There are plenty of great reasons to reduce your meat consumption. It doesn't matter if you're thinking of going vegan, vegetarian or just want to decrease your meat intake.
And it's not just good for your health to swap meat with veggies, fruits, beans, lentils, seeds and nuts. It's good for the planet's health as well. Isn't that alone reason enough?
The average persons eats three times the amount of meat that is considered healthy, but also far more than is environmentally sustainable.
Why meat might be bad for you
Studies show that people who eat way too much meat are 20% more likely to develop cancer. Especially if they eat a lot of red meat.
Processed meats, such as hot dogs and sausages, often contain nitrate. Nitrate is a preservative that may become carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures, like during the cooking process. Marinading meat in vinegar or microwaving it before cooking can help reduce the risk of carcinogenic, but the risk still exists.
Furthermore, excessive meat consumption is partly responsible for an increase in obesity. No you shouldn't go vegan or vegetarian in order to maintain a healthy body weight. But it's worth knowing that meat-eaters are three times more likely to be obese than vegetarians.
And here's another important information for you: The antibiotics that we depend on to treat human illnesses are also used to promote growth in animals and to keep them alive in horrific living conditions. If you eat a huge amount of meat, you run a greater risk of making yourself antibiotic-resistant.
Not convinced yet?
Meat can stay in your stomach for up to 72 hours without being digested. Due to it's high protein and fat density, the digestion of meat requires more chewing in the mouth, more acid from the stomach and additional enzymes from the pancreas.
The temperature in the human stomach is around 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.6 degrees Celsius.
How do you think would meat look and smell like, if you would store it next to your window directly in the sun?
How much meat is safe?
Eating more than 90g of cooked meat every day? Then you're eating too much. Adults should aim to have a maximum of 70g per day or 500g of cooked meat per week. Yes, 500g. I know people who eat that per day! Just to put this in a context for you: Two thin slices of roast beef are 60g. Athletes can consume more due to the body's use of meat for muscle recovery.
Types of meat
Again, this article is not to say that you should skip all meat. High quality meats like organic grass-fed beef or lean chicken and turkey breast are good sources of high quality protein. But a lot of people also think that salami, chicken nuggets and other highly processed foods are "meat". Nope. They are salty, nutrient-free garbage. Stick to quality meats when possible!
Optimise your meat consumption
Here are some simple hacks for your:
Build meals around veggies
And add just a little meat in. For example, reduce the amount of meat in stews and curries, and bulk up with extra veggies, pulses and grains.
Try to go meat-free for one day a week. This simple reduction in your meat intake can be massively beneficial to your health and environment.
Look for alternative protein sources
Make sure you get enough protein from other sources, like legumes, nuts, tofu or cheese. Protein helps you feel fuller and satisfied for longer.
Try 'meaty' flavours
If you just love the flavour of meat, try using soya sauce, dried mushrooms or aubergines. Their 'meaty' flavours and textures should help you.
Eat grass-fed and/or pasture-raised
Again, always focus on the better meat options. Grass-fed and pasture-raised meat is better for you, because the meat contains more nutrients and has a better fatty acid profile. It is also better for the environment and better for the animals.
The bottom line is, don't blindly eat meat. Instead think about the quality and variety of it. Start taking baby steps today. Improve your health and the planet.
One meatless meal at a time.