Let’s discuss the first factor – Quantity. Meat consumption is globally on the increase, it is projected that production will sky rocket from 275 million tonnes in 2008 to 465 million tonnes by 2050.
Yes, our population will also increase which warrants for more production, so let’s look at how much each person is eating – in 1961 each person was consuming around 22 kilograms of meat per year, in 2007 it has risen to 40 kilograms per person, per year. And there are direct links from this increase in meat consumption to the increase in rates of chronic disease. For example, excess meat consumption increases the risk of prostate or breast cancer by as much as 40%. Bowel Cancer Australia also states that changes in diet, largely due to the reduction of meat, could reduce the incidence of bowel cancer by 75%!.
So it’s clear to see a simple change such as reducing the amount of meat you eat can greatly impact on you, and your families health.
So how do you eat less meat? Follow these tips below:
1. Vegetarian day: I am a big believer in having one ‘Meat Free’ day each week, there is a global movement to support this and one initiative is ‘Meatless Mondays’, dedicating each Monday to plant based foods. There is even a website filled with recipe ideas and tips www.meatlessmonday.com
2. Serving size: it’s very clear the serving size of meat has also increased, I can assure you 500 gram steaks have not always been common place on menus and in supermarkets. A safe and practical serving of meat is the size of your palm (fingers not included) and a serving size of seafood is the size of your palm and fingers.
3. Red Meat: red meat has the strongest link to bowel cancer especially, and Bowel Cancer Australia states that a maximum of 3 serves per week should be eaten. If you have a family history of this cancer you need to take this guideline seriously.
4. Plan proteins: believe it or not you can get protein from plants, some plants are even complete proteins meaning that they contain all of the amino acids, such as Quinoa and Tofu or Tempeh. Other great options include: legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas etc.), nuts and seeds and whole grains. If you aren’t sure how to use these in your diet, simply Google ‘Tofu recipes’ for example and trial one on your Meat Free day.
5. Meet half way: if going completely vegetarian freaks you out, then begin by halving the amount of meat in a dish and topping it up with some of the options above. For example: halving the mince in a bolognaise and top it up with lentils or kidney beans, or halving the amount of chicken in a curry and top it up with cubed tofu.