to arterial blockages, increasing the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, regardless of animal welfare standards. ​The World Health Organisation (WHO), after reviewing over 800 studies from 10 countries, categorises processed meat like sausages, bacon, nuggets, and salami, as a Group 1 carcinogen, placing it alongside cigarettes, asbestos, and plutonium. This underscores the significant health risks associated with consuming processed meat.

What about fish? Don’t we need omega-3?


While fish is part of many traditional African dishes and is a source of omega-3, it is important to note that we do not need fish to get omega-3.


Just like cows get their proteins by eating plants, fish get their omega-3 by eating algae. These fatty acids move up the food chain as smaller fish consume the algae.


Larger fish, in turn, eat smaller fish, accumulating higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids.​So why not skip the middleman and get our omega-3 directly from plants?This way, we avoid the saturated fat and LDL cholesterol as well as the toxic PCB's, mercury, and microplastics that accumulate in fish flesh due to ocean pollution.


Fortunately, seaweed and algae, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or walnuts are rich in omega-3s, and provide a healthier alternative.

Image by Fusion Medical Animation

Could consuming animals lead to another pandemic?​

The use of antibiotics in factory farming and fish farms, driven by the demand for meat, dairy, eggs, and fish, is fuelling a global crisis – antibiotic resistance. This risky practice, widespread in both the West and Africa, not only jeopardises our health by introducing resistant bacteria through animal products but also creates a breeding ground for dangerous viruses.


​Consuming these animal products contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our bodies, posing severe health risks.


The WHO warns that antibiotic resistance is a major threat, causing over 700,000 deaths annually and projected to surpass 10 million deaths yearly by 2050. Without changing our food system, the next pandemic isn’t a matter of if, but when.​But didn’t our ancestors eat meat?​Yes and no, as indicated by recent research, including studies published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.


The current understanding suggests that early humans predominantly relied on a plant-based diet, consisting of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, much like many primates today. Their occasional consumption of animals was driven by survival needs when plant resources were scarce. In contrast, today’s dietary choices for many revolve more around taste pleasure than survival necessity.​

Okay, but aren’t we biologically designed to kill and consume animals?


In contrast to true omnivores and carnivores with sharp teeth designed for hunting, our small and flat teeth lack the natural attributes needed for killing prey. ​Practically speaking, our teeth aren’t suited for dispatching farm animals like cows, pigs, sheep, or chickens. Unlike carnivores and omnivores equipped for such tasks, we rely on tools to slaughter, cut, and cook our food. Rather than being designed for tearing flesh, our canine teeth assist in tearing hard fruits, nuts, and vegetables – a trait shared with other primates.​


Adding to the distinction, our jaw structure allows for side-to-side movement during chewing, unlike natural carnivores and omnivores whose jaws move up and down to tear and swallow flesh. Lacking claws and featuring small, harmless nails, we stand in contrast to true carnivores and omnivores.​Furthermore, our intestinal length, ranging between 7 and 13 times the length of our torso, aligns more with herbivores and frugivores, rather than carnivores or omnivores. Unlike these animals, whose shorter intestines swiftly process animal flesh, our longer intestines make us susceptible to health issues like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases when regularly consuming animals.


Unlike omnivores or carnivores, humans lack an inherent killing instinct for hunting and eating animals. Unlike carnivore or omnivore babies, a human baby doesn’t instinctively hunt, kill, and eat animals.​In summary, while our behaviour aligns with omnivores, our physiology leans more towards that of natural plant-eaters.​

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But how can I get enough vitamin B12 without consuming animals?


​While plants offer a comprehensive array of nutrients, there’s one exception to note: Vitamin B12.


This essential vitamin isn’t sourced from plants or animals but originates from bacteria in cobalt-rich soils and water.


While it used to be naturally present in plants before the industrial era, modern sanitation processes eliminate all traces of B12 from plants. As a result, it’s advisable for both farmed animals and humans, irrespective of dietary choices, to consider B12 supplements.​

Don’t I need milk and cheese for calcium?


​First, like any mammal, let’s remember that the only milk we ever needed is our mothers’, as babies. Past that point, we no longer need to consume milk from humans, and we certainly don’t need to consume milk from other species.


While many believe in the necessity of cow’s milk for calcium and strong bones, its consumption poses significant health risks. Like any animal products, cow’s milk is not only high in LDL cholesterol, but also in hormones like oestrogens, which increases the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart issues, and hormone-related cancers.


​Despite over 90% of the Black population being lactose intolerant, dairy consumption is rising in Africa and within the diaspora. This is primarily due to the consumption of cheese, whose addiction can be attributed to casomorphin, a substance that drives infants to desire their mother’s milk.


Ultimately, cow’s milk is designed for baby cows; thus, it is unnecessary for humans. Spinach, broccoli, or kale are great sources of calcium, while plant-based alternatives, such as soy, cashews, almonds, oats, or rice, offer a similar taste to milk, without the negative health consequences. So you’ve got to ask yourself, are you a baby cow?​

Cow and Calf
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What about eggs?


Eggs are often considered a healthier choice among all animal products, but is this true?


Whether fertilised or not, an egg is designed to sustain a developing chicken for 21 days without external energy.


Consequently, eggs are rich in saturated fat and cholesterol, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


Moreover, eggs contain hormones like oestrogens, produced in the hen ovaries, which, like milk, can disrupt our hormonal balance and elevate the risk of hormone-related diseases.

Does consuming animal products guarantee the development of these diseases?​


Certainly not. Just as some individuals can smoke their entire lives without developing lung cancer, while others may develop it even after a short period of smoking, the risk varies for each person. It’s a matter of individual susceptibility.


Contrary to common beliefs, the encouraging aspect is that many of these diseases are not purely genetic.


Often, they are prevalent among relatives due to shared dietary and lifestyle choices. By addressing the underlying causes, we have the potential not only to heal but also to thrive.​

Prescription Medication

Why hasn’t my doctor told me all of this?


In our capitalist society, the focus on treatment over prevention prevails, primarily benefiting the pharmaceutical industry, a powerful global lobby.


While treatment is vital, our society tends to treat sick patients rather than preventing illness. Medical education often prioritises teaching symptom management with medications, overlooking the crucial role of nutrition.


This system leads individuals with chronic diseases to rely on multiple medications, despite evidence that a well-balanced whole food plant-based diet can prevent and reverse some of these diseases.


Unfortunately, the promotion of animal products persists through various channels, including government guidelines, schools, and hospitals, neglecting the potential of healthier dietary choices. We can do better.​

So what defines the perfect diet?


​While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, some plant-based diets prove better than others. Generally, less-processed diets, especially a well-balanced whole food plant-based diet, stand out as optimal for human health.Food is crucial for health, but it’s not the sole factor. Seeking professional advice, especially for specific conditions, is advised.


Conducting personal research empowers us to make informed choices.​But isn’t plant-based food expensive and hard to find?​


Contrary to popular belief, it’s the most affordable and widely accessible food globally, especially staples like corn, rice, beans, cassava, millet, fonio, potatoes, plantains, or lentils, commonly consumed by less-privileged populations.


Notably, alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs might seem pricier on average due to subsidies for animal products, but they are usually more economical than high-quality organic animal products.


​The quote ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food ,’ often attributed to Ancient Greek Hippocrates, traces its roots to Imhotep, the father of modern medicine, who practised in Kemet thousands of years before Hippocrates.​

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