6 Tips For Health-Conscious Meat Eaters
How meat affects your body, and what you can do to help your health.
Like it or not, it’s time to face it — modern diets are changing, and many of us have already switched to plant-based and organic meals rather than traditional (and seriously unhealthy) American meat and potatoes. Get on the bandwagon or get diabetes. Or cancer. Or have a heart attack. #truth
It’s not hard to see that the eco-movement has a strong foothold in the influencer crowd. A quick glance through some of the most followed accounts will show you that vegan is no longer just for hippies. And it’s no surprise given that A) being vegan is anti-aging, slimming and way healthier than any other way of eating, and B) it’s an essential step if humans expect to keep on living comfortable lives on Earth. Yes, really. Thankfully, more and more people in all demographics have realized this and are making an effort to be more ‘green,’ or environmentally conscious, and veganism is by far the fastest growing food movement out there.
In recent years, animal activists and environmentalists haven’t been shy when voicing their concerns over eating too much meat. In fact, studies conducted by the World Health Organization and the United Nations classify meat as a class-one carcinogen (meaning it’s as cancer-causing as cigarettes) and insist that we should minimize or eliminate our meat intake.
Studies also point out that by eating less meat, you’re not only benefiting your health, but reducing climate change. And for those of you in drought-ridden states, did you know that one pound of beef requires approximately 2,500 gallons of water to produce? That’s ten times the amount of water it takes to produce the same amount of soy. Oh yeah, and soy has about 50% more protein per pound. This means that producing meat is wasting a ton of our resources before it even becomes a usable food product. You can read more about the environmental effects in our article “Deciphering the Ethical Meat Trend“.
Over the years, we’ve learned that animals used for food are injected with tons of synthetic hormones. These fake hormones make cows produce more milk than they naturally would, and get pigs and chickens to balloon to twice the size they would be naturally. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like something I want to put in my body.
And it doesn’t stop there. The animals are kept in such dirty and cramped conditions that they’re given ‘preventative’ antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. The problem is that we end up ingesting these antibiotics so often that they stop being effective. On top of that, superbugs are being created in these factory farms that are so strong that no antibiotic can kill them. That means when we get sick, the antibiotics prescribed to us don’t work, and we either stay sick or die. (Hence, incurable gonorrhea. Eww.)
Here’s a quick and entertaining video, by Chipotle, that explains this with a bit more color:
If all that wasn’t enough to scare us all off of meat, a hormone known as dioxin is found in many of our dairy and meat products. According to the researchers of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), those who consume even small amounts of dioxin from meat and dairy products have a shocking 17% higher, or 7 in 100, risk of suffering from cancer. And speaking of contamination, USDA researchers have found that eating chicken exposes you to arsenic. Even low doses of arsenic can dramatically increase the risk of cancer and birth defects.
In the book The China Study, their research proved that people who ate the most animal-based foods (whether organic or not) got the most chronic diseases and cancer, while people who ate the plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid disease. He also adds that a vegan diet can enable diabetic patients to go off their medication. He concluded that a good diet is the most powerful weapon we have against some of the most common diseases.
Think you can mitigate your risk by buying organic meat? Well, due to a lack of labeling regulations, it’s extremely hard to determine if the meat supplied in supermarkets and restaurants are either organic and free of chemicals — or laden with hormones, antibiotics and other unappetizing treatments. Despite its label, “organic” meat and dairy from cows is often treated with hormones. When inspectors in the European Union randomly sampled “hormone-free” beef from the U.S., they found that 12 percent of the meat had been treated with powerful hormones that are banned in Europe. Yikes!!
Here’s a wonderful video that Chipotle made to help people learn about the food industry, in an entertaining way:
OK, so those are some scary facts. Are you having a hard time skipping that juicy burger but still want to save the world, and keep your health in check? Here are some tips:
1. Moderate your meat and dairy. Go meatless, even if only for one day a week.
Many stars have pledged to go meatless even for just one or two days per week. Eating less meat will decrease your health problems, and decrease both animal suffering and greenhouse gases. Try switching to almond, organic soy or flax milk – it’s much healthier, and better for the sustainability of the planet.
2. Eat more vegetables.
These include beans, grains (like quinoa), nuts and soy/tofu. Go organic as much as possible. Check nutritious faux-meat vegetarian and vegan recipes – some taste better than the original! Although humans do ingest some herbicides and pesticides from plant foods, scientists report that animal products are responsible for roughly 80 to 90 percent of dietary pesticide exposure.
3. Eat “greener” meat.
When you do eat meat, look for meat that has been grown organically, lean and unprocessed. There’s zero regulation on the word “Natural,” so make sure to look for “USDA Certified Organic”.
4. Buy the right amount.
When buying meat, get small-sized portions. This will not only help you stick to a tight budget, but will also prevent wasting food or eating too much meat.
Most of the toxins are carried in animal fat. Get cheeses such as cream cheese, skim milk, and non-fat yogurt. Again, if it’s not organic, don’t eat it. Better yet, opt for plant-based milk (like pea, hemp, almond, oat, or rice milk) and skip the toxins and hormones altogether!
6. Speak out!
As a concerned citizen, you make the change by telling your local government to go environmentally friendly by raising livestock or pushing for nutritious meals for kids during their breaks.
So whether you are a vegetarian or a meat lover, minimizing meat can go a long way. Not only will you be doing your body a favor, but you’ll be giving the world a hug, too.