EASY WAYS TO GO MEAT-FREE
Researchers say a greener diet is the way forward, and the key to better health can be kickstarted by going meat-free just one day a week
It’s ironic that as our living standards rise, health conditions seem to be heading the opposite direction. Heart disease, for instance, has gone from being a rare occurrence to one of the world’s leading causes of death. The trend links higher incomes to the regular consumption of richer food (many of us now count meat, eggs, and diary products as daily staples), exacerbated by sedentary lifestyles and less exercise.
There is good news though: research by Dr Caldwell Esselstyn of the world-renowned Cleaveland Clinic has confirmed that there is a way to greatly improve our heart health, and it all starts with embracing the way our grandparents and ancestors ate – with meat as an occasional luxury food.
It might not seem like much, but this little lifestyle change can make a big difference towards saving our planet. Not only good is this good for our overall health and cholesterol levels, but it’s also one of the top things we can do to reduce greenhouse gases.
According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, lifestock production (this includes a mix of animals such as pigs, cows, sheep) is responsible for 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane pollution causes one quarter of the global warming that we’re experiencing right now.
– Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund
Although carbon dioxide is the prevalent greenhouse gas (it accounts for 81 per cent of emissions), methane is way more potent – it warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide. And cows are the primary offenders, with each animal releasing a whopping 70kg to 120kg of methane per year. There’s an estimated 1.3 to 1.5 billion cows on the planet, so that’s a whole lot of methane!
In addition, livestock also produces over a 100 other polluting gases, two-thirds of which account for the world’s emissions of ammonia – a leading cause of acid rain.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
By making a simple yet meaningful change in the way we eat, we are effectively taking part in a world-changing campaign where what’s good for us is also good for the planet – our actions not only address environmental pollution, but will also have the ripple effect of contributing to global hunger issues, as well as more ethical treatment of animals.
As an advocate of animal rights, I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a vegan for many years now – but the (sad) truth is, I’m stuck at the tipping point where I love meat and dairy products too much to give them up for good, yet struggle with the desire to consume meat regularly.
But here’s another compelling reason to make that shift, consider this: University of Chicago researchers found that eating just 20 per cent less animal products every week reduces our greenhouse gas footprint as much as switching from a conventional sedan to an eco-friendly hybrid car.
Giving up meat, eggs, and dairy isn’t easy — even when we know we should. If like me, you’re looking for ways to take that first step, here’re some awesome ideas that you could try!
We are all looking for a way to make a contribution to the preservation of our planet. Having a Meat Free Monday is a great way to do your bit, while eating in a kinder and more conscious way.
– Gywneth Paltrow
GO MEAT-FREE ON MONDAYS
What a great idea, I thought to myself when I came across the Meat-Free Monday campaign launched by the McCartneys (www.meatfreemondays.com) to raise awareness of the environmental impact of meat, vegetarianism and veganism. Because, here’s the thing – going meat-free just once a week isn’t so hard to do, but going without meat for (at least) one day a week can make a huge difference to our planet, our health and even our pockets.
It’s great to see health organisations taking the lead in this area too – last year, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital launched its Meatless Monday menu, making it mandatory for every stall on its premises to sell at least one meatless dish. One day a week is doable for everyone, and more importantly, it’s a sustainable practice.
BE A “REDUCE-TARIAN”
If you’re finding one meatless day a week tough, take baby steps and start by making the conscious choice to reduce meat from your diet one meal at a time. For instance, if you’re ordering from the Economy Rice stall, order one meat dish and two veggie dishes (instead of two meat dishes and one veggie dish). Then eventually work your way towards devoting an entire meal to veggies.
CHOOSE MEAT ALTERNATIVES
The new generation of plant-based “meat” patties are changing the world, one burger at a time. Gone are the days of dry patties that look like unrecognisable soy products mashed up into slabs, today’s high-tech plant-based options offer up a much tastier alternative that even diehard meat-lovers swear by.
Mouth-watering, nutritious, and healthy, these meatless patties taste exactly like real meat patties, except they’re not. With more and more restaurants now offering delicious plant-based food options, there’s never been a better time to broaden your plant-based horizons and go meat-free when eating out. And if you fancy cooking up a storm at home, online grocery sites like Fairprice Finest, Little Farms, Cold Storage, Habitat by Honest Bee, and Redmart, carry a great range of meatless options such as Beyond Meat Beyond Burger Plant Based Meat, Quorn Meat Free Chicken and Leek Pies, Gardein Veggie Burgers, and Fry’s Meat Free Crumbed Schnitzel. Go on and knock yourself out!