Should I Eat Meat or Not?
Have you had someone tell you that it is unhealthy to eat meat or animal products? Many studies have shown health benefits for those who choose not to eat meat.
You might wonder if you should be a vegetarian or a vegan. A vegetarian is someone who eats eggs and dairy foods but does not eat meat. By contrast, someone who eats no foods that have animal components, including eggs, dairy, or meat is a vegan.
Following a vegetarian diet is one healthy eating pattern. What makes it particularly healthy is that vegetarians tend to consume a lot more plant products than meat eaters do.
While it’s not necessary to completely eliminate meat from your diet, it is probably a good idea to make your main meal meatless at least twice a week. Beans, soy, nuts, and seeds are great sources of protein and you also get extra fiber and nutrients that you don’t get with animal protein.
What Are the Healthiest Animal Foods?
When consuming food that comes from an animal, there is a chance that you will be getting not so healthy saturated fats. In order to make sure you don’t get too much saturated fat, choose low-fat dairy (1% or skim) or soy milk and choose lean meats like poultry without the skin, fish or vegetarian sources of protein.
There is also a lot of talk about consuming fish for the health benefits to your heart. Fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, and mackerel all have heart healthy omega-3 fats in them. It is recommended that we consume fish 2-3 times a week. Remember that a serving of fish is 3 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards. Sorry to say it, but fried fish doesn’t count!
If you don’t like fish, you can get the heart healthy fats with fish oil pills and by eating plant sources of omega-3. Plant sources are walnuts and flax seed meal.
This week’s recipe is for hummus. It’s made from garbanzo beans and sesame paste, so it counts as a vegetarian or vegan protein. It’s great as dip for veggies, pita chips or baked tortilla chips. It’s also good in a wrap or on a sandwich.
You can purchase hummus in the grocery store in the deli section where they sell the specialty cheese. Or save yourself the money and make it yourself! By adding things like roasted red pepper or sun-dried tomatoes, you can give it a little kick.
- 16 oz. can chickpeas/ garbanzo beans (save ¼ cup of the juice)
- 3-5 T lemon juice
- 1 ½ T tahini (sesame paste – this is usually sold in the ethnic foods section)
- 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
- ½ t salt (optional)
- 2 T olive oil
- Drain chickpeas, set aside reserved liquid. Combine chickpeas and remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add the reserved liquid and blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.
Enjoy the weekend!
I just wanted to say thank you for mentioning the possible health benefits of a veg*n diet for cancer patients. I know a lot of information is purely anecdotal, but it is compelling.
(I also wanted to add: “hi, Jack!”)
Thanks for the comment, Jamie!
There is some good information out there regarding vegan, vegetarian and plant based diets when it comes to cancer. My favorite resource is the American Institute for Cancer Research (www.aicr.org). It also seems like there is a lot of misinformation regarding vegan diets and cancer that gets spread around.
Some groups claim vegan diets are necessary for optimal health. I don’t think that’s true. Then there are organizations who promote vegan diets from an animal rights perspective. Some of these groups are not reporting truthful information. Certainly I think animals should be given a decent living situation even if they are ultimately going to be used in the food market. However, advocating for animal rights should not be done while giving misinformation to the public based on pseudoscience.
When it comes to anecdotal evidence, it’s good to compare that person’s story to what research has been done. Some tips on evaluating complementary therapies were in last week’s posts and can apply to this topic as well. The bottom line is that no diet is going to cure cancer or guarantee that it won’t come back. But if someone has had good symptom management while following a certain eating plan, it might be a good idea to look into it!
Making healthy food choices can help with quality of life and reducing risk along with many other lifestyle factors. Personally, I don’t choose to be vegan, but I don’t think it’s wrong for those who do.
In the area of healthy eating, there are many right answers!