There is a lot of talk everywhere about how to eat healthy. I just did a show about the effects of sugar a few weeks ago. These days you have to be worried about pesticides, preservatives and other chemicals, processed foods, and meat.
The concern about meat stems from the way the animals are raised.
Grass Fed or Pasture Fed
The animal is allowed to eats it’s natural diet and graze on grass pasture. The animal is not usually confined and it free roaming.
Grain fed means that animals are fed a diet of corn and other grains in a feedlot environment. They are often not allowed to move around and are administered antibiotics for various problems that usually stem from living a cooped up life.
Most of the studies that have been done about meat and heart disease have not distinguished between pasture raised and conventionally raised meat. The idea of pasture raised meat is not a new concept. It’s really a traditional way to raise animals, but it is more expensive and requires more land. As a result it’s much more expensive in the store. You can of course raise it yourself but not all of us have that opportunity.
So let’s talk about what it means to eat less meat and some of the ways we can go about doing it.
Usually, whenever a discussion of meat comes up these terms get thrown around. So let’s define them.
Someone who does not eat meat or animal flesh, but still eats eggs and dairy products
Someone who does not consume anything that comes from an animal, which would include animal flesh, eggs and dairy products. Sometimes referred to as a strict vegetarian or plant based.
Someone that eats meat and plants.
Someone who eats fish but not animal flesh, eggs or dairy products
Then there are a few people who are in between, like an Ovo Vegetarian (eggs but not flesh or dairy). Also, there are subsets like Raw Vegans who only eat raw plants.
Let’s Clarify What Kind Of Beef Is Best To Eat?
Grass fed beef has more of the good fatty acids (omega-3) and less of the bad (omega-6 fats). They also have more of a trans-fatty acid called CLA that helps with brain function, weight control and more.
Pastured beef are typically more humanely raised, and are not keep in feedlot conditions. (Source)
Most of the studies have been done with beef, not chicken or pork, but it stands to reason that meat raised naturally is going to be the most nutritious.
I was a vegetarian for many years, and then a vegan for some time. Actually my whole family was vegetarian. However, I wasn’t feeling well and decided to add some animal protein back in. It was around that time that I started studying the difference between pastured raised animals and grain feed animals.
Our decision to become vegetarian was to live a healthier lifestyle. So when that wasn’t working we knew it was time to do something else.
We still don’t eat meat with every meal and the meat we do eat is grass fed quality.
Why Eat Less Meat?
Eating less meat will save you a ton of money at the store. Meat especially the grass fed is the most expensive thing you’ll put in your cart. So finding alternatives will save you a ton of money.
Putting healthy meat into food storage is problematic at best. Other forms of plant based proteins can be easily stored long term and without much upfront cost. These include foods like soy beans (non-GMO), lentils and beans.
What Does It Mean To Eat Less Meat?
There are those that will tell you to stop eating meat all together. Then there are others that will say that meat is perfectly healthy. I think that raised in a natural environment (the pasture), slaughter humanely and meat can nourish our bodies as nature and God intended. However, we eat a lot of meat in our society much more than our ancestors. Adding in additional plant based foods adds variety and nutrients to our diet.
Suggestions For Eating More Plants
Try starting out with a meal once a week that does not contain any meat. Even if it’s something simple like Mac and Cheese. Then work up to 3 meals a week. You’ll find your grocery bill go down.
Lentils are one of the most versatile plants. You can make a lentil loaf, lentil burgers, or lentil soup. All for pennies per serving.
Try adding more healthy fat to your diet. This will satiate you in the absence of protein. These would be things like nuts, avocado,
Dairy and Eggs
Consider eating more dairy and eggs. Dairy can be fermented which adds another healthy layer to your diet and then eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.
A Word About Soy
Soy is a favorite source of protein among vegans and vegetarians and in and of itself it’s fairly healthy if you eat it in moderation. It’s even better if it’s fermented. However, most of the soy in the US is GMO. So unless you have a really good source of organic soy it’s better to avoid it.