Making the switch – Part 2
Eliminate Red Meat
If you’re thinking of changing to a vegetarian diet, how do you start? Do you just start shopping in the produce aisle of the grocery store? You might have some anxiety attached to this change as well, and this is understandable.
Try to think of this as adding to your dietary habits, rather than a drastic change. If your diet has consistently included red meat, perhaps you can start substituting other foods for the red meat. Or eliminate the most processed and high-fat meats first, such as bacon and hamburgers.
Certainly try to eliminate fast food burgers, which have such a high fat and sodium content. If you think you’ll miss the taste of bacon in the morning, try substituting a turkey or vegetable-based bacon substitute.
It won’t be the same, but you won’t be giving up the foods you’re used to all at once.
If you’ve had a health scare and feel the need to change everything at once, make sure you include a lot of variety in the foods you buy as you begin to discover new flavors and textures that you’ll like to replace the ones you’re used to eating. If you don’t need to make a dramatic change all at once, you’ll have a much greater chance of long-term success if you take it slow.
Reduce the amount of red meat that you eat on a weekly basis, even if it means substituting pasta with marinara sauce for meat just one night a week. Increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat. Start with raw vegetables at night before dinner so you’re not so hungry when you get to the main meal. Start reversing the proportions of meat and vegetables and make meat a side dish, with vegetables and grains your main course.
We’re creatures of habit and resistant to change. This is why so many diets fail, because we make drastic changes to facilitate dramatic results, quickly. This is a decision and a change you want to make for a lifetime. Make it a natural and gradual change and you can look forward to many more years of healthy living.
If you haven’t been eating a vegetarian diet for years, and want to make the shift, it’s best to do so gradually, in stages. A good way to start is to eliminate red meat and substitute fish or poultry for the red meat you’ve been eating. While it’s not eating more vegetarian, you’re at least eliminating the biggest offender in disease-enhancing foods, red meat.
After you’ve successfully eliminated red meat, then start reducing the amount of poultry you eat. While it’s not as bad for you as red meat, because it’s not as high in fat, it’s still meat that’s been raised on a farm in terrible, cramped and inhumane conditions.
Poultry is so laden with growth hormones and antibiotics that’s it’s nothing like a chicken or turkey that we might have hunted for food centuries ago.
Chickens are raised in horrible conditions, overfed and then slaughtered. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just as detrimental to our physical and spiritual health as eating red meat. It’s also fairly easy to eliminate poultry from our diets because let’s face it – it’s like eating wood pulp, it’s so tasteless. All the antibiotics and abnormal living conditions have processed any natural flavor that poultry ever had in the first place.
Add more fish and seafood, if you’re not quite ready to replace poultry with grains and vegetables and legumes yet. While there is risk in eating fish and seafood, because of the high levels of mercury they contain, it’s a better alternative to poultry and red meat. This may be as far as you ever get in moving towards vegetarianism, or at least eliminating meat from your diet.
Give yourself time to get used to this. You won’t miss poultry for a minute. We usually eat chicken and chicken breasts because it’s lower in fat and calories, but it’s also lower in any kind of nutritional value.
When we’re not getting essential proteins and vitamins, we’re still starving our bodies, regardless of how healthy we think we’re being. Eliminating poultry is one of the most positive steps you can take towards a healthy diet and a healthy planet.
It’s actually pretty easy to eliminate red meat and poultry from our diets. When you give any thought whatsoever, the reasons are so compelling to stop eating them. Your reasons may be physical, because you need to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure. You may want to reduce your risk of cancers that may run in your family, and eliminating red meat from your diet is an important way to do this.
You may also find that the way we mass-produce meat and poultry for consumption in this country is repugnant to you. If we really thought about the way meat and poultry is raised, we’d never eat the stuff again. We’re consuming flesh that’s been produced from enormous pain and suffering. Even the smallest life has value on this earth; mass producing these animals to slaughter and eat them degrades their lives and degrades our own in the process of eating them.
It might feel like it’s carrying things to far to eliminate something as elemental as a shrimp or a scallop. But think about what we dump into the ocean where this food comes from. All our waste and trash gets hauled into the ocean, if it doesn’t go into a landfill. Think of the millions of gallons of oil that have been dumped from oil tanker accidents.
Think of the impact that the erosion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere has had on every living thing on the planet. There are toxic levels of mercury in fish and seafood, so much so that if you’re a woman contemplating getting pregnant, you most definitely shouldn’t eat fish. Your risk of producing a baby with birth defects is extremely high if you do.
It can be hard to let go of fish and seafood, because this has a similar texture to red meat and poultry. It’s flesh after all, even though it’s marine flesh. It might take longer to eliminate fish and seafood from your diet, but keep at the effort.
If you’ve been realizing the benefits of eating more vegetarian, then it’s really a small step to take to eliminate this last piece of animal flesh from your diet. Imagine how good you’ll feel about yourself and what you’re doing for the planet when make that last step and eliminate all meat and animal products from your diet.
Got milk? Reasons Not to Grab for the Glass
Many Americans, including some vegetarians, still consume large amounts of dairy products, but here are several strong reasons to eliminate dairy products from your diet.
Milk has long been praised as a ‘weapon’ in the war against osteoporosis, but recent clinical research shows that it actually is associated with a higher fracture risk, and there’s been no protective effect of dairy calcium on bone. Increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables and beans, along with exercising have been shown to help strengthen bones and increase their density.
Dairy products are also a significant source of fat and cholesterol in the diet, which can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. A low-fat vegetarian diet that eliminates dairy products, as well as adequate amounts of exercise, proper stress management and quitting smoking not only will help prevent heart disease, but could also reverse it.
Ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers have been linked to dairy product consumption. According to a recent study by Daniel Cramer, a Harvard doctor, when excessive amounts of dairy products are consumed and the body’s enzymes are unable to keep pace with breaking down the lactose; it can build up in the blood and affect a woman’s ovaries. Another recent study showed that men who had the highest levels of IGF-I, (insulin-like growth factor) which is found in cow’s milk, they were at four times the risk of prostate cancer compared to those men who had the lowest levels of IGF-I.
In addition, milk may not provide a consistent and reliable source of Vitamin D in the diet. Milk samplings have been found to have inconsistent levels of Vitamin D, and some have been found to have as much as 500 times the indicated safe level. Excess Vitamin d in the blood can be toxic and can result in calcium deposits in the body’s soft tissues.
Milk proteins, milk sugar, fat, and saturated fat in dairy products may pose health risks for children and lead to the development of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and formation of plaques in the circulatory system that can lead to heart disease.
By choosing to consume a nutrient-dense, healthful diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fortified foods including cereals and juices, you can help meet your body’s calcium, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin D requirements easily and simply, without the added health risks from dairy product consumption.