Or if you don’t exactly prefer game meats and instead go for beef, chicken, pork or fish then reduce those too! While some may have the smoky scent of charred meat from the grill on the brain, the reality is that the hotter months of the year are those that it is easiest to eat fewer servings of meat. What better opportunity to bite into a juicy watermelon slice cool from the fridge than a humid July afternoon in the sunshine? It certainly doesn’t hurt that we have a glorious array of produce that is in season locally and available every weekend at the farmers market.
The demand for water alone when comparing an equal amount of land for either agricultural use vs growing veggies is astonishing: According to the Water Education Foundation, it takes 2,464 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef in California. This is the same amount of water you would use if you took a seven-minute shower every day for six entire months. In contrast, only 15 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of lettuce. There’s no doubt that eating less meat is beneficial not only for your digestive system, but it’s also easier on mother nature.
While upping ones number of servings of fruit & veggies is easier to do this time of year, you’ll likely find difficulty subsisting solely on what grows in the backyard garden. Simply eliminating meat from your diet removes a large percentage of your protein intake which needs to be made up with healthy, high-protein alternatives such as…
Eggs: While still an animal product, one who only eliminates animal flesh from their diets is considered a vegetarian. Eggs are a spectacular & underrated food in my opinion. High in protein and with the potential to be full of other nutrients, they are easy to prepare and very versatile. Just as veggies grown in poor soil will not have much nutritive value, eggs laid by stressed out, unhealthy chickens will not offer much to the one whose plate they lie upon. Buy wisely & vote with your dollar.
Dairy: While most dairy products are a great source of protein, it again depends on the health of the animal that it came from. Support local dairies and buy organic whenever possible. Cows milk & products made from it are often not tolerated by our digestive systems very well. Many are afflicted with an inability to process the sugar in milk: lactose. Still more have trouble digesting it or have allergies to it. Try goat’s milk as it has a lower lactose content and often comes from animals raised in a better environment. Manufacturers of greek yogurt in particular like to advertise how high in protein their stuff is. When you break down the protein:fat:carbohydrate ratio however, you may find that what they have to say is misleading. One common brand found in grocery stores weighs in around 30% protein with 0% fat. That leaves the other 70% of the calories from carbohydrates.
Nuts: Raw almonds come in at 14:74:12 on the protein:fat:carbs ratio, walnuts at 9:84:7, hazelnuts at 9:81:10, cashews at 12:67:21, brazil nuts 8:86:6. They’ve got a higher protein content than the average carrot and they’re a great source of healthy fats (most nuts, when raw)! Be cautious of how many calories you eat in nuts though- it can get away on you!
Legumes: Beans. Refried, chickpeas, kidney, black beans, green peas & soy products all fall into this category. Tofu is a popular protein supplement among vegetarians, though 95% of the stuff in the grocery stores comes from genetically modified soy. In the US farmers receive a subsidy from the government for growing soy along with several other commodity crops, which is why the stuff is in every processed food product for as far as the eye can see. Moral of the story: buy organic. Other legumes pack a great nutritional punch as well, though aren’t as versatile as tofu can be. Incorporate beans of all kinds into soups & stews, salads & spreads or just eat ‘em straight up!
Whole Foods Protein Powder: Not the cheapest one you can find. Steaks are pricey, and replacing that protein source with another wont be any different. Pay more for quality and choose a brand that doesn’t contain artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners. Vega is a fantastic brand that supports vegan athletes & Progressive has a quality whey protein as well as a great vegan whole food protein powder. Throw a scoop into your blender with some frozen berries, almond milk & a handful of spinach (which you will NOT taste) and you’ve got a healthy breakfast that couldn’t be easier!
The body recognizes foods in their whole form more readily than when they have been dissected with parts removed, therefore it’s always better to choose whole foods that have been modified as little as possible. Leave the skin on the carrot or apple, don’t bother with the white pasta that has fiber added & choose the whole grain instead (better yet, try spaghetti squash!).
Still not sold on it? Maybe try just once a week! Meatless Monday provides support & suggestions to those incorporating meat-free meals into their families repertoire once a week. Some choose to eat vegetarian during the day and have meat at night, still others are weekday vegetarians enjoying meat on the weekends. Some don’t eat land animals, but do include fish & seafood in their diets. There are many different configurations of vegetarianism, plenty of different options- how will you choose to incorporate it into your life?