Many people eat a portion of meat every day. In this article, reasons why eating less meat is better and how you can consume less meat.
Why eat less meat?
There are 3 important reasons to eat less meat:
- animal welfare
Meat contains animal proteins. A daily intake of animal proteins is not necessary. We often consume more animal proteins than we need. This leads to health problems such as:
- digestive problems
- increased risk of autoimmune diseases
- increased risk of cancer
In addition, eating meat has other health risks such as:
- overweight resulting in other “diseases of prosperity”
- increased cholesterol
- ingestion of toxic substances stored in fatty tissue or organs of animals
Moreover, if you eat a lot of meat, you eat less other foods such as vegetables or grains. A Western meal often consists of a large amount of meat with some vegetables and/or grains. A balanced meal consists of lots of vegetables and some grains (starchy foods in general) and a little meat (guideline is the size of your palm). By eating too much meat, you get fewer important nutrients.
The agricultural industry has a non-negligible impact on the environment: more animals are being farmed than ever to meet growing demand. As a result, there is a shortage of good food for the animals and the animals are fed artificial food (which also has to be produced and requires raw materials).
Water is needed for the production of meat. This water is called virtual water because this water is not visible (in the steak). There are calculations for many foods that we use every day. With these calculations it is immediately noticeable that meat needs an enormous amount of water: 1 kilo of meat needs (depending on the type of meat) 5000 to 15000 liters of water to be produced. The demand for meat is growing while water supplies (freshwater) are declining. There are calculations that within 50 years large water reserves will be depleted. In addition to water purification, consuming less water is an important item.
Other environmental consequences of meat are: food miles (much meat is imported), manure surplus, shortage of raw materials (the animals also have to eat), deforestation (in many places forests are cut down for animals) and the use of chemicals in the preparation of animal feed and disinfecting slaughterhouses and butcher shops.
Animals have less and less value and are seen more as consumer goods. As a result, the welfare of the animals is subordinate to the economic value of the animals. There are many examples of this, such as battery cages, farms, selective “destruction” of animals, economically viable slaughter methods (conveyor belts, etc.), animal transport, etc. Only when demand decreases will animals receive better treatment. Investing in the health of an animal will then be more profitable than investing in a large number of animals.
How to consume less meat?
Do we need meat?
Some people develop health problems if they don’t eat meat. According to some experts, this is a withdrawal phenomenon that disappears on its own after a few days, weeks or months (there are different theories based on different studies about this). According to other experts, some people need meat while others can do without it. However, it is not recommended to change a meat-rich diet to a vegan diet without medical advice.
Vegetarian or vegan?
A vegetarian only eats animal products from living animals such as milk and eggs (some vegetarians do eat fish) and a vegan does not eat any animal products.
Tips for eating less meat
- Include one completely vegetarian day (even without processed meats).
- Meat substitutes come in more and more varieties and are no longer as tasteless as they were a few years ago. In addition to the regular ones, you now also have prepared and seasoned ones. However, some are not suitable for a vegan diet because they do contain chicken protein or cheese. Some well-known meat substitutes are: quorn (made from fungus). soy strips and tofu and tempeh (made from soy beans), seitan (made from wheat) and veggie burgers and vegetarian nuggets (with vegetable filling and supplemented with soy derivatives). However, the health risks of meat substitutes are still under discussion (see sources and references).
- Cut meat into smaller pieces when serving: several pieces gives the feeling that you have eaten more.
- Serve more vegetables and starches than meat per person.
- In many preparations you can also replace meat with vegetables or fruit such as cauliflower, mushrooms, raisins, peppers, etc. This will give a different taste, but these flavors usually go well with the other ingredients we add to meat.
- Buy organic meat (or farm meat): it gives you a feeling of fullness more quickly and also contains more nutrients and fewer fats.
- Eat fish at least once a week.
- Vary a lot of vegetables: eat as many different vegetables as possible (raw or cooked) and try out new flavors.