A new documentary/film out of India treads the path of an activist-style anti-tobacco campaign–by tactically replacing the toxic substance of ‘tobacco’ with ‘meat’. Once it was scientifically established that tobacco caused multitude of chronic life-threatening diseases like cancer and heart disorders, smoking was turned into a synonym of death in 1964. Drawing heavily from medical evidence now available against animal-based food, the tobacco saga is being replayed with a cloned tagline and movie headline, ‘The Evidence–Meat Kills’.
At one point in the film, Mayank Jain, the Director of the film says: “Meat is the New Tobacco”. The simile with passive smoking was most strikingly exhibited in the film. “Inhaling meat fumes coming out while barbecuing meat or while frying meat could prove to be extremely harmful to the health of cooks. Surprisingly, meat fumes contain the same dangerous compounds which are found in tobacco smoke”, says the film quoting from one of the scientific studies.
Why this film is relevant and important in today’s disease-filled and polluted world
The film is made in the context of an avalanche of western-lifestyle-related chronic diseases in India like cancer, type-2 diabetes, kidney disorders and heart diseases. The burden on health-related services is huge both in terms of crumbling hospital-infrastructure and paucity of funds needed to address the enormous magnitude of health issues in India.
Even when the Global Burden of Disease Study finds diets to be the number one cause of death and disability in the world, we find very little emphasis on healthy eating. The consumption of chicken meat has risen up to rupees one lakh crore per annum in India with an annual growth rate of 12 to 13 per cent per year. On the other hand, meat consumption in United States has dipped by 10 per cent in the past five years, according to the Meat Atlas. The myth that chicken is healthier than red meat has been busted in the film.
Medical scientists now believe that animal-based foods considerably damage human health whereas low fat whole foods plant-based diets prevent and, in some cases, even reverse some of the prevalent acute disorders. Implementation of this idea by massive dissemination of information on good health foods could save lakhs of crores spent on health-related issues every year by central and state governments.
Let us see what is happening in the rest of the world on this subject:
• China has decided to cut its meat-intake by half in its latest dietary recommendations.
• United Nations is talking about reducing meat consumption by taxing it heavily in member states.
• Google’s parent ‘Alphabet’ is creating animal protein molecules from plant-based food.
• A big investors’ club associated with the London stock exchange has forced meat companies to invest in plant-based food because ‘meat-industry’ is now a high-risk business…
The film also goes on to examine the health of butchers who are exposed to an overdose of violence in slaughterhouses. Experts have found that that they could suffer from severe stress and were vulnerable to getting psychotic disorders. Meat from animals is harmful because it contains stress hormones which get secreted in the frightened animal just before its slaughter, shows the film.
A senior AIIMS professor sums up the film’s message by saying that they have found that people who consume more fruits & vegetables and who had adopted yoga and meditation into their daily lifestyle… Just within ten days of practice, there is a decrease in their free radical levels and a decrease in oxidative stress. That is even in such a short-term yoga, meditation-based practice, they have a profound implication on oxidative stress which is key factor which accelerates aging… AIIMS has an integral health center… Here their patients are made to practice this on a daily basis…
What doctors are saying about the topic of ‘meat kills’ and the film
Prof. (Dr.) Rakesh Tandon (Former HOD, Deptt. of Gastroenterology, AIIMS) said: “I as a gastroenterologist do see an increase in colonic cancer in our own country also. It is well known that this kind of cancer was much common in the western world than in the oriental people. I think this is because of the change in our dietary habits… meat eaters tend to have a higher incidence of colonic cancer.”
