Did you know that the same things that support your health, also support the health of our planet?
We are a product of our environment – meaning that we are the same as this environment. What we choose to put in our bodies affects us and the world we live in.
This is part one of a two-part series outlining 3 ways that our health is linked with the planet and how we can create better health for ourselves, future generations, and the world that we live in.
The demand for meat production is skyrocketing, with no signs of slowing down.
To keep up with this demand, deforestation across the whole planet is increasing at alarming rates (the biggest reason for deforestation is cattle and sheep production).
Couple this with bushfires and drought, and our native animals have an uphill battle to fight.
According to WWF:
- Australia has one of the highest rates of tree clearing of any developed country historically. In the past, we’ve bulldozed more bush each year than Burma, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and the Congo
- Around 5,000 square kilometres of virgin bushland and advanced regrowth are destroyed annually
- Around 20% of Australian mammals, 7% of reptiles, 13% of birds are listed as Extinct, Endangered or Vulnerable
- Australia has lost 25% rainforest, 45% of open forest, 32% woodland forest and 30% of mallee forest in 200 years
Some reports suggest that koalas may be extinct by 2050.
Not only that, but this creates a significant increase in methane production along with a significant decrease in trees available to clean our air.
The consequences for the environment are clear.
There are also terrible consequences for human health.
Let’s start with the gut.
Protein goes through a process called putrefaction in the colon, which essentially means fermentation by the microbiota (gut bacteria).
This process produces high levels of harmful microbes such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. It also decreases concentrations of healthy bacteria like bifidobacteria, along with decreasing butyrate production.
Low levels of bifidobacteria and butyrate are associated with an increased risk for IBS, leaky gut, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, colon cancer and many other gut conditions.
Red meat is also metabolized by the ‘arachidonic acid’ pathway which increases body-wide inflammation and increases the risk of heart disease, dementia, diabetes, heart attack, obesity, and many other chronic conditions.
To be clear – reasonable amounts (1-2 100g serves per week) in combination with a healthy diet will not have such harmful effects. But this is not what the majority of the population are consuming.
What’s happening at the core is that excessive demand for red meat is killing us, our animals, and our environment.
But you can help shift this. You have a powerful voice with your dollar.
- You can choose to eat more vegetarian protein which is more cost effective and easier to cook with
There’s a huge misconception pushed by the meat industry that we need to eat heaps of meat to get enough protein. This is bullshit. You can meet your protein requirements with vegetarian protein, and you don’t have to have a super high protein intake every single day. Also, you could eat steak 3 times per day and be protein deficient if your gut isn’t able to absorb nutrients from food. So focus on improving your digestion, along with incorporating more vegetarian proteins, and you’ll be much healthier.
- You can choose to cook at home more
The biggest demand for meat comes from McDonalds (Food, Inc.). And they want their meat produced cheap. Be mindful of where you’re eating out, how often, and where they source their meat from.
- You can educate yourself on where your food is coming from and choose consciously
Start looking at labels in the grocery stores and find out where products are being produced. Are they Australian? Grass fed? Any added hormones? Antibiotics? Remember, this all goes into your belly. Of course, organic is best. Yes, it’s more expensive, but there are a couple of ways to counter this. Eat less meat, and, try organic mince / chicken wings / chicken drumsticks to start off with.
Red meat doesn’t have to be banished entirely if you don’t want to, but if we were all mindful of how much we consume, the overall effect would be incredible.
Check out Part 2 to learn more.