To eat meat, or not to eat meat: My thoughts on the age old debate.

Sure, this is a sensible question to ask yourself, especially if you are looking to clean up your current eating habits. But, the problem is, if you’re looking for an absolute answer declaring that meat is either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for your health, you mind find yourself in a bit of a tiff because when it comes to the age-old debate, much has been scientifically stated and debated on the topic.

And, unless you’ve consulted with a nutritionist, it’s hard to tell for sure whether or not your physical condition, and goals, would benefit from a diet with ‘more,’ ‘less,’ or ‘no’ animal meat.

All of that aside, it’s just as important to be in tune with your own personal feelings, preferences and sensitivities towards the foods you consume. I don’t care if you’re paleo, vegan, or pegan. I say, when it comes to food beliefs, especially those concerning meat, adopt the ones that make YOU feel balanced emotionally and physically.

Still stuck? How about a risqué analogy to help put things into perspective…

“Think about food in the same way you would sex – enjoy what jives with you, be clean about it, listen to your body, follow your gut, and don’t feel guilty about crossing the line every once in awhile.”

The thing is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet because each and every individual is unique in their body composition, genetics, values and needs. So, basically, yes, I am encouraging you to ‘do you,’ but wait… 

There is a DISCLAIMER when it comes to these feel-good foods (not to be confused with comfort foods), and the fine print states: you must only choose foods that fill you with clean, uplifting energy that prove sustainable during the rush to run errands, the busy 9-5 work crunch, the intense exercise session, and during that long, grueling drive home.

By now, you might’ve come to the realization that this freedom has been yours all along (and, sure, you didn’t need me to give it to you). But before you write this whole thing off with a casual shoulder shrug and an “easy enough” remark, lets think about how this freedom of choice is actually more complex than it appears since we have all made choices that might’ve seemed ‘good’ for us, but didn’t actually benefit our health or well-being (despite what the media might’ve suggested, or what a certain diet fad told us to do).

Truth is, we live in a world of infinite possibility: you might very well try a new trendy ‘super food’ that leaves you feeling less than ‘super,’ and, in the same breath, you might try a 3 oz, grass-fed chunk of beef that leaves you feeling bloated and inflamed. Or, perhaps, you experience the opposite, you try a 3 oz. grass-fed cut and it leaves you feeling sufficiently filled and satisfied. So, in the end, I think it’s mostly about Moderation.

I, for one, have found that simply reducing my meat intake (especially red meat) has been beneficial to my health and fitness goals. Not to mention, scientific data suggests 

Reducing meat intake can minimize the risk of cancer and diseases, especially those found in women, according to the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

And, at the same time, reducing my meat intake and choosing grass-fed/free-range when I do happen to indulge, still aligns with my beliefs about supporting sustainable, organic farming methods (which I emotionally feel great about).

Sure, there are those who might criticize my ‘acute contribution to the cause’ with snarky responses about how I could be doing sooo much more for the environment if I altogether eliminated meat from my diet. And to that I politely respond, ‘To each his own,’  since, in my mind, any environmental contribution and dietary preference is valid in its own right.

Plus, there are those of us who are content in knowing that our carbon footprint has reduced in size by subscribing to “Meatless Monday challenges,” or by simply making a more conscious effort to purchase more locally grown produce.

So lets remember this – no one’s dietary lifestyle is ‘totally perfect,’ ‘totally right,’ or ‘totally wrong,’ and, most importantly, don’t forget to listen to one of the most important voices out there, the one that speaks from within. How do you feel about your food choices? And even more crucial….

What Is your body communicating?

Just to give you an example, I feel energized when I occasionally decide to eat animal sources like egg whites in the mornings, especially if it’s before a workout. Yet, I’m aware that certain people might need different foods in the morning (according to what aligns with their physical composition/goals/personal preferences). But, in the end, if your your body feels good when you eat certain nutritious foods (animal based or not) and has improved health-wise by all means, GO for it.

In my case, being and feeling healthy means that I’ve fulfilled most of my macronutrient (and micronutrient) requirements for the day – something that isn’t always an easy task, but extremely crucial if you have certain fitness/weight-loss goals you are trying to attain.

I’ve also found that my anatomy responds best to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber  because I enjoy the alkalizing benefits of antioxidant-rich foods (which counteract any acidity in the body, from meats or other acid-forming foods)

But, hey, every now and then I still might throw in some organic, animal protein sources (local, free-range eggs, organic chicken, and wild caught fish) to my diet, especially if I notice that I haven’t yet fulfilled my complete protein requirements for the day on plant-based sources alone. (Something that isn’t impossible to do, but does require work + planning). The point is, my body thrives on a versatile approach, and perhaps you’ve discovered that yours does too. That being said, I will leave you with this…..

Do what works best for you & Identify with your Food Tribe.

As as a blogger + nutritionist, I want to inspire those who choose to follow my journey, and those who align with similar diet philosophies as mine, by sharing all of the wonderful discoveries and experiences I’ve collected. And hopefully, in doing so, I am able to help some wonderful people along the way. So If you are seeking creativity when it comes to incorporating more plant-based foods, with a reduced meat perspective, you’ve come to the right place ;). Live a nutritious, balanced life that is fit for you.

 

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