You have no doubt heard the statement: You are what you eat. Have you given conscious consideration to what that really means? Unfortunately for many of us, this statement remains a conceptual idea, one that we cannot seem to, for any number of reasons, apply experientially in our lives. Food is still seen in an isolated and detached manner, not as the powerful and directly influencing factor that it is for our health and wellbeing. Yet the longer that we fail to make the connection between what goes into our mouth and the state of our physical, mental, and emotional health, the longer we remain helpless, powerless and in the dark about our own body and wellbeing.
We know that today we have an epidemic of obesity and heart disease, which includes hypertension, atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis and high cholesterol in most parts of the world. Cancer rates are right up there too and contribute to the destruction of the quality of life for all too many people in the modern world. According to a 2016 report by the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease, and accounts for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths. This problem is not going away either. The World Health Organization predicts a 70% increase in new cancer cases over the next two decades. Next to these lifestyle diseases, we have unprecedented rates of diabetes type 2, osteoporosis, digestive issues, infectious diseases, inflammation and autoimmune diseases plaguing so many people in our societies today. Some still manage to claim that we are living longer than ever, but given the amount of regular health problems and reliance on pharmaceuticals and medical interventions, the decreased quality of life is hardly worthy of any longevity compliments. We have yet to learn what it really means to live long and tap into the body’s incredible self-healing and sustaining potential.
But it isn’t only our health that is at stake here. The health of our environment is directly impacted by our food choices as well. The Environmental Working Group has an outstanding report that illustrates how different food choices impact our climate. It may perhaps come as no surprise to you already that animal agriculture is destroying the environment in multiple ways. Thanks to leading-edge documentaries like Cowspiracy we can quickly and easily learn why animal agriculture is the most destructive industry on Earth.
And while too many people are still deeply ignorant about the seriousness of the situation, an increasing number of people are taking matters into their own hands. In fact, recent reports show that Americans are eating less meat every year. Many groups and organizations are working to bring awareness and help people overcome the unnecessary health problems related to our modern diets. Many restaurants are starting to make changes to address growing dietary needs that are shifting towards healthier and plant-based choices. Many doctors are changing their ways of treating patients. Many scientists are advising people to eat less meat to avoid climate catastrophe. And even entire countries are starting to make serious changes to their dietary guidelines for plant-based eating.
It All Starts with Meat
Upon examination of the challenges we face, it is not hard to see that the foundational problem here comes down to meat. Yes, the dairy industry is destructive in its own right to our health and that of the environment, but the foundational food that most on Earth commonly rely on and prize is meat. It is still safe to say that most people live with the falsely conditioned belief that meat is an essential part of the human diet. However, while meat played an important role in helping earlier humans survive, today we have learned that it should be avoided, or at the very least greatly reduced, if we want to thrive.
Therefore via this article, I want to share with you a quick guide that can offer some inspiration and motivation for you to reconsider eating meat. Whether you go vegan or vegetarian is your choice and part of your personal journey, but there is no doubt that moving towards a plant-based diet, meaning a diet that is mostly made up of plants, is one of the best things that we can do today for our personal wellbeing and that of our Earth.
1. Meat is very high in fat, especially saturated fat
There are numerous claims today about saturated fat. Some claim that we do not need any saturated fat to survive, or that all saturated fat is bad, while others tell us to eat freely and that this substance is essential for our health.While not all saturated fat is bad, saturated fat from animal products like meat appears to directly affect the function of our cardiovascular system in many negative ways. Not only is it linked to putting a strain on one’s heart through possible fat deposits in the arteries, increasing one’s blood pressure and causing artery damage, but it is the major fat responsible for dangerous weight gain. Modern meat is higher than ever in fat because of the unnatural conditions of how the animals are raised—no exercise or natural grazing abilities. They are sedentary and over fed unnatural-for-them food, which leads to higher than normal unhealthy fat deposits.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats – which are found in butter, cheese, red meat and other animal-based foods. Decades of sound science has proven it can raise your “bad” cholesterol and put you at higher risk for heart disease. ~ heart.org
2. Meat is very high in cholesterol
Most animals produce their own cholesterol and there is no need to be eating someone else’s, especially given the fact that your body is great at regulating its own cholesterol when we don’t throw in extra cholesterol from foreign sources. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, animal products full of saturated fat cause the liver to produce more cholesterol. It is a well-known fact that cholesterol production is associated with the inflammation response, but it can also increase in times of stress and decreased activity. All of these concerns impact us and the animals, further compounding the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease.
3. Meat is very dense in calories
Since meat contains so much fat, and fat is the most calorie-dense nutrient, it is a substance that if eaten regularly, or in excess, can easily lead to weight gain.
Affluent people can afford to eat a diet with a central focus of beef, pork and/or chicken, and almost all do. Most also have one or more risk factors that predict premature death and illness. ~ Dr. John McDougall
4. Meat produces carcinogenic compounds when cooked
These are called heterocyclic amines and they get produced when animal flesh is cooked, especially at high temperatures. HCAs form when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and creatine (a chemical found in muscles) react at high cooking temperatures. Researchers have identified 17 different HCAs resulting from the cooking of muscle meats such as beef, pork, fowl, and fish.
5. Meat increases chances of cancer, especially colon cancer
Aside from the heterocyclic amines talked about above, given the biochemical composition of meat and lack of fiber, meat moves slowly through the intestines. A high-fiber diet can improve the transient time, but eating meat in light of a fiber-devoid diet can be highly constipating. Additionally, being high in animal protein, which takes a long time to get fully digested, it tends to stay in our intestines the longest. This contributes to providing the right conditions for the creation and impact of carcinogenic compounds within and to the lining of the intestinal walls.
