"We can't afford not to change the way we eat."
Do you eat too much meat?
This is not only a question I’m asking you but I ask myself a lot! Raised on meat and potatoes by two Scottish immigrants I have to say that beef was my father’s favorite meal. It wasn’t, “What kind of beef shall we have this week?” It was more like every other day!
I admit to avoiding the shows on Netflix and the You Tube clips for fear they will indeed turn me off my beloved “Steak Saturday”. That said, I can tell you that the information supporting less animal protein is compelling. If we need the validation of the health and climate change benefits of this dietary change then see the resources below.
I have been among those that perceive plant based diets (vegetarian and vegan) to be extreme and difficult to follow. I’m able to share the resources with you here as well as my personal experiences as I attempt to change my own nutrition. If we can’t afford “not to change our nutrition” on so many levels (Human Health, Environmental, and Animal themselves) then share with me what it looks and tastes like to you so we can all move ahead.
This has my attention: “In a Comprehensive Review of the Literature Supporting Recommendations From the Canadian Diabetes Association for the Use of a Plant-Based Diet for Management of Type 2 Diabetes,” is states that plant based diets (PBDs) are among the recommended dietary patterns to be used in medical nutrition therapy for persons with type 2 diabetes.
Plant Based Diet
Definition: A healthy, plant-based diet aims to maximize consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal foods (including dairy products and eggs). It encourages lots of vegetables (cooked or raw), fruits, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, seeds, and nuts (in smaller amounts) and is generally low fat.8 Leading proponents in the field have varying opinions as to what comprises the optimal plant-based diet.
More from another paper, “Analysis and evaluation of the health and climate change co-benefits of dietary change”:
The choices we make about the food we eat affect our health and have major ramifications for the state of the environment. The food system is responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (1, of which up to 80% are associated with livestock production (2, 3). The aggregate dietary decisions we make thus have a large influence on climate change. High consumption of red and processed meat and low consumption of fruits and vegetables are important diet-related risk factors contributing to substantial early mortality in most regions while over a billion people are overweight or obese (4). Without targeted dietary changes, the situation is expected to worsen as a growing and more wealthy global population adopts diets resulting in more GHG emissions (5) and that increase the health burden from chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) associated with high body weight and unhealthy diets (6).
A global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings. It could also avoid climate-related damages of $1.5 trillion (US), Oxford Martin School researchers have found.
Lead author Dr Marco Springmann, of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, said: ‘What we eat greatly influences our personal health and the global environment. Imbalanced diets, such as diets low in fruits and vegetables, and high in red and processed meat, are responsible for the greatest health burden globally and in most regions. At the same time the food system is also responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a major driver of climate change.’ (-1)
Looking at the reasons why I want to eat a more plant based diet, and less meat include factors that have influence way beyond my specific health goals. Here are a few:
#1 Human Health: This means not only your own health, but your families, and future generations. Associations with eating less meat with decreased incidence of some cancers, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and stroke.
#2 Environment and Climate Change: Arguments for the fact that global crops are fed to slaughtered animals, while 1 billion humans starve. Animal agriculture is responsible for for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions.
#3 For the Animals: The ethical treatment of farm animals is a hot topic in the news. Also, slaughterhouse work is dangerous and workers can suffer PTSD.
Looking a meat consumption is only one piece of the puzzle. We need to reduce red meat consumption which includes all meat from mammals like cow, pork, beef, and lamb. We also need to increase our consumption of fruit and vegetables and decrease overall calories leading to less overweight and obesity.
Ideas to scale meat back
- Understand the processed vs non-processed and start by eliminating processed.
- Look for meats that are organic and free-range, grass fed.
- Plan meals that contain no animal protein in your week. Start with on a day like “Meatless Mondays,” and progress from there.
- Look for recipes that appeal and satisfy your taste buds!
‘Putting a dollar value on good health and the environment is a sensitive issue,’ said Dr Springmann. ‘Yet, our results indicate that dietary changes could have large benefits to society, and the value of those benefits makes a strong case for increased public and private spending on programs aimed to achieve healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets.’ (-1/2)
If you tuned into my interview with Drex last week you will know we shook hands on him reaching 10-15 chins by the end of the year! Unless Drex nutritionally supports himself with his quest I feel he will be challenged to reach this goal. He also has to train the movement with quality in order to get the quantity he aspires to.
I’m going to give Drex a training tip I was given myself from Dr. Stuart McGill a few years ago. It’s that to reach this goal he must improve his quality and complete as many sets of 2 chin-ups throughout the week as he can.
I keep mentioning quality so I asked my son to demonstrate a few tips to get Drex started!
Chin Ups are an easy exercise to train incorrectly and in fact one of the hardest movement patterns to master. This is why many can’t pull their own chin above the bar safely without performing some movement errors. Technically if palms face in we call it a chin-up, and if the palms face out we call it and pull-up.
Common errors I see when watching clients execute chin-ups:
- Head and chin poke – ugly to see and bad for your neck!!!! We are trying to correct forward head posture not drive into it!!
- Elevating/Shrugging the shoulders
- Breaking their core connection by arching the back – this causes extension stress on the spine.
- Crossing the ankles and bending the knees – this breaks the strength of your whole movement chain!
OK Drex, I challenge you to send me a video of your chin-ups so I can coach some improvements if needed! Let’s do this 10-15!
So a little spin on meat and muscles today. I’m interested in your feedback. Are you on-board to reduce your meat consumption and do really great chin-ups?
Send me your recipes! We can do this!
Listen to Sheila discuss this topic with Drex on the Jon McComb show CKNW 980 am. Listen live every thursday at 9:05 am. Download the radioplayer app so you can listen on your phone!
Written by: Sheila Hamilton August 2017
Thanks to Rochelle Benoit for providing me with some useful content and resources for this blog! I really learned a lot and appreciate the time it took you to pull it together for me.