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Science has spoken. Plant based meat is the future

Plant-Based meat is making waves. People are talking about it. The market is growing. Individual health, environmental concerns, or ethics, whatever may be the reason, the growing awareness has increased the demand for plant-based meat exponentially.  Common people, celebrities, doctors, scientists, athletes, and people from all walks of life who are making the switch have been increasing steadily. And here is why you should consider opting for plant-based meat more often if you are not doing it already.

1. Human Carcinogens

Processed animal meat has been classified as a (1) Class 1 Carcinogen or Human Carcinogen by IARC viz International Agency for Research on Cancer. You may not have heard of IARC, but you must be familiar with its parent organization WHO. They are both the same thing. What It means is that processed animal meat can cause cancer in humans. The conclusion was based on more than 800 studies. Something is classified as a Class 1 carcinogen only when there is strong evidence proving a causal relationship between the agent and the subject. The agent being processed animal meat and subjects would be us, humans.

Moreover, Red meat has been classified as a probable carcinogen, processed or otherwise. Yikes. Processed meat and red meat are heavily used in popular fast-food restaurants all over the world. Plant-based meats have no such carcinogenic risks.

2. Genetic modification and unnatural hormone

Chickens are the most consumed animal in the world today. But is chicken good for our health? A hundred years ago a fully grown chicken would have weighed around 800 grams. Today chickens are growing way faster and way sooner. At only several weeks old they weigh more than 4 kgs. That is anything but natural. Chickens have been selectively bred and pumped with hormones to facilitate that unnatural growth. They grow so fast that they can’t even carry their own weight. Is the increased size any good though? That would be a hard no. (2) In 2009 Cambridge university press published a study on “Modern organic and broiler chickens sold for human consumption” and found that the increase in the size of the chicken was due to the increase in chickens’ fat mass. This is bad news!

The study answers why and I quote, “If one takes DHA as the limiting nutrient for assessment of quality, then to obtain the same amount of DHA from intensively reared chickens today as would have been obtained in the 1970s, one would be required to eat six chickens. Chicken meat is filled with unnatural fillers, not nutrients.

3. Cholesterol

Unlike plant-based meat, All animal meats, dairy, and eggs come with cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance, and it is present in all the cells in our bodies. If it’s present everywhere it must be important and we must need it in high amounts. Well yes, but guess what? Our body makes all the cholesterol we need. We don’t need to eat it from animal meat. In case you have heard the myth that dietary cholesterol doesn’t affect blood cholesterol please read this study. (3) In 2009 a quantitative meta-analysis of metabolic ward studies concluded that dietary cholesterol increases the total blood cholesterol.  The cholesterol that you eat is the cholesterol that blocks your arteries. Too much cholesterol causes serious problems. It can lodge in our arteries with other substances and can cause heart diseases. It’s a golden rule to avoid foods high in cholesterol for our overall well-being. And this applies to all of us.

A close friend of mine who was consuming animal meat very frequently, in her mid-twenties, not even thirty yet, was having a difficult time breathing and would tire easily. After getting the blood tests done we found that her cholesterol levels were very high, she was advised by her doctor to cut down on animal meat. As soon as she did, she noticed a significant improvement in just two weeks.

4. Fibre

If there is one nutrient that you cannot get from animal meat/dairy is fiber. Only plant foods have fiber. Fiber plays a very important role in the smooth functioning of our digestive system. Besides aiding in regular bowel movement, it’s also (4) anti-inflammatory, makes you feel fuller for longer, and is associated with life-saving benefits. It also helps in preventing many diseases such as constipation, IBS, heart diseases, and bowel cancer.

Plant-based meat is made from soy, wheat, and peas. Which is full of nutrients like minerals vitamins and most importantly fiber. Fibre also helps with managing high cholesterol and clearing our arteries. So, plant-based meat has fiber, zero cholesterol, no added hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives and it is beneficial for our health. And with the brilliant products that plant-based brands have come up with, they taste just as good as the real thing. It’s a win-win. No wonder the demand for plant-based meat is increasing.

5. The true cost of Animal meat and should you switch?

How much does the animal meat cost? There have been several accounts by individual citizens who found microplastics in animal meat products in the same popular fast-food restaurants most of us probably eat at every day.  Now of course the sample size is too small. We need more concrete data, but it does raise the question, are we unknowingly paying the price for animal meat with ours and that of the planet’s health? That’s right, (5) the land and water resources needed to bring the animal meat to our tables are ridiculously high compared to the land and freshwater needed to cultivate plants. It’s unsustainable and harmful to the environment whichever way one looks at it. But I digress, back to the topic at hand. Are we paying for animal meat with our health? With all the cholesterol, unnatural hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, and carcinogens present in animal meat, maybe we are. It’s probably time we switch to a much healthier option with actual nutrients and not fillers.

Plant-based alternatives have a great variety of options and they taste just as good. We don’t have to sacrifice taste. Healthier options do not mean we have to eat bland food. And as Indians, we know the abundant variety plant foods have to offer, imagine what can be done with plant-based meat options if you put your mind to it and the good news is, it’s already being done.

(1) https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/cancer-carcinogenicity-of-the-consumption-of-red-meat-and-processed-meat

(2) https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/modern-organic-and-broiler-chickens-sold-for-human-consumption-provide-more-energy-from-fat-than-protein/01F274E25955E7263FEC19F3BAA64B2E

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2125600

(4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20810606/

(5) https://ourworldindata.org/agricultural-land-by-global-diets

All opinions expressed by our guest blogger are their own.

Ankur Gedam

@da.lit.vegan

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