So this is a…personal topic for most of you but I’m coming at it from a neutral standpoint. I’ve been meaty and meat-free so I know about meat vs meat from both sides of the conversation.
Please take note, this is not about animal cruelty or personal opinion.
This is just covering the facts on the pro’s and cons of either diets and the health risks and benefits, so people can make an informed choice on either side. Just like my diet-dictionary, it gives you the basic run-down so you can choose what diet is best for you.
Meat VS Meat-free Benefits.
Animal protein contains nutrients:
- Creatine is found only in animal protein and forms an energy reserve in the muscles and brain
- Carnosine is also only found in animal protein functions as an anti-oxidant and provides protection against many degenerative processes.
- DHA and EPA are the active forms of omega-3 in the human body and found primarily in animal foods. The body is inefficient at converting ALA (the plant form of omega-3) to the active forms we need.
Plant based protiens contains nutrients:
A more varied and dense selection of nutrients;
- Plants are full of nutrients in more than one form, whilst meat usually contains just one or two forms of protient based nutrients.
- Pulses, beans, legumes contain forms of protein-based enzymes that mimic the protein found in meat, to lower levels.
So, we want a bit of both, meat for some proteins we might not get else where and the variety of nutrients from vegetables.
But is it bad for health to eat meat?
Well, no. Not ours.
Originally the meat vs meat free debate began once meat started becoming mass produced. Either because we started treating animals like ‘property’ or because we started pumping them with harmful chemicals, there were (and still is) two arguments against animals for protien;
To cut out meat for our own health & to cut it out for the health of the world (and animal protection).
There have been hundreds of test, experiments and surveys to assess whether animal fats and proteins is increasing heart disease. Mostly because as our intake of meat increases, so do our waistlines. However..there’s a tonne of conflicting evidence as to what it’s increasing our waists.
Some say it’s the animals themselves, some say it’s the process of how animal proteins are turned into ‘lunch-meats’ and others say it’s the quantity we’re eating. The overall consensus is that animals eaten for protein in large quantities, increases fat around the heart and increases the chances of heart disease and cancers. So yes, it does increase our fat levels and can increase our risks of certain cancers and whilst meat can increase heart disease and other issues..
It only effects animal proteins with low FDA approval (AKA- American meat) that’s been pumped full of chemicals and processes. so If you’re reading this in the UK or Europe you’re fine to eat it with no added worries.
But is it bad for health to eat meat-free?
Not really, it’s never really been questioned, it’s in our biology to eat animals, but it’s also our biology to eat plants too. (read up!) The only issues you might come across are whether or not your body functions as well eating plant-based alternatives, not all bodies work the same.
Some can’t digest plant-based diets as well as others. As humans have progressed our teeth and our digestives systems have changed, we’ve grown plants that are more ‘hardy’ and sustainable, but this also means they’re harder to break down. Leading to poor gut health and bowel problems.
So again, it’s really not bad or good to eat either, did you sense a theme in this article? Both ways to eat are ‘healthy’ if that’s what your body can digest or what your body needs.
Lastly, if you want an in-depth explanation of Pro’s go here, and if you want the same for veggie options go here.
Meat fills you up;
well, kinda, sorta, not really..no.
Whilst it’s been ingrained in us from an early age that dinner means animal protein, it’s not necessarily the ‘bulk’ of a meal. Yeah, we get an endorphin rush when we eat meat, that makes is feel good as a opposed to a lower food rush when we eat vegetables. It also is a slow food to digest, disregarding fish, I believe this is why we’ve become used to wanting meat, our brains have rewarded us for it (I’ll talk more about that in human history) but it doesn’t really fill us up per say.
However, plants are fiber and carb based and as we know both of these digest slower leading us to feel fuller for longer on lower calories! So again, we want both for the perfect hit after a meal, the reward from the animal-based protein and the fullness from the vegetables.
Meat VS meat-free. Human History.
Meat has been a part of the human history, part of our evolution since the dawning of time, so how have we changed, our minds develop and our bodies adapt.
What did we eat..in pre-history?
If you listen to some archeologist,our ancestors got most of their nutrition from fruits and nuts; kills of big mammals may have been more of a treat than an everyday ideal.
Some suggest we ate diets very high in animal proteins, almost every meal..whilst others suggest we spent our recent past scavenging what the lions left behind. so, although “Paleolithic” diets in diet books tend to be very meaty, reasonable minds disagree as to whether ancient, Paleolithic diets actually were.
Our guts are shorter, and therefore less able to obtain nutrients from the cellulose in plant-based foods.
How Did Meat-Eating Start?
Some early humans may have started eating meat as a way to survive within their own social groups, geographically.
Chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, regularly hunt and eat animals (other smaller monkeys) but meat is a small proportion of their diet and they rarely scavenge most likely because they cannot efficiently digest the meat proteins. As the lands grew grass and more plants, more animals were able to graze on the plants, leading to any animals who could eat and digest meat to flourish. This shift marks the development of a primate onto the larger carnivore.
How come we can digest it?
We have an obsession today with fat and cholesterol because we can go to the market eat piles of it, Stanford said. As a species we are relatively immune to the harmful effects of fat and cholesterol. Compared to the great apes, we can handle a diet that’s high in fat and cholesterol, and the apes cannot.
The size of our large intestine is relatively close to that of the gorillas and apes, meaning we’re able to deal with both animal and plant based diets and reason we developed so quickly and so vastly away from them is that we had to.
Our bodies were getting more meat and we adapted to change to that. Not that we adapted so we could eat meat.
Let’s chat..Personal experiences
I love a good bloggy chat, so I thought, why not just ask some people what they feel about their diets, did it benefit them or their bodies to go either way?
From Hels bels. The running blog, training for marathons and beyond;
“I used to be a veggie, but I went back to eating meat because I missed it. I feel healthier eating meat but that’s because I didn’t eat a great veggie diet – too much bread and cheese and pizza! Now I’m older and understand food better, I see there’s no need for that and there’s so many great blogs (eg planetveggie.co.uk) that it’s easy to get inspiration for vegan meals without using a substitute.
I do toy with going back now I know more, but am yet to take plunge and make decision..”
From My life in rose tinted glasses (how cool is that name?) the lifestyle blog;
“I use to believe every meal had to involve meat otherwise it wasn’t a proper meal. How wrong was I!? I eat mostly vegetarian now. I initially started this as a way of loosing a little more weight, it really helped with my weight loss and also my energy levels! I changed my whole lifestyle and have benefited massively! When I do eat meat i feel much more bloated after a meal and it lays on my stomach, not a fab feeling so when I do eat meat its now in small quantities!”
From A testing time, a family and lifestyle blog;
“I went from eating meat to going veggie for 5 years as meat was making my ibs worse.
Then, when I was pregnant I couldn’t stomach vegetarian food so ate meat. I’ve had no issues eating it again!”
From the Glasgow Beauty Blogger;
“I was vegetarian for years and ate meat from about age of 23-26 mostly fish/chicken but rarely red meat as it always made my stomach sore afterwards.I had my appendix removed a few years ago and overnight was instantly repulsed by the thought of eating it and stopped again completely.
When they remove your appendix they essentially ‘wash out’ a lot of your insides so possibly a change in gut bacteria could have caused this too. Much happier not eating it in general though animals are nice! 🙂 ”
Really, it’s best to eat a bit of both to really balance out your diet but if you’re willing to put in the time and care into your diet you could be healthy on either!
Listen to your body, find out what’s best for you!