World Vegetarian Day 2013—Unprocessed for a Healthy You
This past Tuesday, October 1st was World Vegetarian Day. To honor the day, aware individuals made a conscious decision to eat a meat-free day. I have friends who participated in this movement and, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, by just not eating meat for one day they saved driving 1,160 miles!
Besides going veg for environmental reasons, eating a plant-based diet reaps a plethora of health benefits. Scientific evidence is becoming more and more prevalent and relevant as people are realizing the direct correlation between diet and health. To back this up, “People who eat the most red meat (typically two servings a day) have a 40 percent higher risk of dying of heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular disease than those who consume the least” says the Center for Science in the Public Interest. We know cholesterol and saturated fat in meat clogs our arteries and prevents blood from circulating through our body and heart. The decongestion and strength of these blood pathways is how we stay ALIVE.
My qualm with how some may interpret “vegetarian” or to eat meat-free one day is that the diet can be misconstrued. I have met far too many people who think eating a daily diet consisting solely of frozen veggie meals, vegan cookies and yes, even vegan nachos, is healthy because it is “vegetarian.” While these folks have avoided the negative effects of meat, they certainly have not avoided the disease-causing chemicals in processed foods, the lack of nutrients in these foods that whole foods offer and the absorbent amount of sugar hidden in, what I like to call “vegan junk food.”
There has been a trend of “healthy” restaurants opening up in California and I have been amazed to see the effort on behalf of companies to tap into the growing trend of health-conscious consumers. While I am thrilled to see more options for vegetarians around town, I am weary of the integrity of their products, with many serving solely fake meats that are processed, non-organic and contain GMOs. In addition, these “healthy” restaurants are catering to the Standard American Diet by creating mock dishes devoid of nutrition. A piece of fake chicken on a bun with fries doesn’t sound too healthy—and you can forget the bikini.
Although these trendy new dining spots may serve a non-traditional macrobiotic or purely plant-based diet, it is definitely the first step toward the right direction—a diet without meat. Ph.D., Doug Lisle, blogged on the Forks Over Knives website that he sees “an open-mindedness among physicians that was nowhere to be seen thirty years ago…But we need to be patient with other people and their processes…with every mind touched by this knowledge, people are finding their way. At some point, what we know here will become common knowledge, and the benefits to people and to the planet will be immense.”
I certainly hope so and that next World Vegetarian Day—how about everyday–we collectively realize these truths and make more conscious educated food choices!