Do you ever wonder what life would be like without BACON?! Research has shown that there are many benefits to controlling your meat intake or sustaining from meat in general. However, I would like to start out by saying I am not a vegetarian. But, I would like to explore ways to reduce your meat consumption instead of vegetarianism because I believe vegetarianism can benefit our health and the environment we live in.
A recent study done at Loma Linda University found that people who live their lives as a vegetarian and/or vegan live 20% longer than people whose diets contain meat. I know what you’re thinking; a study of around 100 people, done in one area at one time isn’t applicable to me. The thing is, that was not this study. The study consisted of 73,000 participants and data was collected over decades. As you can imagine with a 73,000 participant pool, this was a very diverse sample.
The study highlights the misconception that many people have that being vegetarian is unhealthy. Our society has this notion that there is no other way to get protein aside from meat and that living a meatless lifestyle is extreme. The authors attack back at this argument by saying; “half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.” Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., MD. This is a very powerful statement and a severe problem in our country caused by eating fatty foods in particular red meats.
Reducing meat consumption not only improves your health, but it also has positive effects on the health of our environment. A study posted in Climate Change outlines just how much cutting meat from your diet can reduce your carbon footprint. Researchers found that the average male who eats a high meat diet (around 100 grams) emits 16 pounds of CO2 a day, low meat eaters (50 grams) emit 10.3 pounds of CO2 daily, strictly fish eaters emit around 8.7 pounds, vegetarians emit 8.5 pounds and vegans only emit around 6.5 pounds of CO2 daily. This shows that by reducing or eliminating meat from your diet you are decreasing the amount of greenhouse gasses you contribute to the world’s pollution. As a result, you’re decreasing your carbon footprint and taking strides towards a healthier environment.
I have found that vegetarianism lies on a spectrum. You can make great healthy changes to your life by controlling your meat intake. There has been a surge in our country to be more cognizant of what you put into your body. Through this movement ideas such as Meatless Mondays and Weekday Vegetarians have been more and more common. This aspect makes it easier for people to ease into the switch to a meatless diet or make efforts to reduce their meat intake without passing up that freshly grilled burger on their annual 4th of July cookout.
For those of you unsure about making the leap into being a vegetarian, let me outline some different ways you can reduce your meat intake or slowly transition to vegetarianism. You could try being a Flexitarian. Flexitarians are mostly vegetarian but eat meat on occasion. Flexitarians are able to make steps to improving their personal health and reducing their carbon footprint without being so restrictive.
These are common ways to reduce your meat intake but you can also make personal programs for yourself to improve your health and carbon footprint by reducing your meat intake. You could try to only eat meat for one meal a day, or if you are a big meat lover try to not eat meat for one meal a day. For those who are very dedicated you could try to only eat meat when it is offered to you. There is a wide variety of ways you can reduce your meat intake. Just being cognizant of the many positive effects meat reduction has you are taking strides to becoming healthier.