Lose weight & save the planet: 5 great reasons to eat less meat

June 29th, 2012

Cooking

With articles like ‘Seven tips for a perfect steak‘, ‘A short guide to defrosting meat‘ and ‘Meaty matters: all your meat storage questions answered!‘, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the blogging contingent of Appliances Online is staffed entirely by werewolves.

Now don’t get me wrong – I enjoy eating meat – however I’m also keenly aware of the problems that go hand in hand with overindulgence. Worldwide meat consumption has increased 20% in the last 10 years, and over the last 40 years it has tripled, which has had a negative impact on the environment, and on human health.

However if everyone were to go without meat for just one day a week, these problems would be significantly reduced.

The movement to cut back on meat consumption has been spearheaded by organisations such as Meatless Monday, whose rationale is:

“By cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change.”

Sounds good to us! Here are five excellent reasons to trade in the kebab for a felafel every now and then:

1. Better health

We’re not saying that meat is intrinsically unhealthy, but too much of it has been known to cause problems such as heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.  Like everything in life, moderation is the key. (Sorry dudes, meat with a side of a different meat does not a balanced meal make).

There’s been a lot of stories in the press recently of people who have lost weight and overcome serious health problems by incorporating more fresh fruit and vegetables into their diets, such as Joe Cross (who stars in the award-winning documentaryFat, Sick and Nearly Dead) and Jason Vale – author of the best-seller 7lbs in 7 Days’.

Even former US President Bill Clinton has improved his health by embracing a mostly plant-based diet:

“Twenty years ago US President Bill Clinton’s diet featured a high amount of hamburgers and doughnuts, now two heart procedures later, and following a gradual conversion from meat-based to plant-based foods, he says his vegan diet makes him feel good and have more energy.”

Bill Clinton has turned his health problems around with a vegan diet.

2. Better for the environment

Part of the problem with the ‘super-size’ mentality the Western world takes to eating meat is that it has increased our reliance on factory farms to supply demand.

Factory farms use large amounts of water to operate, and they also create a lot of pollution in the form of methane that gets released into the atmosphere, as well as the massive quantities of solid animal waste that can find its way into rivers, the earth and the sea.

Another issue is that factory farms can become breeding grounds for diseases such as swine flu and bird flu, and mad cow disease. To stop the animals from getting sick, they are often treated with mass quantities of antibiotics, which ultimately makes these germs more resistant to treatment. Long story short: this is bad.

A way you can help to stop this happening is to buy locally-farmed, organic and/or free-range meat – and of course to try to eat vegetarian more often.

Another celebrity vegetarian

3. More variety

If you’re like my Nan – a person who enjoys eating tough grilled steak and boiled vegetables for every meal of your entire life – none of what I’m about to say will be of interest to you. But for anyone else, incorporating vegetarian dishes into your week presents an opportunity to spice up (literally!) your eating habits.

When you remove meat from the meal, you’re suddenly forced to use a little more imagination when it comes to cooking and eating – since a plate full of plain vegetables on their own is neither balanced nor especially appetising.

If you’re stuck for recipe ideas, a wealth of inspiration can be found at Taste.com.au, Meatless Monday, Food Gawker, and much more.

Plus it’s worth checking out British celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall‘s awesome show River Cottage Veg in which this famously carnivorous chef embraces a vegetarian lifestyle for a period of time. Highly recommended!

"I enjoy all aspects of cooking but like many chefs I’ve been lazy about veg. Meat and fish are tyrannical and dominate so much that anything else becomes a supporting act. The minute you put meat and fish aside you become much more creative with your veg.” - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

4. Get in touch with your spiritual side

In last year’s season of MasterChef Australia, contestants were tasked with cooking a vegetarian meal for the world’s most famous Buddhist – the Dalai Lama, in a moment of television history.

Vegetarianism (/various other meat restrictions) plays an intrinsic part in many major religions. Most Indian religions forbid the consumption of meat, and consequently India is home to more vegetarians than any other country in the world. Chinese Taoism is another religion that rejects most animal products, whereas other religions such as Islam and Judaism place restrictions on certain types of meat (such as pork, for instance).

On a personal note, recently I’ve started attending yoga classes, which I’ve found to be highly beneficial. The ethos of the studio I’ve been attending is: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free“, which, although perhaps overly optimistic, is nonetheless a nice sentiment to strive towards. I figure the more food I can incorporate into my diet that was ethically produced, the better. (That, and attending a yoga class with a belly full of meat-lover’s pizza is simply a recipe for disaster, trust me).

"Yoga is a holy connection, a realization of the interconnectedness of all of life. Through eating a vegan diet, you contribute to the happiness and well being of others, yourself and the planet." - Jivamukti Yoga founder Sharon Gannon

5. It’s cheaper

Last but by no means least – vegetables are cheaper! So the more vegetarian meals you include in your week, the more money you’ll have to spend at your favourite online appliance retailer;)

So what are you waiting for? Fire up your wok burner and get your satay vegetable stir-fry sizzling, fool! It’s better for your waistline, better for your wallet, and better for the world – which I’m pretty sure qualifies as a win!

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Louise is a writer with a passion for appliances, especially those that involve food. She is particularly fond of ovens because they enable her to make cake. Apart from baking Louise also enjoys listening to alternative music, dying her hair various unnatural colours and writing poetry that has been described (by her Nan) as 'quite nice'. On her appliance wish list is a Hello Kitty toaster and 'Hero' the barking dog-shaped hot dog maker. She lives in Sydney. Google+

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