Last week I binge watched food documentaries on Netflix. It all started because someone in my DPP class asked about alternatives to meat-based proteins and I remembered watching Forks over Knives a while ago and thought I could get some inspiration. Eeek, did I get some inspiration… after watching Food Inc, Forks over Knives and Vegucated I texted Aaron and told him we were all going Vegan and that I was going to throw out any animal products in the house. Ha!
After letting these new ideas from the documentaries sink in a little more (and after chilling out with a glass of red) I re-evaluated my initial quest to go extreme and decided moderation would be a better way. There are a few insights that I did gleam from watching these thought-provoking shows and from doing my own research and from just thinking about what I want my lifestyle to look like. I am not advocating veganism, flexatarianism, vegetarianism, or any other “ism”… I’m just writing about my own habits, routines and behaviors and as always, trying to be better! Enjoy : )
What’s up with meat and dairy and why is it “bad”?
- As a society we eat WAY too much meat and dairy. I mean we can eat meat at every single meal and most of us do. I did an inventory of my own eating pattern last week… I eat 2 eggs every single morning, I usually have some form of salad or sandwich for lunch that occasionally contains meat and for dinner I usually have some type of meat and veggies and a grain. Oh and I also eat lots and lots of cheese. And as someone who is aware of the alternatives to meat -based proteins (i.e. beans, dark leafy greens, tofu, tempeh) I realized I still eat more meat than necessary in a given day. The daily protein recommendation from the CDC is around 4-5oz (for your reference a steak the size of a deck of cards is about 4oz) and I think many of us forget that we get protein from other sources (spinach, kale, beans, quinoa) and we may be over-eating in the protein category and not even know it!
- Excessive intake of meat and dairy is bad for our health. It is estimated that Americans eat about 200 pounds of meat and dairy products every year… and research has shown that diets high in meat and dairy leads to chronic diseases or lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. We are sicker than ever as a society and much of our disease is caused by a bad diet and an inactive lifestyle. Have you heard of the China Study? It is the most comprehensive study of nutrition and its connection to disease conducted over a 20 year time frame. It examines the relationship between the consumption of animal products (including dairy) and chronic illnesses such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and bowel cancer.
- Industrial meat production is wreaking havoc on our environment. Its a fact. The environmental pollution caused by factory production of cattle, pigs, chicken and other livestock is a huge contributor to global warming. Check out the UN article here… which basically points out that our consumption of meat and dairy is not sustainable, especially since the population is growing at a crazy rate. “As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable” says the report from United Nations.
- Animal welfare + respect. So with large scale, production farming it’s quantity over quality because meat is a commodity. If you can buy pork chops for $1.99 a pound then something has to give. You can’t have it all. Animals are treated like consumer goods.If the modern day slaughterhouses had glass walls people would be appalled at how farm animals are treated and would demand better treatment of them and maybe even eat less of it.. as Michael Pollen said in his above-mentioned article, if we drastically improved the conditions in which these farm animals existed “Yes, meat would get more expensive. We’d probably eat less of it, too, but maybe when we did eat animals, we’d eat them with the consciousness, ceremony and respect they deserve.” Well said!
So, what to do?
Well, I’m making a pledge to limit my meat intake and when possible avoid purchasing industrial meat products. Specifically I’m trying to only eat eggs for breakfast twice a week, eat meat for dinner twice a week and limit my dairy consumption. I am asking all my vegetarian and vegan friends for suggestions on recipes… let me know if you have any!! I also love this cook book… Thug Kitchen. They have tons of awesome plant-based protein dishes that sound delicious. And of course… EAT MORE VEGGIES!! Sounds so easy… but I’m really going to try. I have already started drinking a green smoothie in the morning and I feel great! Check out Simple Green Smoothie for lots of free smoothie recipes and other goodies.
Resources to check out
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen
The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell