Early in November 2012, the Los Angeles city council unanimously approved a resolution recommending city residents not eat meat on Mondays. This Meatless Monday campaign started internationally in 2003. The Los Angeles effort is associated with Johns Hopkins University’s public health school.
Not only is the environment diminished by the amount of meat consumed in this country, a high-meat diet is linked to health problems such as colon, prostate, kidney and breast cancers, as well as heart disease. Furthermore, the problem of obesity can significantly be moderated by reduced meat consumption.
So what’s a meat eater to do?
Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Results from a Harvard University study showed that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (such as meat and full fat dairy products) with foods rich in polyunsaturated fat (such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19 percent. Research results also suggest that higher consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of Type II diabetes. In addition, the consumption of red and processed meat is associated with higher mortality rates.
Interestingly enough, replacing a meat-based meal with fish such as tuna and salmon isn’t that difficult to do; nor is substituting an inexpensive bean and rice dish for meat, since the two combined form a complete protein. Fortunately, information regarding meatless meals is readily available on the Internet—not only are there countless recipes, updated research results inform readers of the many health benefits of eating meatless meals.
Years ago when I became interested in healthier diet options, I began by choosing white turkey and chicken instead of red meat. Gradually I began to incorporate fish into my diet. Now I am comfortable with fish two or three days of the week and lean fowl on the other days. When I have a yearly physical exam and the doctor remarks about the status of my good health, I attribute this to regular exercise and a healthy diet. You’d be surprised how rewarding it is to transform anxiety-ridden doctor’s visits to a life-affirming event!