We have no doubt all heard the statement “You are what you eat.” Well, while some of us at least somewhat realize what that statement means and the ramifications of it on our health, it is still uncommon for most in today’s society to take that statement seriously enough for the sake of their health and ultimately their life.
We know that today we have an epidemic of obesity and heart disease, which includes hypertension, atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis and high cholesterol among many other things in North America and most of the developed world. Many groups and organizations are trying to bring awareness to this situation. Many restaurants are trying to make changes, no matter how small. Many doctors are changing their ways of treating patients. And while all of this is great to hear, not enough of us are listening or hearing the messages loud enough.
Most of us are still living with the conditioned idea that “we need meat to survive” and that “this is how people always ate.” Both of these which are complete myths.
Thus, with the coming of Earth Day and the current epidemic of chronic health problems, I wanted to share with you a quick guide on why you may want to reconsider eating meat. It is not a ploy to get anyone to go vegetarian or vegan, but some “food for thought” on what this food, that we all think is so “normal” to eat is actually doing inside of you, to your health and our environment.
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. Today’s meat is even higher than ever in fat because of how the animals are raised, with no exercise or natural grazing capabilities. Hence they sit in a cage and are over fed, which leads to higher than normal unhealthy fat deposits.
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. Cholesterol production can also increase in times of stress and decreased activity, both which are real problems for the animals of today.
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.
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 colon cancer
Aside from the heterocyclic amines talked about above, meat does not clear from the intestines fast, unless ample fiber is included in each meal. This is mainly due to the fact that meat is high in protein and protein takes a very long time to get fully digested, thus it sits in our intestines the longest. This time factor, allows any carcinogenic compounds to do the most damage to the lining of the intestinal walls.
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, 140 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 most of this is simply due to the fact that today we eat a diet in the developed world that is way too highly animal based.
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
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 18% of the world’s climate change and to put that in perspective that is even more than all of the world’s transportation. (Source: United Nations)
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.
So perhaps it will be for your health, perhaps for the environment, or perhaps for the animals that you give this topic some serious consideration if you are currently consuming meat. Whatever your choice or actions are today or tomorrow, my hope is simply this, that each of us starts taking accountability for our own personal health and starts being the change that we want to see on this Earth.