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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eat less meat, or none at all.

In my last post I promised to share a small change my family has made to improve our health - we limit our meat consumption. Although meat can be part of a healthy diet, there are many reasons to eat less meat. Here are just a few:

* Health - This was the primary reason I stopped eating mammals since I have a family history of colon cancer. Heavy meat diets are correlated in increased incidence of cancer, stroke, heart disease, and other ailments. On the other hand, plant-based diets are protective and help prevent many of these same ailments. And when you eat lower on the food chain, you're less likely to accumulate environmental toxins in your body.

* Cost - Meat can be expensive, especially when compared to plant-based protein sources like beans. And often meat isn't even necessary - try a loaded vegetarian pizza and you won't even miss the meat. And when you really want to have meat, don't make it the main attraction. Instead incorporate it into soups, stir-frys or casseroles. It's a great way to stretch your meat purchase and save some money.

* Environment - Did you know that livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions? That's more than cars, trucks, planes, and other forms of transportation combined. And consider the resources it takes to get meat to your table. For example, it takes 2,400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain to produces 1 pound of feedlot beef. The average American consumes 97 pounds of beef per year (273 pounds of meat overall per year), so that's a big impact. The numbers are similar for other kinds of meat. And we haven't yet considered the pollution caused by animal waste, processing and transporting meat, etc.

* Animals - I must say, I'd be likely to eat more meat if it were raised in a healthy and sustainable way. Industrial farming practices leave a lot to be desired not only for the people who consume the animal but for the animals themselves. And we have to wonder why most of us wouldn't dream of eating some animals (cats, dogs, parrots, etc.) but are happy to eat others (cows, pigs, chickens). What's the difference? Also, a move from industrial farming which uses loads of antibiotics may help reduce antibiotic resistance.

Now I'm the first to admit that I still eat meat, but it's a lot less than I used to eat. I also recognize that because of supermarket redlining not everyone has access to healthy, fresh foods. That said, one of the easiest things to do is just reduce your meat intake. Instead of two servings of meat, just have one (or none) and an extra helping of veggies, beans, or other non meat items. Increase your the amount of fiber you eat for a full feeling and better digestion. Whole grains are a great way to do that. You may want to check out some of the many vegetarian recipes that are out there. Many of them are so good, you won't miss the meat at all.

Here's to healthy living, for us, for the animals, and for the planet!

"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass (1817? - 1895)

5 comments:

Tim said...

Good Job! :)

Anonymous said...

My advice to improve one's health is to eat everything in moderation. Too much of any given foods is not nutritious or good. One must eat a wide selection of fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken, and perhaps a minimal portion of meat to sustain a heqlthy diet. It would not hurt to take a multi-vitamin and vitamin c supplement also.
A suggestion from: Janiece Archer

Karama said...

Thanks Tim! Thanks, Janeice. I hope you both enjoyed your visits to So What Can I Do. Please come back again soon, and spread the word!

Karama said...

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Anonymous said...

I've tried all these arguments to try and convince people (mainly men) to eat less meat (just one or two days per week without a piece of meat on their plate). Nothing seems to work. It almost seems like asking a smoker to quit smoking...