There’s one thought that crosses the mind of every vegan: I wish I had known how bad meat is sooner. Almost all of us grew up eating meat, and we never considered the impact that our choices had on animals, our own health, or the planet.

Here are eight facts about meat that I wish I’d known sooner:

1. Meat contains poop (and other gross things).

As if eating dead animals weren’t gross enough, there are hidden “ingredients” in meat products. Consumer Reports tested a wide variety of ground turkey samples and found that 90 percent of them were contaminated with germs or “fecal bacteria.” Yes, “fecal” means poop! BRB—puking.

2. Eating meat hurts the Earth.

Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, energy, and water. And factory farming pollutes our air and waterways. Have a Netflix account? Check out the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret to learn more about animal agriculture’s negative impact on the environment.

3. There’s no such thing as “humane meat.”

Even on farms that label themselves “humane,” animals are often mutilated without painkillers, artificially inseminated, and kept in crowded, filthy conditions. “Humane” labels are misleading and often just a way for a company to attract more customers. But of course, all animals used for food, regardless of how they’re raised, are ultimately SLAUGHTERED!

4. Eating meat is hazardous to our health.

It contributes to heart disease and cancer (some of the top killers in our country, y’all) as well as many other health problems—most of which are preventable through lifestyle changes such as going vegan.

5. Human bodies aren’t built to eat meat.

human animal teeth

Our tiny canine teeth are better at biting into fruits than tearing through tough hides. Humans have flat molars and a long digestive tract suited to a diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Do you get excited by the scent of blood, killing animals, and eating their raw flesh? If you answered no, then (like some of our closest primate relatives) you’re an herbivore, my friend. 🙂

6. The meat we eat isn’t “natural.”

Left: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary 

There’s nothing natural about the way that animals are raised and killed for food. Chickens, for instance, are bred to grow so large so quickly that their legs cripple beneath them. And pigs are crammed into cages so small that they can’t even turn around—that certainly doesn’t happen in nature!

7. Meat is FLESH.

I know this one seems obvious, but it took me a long time to make the connection that flesh is flesh, whether it’s from a human, pig, or chicken. It’s appalling to think about cooking and eating a human being—but all animals have the same capacity to feel pain and terror. Farmed animals have personalities and emotions, and they form friendships if given the chance. The best way to prevent the horrific animal abuse that takes place on factory farms and in slaughterhouses is simply to stop eating animals.

8. Vegan meat is delish AF.

Like, really delicious. I wish I had known sooner that vegan meats existed, that summer BBQs would actually become more delicious, that fast-food restaurants have vegan options, and that by avoiding meat, I would become healthier and rarely ever catch a cold.

Need some help weaning yourself off meat products? Check out our list of vegan meats.