This post is inspired by some of my friends who have been asking me recently about meat free dinner ideas that they could start to incorporate into their own diet. For me, being on a plant based diet for over two years, if you handed me some beans, lentils, grains, greens and all that good stuff, I could easily think of multiple delicious meat free meals I could make from them. But for my friends, when I start listing these foods to them, they are a little bit puzzled on what they could make from them. Of course this happens to everyone, if you gave me something I had never cooked with before I would be a bit clueless too. There’s also the aspect of getting used to a meal being complete and satiating without meat. However, that comes with time.
So this post is for any curious person who still eats meat, and wants to explore some meat free options but they don’t know where to start. Continue reading
Let me ask you this first, can you put a price on your health?
Many people ask me if it is expensive being on a plant based diet. For me, my health and well-being is very important so I am happy to pay whatever amount it takes so that I can feed my body a whole variety of nutritious foods. I am always up for trying out new recipes so you’ll find me browsing around the health aisle of the supermarket a lot sourcing out new ingredients to stock up my kitchen cupboards with. That’s the part that makes my plant based diet expensive.
When you change from a standard diet to what some would consider an ‘extreme’ diet consisting of plant based foods, be prepared to be asked the question “why?” a lot! Do your homework so you can be comfortable explaining to people the reasons behind your decision. Sometimes the best way to respond to people is with some cold hard hitting facts. Obviously try not to come across too aggressive or strong, I know that that can be an issue when you’re passionate about veganism. Instead try to work these facts into a conversation with a friend or family member so that they can understand your decision. Remember, you have already done your research and know the facts, the person questioning you probably has little knowledge on veganism so take the opportunity to teach them what you know rather than speaking to them in a way expecting them to know what you already know.
There are one or three reasons why people go vegan, for ethical, health, or environmental reasons. If you come into veganism for one reason, you soon learn about the other areas too.
The Ethical Facts:
- Industry-backed laws in America passed in the last 30 years make it legal to do almost anything to a farmed animal. Connecticut, for example, in 1996 legalized “maliciously and intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding, or killing an animal” — provided it’s done “while following generally accepted agricultural practices.” Farmed animals have almost no protection from inhumane treatment.
- 70 billion animals are farmed annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed every hour for food.
- Worldwide over 50% of grains is fed to livestock each year.
- 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are fed to western countries.
- Animals on factory farms endure constant fear and torment:
- They’re often given so little space that they can’t even turn around or lie down comfortably. Egg-laying hens are kept in small cages, chickens and pigs are kept in jam-packed sheds, and cows are kept on crowded, filthy feedlots.
- Antibiotics are used to make animals grow faster and to keep them alive in the unsanitary conditions. Research shows that factory farms’ widespread use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten human health.
- Most factory-farmed animals have been genetically manipulated to grow larger or to produce more milk or eggs than they naturally would. Some chickens grow so unnaturally large that their legs cannot support their outsized bodies, and they suffer from starvation or dehydration when they can’t walk to reach food and water
- The beaks of chickens, turkeys, and ducks are often removed in factory farms to reduce the excessive feather pecking and cannibalism seen among stressed, overcrowded birds.
- A typical supermarket chicken today contains more than twice the fat, and about a third less protein than 40 years ago.
- 2 in 3 farm animals in the world are now factory farmed.
- Dairy cows typically live to their third lactation before being culled. Naturally, a cow can live for 20 years.
- Egg-laying hens are sometimes starved for up to 14 days, exposed to changing light patterns and given no water in order to shock their bodies into molting. It’s common for 5% to 10% of hens to die during the forced molting process.
The Health Facts:
- Americans eat more meat per person than any other people on earth. At 200 pounds of meat per person per year, the high meat consumption is hurting the American national health. Hundreds of clinical studies in the past several decades show that consumption of meat and dairy, especially at the high levels seen in America, can cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other diseases. Thus, Americans have twice the obesity rate, twice the diabetes rate, and nearly three times the cancer rate as the rest of the world.
- Consuming one high fat meat meal can paralyse our arteries cutting there ability to relax by 50% within hours of eating animal products. The whole lining of our vascular tree gets inflamed and stiffened for up to 5-6 hours. Just as the inflammation begins to decrease you’ll probably be having lunch. Most people suffer from a low grade of inflammation which is related to many diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes.The reason animal products trigger immediate inflammation in our arteries and lungs is because it appears to be so loaded toxic bacteria that triggers inflammation dead or alive and the saturated animal fat in the meat boosts the absorption of that bacteria into the bloodstream.
- The Pritikin Research Foundation carried out an experiment by putting cancer on a vegan diet. The experiments involved drawing the blood of people on a regular diet and from people on a vegan diet and drip their blood on cancer cell growing in a petri dish. They observed who’s blood was better at suppressing cancer growth. The blood of both diets did fight against the cancer cell growth, but the blood of the vegan diet fights cancer cell growth 8 times better than the blood from the regular diet. The blood of those on a regular diet suppresses the growth by about 9%, while the blood of a person on a vegan diet suppresses cancer growth by a staggering 70%.
