The benefits of becoming a vegetarian and what alternatives there are for meat
The other day I watched a documentary on Netflix called H.O.P.E. – What you eat matters, and they talk about the food that you put in your body and how bad meat is for your body.
Half of the population in Western society suffers from being overweight. Cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and cancer are epidemic. Our meat consumption has quintupled over the past 50 years. 65 billion land animals are being slaughtered every year for food consumption. One third of the global grain production is fed to animals for fattening while 1.8 billion people worldwide suffer from hunger and starvation. Can there really be a solution to all these problems?
So right after watching the documentary, I just decided on the spot that I’m going to try a vegetarian plant-based diet. It was easy at first and my wife and I went to the shops and bought a bunch of vegetables and started Googling vegetarian recipes. We found really cool stuff like vegetarian wraps with hummus, home made pizzas with vegetable toppings. It’s basically all the same as usual, you just cut out meat from your diet. You replace chicken with halloumi cheese and you can buy vegetarian meat free and soy free options from your grocery store like Fry’s and Quorn.
Fry’s contains soy and recent research with animals shows that consuming large amounts could have harmful effects on female fertility and reproductive development. So we opted for the Quorn alternative. Quorn is a good alternative protein source and it is high in fibre which has been linked to helping to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. “It is also low in saturated fat and is incredibly versatile with mince options, sausages, burger and meat style pieces.”
So why become a vegetarian?
Well, it’s not a 100% because I want to save the animals and all that. It’s more about the fact that there’s an increased risk of Cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and cancer that comes with the consumption of meat.
There’s also the fact that farmers and meat suppliers inject or feed their animals hormones to make the animals grow faster and gain weight faster. So imagine you eat meat that’s been pumped full of hormones, that can’t be good for your body? And for some reason, I have a feeling (and because I watched the documentary) that eating meat that’s been altered like that must have some increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
So, I just stopped eating meat altogether.
Billions of animals are being slaughtered every year for food
Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. These shocking figures do not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tonnes. Animals are not simply food products, but thinking, feeling individuals who want to enjoy their lives.
A recent study published by medical journal Lancet predicts that South Africa could see an increase of 78% in the number of cancer cases by 2030.
In another study I read that hormones in red meat can have an increased risk of breast cancer in women as well.
If you think about it, people never used to eat that much meat. They only started eating more meat because it has become more and more readily available in shops where you can just buy it off the shelf. In the old days, only the rich had the money to afford meat, and now anyone can afford it. For example, you can now buy a McDonalds Big Mac meal with two patty’s on it for R39.90*
* This price might not be accurate
How does it feel to be a vegetarian?
Well, it’s not that much of a difference. But one thing that I’ve noticed is for sure, there aren’t that many options available in shops and on restaurant menus for vegetarians. Our local pizza shop has got two vegetarian pizzas in between a sea of meat pizza options. If you shop in the vegetarian “meat” section, you will only find a small fridge with a few options like Quorn and Fry’s soy and meat free options. But on the other hand, the demand for vegetarian food options aren’t as big as for people who eat meat, so shops probably only need one small fridge.
Meat options at restaurants are more expensive because meat is becoming so expensive. So that’s the other thing, being a vegetarian is cheaper.
You have a smaller chance of getting heart disease because meat contains cholesterol which clogs up your arteries and can lead to heart disease and stroke.
It’s easier to cook vegetarian food and you don’t need to worry about salmonella or getting food poisoning from undercooked food.
Your shopping is much easier as well. You just grab a bunch of vegetables from your local fruit and veg and then you can make a whole bunch of vegetarian recipes from it. And it’s quite quick to make as well.
A little bit about meat alternatives like Quorn
Quorn is made from mycoprotein. Mycoprotein is made from a form of fungus that is fermented into a dough that is then used to make different kind of vegetarian and vegan friendly foods that you can cook. Quorn currently has burger patties, sausages, chicken pieces, mince, hot and spicy burgers, fillets, nuggets, BBQ dippers, schnitzel, garlic and mushroom schnitzels and soy & meat free balls.
So far we’ve made burgers from their soy and meat free burger patties, we’ve made pasta with the mince, pasta with the meat & soy free chicken pieces and we’ve made “sosaties” or kababs with the sausages. And so far I found it to be a really nice meat alternative. 90% of the time I can’t tell the difference between the Quorn products and real meat. I think the sausages are probably the thing that maybe doesn’t have a 100% meat texture to it. But it still tastes good.
If anyone has any other meat free vegetarian suggestions, please comment it below.