Meat, as bad as Cigarettes?
Hold the Christmas ham and don’t take another bite of that bacon sarnie.
Last week the World Health Organisation announced that processed meats were a major cause of cancer, placing bacon, sausages, salami and ham in the same category as asbestos, arsenic, alcohol and tobacco – ie group one carcinogens.
Of course the media went wild – nothing sparks interest like the latest food-cancer research, and editors got to slap a picture of a bacon sandwich on the front page.
While it’s an interesting debate – more on that to come – the headline I really would have liked to see was this:
‘Cows, the biggest cause of climate change.’
Because, whether meat causes cancer or not, is really a moot point when you consider that the human race will not survive if we keep eating as much as we do.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also responsible for 91% of Amazon destruction, and the leading cause of species extinction.
Anyone who has seen the eye-opening documentary ‘Cowspiracy’ (executive produced by vegetarian Leonardo DiCaprio) will recognize these figures.
The bottom line is we all need to cut down – whether that means adding more beans to your burger mix or using hemp protein to keep those biceps sweet.
Healthier Meat Eating
At this point in my life I do eat meat, twice a week, always organic and grass-fed.
It means a happier life for the animal (although of course the happiest life would be not going to slaughter) and a healthier food for me – no antibiotics, no genetically modified corn or soybeans and a better omega 3 ratio.
I also choose medium rare; meat that is well-done has 3.5 times more cancer-causing heterocyclic amines than a steak cooked ‘à point.’
Marinating meat with turmeric, ginger and rosemary also reduces HCAs by as much as 87% according to Kansas State University.
Back to the Bacon Sandwich
It’s a pass for me. Aside from the nitrosamines in cured meats – like bacon – which have been clearly linked to cancer, it’s the animal cruelty factor that’s got me.
My mother, who doesn’t eat meat at all, recently shared this video. The pigs are awaiting slaughter in wire cages. It made me feel physically ill.
Is Vegan Better?
One thing I have discovered as a health coach is there is no one-size-fits-all diet, nor is there one way of eating that works all the time – our needs change.
So whether it’s helping a mum-to-be get enough good quality fats that are free from toxins, or creating a vegan food program for someone who wants to make the switch – there are healthy, sustainable ways to do whichever diet rings true for you.
Below are some reasons for and against eating meat, plus key supplements to take if you’re living animal free.
3 Reasons to Eat Meat
* For Your Brain: B12 is the only vitamin we can’t obtain from plants; it’s crucial for mood balance, healthy hair, energy and cognitive function – a lack of B12 has been linked to brain shrinkage while supplementing with B12 has been shown to lower your risk for Alzheimer’s. If you are vegetarian or pescetarian, both eggs and fish provide sources of B12, however tests have found 83 per cent of vegans are deficient in B12. To up your levels take Better Your Methyl B12 spray, which is totally vegan.
* Lowers Anxiety: Eating grass-fed lamb and beef can halve the risk of depression and anxiety in women – that was the finding of a 2010 study led by Dr. Felice Jacka, from Deakin University in Australia.
* Go Grass Fed: It has three times the amount of omega 3 than grain fed beef says health researcher Chris Kresser. ‘These days we consume far too much omega 6, which is, in my opinion, one of the primary causes of the modern disease epidemic.’
3 Reasons to Not Eat Meat
* Enzymes: The body requires huge amounts of enzymes to digest meat, which places a burden on your system and means there are less enzymes free for healing and repair. Enzymes help break down the fibrin that coats cancer cells, allowing the immune system to get in and do its work.
* The Environment: Eat one burger and use 660 gallons of water – enough said.
* Antioxidants: When you swap meat for more vegetables you are loading your diet with powerful plant goodness. Mushrooms can help prevent cervical cancer; leeks, onions and garlic are packed with prebiotics, while the fibre found in beans and lentils helps sweep excess toxins out of the body.
To see more on this topic go to my article for Honestly Healthy ‘Five Reasons to Cut Down on Meat.’
Laura Bond is a journalist, author and health coach. She specialises in helping clients beat stress, reduce their toxic load and prepare their bodies for babies. To find out more, click here.