Meat. According to our parents, grandparents and many paleo diet experts, we need meat in order to get our vital B12 vitamins. Vitamin B12 is important for the way the body functions and those suffering from a deficiency may feel tired or lack energy. Vitamin B12 also helps in the production of healthy red blood ells that carry oxygen around the body, so I fully understand why meat has been deemed over the years as important for our health, because it is only through animal proteins that we get Vitamin B12.
However, meat, especially red meat has been linked to cancer, including colon and bowel cancer, so with this in mind it is worth a shot at least trying to cut down on the amount of meat we eat. Moreover, if eating meat was vital for our survival, how do vegetarians and vegans do without it completely?
I was raised on a diet of meat. Meat for breakfast in the shape of bacon and sausage. Meat for lunch in ham, chicken and turkey sandwiches and meat for dinner. Chops, steak, roasted joints and just about every other combination you can think of. My parents believed that meat was an important protein and growing up, we never questioned the sheer volume of meat we ate.
It wasn’t until I started looking at nutrition that I realised that eating meat is not something that humans should do more than twice a week.
Here is what I found.
- Eating meat hardens the blood vessels. A compound found in red meat (and even used as an additive in some energy drinks) called carnitine has been found to cause atherosclerosis, the hardening or clogging of the arteries.
- You will live longer by cutting down on meat. Cooking meat increases toxins (nitrosamines) that can lead to cancer of the stomach.
- You’re eating pink slime. LFTB (lean finely textured beef) the additive used by the meat industry contains fatty bits of leftover meat that is heated, spun to remove the fat and then treated with ammonia gas to kill bacteria. It’s then shipped off to grocery stores and meat packers where this ‘slime’ is added to ground beef (70% of supermarket ground beef contains the additive). This ammonia treatment may allow pathogens into the food supply. The real danger comes from the preparation and the likelihood that the bacteria will spread in your kitchen.
- You are harming the planet. Meat impacts the environment more than any other food we eat, mainly because livestock require much more land, food, water, and energy than plants to raise and transport.
- Animal cruelty is sickening. It’s sometimes easy to forget that the steak on your plate was part of a living creature. But the path from livestock to entrée can be fraught with unbelievable animal cruelty.
- Eating meat increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, especially red and processed meats.
- Your health is at risk. Meat contains a lot of iron which, when eaten in excess, can raise levels of iron in the brain and may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Eating red and processed meats also greatly increases the risk of colorectal cancer in people with a genetic predisposition. Affecting one in three individuals, the gene plays a role in the immune system, according to researchers. If you have this gene, eating and digesting meat may trigger an immune or inflammatory response.
- Meat is packed with harmful hormones. Hormones added to red meat massively increase breast cancer risk, according to a large study of more than 90,000 women published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Women who ate more than 1.5 servings (approximately 6 ounces) of red meat per day had nearly double the risk of developing hormone-sensitive breast cancer than women who ate 3 or fewer servings per week. Researchers believe the hormones or hormone-like compounds in red meat increase cancer risk by attaching to specific hormone receptors on the tumours.
So with all that in mind, here is my sure fire tips to help reduce the amount of meat in your diet without feeling tired or craving that bacon sandwich.
Tip 1 – Swap Meat for Fish
A simple way of reducing your meat intake whilst at the same time upping your omega 3’s. Fish is packed with good fats that the body and brain needs.
Swap your beef steak for Tuna steak, oven baked with olive oil, black pepper and fennel seeds. It takes just like pork when roasted for 30 minutes and goes well with anything. This one is even more perfect if fish isn’t your thing.
Tip 2 – Eat more Mushrooms
When cooked, mushrooms have a meaty texture that can rival any meat dish.
Use large mushrooms instead of your normal beef burger with onions and relish. Just as yummy but without the toxic sludge clogging up your body.
Tip 3 – Cut down on red meat and eat more chicken and lentils
Eating meat leaves us feeling fuller, so swap red for white meat such as chicken, and eat more lentils such as chick peas and beans.
Lentils and chick peas give meals a thicker texture, a bit like meat, so include some lentil stew or chick pea curry into your average week.
Remember – eating meat is fine as long as you don’t eat it every day, keeping your intake to around 2 to 3 times a week. Eat fish on the other days and have animal free days at least twice a week by eating only plant based food.