Eat to live, and not live to eat.
It is no secret that eating red meats may be harmful to your health. Red meat is darker-colored meat, as contrasted with white meat. According to the USDA all meats obtained from livestock (all mammals including pigs) are considered red meats because they contain higher levels of the pigment myoglobin than non-mammalian meats like chicken or fish.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have shown that red meat consumption could actually shorten your life. They found that one additional serving of red meat a day contributed to a 13% increased risk of dying, and an added daily serving of processed red meat (a hot dog or two slices of bacon) increased the risk of dying by 20%. A daily serving of red meat boosted the risk of heart disease death by almost 20%, and the risk of dying from cancer by 13%
Other medical research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that heavy consumers of red meat double their risk of developing colon cancercompared to those who eat little red meat. Although the study did not specify, I suspect that heavy red meat eaters probably have at least four times greater risk of colon cancer compared to people who have no red meat at all.
Research on total vegetarians (who consume no animal product) suggests an almost total absence of colon cancer in that group. As colon cancer accounts for 20% of all cancers, these research findings are very important. Other investigations also demonstrate the benefit of a plant based diet against several other cancers as well as other lifestyle related problems like diabetes and hypertension.
If doctors had discovered a new drug that would eliminate 20% of the cancer in the world, there would be no end to the media publicity and fanfare it would be given. Have you seen any headlines strongly promoting a diet as the most effective anti-cancer strategy? No, that would not be a good financial strategy for the modern food and medical industries. But think of the lives that could be spared and the suffering and expense that could be avoided.
OTHER HEALTH RISKS OF RED MEAT
A higher risk of colon cancer is just one of several health reasons to avoid eating commercial red meat. The saturated animal fat found in red meat contributes to heart disease, atherosclerosis and other inflammatory disorders. Commercial red meat contains contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and undesirable environmental pollutants that tend to collect in the fatty tissues of the animal. These are absorbed into your body when you eat commercial meats. You cannot eat red meat without also getting some unhealthy animal fat.
Meat consumption may increase your risk of other cancers like prostate, breast, pancreatic, lung and stomach cancers. Cured and barbequed meats are particularly dangerous.
Eating red meat increases your risk of iron overload, a not uncommon condition that puts you at high risk for heart disease, hypertension and stroke.
One acre of soybeans produces the same quantity of protein as 10 acres of land used to rear cattle. And an acre of a protein rich plant called spirulina yields a tenfold increase over the protein production by soybeans. So think about it: one acre of farmland used to produce spirulina can produce 100 times as much protein as beef and red meat. That is very important as the earth’s population grows and it becomes increasingly challenging to meet the protein requirements of the world.
Many religious traditions that promote non-violence and a deep reverence for life have spiritual motives for avoiding eating meat. My own feeling is that individuals should be guided by their own consciousness (not the same as conscience) and not a prescribed dogma handed down from some authority.
Then, there are concerns about what may be called the vibrations (vibes) of red meat, which relates to the energy of the meat produced by our modern life-stock rearing practices. Were the animals reared in a natural environment? Did they have access to open fields, sunlight and clean water? Or were they reared as part of a crude slaughterhouse operation, worked solely for generating profits? Some spiritual teachers believe that if you eat meat produced that way, you are consuming a product that is tainted with the negative experience of the animals that were so badly abused.
There are indeed several negatives associated with the consumption of commercial red meat, and more and more people are now giving up red meat and choosing healthier protein foods like fish, free-range chicken, or better yet, plant proteins like soy based shakes, soy milk, textured vegetable proteins and tofu, beans, peas, nuts and whole grains. This affords great protective and disease prevention effects, while helping at the same time to heal the environment.
TRANSITION FROM RED MEAT
Some readers are already following a plant-based diet, but others of you who might be considering making the change aren't sure exactly how to start.
You can begin to reduce your consumption of red meat without suddenly giving it all up. In fact that is how many people have done it.
Start by deciding how many times per week you will allow yourself to eat meat or declare certain days of the week vegetarian (non meat) days. Experiment with tasty and nutritious vegetarian foods.
Commit to a period of time over which you will follow this dietary change – say three months, and then evaluate how you feel at the end of the period.
It is also useful though not essential to do a cleansing of your digestive tract when you are making a significant change in your diet.
That's a easy to start eliminating red meat from your diet, but there are other ways and I encourage you to experiment and see what is comfortable for you. The bottom line on red meat is that there is much evidence indicating that you may improve your health and minimize your risk of cancer and early death by having a plant-based die