Why? Maybe rather, why not?
Meatless Mondays is a health initiative started in 2003 to restart the week with healthy routines. Different religions and spiritual practices go meatless, practice fasting or give up something from time to time, as for example lent. When my clients start out on a journey for more health there is always the question of what to give up, but I would rather look at it as what you gain by making different choices. One of the things I teach in my programs (online and personal sessions) is to shift the focus onto self nourishment instead of what you can and cannot have, which is a very limiting feeling. When we shift to how we take really good care of ourselves, we open up to possibilities and it becomes far more interesting, creative, and yes…nourishing.
To meat or not?
My overall approach to health and wellbeing is to choose predominately plant-based meals. When you feel like you need meat it can be the confusion about where protein actually comes from. One of the steps in the online program is to learn about protein choices, but in short, we get protein from all foods. It is the combination of amino acids that are in the foods, that add up to a complete protein source. In meat, eggs and fish, as well as some plant-based foods like soy and quinoa, all the essential amino acids that we need every day are present. In other foods you have to combine the foods to get a complete protein, as for example rice and beans. The confusion has been that you would need a complete protein in every meal. That has now been changed to understanding that it is throughout the day you need all your essential amino acids, not per meal. This is how it is perfectly sustainable to be a vegan.
What the Health?
Well this is where we can get a lot of confusing information as well. Some believe that meat is needed, some that it is the cause of all evil. And then there is somewhere in between. It is a personal choice for you and for your health. Personally I eat very little meat and only from my local farmer. My grand-parents were butchers so I grew up with meat, but I learned through my studies and in my personal quest to prevent breast-cancer (I am considered very high-risk) that animal fats are best avoided, so I choose more plant-based foods in my daily routine.
When and if you do choose meat the issue for your health is how the animal is raised, treated, and fed. In very basic terms, the health of the animal affects your health. High amounts of meat can cause inflammation and other diseases in your body. Again this topic is discussed in depth in the online program and in my personal sessions.
Meat from grass-fed animals has much higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of saturated fat than corn-fed meat. The effect of a corn-based diet on animals that are meant to graze freely is disastrous. The organs of these animals are diseased and fatty, because their digestive system is built to eat grass. The corn causes excessive bacterial growth in the intestinal tracts and stomachs of these animals. Their organs are also negatively affected, they get sick, and need antibiotics daily. To be blunt about it: if you eat factory-farmed meat, you are eating meat from sick animals.
Other health problems are caused by the artificially increased production methods, growth hormones, antibiotics, and GMO-feed that are required for factory farming. These methods affect cows, pigs, chickens and their eggs, and no matter what explanations are given for them, they are not healthy for the animals or for you.
In general, we eat far too much meat in today’s culture. The portions and serving sizes have grown substantially over the past years and are now far too big. Eating more than you need to sustain yourself adds up to waste in the body. It also adds up to excess weight. The frequency of meat consumption has increased as well, and now many people eat meat several times per day. Lastly, excess consumption of meat has a more negative impact on the environment than alternative options for dietary protein.
Factory farming needs a bit more explanation than provided above. It is the inconvenient truth here — and it is not pretty. Factory-farmed animals are kept in far too tight quarters and without proper access to the outdoors, where they belong. They are fed cheap feed that their stomachs were not built to digest and prevented from eating their natural food sources. These deprivations result in animals that are abused and mistreated throughout the “production” process.
My heart goes out to the animals that have to live inside these factory farms — if you can call it living. I was raised in Denmark, where I regularly saw animals grazing in fields. Today in the USA, 99% of the meat produced is factory farmed. That means only 1% of animals graze freely and live the way animals are supposed to live. An estimated 10 billion animals are being slaughtered for food in America each year, 58 billion worldwide. And there are human costs aside from the health of the consumer: industrial factory faming has virtually eliminated true farming as a sustainable livelihood for the family farmer.
This web-site has mostly plant-based recipes for you to get inspired by and the online program has more than 200 recipes, many of them plant-based foods, with fish and eggs, but no dairy and no meat. So if you want to learn how to take care better care of your health and become more of a plant-based eater, sign up for the online program. It will guide you step by step and give you all the tools you need for a healthy change to a sustainable self-nourishing way of eating.