Fitness for thought
"We often treat food like a one night stand. We don't want to know anything about where the food came from, and we don't want to think about it after your done with it."
I eat meat and I couldn't imagine my diet without it. In fact, my husband and I are good friends with our local butcher! But, after learning more about where my food comes from and both the pros and cons of vegetables vs. meat, I am more inclined to eat smaller portions of meat and bigger portions of vegetables and fruit.
Keep in mind that a plant based diet doesn't mean you need to give up meat entirely. It ranges from individuals who avoid meat all together, to those who eat meat but less than the average person, or they eat no red meat but they eat fish, dairy and eggs. Whatever type you are be sure your getting all the nutrients you may be missing when cutting out a certain food group.
There are several reasons why people choose to eat plant based diets. It could be because of environmental reasons, health reasons, religious or animal rights beliefs etc.
Lets focus on Health benefits from eating a more plant based diet:
It wards off chronic diseases like CVD, type 2 diabetes, High (bad) cholesterol, cancer and bowel diseases!
When people eat more plant based diets, they tend to displace more processed and sugary foods. Which can be a reason in itself for all it's health benefits!
Plants also provide higher amounts of important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids.
Environmental benefits include reducing greenhouse gases and waste production. A study by the United Nations suggested that raising animals through conventional farming generates more greenhouse gasses than all the cars and trucks in the world!
On the other hand cutting out meat completely makes it tough to get adequate amounts of important nutrients. Here's a list of nutrients that may be low or missing in someone who doesn't eat meat:
Protein - Proteins function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Vitamin B12 - B vitamins play a vital role in the function of the nervous system, aid in the formation of red blood cells, and help build tissues.
Calcium and Vitamin D - These two work hand in hand to maintain healthy bones and teeth, and is suggested to supply a protective effect against multiple diseases such as cancer and type 2 diabetes
Omega 3 Fat - acts as an Anti-inflammatory and can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Zinc - necessary for biochemical reactions and helps the immune system function properly.
It's important to note that you CAN get all these missing nutrients from non-meat sources. It would be beneficial to talk to a professional to guide you in the right direction before taking on a totally plant based diet.
My personal conclusion from reading this information is to continue to eat meat but in lesser quantities and increase my vegetables and fruits! Easy right?
Now if only Chocolate, Cookies and Wine had the same important nutritional qualities ... sigh
- Sarah Koeslag BHSc, CSEP
(Referenced: Precision Nutrition "The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition". By: John Berardi)