Do You Really Need Meat in Your Diet?

This collaborative post was written by Ellie Choi exclusively for Mummy’s Gone a Cycle.

 

At the beginning of February, The Guardian reported that sales of animal-free products have increased tremendously, because half of the adult population in the UK are now seeking meat-free alternatives. The past decade has seen a growth of 400% in the number of fully fledged vegans living in the country. As a response, supermarket chains, restaurants, and retailers are expanding their lines to accommodate consumer demands. The growing appetite for plant-based products may be a result of ethics and environmentalism, but it can also be traced back to the desire for an overall healthier lifestyle.

Perhaps adopting a vegan diet is not mainly by choice but out of necessity. Statistics from the British Nutrition Foundation shows that more than a quarter of deaths in the UK are caused by cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Aside from non-modifiable factors, dietary and lifestyle choices are to blame for this alarming number. In addition, a diet heavy on meat is also linked to types of cancer like pancreatic, colorectal, and even breast cancer. Which leads many people to ask, “Are we better off without eating meat?”

The debate on protein and other nutrients

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Man’s dependence on protein can be traced back to the human race hunting as a way to survive. The nutrients they were getting from foraged plants were scarce, whereas animals were packed full of everything the human body needs to survive. Overtime, animals have become the primary source of protein and there is the theory that it is mainly out of convenience that the modern man remains highly dependent on meat. Presently, there are a large variety of plant-based choices for humans to consume all the essential nutrients. This makes a vegan lifestyle more accessible.

Harvard Health Publishing recommends that at least 10-25% of your daily caloric intake should come from protein-rich foods. This equates to around 40-60 grams per day for the average person. To put this into perspective, one serving of steak contains 25 grams of protein. For a vegan, a cup of soybeans is equivalent to 29 grams while a meal of stir-fried vegetables on a bed of quinoa can yield up to 35 grams, hitting one’s daily target. Health IQ put forward that vegans are at a lower risk of Cardio Vascular Disease because their diet lacks (or is totally devoid of) cholesterol. It is commonly accepted that cholesterol blocks arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes.

Many have also questioned whether a meat-free diet can supply sufficient amounts of iron. Iron is used by the body to transport oxygen to the muscles. A healthy intake of iron is especially crucial to menstruating women. However, a diet that consists of dark leafy vegetables (broccoli, watercress, collard greens), nuts, lentils, and dried fruit will more than make up for the lack of iron from red meat. Vitamin B12, which benefits the nervous system, can be found in breakfast cereals, soya-based products, and yeast products. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids (normally found in fish) which are necessary for healthy pregnancy, are also present in foods like seeds, beans, berries, and plant-based oils.

A balanced diet

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As with most experiences with addiction, your vision can be clouded when in reality, the things you love can be causing you problems. Without realising it, your love of meat, or its convenience, can be detrimental to your well being. Whether or not you need meat in your diet is a personal choice, but know that millions are better off on a plant-based lifestyle. If going on a complete diet overhaul is not in your immediate plans, then you could consider introducing more balance to your consumption, with plant-based food in order to live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

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