Should You Eat Less Meat?

30 Mar

Whether to eat meat or be vegetarian (or vegan) has always been a heated debate.

Vegetarians are often looking out for animal welfare when they make their diet decision, and meat eaters are often desperate to protect their right to choose a meat-based diet.

Let me make one thing clear: it isn’t my business who is eating who.

My only interest is in promoting an optimal diet for everyone, and I’m happy to admit that I’m pleased to see the trends around meat comsumption changing.  More and more people are cutting back on the amount of meat that they consume, and are becoming aware of the health benefits of doing so.

My personal choice for myself is a mainly vegeterian diet.  I eat fish and seafood occasionally.

Now, some people will read that sentence and automatically assume I am against eating meat on principle, and other people will realise that a nutritionist’s diet is usually worth paying attention to.

I only mention my diet preferences because whenever I write about meat or vegetarian diets, people inevitably ask me which side of the fence I fall on.

I do not consume red meat, because of the clear health problems associated with doing so.

And more and more people around the world are making this same decision.  Perhaps not to cut out meat completely, but to start with small steps – a few meals a week that don’t contain meat, switching fried sausage and bacon for toast at breakfast, experimenting with vegetarian sources of protein.

If you are wondering whether your family would benefit from consuming less meat, the answer is undoubtedly yes.

Eating a diet high in red meat particularly will increase your risk of suffering from:

  • Breast cancer (Harvard Medical School research, 2006)
  • Osteoporosis (‘animal protein leaches calcium from the bones’ concluded Dr Neal R Barnard)
  • Heart attack (3 times higher risk than that of vegetarians)
  • Prostate cancer (3.5 times higher risk of developing fatal prostate cancer than vegetarians)

As well as these shocking reports, meat eaters must also be aware of the health problems associated with the high pesticide intake that goes along with meat consumption.  Pesticides are designed for the sole use of killing living organisms, and so consuming them cannot logically be expected to be risk-free.

Indeed, reports are now showing that these pesticides are even passed into the breast milk of meat eating mothers, leading to 35 times the amount of pesticides compared with the breast milk of vegetarian mothers.

So, if you are concerned about the amount of meat your family are consuming, what should you do?

Here are some handy tips:

  1. Reduce your meat intake by a realistic amount to begin with – perhaps having one meal a day, or a week, meat free at first
  2. Experiment with vegetarian sources of protein – beans, lentils, peas, nuts, quinoa, seeds, tofu
  3. Choose vegetarian replacements – vegetable sausages and burgers, tofu kebabs, lentil curry
  4. Involve your family – explain why you are making a diet switch and make it fun and exciting
  5. Take a multivitamin – while it’s easy to get all the vitamins and minerals you need from a vegetarian diet, your body will enter a slight detox when you cut out meat, and a multivitamin will help support your body through this process
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One Response to “Should You Eat Less Meat?”

  1. larry March 31, 2010 at 2:50 am #

    Here is a good video on the subject: http://meat.org

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