At KGN we are excited to announce our first Meatless Monday!
We will be exploring the idea behind this campaign and what it means for your health and wellbeing. What are the benefits of cutting meat, why are more and more people inclined to try it and what it means not only for your health but also for the environment.
Why is this important to KGN?
According to the British Social Attitudes survey nearly half the British public are cutting back on meat or are already vegetarian.
The World Health Organisation has warned that processed meat can cause Cancer and that red meat in general probably causes Cancer.
A survey carried out by NatCen Social Research found “A significant number of people in Britain amounting to many millions had reduced their meat consumption. Many people are clearly concerned about eating too much meat and the primary driver of this concern appears to be concerns about health”
This is clearly an issue playing on the minds of population, so if it affects you and your health then it affects us here at KGN. We want to help explain the thought process in theory and in practice.
Meatless Monday has gained a lot of attention since its creation in 2003, the main concept is as simple as it sounds – ‘once a week cut the meat’.
Studies suggest cutting meat from your diet even once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions, such as Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
The negative effects on our health from the over consumption of meat have become more highlighted as numerous medical studies linking meat to a variety of different health issues have been published. The widely discussed publication from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015, classified processed meat as a carcinogen, this includes meat such as bacon, ham, hot dog, sausage and deli meat. The publication also listed red meat such as lamb chops and steak as “probably” carcinogenic.
What does it mean for a food to be carcinogenic?
In the simplest form a carcinogen is something that causes cancer. A carcinogen can be a substance such as tobacco, chemicals or UV radiation.
The Cancer Council NSW has explained that “for a food to be carcinogenic, there must be strong evidence linking consumption of the product to an increased incidence of specific cancers, as well as evidence about how that food can cause cancer to develop” It is important to note that foods classified as carcinogenic means there is a link to cancer and not how much cancer a food causes.
An increasing amount of evidence supports the idea that healthy thinking and behaviour is synchronised to the week, with Monday being the most ‘health conscious’ day. It signifies a fresh start and the beginning of a new week which mentally prepares people for new idea’s, challenges and actions.
A study of health related google searches over a set period of time showed a regular pattern of surges at the start of the week. People are more likely to start healthy eating, an exercise routine or even try to quit smoking on a Monday rather than any other day. Embarking on a healthy lifestyle choice on Monday helps people sustain healthy behaviour throughout the week.
Now that we understand what Meatless Mondays is we can explore this a little further.
What are the health benefits of Meatless Monday?
A plant based diet can be good for your heart
Vegetables, fruit and whole grains have been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease. Studies have found a daily consumption of these foods were linked with a decline in heart disease and lower risk of stroke.
Limit the risk of cancer
As already discussed processed meat has been classed a carcinogenic showing an increased link between consumption and the risk of cancer. A number of cancer related organisations have presented convincing evidence that the consumption of red meat and processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer. There is also suggestive evidence that red meat increases the risk of other cancers such as oesophagus, lung, stomach and prostate. In an interesting contrast, a diet high in fruit and veg actually decreases the risk of several types of cancers.
Help fight diabetes
Plant based diets can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important factor in preventing and treating diabetes. On a plant based diet you are likely to decrease your total calorie consumption which in turn assists with managing diabetes.
Many studies across the world have shown that those on meat free diets have a lower BMI and notably lower body weight. It has been argued this is due to plant based diets generally being rich in fibre which is not found in animal products. Fibre gives the feeling of fullness which results in less instances of overeating and lower calorie intake which helps manage a healthy weight and avoid obesity.
A study looking at the link between ‘Meat Intake and Mortality’ found evidence to suggest that limited meat intake combined with a diet rich in fruit and veg was likely to result in a longer life span when compared to a high meat diet which was associated with an increase in death due to cancer and cardiovascular diseases
What are the environmental benefits of Meatless Monday?
The water requirement for livestock is much greater than those of vegetables and grains. ‘The Value of Water Research’ found that to produce one pound of beef approximately 1850 gallons of water was required when compared to 39 gallons to produce a pound of vegetables.
Reduce Greenhouse Gasses
A study looking at ‘The Potential Contributions of Food Consumption Patterns to Climate Change’ found meat production produces significantly more greenhouse gasses than vegetables.
Reduce Fuel Dependence
A paper published on Food, Energy and Society found that you could feed 840 million people just from the grain produced for livestock demonstrating the incredible amount of fossil fuel energy used to produce meat based protein when compared to grain based protein.
The Ethical Argument
As well as the health and environment benefits some would also argue the ethical benefits of switching to a meat free diet. With a growing world population, foods industries such as the meat, dairy and egg industries have been placed under greater pressure to produce higher quantities of food to meet the increasing demand. Some of these industries have been found to have conducted this production under unethical conditions.
When trying to decide what diet is best for you personally, it can be overwhelming to make an informed decision based on the vast amount of nutritional information available, especially due to the fact that there are a lot of contradictions in the health and lifestyle community.
Those that eat meat, enjoy meat and don’t feel any worse for it would argue that the recommendation for a meat free diet is another scaremongering piece of advice whilst others would suggest it is an important piece of information which could add decades to your life. We have presented you with an informative blog so that you can make a balanced choice.
The objective of the Meatless Monday movement and this blog post is to help inform people and introduce them to meals, foods and snacks which move away from animal products and look towards healthier plant based alternatives. Plant based foods offer high levels of nutritional value as well as providing protein, iron, fibre and a range of vitamins and mineral which will leave you with higher levels of energy.
In conclusion, Meatless Monday is a good place to start not only for those who are interested in shifting to a plant based diet but also for those who still want to eat meat but reduce their consumption and wish to play an active part in helping the environment.
Meatless Monday is also a fun way to experiment with new foods and create new dishes for you and your family, adding more variety and excitement to your meals. Don’t worry if you are lacking in creative meat free ideas, KGN have you covered with our vegan inspired recipes here.
Read our MEATLESS MONDAYS (RECIPES) blog post for ideas and suggestions.