Is there a 'war' on meat?
There's always been much discussion on the pros and cons of meat… Now, it seems there's 'a war' on it!
I don't say this lightly but to bring another perspective, with our long term, good health the goal.
Since I first published this article in 2014 - 8 years ago, meat has become even more vilified. While at the same time my insights into why it's so important, especially for our children, more clear. Very briefly here's what's happening;
Globally there's a concerted push by the United Nations toward dramatically reducing meat consumption e.g. by 71% by 2030, and by 81% by 2050 & meanwhile there is heavy investment going into developing corporate, lab grown, synthetic meat & protein substitutes such as insects?! ... 'No thanks'!
At the same time farmers in countries like the Netherlands, Canada and Ireland are being forced to reduce nitrogen emissions, which will / is forcing as many as 30% of farmers to sell up, potentially creating devastating food shortages. While meat generally is becoming more expensive to buy, the reduction in consumption is mostly in the name of climate change.
But at what cost to humanity?
With escalating chronic illnesses and a general 'weakening' of our being, it's at great cost - especially for our growing children.
Meat offers a fundamental nutrient to the body that is only found in animal products. B12. We are not healthy without good levels of this crucial vitamin. B12 is critical for keeping our blood and nerves healthy. A deficiency can cause tiredness, weakness, constipation, weight loss and nerve problems such as numbness and tingling in hands and feet.
Now just a sec while I get a bit technical… 'B12 is the only vitamin that contains a trace element (cobalt), which is why it's called cobalamin. Cobalamin is produced in the gut of animals. It's the only vitamin we can't obtain from plants or sunlight. Plants don't need B12 so they don't store it. B12 is found exclusively in animal foods, such as liver, clams, oysters, mussels, fish eggs, octopus, fish, crab and lobster, beef, lamb, cheese and eggs' Dr Chris Kresser. Yes, we can substitute, which helps, but it's just not as good as the real thing.
Somewhere along the line, 'red meat' became taboo in the world of nutrition. However as Dr Joseph Mercola from mercola.com highlights, 'If you put good ol' fashioned grass-fed, organically raised meat in a nutrition analyser, you'd find it's one of the most nutritious foods you can eat'.
3 vital nutrients. Meat offers many many wonderful nutrients, specifically it delivers us three vital nutrients, iron, copper and zinc. It delivers them in exactly the same ratio our bodies requires these incredible nutrients to be metabolised for good energy, immunity, healthy skin & so much more. It's like nature's packaged them up in the form of meat, perfectly for us.
Blood type. An O blood type is the oldest form of blood type and generally does much better with meat in their diets. In saying this, if you have low stomach acid OR poor digestive enzymes or health (more common today), then introduce meat gently as the bodies 'mechanisms' start to work more efficiently and digestive health restored.
Nausea? Some people share that they feel nauseous eating meat. This could be the case. In my experience this happens when people haven't been eating much meat if any e.g. vegetarian or veganism or have been eating low fat. When this happens the enzymes and 'machinery' the body requires to metabolise meat needs to 're-activate'. Introducing meat products gently e.g. bone broth, fish, chicken, small amounts of mince etc. and a digestive enzyme, elevating stomach acid can all help the body metabolise meat naturally again and abate feelings of nausea.
So why has meat been getting such a bad wrap? Let's take a quick look at how cattle are bred. Cattle brought up in feed lots, housed inside cavernous sheds, fed on grain and other nutritionally depleted foods, kept 'healthy' with antibiotics and removed as far away as possible from their natural environment, offer nutritionally depleted, inferior, 'sick' meat that we really don't want to ever consume. Any animal subjected to similar conditions is 'sick' and perhaps even 'toxic'. Thankfully, we don't have a lot of cattle living this way in Australia, although many are 'finished off' in feed lots on grain. However, the 'sickness' associated with this form of meat has filtered across the nutrition world and rightly so, but at the same time all forms of red meat have been tarnished - unfairly.
Cattle fed on open, clean pasture or feed, living outside are naturally far healthier and thereby have incredible nutritional benefits, especially vitamin D. They are very different meats, with one promoting health and the other potentially, dis-ease.
The WHO declared processed meat i.e. hot dogs, ham, sausages and beef jerky! Yet again, if the meat is grown healthily, and good quality, prepared naturally without additives, using real foods, like many traditional meats (including our home made biltong), surely it's okay?
Healthy meat, especially red meat has an important part to play in the diet of most of us - especially or fundamentally in our children, pre-conception, pregnancy and post natal. Hence, the reason the LUNCH BOX RESCUE menu, shares a range of meat based recipes. However, if we are critically ill, or our digestion is impaired and our bodies need to put all its energy toward healing and repair then, yes perhaps red meat (with it's harder-to-digest protein molecules) should be avoided or limited.
Importantly, if you are well and you're not sure if you should eat red meat or not. Listen to your body, how do you feel when you don't have red meat or do have it? Your energy? Your clarity? What do you instinctively know your body needs or craves?
To reflect on my own experience, there are a couple of things that sway my opinion;
- I've worked with a number of women who have been vegetarian and to get their health back on track, they have reintroduced red meat back into their diets.
- I've worked with young women unable to fall pregnant. When they reintroduced meat they conceived!
- I grew up on a farm and red meat was served regularly… perhaps daily, (actually, I have a very clear and fond memory of falling asleep at the dinner table, after a long day at school, with the sole purpose of avoiding chops for dinner… again)! So, for me, meat is part of my DNA, I feel good on it and may be a little bias.
In saying that, I've seen way too many clients and functional Doctors share their stories about healing patients when reintroducing meat. Yes, you might lose weight or feel better initially taking meat out of the diet, and allow the body to do some great healing - but for most, it's not a healthy diet in the long term.
Question. Are we designed to eat whole foods in their most natural form or take supplements for these key nutrients e.g. B12, Iron or Zinc?
Some of us definitely do well with little meat in our diets. However, if you're beginning to feel a bit 'off kilter' perhaps it's worth doing some further analysis with your Health practitioner or nutritionist & check if you're getting all the nutrients you need. And, keep doing what's right for you and your family to thrive.
I work with a wide range of clients with different dietary preferences, all with successful outcomes.
What experience have you had taking meat out of your diet or alternatively adding it into you diet? We'd love to hear.