The Meatless “Revolution”: A Health Savvy Trend

 

I just heard the term “meatless revolution” coined on an evening news program. Being a dietitian who is both professionally and personally a big fan of good nutrient dense carbohydrates-white potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils, fruits, and vegetables- I am ecstatic to hear this is becoming a mainstream trend.

Apparently, US meat consumption has declined 30%, so my hope is this trend continues as it is good for our health and good for the planet.  Dietitians have been promoting this concept for decades. The USDA plate reinforces this eating “revolution” as well.

Why to eat less meat

So why should we cut down on meat consumption?  For dietitians, the answers are obvious:  this decreases total fat, saturated fat, and allows for calories to come from other food sources such has complex carbs which provide specific nutrients to the diet that would be lacking in a heavy meat diet.  Eating less meat is also a good way to decrease inflammation and cancer risk in some people.  Eating and growing more plant-based foods also consumes less energy and pollutes the environment less.  For every pound of bread made, one pound of grain is needed.  But for every pound of beef weight, eight pounds of grain are needed.  And, let’s not forget that cows pollute with poop.  It has to go somewhere, and often ends up contaminating our water and soil.

To embrace this so-called meatless revolution, start with:

  • Having a meatless meal a few times per week.  Try a lentil soup with whole grain bread or a vegetable topping pizza every Friday.
  • Making a conscious decision to decrease your animal protein servings to the size of a deck of cards; this is the portion size you should be eating, but many are eating 2-3 times that amount.
  • Substituting plant-based protein for meat options.  Try peanut butter in place of cold cuts on whole wheat bread for a hearty sandwich or lentils and beans in soups and stews to replace some of the meat the recipe calls for.

How do you downsize your meat?

 

20 Reasons to Eat Your Carbs and Forgo the Beef!

If you have a beef with carbs, you might want to rethink avoiding them. There are technically many reasons to actually eat the right amount of carbs. For whatever reason, the topic of carbohydrates fuels a firestorm of controversy. Look anywhere on the Internet, and you will find a preponderance of carbohydrate criticism and vilification. It’s true that not all carbs are the same. The carbs which should be emphasized for health are the complex carbohydrates. These carbs are high in nutrient density. Complex carbs include lentils, grains, fruits, and vegetables. 20 of the many reasons to eat your carbs are listed, so check out the list!

carbs to eat

Healthy lunch with carbs

  20 guilt-free reasons to eat nutrient dense carbs

  1. They provide a rich source of B-complex vitamins not found in other food categories.

  2. In the form of fruits and vegetables, they are an excellent source of vitamin C

  3. Complex carbs provide significant sources of potassium.

  4. They are naturally low in fat.

  5.  Provide health protecting phytonutrients found almost exclusively in complex carbs.

  6. Complex carbs are high in fiber to aid digestion and prevent constipation.

  7. Fiber-rich complex carbs aid in blood glucose control.

  8. Complex carbs fill you up and help you stick with a weight loss diet.

  9. Sufficient carbohydrates prevent ketosis.

  10. Carbohydrates spare the protein to function in growth, healing, and repair.

  11. When decreasing carbs, you then need to increase your calories from another nutrient such as animal protein, which in excessive amounts may weaken bones.

  12. Cut your carbs, then you need to increase your calories from other nutrients such as fat. This may lead to plaque build up on your arteries.

  13. A low carbohydrate intake might increase cortisol levels. This may increase risk of some cancers.

  14. A low carbohydrate intake might lead to an increased animal protein intake, which can increase painful gout.

  15. You need carbohydrates in your diet to make glycogen.This is your storage fuel for endurance athletic events and can be a fuel source if food is not available.

  16. Dairy products are nutrient dense carbohydrates which have important nutrients for strong bones and normal blood pressure.

  17. Most Americans do not consume enough magnesium. Many good sources of magnesium are complex carbs like spinach, bran cereal, beans, lentils, and dairy products.

  18. Strong bones need more than just calcium. And, many of the nutrients necessary for strong bones-vitamin K, various B vitamins, and magnesium are readily available from complex carbs.

  19. As food, they create less of a carbon footprint than growing animals to eat.

  20. They are satisfying and taste good! Don’t you miss them?

For these reasons, emphasizing unprocessed nutrient dense carbs such as lentils, beans, fruits, vegetables, fat-free dairy, and whole grain foods is not controversial, it is intelligent eating for the 21st century.

 

 

Shrimp From Thailand, Please Consider Not Purchasing!

 

Not veExotic fishing catry long ago, I was in a major Chicago suburban grocery store planning to buy some frozen shrimp. With the globalization of our food supply, I am in the habit of checking where a food item originates from in order to be “respectful” to the planet. I would prefer to avoid purchasing seafood from the other side of the world. This shopping day, I was actually unable to find any frozen shrimp other than shrimp from Thailand. I put the shrimp back, as I just had an unsettled feeling about making such a purchase.

Extinction of an exotic fishing cat

This week, tuning into the late hour US ABC Nightline news show, there was a story about a beautiful exotic cat from Southeast Asia which is becoming extinct. This wild cat, called the fishing cat, is a native to the wetland areas of Southeast Asia. These same wetland areas of Southeast Asia are also being utilized for the farming of shrimp. And, much of that shrimp ends up in the United States.

According to the ABC Nightline story, as the shrimp farmers take over the wetlands and encroach on the native home of the fishing cat. Now, the fishing cat population has declined to near extinction. As this exotic web-footed cat actually swims in the water for food, this encroachment by shrimp farmers has affected the natural habitat as well as the ability to access fish for food. With diminished capacity to find fish to eat, fishing cats are often forced to hunt for alternative food sources. They may resort to farmers’ livestock, which then allows them to meet their death with a shotgun.

Shop locally

Regardless of how you connect to this story, it points out there are multiple good reasons to purchase food locally. If purchasing shrimp raised closer to home stops extinction of a species, that means a lot to me. If it means our planet degrades less quickly, it should mean the world to you.

For the complete Nightline footage on this story, http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/shrimp-farms-endanger-fishing-cats-16207450