Whether it’s taking on the Paleo Diet, being gluten-free or deciding to become a vegan, Americans are paying more attention to what we eat. And because of that, we’re leading healthier lives.
If you’re like me, there are many reasons why veganism and vegetarianism are attractive to you. For starters, I am an avid animal lover. Little cows and chickens are adorable, and I’ve watched more horrifying food-oriented documentaries than I care to admit. Second, going vegan or vegetarian does wonders for your energy and your health. Third, just because you have to give up animal products doesn’t mean you have to give up everything, so there’s still a whole world of delicious food that you can munch on. I love tofu and Boca burgers and could easily live off of them for an eternity.
All that being said, there is one major reason veganism doesn’t appeal to me: cheese. I love the stuff. And I know dairy isn’t exactly the healthiest thing to consume, but literally everything is better with cheese on it! What’s better than throwing a slice of pepper jack cheese on top of a free-range egg, cooking up some organic bacon and throwing it all on an English muffin?
I’ve gone on vegetarian stints before. I didn’t eat meat for an entire year and it was great! But here are some issues that arise when you choose to not eat meat (even if you don’t go full-on vegan):
- Unless you live in California, get ready to eat salad at every restaurant ever (with your only other option being French Fries)
- Get ready to have your grandmother be offended by your refusal to eat every meal she cooks
- Get used to the idea of cooking your food separately from your family’s because you’re the only one not eating the chicken casserole for dinner
Basically, here’s the solution I’ve come to: I want to be more eco-friendly and not eat little baby cows and chickens, but I also want to eat meat sometimes because it’s convenient and delicious. Hence, I’ve become what I like to call a “selecti-tarian.”
Becoming a Selecti-tarian
Unless you live under a rock, you’re probably aware that being too much of a carnivore has been linked to a variety of health problems, most notably heart disease. Sure, you could drink some delicious tea for heart health (which I do anyway regardless of what I’m eating), but why keep gorging on meat and dairy and ruining all the healthy things you do for yourself each day?
Eating less meat means that you’ll still get to enjoy the food’s delectable nature, but less often. Become selective about when you will and will not eat meat.
For example, I only eat white meat or fish about 2 times each week. That means 1 meal in 1 day twice a week. And as far as red meat goes – I’ve only had that one time in six months. But that’s my personal preference.
You don’t have to adopt the same meat-eating schedule as me, but decreasing the amount of meat you consume on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is both great for the environment, and for you! You’ll notice a variety of health benefits, including the following:
A Better Mood
Studies have shown that people who eat a lot of meat are more likely to be depressed than those who don’t eat meat. Meat contains high concentrations of Omega 6, a fatty acid, which, eaten in large amounts, can cause health issues ranging from depression to bipolar disorder. Less meat means less Omega 6, and together that means a happier psyche.
In the meat industry, animals are routinely plumped up with additional hormones in order to make them grow faster and thus generate more product. It’s part of the capitalist, meat-hungry world we live in. (For more info on this, I suggest watching Vegucated) By eating less meat, you’re consuming fewer of these hormone-inflated animals and thus maintaining hormone levels that are closer to normal.
Research has indicated that those who abstain from meat are less likely to die from heart-related issues compared to their carnivorous counterparts. Herbivores are also less likely to be plagued with cancer. What’s more, they’re less prone to developing diabetes.
A Better Sex Life
While the stereotypes surrounding men who are vegetarians versus men who sustain on beer and burgers perpetuate certain images of men and their sex drives, one study found more testosterone in men who abstained from consuming animal products. Additionally, erectile dysfunction has been linked to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which have been associated with excess meat consumption.
Making healthy changes in your diet is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the guest at Thanksgiving dinner who asks for tofurkey. It’s also important to know that labels don’t matter. We get so caught up in labeling one another as vegans and vegetarians that we forget what’s REALLY important: being healthy and not consuming more meat than we need.
Eat what is important to you and call yourself whatever you want. If you want to eat less meat, do it. If you want to eliminate meat altogether, do it. The important thing is that you’re healthy and doing what you love.
Questions for you:
- Do you eat meat often?
Let us know in the comments!