Meatless Monday: Myths and Facts
Meatless Monday: Myths and Facts
How did it start?
Meatless Monday started as a World War 1 campaign to help ration and allocate key staples. Starting as “meatless Tuesdays”, it was done due to food production and distribution disruption brought about by the war. It returned as Meatless Monday in 2003 as an effort by Sid Lerner in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in response to the rising rates of lifestyle diseases associated with heavy meat consumption. In the Philippines, “meatless Mondays” are known as “luntiang lunes” in an effort to promote more consumption of greens/vegetables over meat.
With over 95 years of history, Meatless Monday has grown and is now being promoted in schools, communities, offices, etc in hopes of minimising the steady yearly growth of meat consumption worldwide.
“What’s the beef” with meat?
Heavy consumption of meat has been linked to many lifestyle diseases such as high cholesterol, hypertension, acdidity/GERD, Colon cancer/other forms of cancer. High meat consumption also makes an impact on the liver and kidneys.
However, all the above mentioned diseases are linked to consumption of commercial meats that are produced with the aid of hormones, antibiotics, processed feeds, and a host of other medicines. In fact, true organic sources of meats have major benefits to the body as compared to meat for livestock that is grown in a conventional manner.
To make use better understand the difference between the two types of meats, in this example, from a cow, let’s look at how they are made and how it affects our bodies.
- Grown how?
With meat, how the animal is fed and raised is important. Grain-fed, pen-raised animals tend to get sick more due to the living conditions they have. They are given antibiotics for this and growth hormones as well to help them fatten up and grow faster in a shorter period of time, which, in turn, means faster profits for the grower.
In contrast, real grass-fed, Pasteur-raised and/or organic cows are not cooped-up in pens that facilitate the spreading of disease.
- Fed how?
“What is wrong with being fed grains?” you might ask. The problem is, cows are meant to be eating grass just as humans are meant to be eating real food. Cows that eat grain and corn are akin to humans who are on a junk food and fast food diet. Yes, it’ll sustain you, but it has harmful effects to the body. In the case of the cow, being consistently fed grains and injected with various synthetic medicines means their meat is different from that of an organic/grassfed cow.
- So what?
When you eat meat from a grain-fed, pen-raised cow you deny your body of the Omega 3s and the conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) that are present in grassfed/organic beef. Omega 3s are beneficial fats that help regulate cholesterol and improve heart health while CLA is a cancer fighter.
Thus, going absolutely meatless may not be the key, but switching to better sources may be more sustainable. However, if one must choose a day to go meatless, there is also a healthy way to go about it.
Meatless Mondays, the right way
Today, the main thrust of going meatless has nothing to do with rationing but with the health of the general public. Since time immemorial, vegetables and fruits have been seen as the food-of-choice for anyone who wants to stay healthy. However, this is not always true depending on how the fruit and vegetable is cooked or processed.
For example, doing Meatless Monday but choosing to eat French fries from a fast food chain isn’t exactly the path to peak health. If you choose to do a meatless day, choose to go all the way. And you can do that by knowing what goes into your food by being picky about how it is cooked, what oil is used to cook with it. Take note that oil that has been reused is definitely unhealthy and possibly carcinogenic. This means you can cross out fruits and vegetables that are friend in reused oil.
The most common alternative to going meatless is by using soy products, particularly tofu. However, did you know that most Soy products are made with genetically modified soy beans? GMO soy beans are not good for the body because of the way it is manipulated. Generally, our bodies are not designed to consume food that has been altered. If you must have soy–based products as an alternative to meat, make sure you find organic sources of soy.
Did you know that spinach and broccoli actually have 5 grams of protein per serving? If you are after protein-packed meat substitute, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are worth looking at.
Packed with protein and flavor, mushrooms is another go-to meat alternative. It also helps that the texture is quite nice and the natural umami flavor of mushrooms are comparable to meat
Other ways to be healthy without avoiding meat
Just to reiterate, the best way to be truly healthy is to be in control of what goes into your food, starting with the kind of oil you use to cook. Choose a cooking oil that is not heavily processed using chemicals and hexanes. Contrary to popular belief, Canola oil is not the way to go because almost all commercially available Canola oil is processed using chemicals to extract the oil. A good alternative is culinary coconut oil that is not bleached, deodorized or refined.
Also, when you can, choose food that is indigenous to your country of residence. Not only does this lessen carbon footprint but it also ensures that you consume food that is grown in the ideal conditions of your location.