Benefits of a Meatless Diet by Troy Alexander Thompson
Published Date: 08-12-2016
Heading home after a long day of work the foremost thought on your mind will likely be the looming prospect of what to do for dinner. While entertaining these thoughts perhaps you decide cooking something appropriately healthy is too much work and decide to throw in the towel and pick up a bag of greasy burgers and fries on the way home.
As most well know, the typical western diet has evolved substantially over the past few decades; and unfortunately for many consumption of considerable quantities of red meat and meat byproducts is a major part of our daily caloric intake. The ramifications of this predominantly meat-based diet are well-documented and concern many health care professionals. A recent study conducted by the National Cancer Institute revealed that, out of 500,000 participants, those who consumed the most red meat in their diets suffered far more negative health impacts than those who ate the least. So from a health and wellness view point consuming less red meat may reduce your chances of developing adverse health conditions – such as heart disease or certain cancers.
According to specialists at the Mayo Clinic nearly 10% to 35% of the daily caloric intake for the average adult should come from various protein sources. Meat, however does not and ideally should not be our main source of protein. In fact, the Mayo Clinic makes the case against traditional meat-based diets, suggesting a predominantly plant-based diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes and nuts, is more conducive to promoting health and wellness.
Certainly protein is essential for facilitation of our most vital, physiological functions. Equally important however is to consider the source of the protein being consumed. Meat can be difficult for the body to process, digest and metabolize and the there’s no “rule of law” suggesting you have to sit down and demolish a triple cheeseburger, or a 22-ounce steak, in order to keep your muscles strong, your neurons firing at full force, and your various bodily systems in tip-top shape.
Mayo Clinic experts suggest, “people who rely more on plant-based foods generally eat fewer calories, less fat, weigh less, feel lighter, and have significantly lower risk of disease. Foods such as eggs, low-fat milk, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds may not only help contribute to a healthy, well-balanced diet, but may help you achieve healthy savings, too.”
Speaking of savings: by reducing the amount of meat we consume we can have a profound impact on reducing the negative effects industrial meat production has on our natural environment. According to Harold A. Mooney, associate professor of biology and a leading researcher at Stanford University’s Woods Institute, “People aren’t going to stop eating meat the industry is massive, it’s growing and has huge social and environmental impacts“. We need to look at meat production and consumption from a global standpoint and consider options available to reduce the detrimental effects production, while enhancing it positive attributes. Mooney and his colleagues note the rapid increase in industrialized livestock processing has resulted in huge negative effects on the environment. “Issues, like runoff and odor, that were not as prolific in as recently as forty years ago have become much more of a problem and are challenging our contemporary society,” Mooney notes.
If the entire world population were to being consuming meat at the rate typical to the traditional western diet, approximately 176-pounds of meat, per person, per year, the amount of workable land required to grown and produce grain needed to feed livestock would be staggering and would add significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, pollution from feedlot runoff and soil erosion.
That’s not to suggest you we need to boycott meat altogether. Start by looking at ways to incorporate healthier foods into your daily diet and reduce your environmental footprint by choosing a more diversified plant based selection of foods. Its easy to begin making small changes to our daily regimens and this ultimately will benefit our physical and financial well-bring, as well as the planet on which we live.