You only need to begin a conversation about meat consumption with a group of people to realise you have dived quite deep into a sea of differing, yet equally as strong, opinions and beliefs. When asked why we believe such things, we normally refer back to an article we read in a magazine, the latest health documentary on Netflix, what was said on social media, or the beliefs of a friend shared with us recently. Some of us may have read a journal article, undertaken by seemingly credible sources. Yet, we still need to ask questions, such as who funded such research, and what may be the motives here? Question's like this are a great opportunity to challenge us and to reconnect with what feels right for us individually. I thought this would be a great place to open the discussion!
What we all clearly want to know is, is meat actually healthy for us? I'm afraid the answer to this question is not quite so simple. It's too easy for us to put something into a box, label it what we feel to be true and leave it at that. Questioning our beliefs and what we are told, is the challenging part. When someone asks the question, is meat healthy or not?, we need to ask...what kind of meat are you eating? How often are you eating it? Where has it come from? How was it raised? How do you feel as you are eating it? Put simply, this question is complex and just like most things to do with nutrition, we need to come at it from a neutral position to completely understand it and forge our own beliefs.
How is the meat raised?
Personally, I feel this is the most important question to consider. It is no secret that industrialized meat is not ideal for consumption. The living conditions of these animals and their quality of life is just not conducive to firstly, honoring the animal, and secondly, meat that is actually nutritious. The realities of such a high demand us humans place upon meat is just not sustainable, and therefore the processes in which bring this product to the market are just not sustainable either. So it is clear that collectively, we need to set new standards. This begins at an individual level. Voting with your dollar is very powerful as the market is really meeting consumer demand. This can easily be practised by choosing to purchase meat that is ethically raised and ideally locally, too. This ensures that what you're eating is serving you and your nutritional needs, as well as supporting the argicultural practises you want to see more of in the future.
How much are you eating?
In reality, not a huge serving of meat is required to provide our bodies the nutrients that it needs. Great quality meat really is abundant in nutrients such as iron, zinc, b12 and many others that can be harder for your body to absorb and utilise from plant based sources. This is why I do believe meat plays a fantastic role in majority of our diets. Although on the flip side, all of us could benefit from consuming more fruit and vegetables, as studies show on average only 5% of Aussies are consuming the recommend daily servings. I know I certainly don't every single day. This is why I believe the focus needs to be more about eating more vegetables, whole grains, and plant based protein sources, thus allowing meat to be the supplement that it is ideal to be. Consider how many of your meals are centred around meat each week. Meat and three veg has become quite an Australian approach to meals, and that can take time to change.
How do you feel while you are eating it?
Our thoughts and feelings are truly so powerful. When it comes to food and digestion, studies have shown that how you feel while eating really can affect your digestion. This is why it's often recommend to eat during a relaxed state. Do you enjoy eating meat, are you grateful for the fact that you can eat great quality meat? This is another factor to consider.
The short answers here are...
- Let's all eat more plants
- Meat doesn't need to be eaten with every meal. I see it as a great supplement to an otherwise healthy diet. Aim to make vegetables and wholegrains the main focus of your meals, and treat meat as the 'side'.
- Local and ethically raised is best (think grass fed, hormone + antibiotic free, free to roam in sunlight etc)
- Lets focus on relaxing more when we eat
Ultimately, we are all individuals and therefore our needs are always going to differ from person to person. Please consider this, and tune into your own personal requirements! Your body deserves it.
Love and wellness,