by Karyn Michelle Wofford
Meat is a big part of the typical American diet, but it’s time we start rethinking this. As a diabetic, I still eat some meat, but have greatly reduced the amount I consume for many reasons:
- Meat throws off gut bacteria. Most meat comes from animals that have been injected with high levels of antibiotics. Antibiotics destroy good bacteria. Since diabetics battle candida (yeast), it is important to maintain a healthy bacteria balance, because good bacteria destroy yeast.
- Overconsumption of meat messes with PH levels, causing the body to become acidic. This creates a disease promoting environment.
- Animal fat has a negative impact on the heart and raises cholesterol. Diabetics are at high risk for heart disease so we need to reduce the risk where we can.
- The more I researched, I started to realize our outrageous hunger for meat is pushing companies to mass produce. This mass production means that each animal’s quality of life is reduced. Because so many animals are put in a facility to meet consumer demands, they are fed food that goes against what they are naturally supposed to eat, are injected with drugs to accelerate growth, given antibiotics because they live in filthy, overcrowded conditions and are abused. This isn’t right even if the animal will ultimately be killed. We should treat our animals well, even if they will eventually be a food source.
- Lastly, because these animals live a stressful life, toxic stress chemicals are circulating through their body, and ultimately make their way into our food…increasing the toxic load.
I am selective of where I buy meat from. Grass fed, free range and antibiotic/ hormone free meat is all that I buy.
I find myself using other protein sources from plants to fill the meat void. Honestly, my new, diverse diet is unbelievably flavorful and delicious.
Plant Protein Sources
Beans– Not only are there countless varieties, but beans can be prepared a number of ways. Throw them in a burrito, make some grilled black bean burgers or spice them up and mix with peppers and onions. They are hearty enough to take the place of meat and are rich in not only protein, but fiber too.
Quinoa– One reason people stick to meat is fear of not getting the essential amino acids our body needs for cell reproduction. That’s a legitimate concern. Luckily, a few plants offer all essential aminos, and quinoa is one of them. I keep quinoa dishes simple by adding a delicious sauce or some veggies.
Tofu– This one is tough to convert people to. The texture is strange and unusual when first introduced to a diet. Usually, I buy tofu when I go out to eat because I can’t figure out how to prepare it correctly. Recently, I discovered that simply boiling firm tofu then adding it to an Asian dish of veggies with peanut sauce is a great way to prep it at home. It’s worth noting that tofu has estrogen mimicking compounds so shouldn’t be consumed too often.
Nuts– Not just for snacking, nuts can make a meal seem like it isn’t missing meat at all. Grind and add them into noodle dishes, burgers, or just eat them plain.
Jackfruit– Yes, it’s a fruit, but when cooked correctly, it tastes like pulled pork with a little tang. No joke. If you don’t feel like prepping it yourself, most health or whole food stores sell prepackaged versions.
Mushrooms– These strange plants have a meaty texture and come in a huge variety with diverse flavors. Try baking some moisture out of a portobello mushroom, then fill it with goat cheese, tomato sauce and basil. Bake again until bubbling.
Pasta– A well made sauce with herbs and hearty vegetables topped over whole grain noodles is already a staple for many American dinners. It’s healthy and kid friendly.
Cheese– Vegans believe that we should not use animal products at all, which is highly commendable. Personally, if a product is ethically sourced, I’m okay with it. Cheese can give veggie based dinners substance while satisfying the want for meat.
Ease into it
Start trying to pull meat out of your diet, little bits at a time. Plant protein sources are everywhere and you will hardly notice the absence of chicken, beef or other animal food sources. If we all commit to eating less meat, it will help our environment, improve the lives of animals, and improve our lives as well.