- A vegan diet appears to be useful for increasing the intake of protective nutrients and phytochemicals and for minimizing the intake of dietary factors implicated in several chronic diseases. In a recent report (6), different plant food groups were rated with respect to their metabolic-epidemiologic evidence for influencing chronic disease reduction. According to the evidence criteria of the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization, cancer risk reduction associated with a high intake of fruit and vegetables was assessed as probable or possible, risk of CVD reduction. The evidence for a risk-reducing effect of consuming whole grains was assessed as possible for colorectal cancer and probable for type 2 diabetes and CVD.
- The Harvard Nurses Health Study found that consuming the amount of cholesterol from a single egg a day appears to cut a woman’s life as mush as smoking 5 cigarettes a day for 15 years. The most protective behaviour appeared to be fibre consumption. They found that consuming the fibre from 1 cup of oatmeal a day extended a woman’s life as much as 4 hours of jogging a week. In summary consuming cholesterol from animal products appears to shorten a person life expectancy where as consuming fibre from plant based food appears to extend a persons life expectancy.
- The China Study? Haven’t heard of this book, go read it. It’s the largest comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted. It was launched via a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. The ground breaking results from the study (and other influential nutrition research) recommend the best diet for long-term health. After years of controversial lab results on animals, the researchers had to see how they played out in humans. The study they created included 367 variables, 65 counties in China, and 6,500 adults (who completed questionnaires, blood tests, etc.). “When we were done, we had more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet, and disease variables.” In other words, there’s no arguing with the findings, that a plant based diet is healthiest option, heart disease can be reversed through nutrition, protect you from diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, bone, kidney, eye, and brain diseases. To put it simply, plants are powerful.
- Another extraordinary example shared by Dr. Esselstyn, the co-star of Forks Over Knives is when the Germans occupied Norway during World War II. During the 15 years prior to the German occupation, the Norwegian rate of death due to heart attack and stroke had been steadily climbing. When the Germans took over the country they confiscated nearly all of the livestock and other farm animals to use for their own troops. This left the people of Norway with no choice but to eat a mostly plant-based diet. The peak of of the Norwegian death rate due to heart attack and stroke was in 1939, and immediately after Germany arrived it began to decline very sharply. By the end of hostility in 1945 the rate had plummeted back to nearly what it had been 15 years prior.
The Environmental Facts:
- Animal food production is the world’s leading cause of climate change. That’s right. Forget carbon-belching buses or power plants. Animal food production now surpasses both the transportation industry and electricity generation as the greatest source of greenhouse gases. If Americans could just cut back on animal foods by half, the effect on greenhouse gas emissions would be like garaging all U.S. motor vehicles and vessels for as long as we keep our consumption down.
- There’s no sustainable way to raise animal foods to meet the world’s growing demand. Two acres of rainforest are cleared each minute to raise cattle or crops to feed them and 35,000 miles of American rivers are polluted with animal waste.
- It takes dozens of times more water and five times more land to produce animal protein than equal amounts of plant protein.
- American governments spend $38 billion each year to subsidize meat and dairy, but only 0.04% of that ($17 million) to subsidize fruits and vegetables.
- Factory fishing ships are exploiting the world’s oceans so aggressively that scientists fear the extinction of all commercially fished species within several decades.
- It takes over ten times the amount of energy from fossil fuels to produce a calorie of animal-based food than it does to produce a calorie of plant food.
- Emissions for agriculture projected to increase to 80% by 2050.
- Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually. Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of water consumption in the US.
- 2,500 gallons of water is required to produce one pound of beef. 1,000 gallons of water is required to produce one litre of milk.
- Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
- Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement is produced in America by animals raised for food.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of the Amazon destruction. Since the 1970’s 20% of the Amazon’s rain forest has been destroyed. That’s an area the size of California. Eighty percent of this cleared land is now occupied by livestock. The worlds cattle alone eat enough grain to feed 8.7 billion people, nearly 2 billion more than the population on Earth. With almost a billion malnourished people across the globe, redirecting even a portion of the grain used to fatten cattle could feed every hungry mouth on the planet.
- 1.2 acres of rain forests are cleared every second!
- 1,100 land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years.
- The land required to feed 1 person for a year: vegan – 1/6th of an acre, vegetarian – 3 times as much as a vegan, meat eater – 6 times as much as a vegan.
- A person on a vegan diet produces produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th of land compared to a meat eater.
- Earthlings, a documentary on the animal cruelty happening in animal farms around the world – http://earthlings.com/
- Forks over Knives, a documentary on the effects and benefits of eating a plant based diet has on our health – http://www.forksoverknives.com/
- Cowspiracy, the documentary on the damaging effects the meat industry is having on our environment – http://www.cowspiracy.com/
- Do Something Org – https://www.dosomething.org
- An amazing presentation by Dr. Greger’s speaking about how eating a plant based diet fights and reduces the risk of the top diseases in the US – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30gEiweaAVQ
- Strohle A, Waldmann A, Wolters M, Hahn A. Vegetarian nutrition: preventive potential and possible risks. Part 1: plant foods. Wien Klin Wochenschr2006;118:580–93.