Do you have a New Years goal to eat less meat? Or to eat healthier? To reduce your environmental impact?
For some, going vegan or vegetarian seems like too big a change. The good thing is, you don’t have to go all the way to start improving your health and reducing your impact on the planet.
I’m going to write a 3 part series on the top 3 animal products to cut out of your diet this year, based on their health and environmental impacts.
Part One: PROCESSED MEATS
i.e. Bacon, sausages, ham, hot dogs etc.
Processed meat has now been identified as a class 1 carcinogen. This classification means there is “convincing evidence that it causes cancer”. This puts processed meat in the same category as smoking tobacco. It is especially linked with bowel (or colorectal) cancer. According to Cancer Research, in 2012, the lifetime risk of developing bowel cancer in the UK is 1 in 14 for men and 1 in 19 for women. They state that around 54% of bowel cancer cases are preventable through lifestyle changes such as eating less red and processed meat, eating more fibre and not being obese. Obesity is complex, but processed meat is high in saturated fat which can lead to obesity amongst other health problems.
Animal agriculture is increasingly being shown to have a devastating impact on the environment. Creating animal products requires huge amounts of resources such as water, energy and land. Land is used for the factories/farms but the vast majority of land use in animal agriculture is to grow crops to feed animals (or for grazing land). The leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon is for animal agriculture. Growing plants to feed animals is highly inefficient in terms of conversion. Feeding these plants to humans instead of animals would provide much more food. Animals also create huge amounts of waste which is a leading cause of water pollution.
What to eat instead?
There are plenty of plant based versions of these types of products to satisfy any craving you have. They might not be exactly the same, but once you stop eating these products, your tastebuds soon adjust and you no longer crave them. I wouldn’t recommend eating a lot of processed food in general but for when you really crave something these plant based options are useful:
You could even get creative and make your own veggie bacon – there’s loads of recipes online (using ingredients such as aubergine, coconut, tofu, mushrooms, rice paper etc!).
So, for your health, the environment (and of course the animals!), cutting out processed meat is a win-win-win!
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 🙂