Carnivore, omnivore, herbivore.
Meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans...
This is a topic I've been wanting to write about for a while, but I've not been sure how to go about it.
Going by the philosophy of live and let live, I'm going to outline for you some of the ideas that have cropped up around this topic from (what I hope is) a relatively fence-sitting point of view.
1. Statistics, schmatistics. A vegetarian diet has been 'proven' to reduce some forms of cancer, obesity and cardiovascular conditions. I'm definitely not negating this, but it's also said that statistics on vegetarian diets aren't always accurate, because people who follow vegetarianism also tend to lead healthier lifestyles generally, so it can't be put down to just eating or not eating meat.
2. The ol' iron debate. Meats are typically very high in iron, and vegetarians who don't consciously make an effort to include other forms of iron can find themselves deficient quite easily. However, it is relatively easy to get enough iron through diet or supplementation without eating meat, all you have to do is think it through. Vitamin B12 and zinc can also become depleted when refraining entirely from meat, but again forethought and meal planning can keep your levels up.
3. The ol' protein debate. I have customers (men and women) who are trying to build up muscle and are having ridiculous amounts of meat a day for protein levels. The body can only assimilate around 30g (depending on how much you weigh) of protein per meal. A generous handful of pumpkin seeds will give you 34g of protein. So you could go either way. Or both ways, and have meat once a day and a serving of pumpkin seeds once a day.
4. Free range all the way. If you are a meat eater, make it free range. We've all heard about animal cruelty (ah, who watched four corners the other night??), and I think the time has come to actually think about what you're putting in your mouth and where it has come from and what it has been through.
5. Greenhouse gases. Agriculture contributes to around 16% of greenhouse gas emissions. With this in mind, you meat eaters can choose what meats to eat more than others (for eg, beef is the worst choice if you want to lower your carbon footprint). And if you really want beef, did you know that grain fed cattle produce up to 60% less emissions than grass fed (per kg)?
6. Why aren't more people vegetarian? Considering all of the bad press meat-eating is getting lately, it's surprising we're not seeing a new trend emerging (or are we? I couldn't find any data...). Why is this? Because Sam Kekovich is breathing down our necks? Because of that KFC add where she's a vegetarian but 'not on Thursdays'? Because you don't want to go to someone's house for dinner and have that awkward moment where you have to inconvenience them to tell them you're a vego?
7. It's not all or nothing, baby. It seems like either you are a vegetarian, never eating meat, or you aren't a vegetarian, and have meat almost every day. Well it doesn't have to be that way.
You don't have to be a vegetarian to have a dinner that doesn't include meat. '
Personally, I think we need to decrease our consumption of meat as a society, but that doesn't necessarily mean cutting it out all together. I also think meat-eaters need to choose more smartly and not just think about what's easiest or cheapest.
And I thought I'd chuck in a cute little cow.
Stay tuned for (eventually) what vegetarians/vegans should include in their diet to make sure their nutrition is up to scratch.
PS. Happy Birthday to one of my besties, who has just made the decision to become a vegetarian. Good on you!