In general though, and before any cooking that we may do, meat and animal proteins in general have been found to be correlated with an increased incidence of cancer. Whether it is due to the inflammation that they cause, as found by Dr. Ajit Varki’s, M.D. research team, or due to the type of proteins that they contain, as found by Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s Ph.D studies, the connection is undeniable. In October 2015 the World Health Organization put out a report that classified processed meat as a class 1 carcinogen to humans, which means that there is strong evidence that processed meat (sausage, bacon, deli cuts, etc.) causes cancer.
6. Meat is hard on the digestive system
Besides the increased chances of colon cancer, meat can cause a lot of digestive disturbances for the very same reasons. Meat takes a long time to pass through the intestines, where during this time it putrefies. Putrefaction produces toxins and amines that accumulate in the liver, kidneys and large intestines, destroys bacterial cultures and causes degeneration of the lining of the small intestine. Over a few years of a regular meat diet, putrefied meat is going to adhere to the lining of your intestines, where it often causes various digestive problems such as IBS, stomach cramps, prolapsed colons, haemorrhoids, constipation and many other problems that are not even directly linked to the intestines.
7. Meat carries the highest risk of bacterial contamination
Meat is animal flesh, and animal flesh is most prone to bacterial growth. This process is increased even more after the meat has been killed, as it starts to putrefy right away. Today, we do have many advances to decrease this process as much as possible, mainly refrigeration, but the most common food-borne illnesses still come from meats.
8. Meat increases chances of autoimmune diseases
Due to the fact that some animal proteins are very closely related to ours, the body responds to a lot of these as foreign particles and tries to destroy them. (Not very different from how some organ transplants get rejected.) When the body does this on a regular basis, after some time it begins to turn on itself due to some auto-immune processes that end up resulting in things like arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and others.
9. Meat contains synthetic hormones, which disturb our hormonal balance
Unless the meat comes from an organic farm, most farms today inject the animals with various hormones for no other reasons than to speed up and enhance the animal’s growth. The faster the animal grows, the faster the monetary return and the bigger it grows obviously the more meat can be obtained for less money. Most of the hormones are various growth hormones, which not only disrupt our own hormonal balances, which can lead to many different health conditions, but also have been theorized for the faster than normal onset of puberty and development of our children today.
10. Meat contains various drugs
Due to the fact that every animal translates to dollars, most if not all animals are regularly subjected to various drugs, mostly antibiotics. These drugs do not magically vanish and researchers are studying these effects of them on our bodies. However, what we do know for sure today is that it has contributed to the current antibiotic resistance, where the antibiotics that we may need at a point in our lives, no longer work because the bacteria have gotten so much experience with them in small doses to mutate against them.
11. Meat contains its own diseases
As well as each animal and farm is controlled for safety, regulations are nowhere as close as we would like them to be. Even though it is easy to catch an infectious disease in an animal and then treat it appropriately, other chronic diseases are not as easily caught. In fact, think of how healthy an animal can be, that sits all of its short life in a tiny cage, where some cannot even properly stand up, let alone walk around and get some exercise.
12. Meat eating results in killing billions of animal each year
According to ADAPTT, more than 150 billion animals are killed each year by the meat, egg and dairy industries. That is a mind blowing number that most people are completely not aware of, and may think nothing of given that today’s unnaturally high animal food diets and meat have become commonplace.
13. Meat production leads to wasted natural resources like water and land
Having seen the above number, now imagine how much water is wasted each year to grow the food to feed these animals and how much water is wasted to keep them hydrated while they are growing. In order for land to be made suitable for animal production, land must be properly cleared and this usually involves the chopping and clearing of many trees. Livestock production accounts for 30% of the entire land surface of the planet. Just think of how many people can be fed in the world and have clean drinking water, if it wasn’t all going to the billions of animals.
14. Meat production is heavily responsible for climate change
Although it was already mentioned at the start, it is valuable to reiterate this point. Animals produce natural gas, mainly methane. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, in that it traps heat even more readily and abundantly than carbon dioxide. In fact animal production is responsible for about 15 to 18% of the world’s climate change and to put that in perspective that is even more than all of the world’s transportation.
15. Meat raised under stressful conditions has a negatively altered biochemistry, that negatively alters ours
Just think about yourself and what happens to you in times of stress. The number one thing that happens to all animals under stress is an elevation of stress hormones, which initialize a whole slew of other biochemical reactions that lead away from an animal’s healthy balanced state. This of course leads to various diseases. When we consume this meat, whether you embrace the Eastern views of karma, qi energy changes and thus chakra disruptions or not, eating meat from stressed animals has been shown to be linked to various negative mental and emotional states of being in us as well.
Benefits of Meat-Free Eating and Living
If you still require more inspiration or motivation, and are perhaps wondering how eliminating meat from your diet would impact you directly, consider this great read from Dr. Michelle McMacken, MD: 7 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat.
Perhaps it will be for your health, perhaps for the environment, perhaps for the animals or a combination of these reasons, whatever your personal reasons for not eating meat will be, know that you will be positively contributing to your personal and our collective health and wellbeing. Whatever your choice or actions are today or tomorrow, my hope is simply this: that each one of us starts taking accountability for our own personal health and starts being the change that we want to see on this Earth.