Prof. Rima Dada of the Lab for Molecular Reproduction and Genetics, AIIMS, said: “We have found that people who consume more fruits and vegetables and who have adopted yoga and meditation into their daily lifestyle… we have an integral health center (AIIMS). Here their patients are made to practice this on a daily basis. Just within 10 days of practice, there is a decrease in their free radical level, that is decrease in their oxidative stress… Even such a short-term yoga, meditation-based practice, can have such a profound implication on oxidative stress which is a key factor which accelerates aging…”
Prof. (Dr.) Brijesh Arora, MD, DM, MNAMS, FPHO(Canada), Deptt. of Paediatric Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai): “While this is been suggested in some recent studies that if mothers take a lot of red meat and processed meat and do not take adequate amount of vitamins and minerals then–yes, there is a chance that some of their babies born compared to a vegetarian mother would have more chances of having congenital abnormality which includes some degree of lower sperm count and may be infertility in long term.”
Prof. (Dr.) S.C. Manchanda (Former HOD, Deptt. of Cardiology, AIIMS): “The culture in this country is changing with the advent of fast foods. It is very unfortunate that in our country more and more children are becoming non-vegetarian whereas in the west more and more people are turning to vegetarianism. Because there is lots of scientific evidence that you avoid many diseases and remain healthy if you are a vegetarian.”
Prof. (Dr) D.C. Jain (Former HOD, Deptt. of Neurology, Safdarjung Hospital): “Animals which have been taken to the slaughter houses… they notice that there is a danger to their lives. Certainly, their stress hormones are released and animals become aggressive… violent they want to run away from that place. Now these neuro-transmitters, they get accumulated in their tissues. Naturally, when somebody eats their meat or the meat products there will be some behavioral changes.”
Prof. (Dr.) Ramesh Bijlani (former HOD, Deptt. of Physiology, AIIMS): “Use of antibiotics and hormones has become almost routine in not only poultry but also in the meat industry in general and the types of antibiotics that are used are very often those which are not fit for human consumption. They are not approved for human use but these are given to these animals but indirectly the same antibiotics get into human beings when we consume meat.”
Prof. (Dr.). David Spence (Director, Stroke Prevention & Atherosclerosis Research Centre, Robarts Research Institute, Canada” One large egg yolk has 213 mg of cholesterol which is nearly as much as a 12-ounce monster burger. There is a company in the States called Hardies that markets this 12-ounce burger with beacon and cheese and their website said that this 12-ounce burger had less cholesterol than one egg yolk.” (which means that one egg has more cholesterol than a monster burger)
Dr Ravi Bansal, DM (Nephrology, AIIMS): “The first thing we advise the patient is that he stops non-veg, shifts to a vegetarian diet’. That is our first prescription, any kidney disease… any level of kidney disease… because meat and non-veg proteins definitely puts load (on kidneys) and (increases) hyperfiltration”
Who has made this film?
Mayank Jain, 52, has been making documentaries on various subjects for the last 17 years. Working extensively on issues of health, governance and national security, Mayank Jain has produced and directed documentaries & television programmes on a wide range of topics, under various banners like Blume Agencies, Good Health TV, India Tomorrow, Bhartiya Samskriti Trust etc. Some of his well-known documentaries include:
• a series of 10-episode health awareness documentaries titled ‘Death Warrant’ for Doordarshan. The episodes covered topics such as tobacco abuse, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, anxiety, HIV-AIDS, food adulteration, obesity, spurious medicines, electrical safety and quackery (2004).
• an investigative 90-minute documentary on national security: The Bangla Crescent – ISI, Madrasas & Infiltration (2005).
• the famous governance-related film: India Tomorrow – The Gujarat Miracle, which showcased the development story of Gujarat along with the states’ fight against terrorism. (2007)
• a film on Naxalites, their ideology and their victims, in a film called – Chhattisgarh Now. (2008)
• a series of films on the Gujarat Model: Gujarat Fast Track, Gujarat Tomorrow, Team Gujarat, Gujarat Ahead, No to Terror etc. (2012)
• he has also directed and scripted numerous documentaries on subjects like tuberculosis, leprosy, multi-drug resistance, quackery and HIV-AIDS for the Leprosy Mission.