I don’t want to sound preachy, and maybe this is attributable to a recent reduction in stressors, but I’m feeling pretty good inside.
Giving up meat, fish and poultry hasn’t been at all difficult because there are so many alternatives. Often, it’s just a matter of not adding meat to a meal. Yesterday, for example, I had nachos for lunch: multigrain chips, black beans, salsa, jalapenos, lite cheese and fat-free sour cream. I didn’t miss the seasoned meat (and all that grease) one bit.
I’m also getting an attitude. Bow down, you meat-chomping carnivores!
Seriously, though, I’ve been visiting vegan and vegetarian sites and getting quite an education. For starters, there are three main groups of vegetarians: Vegans, who avoid eating all animal products; lacto-vegetarians, who eat milk, cheese, and yogurt, but avoid eggs and foods containing eggs; and lacto-ovo vegetarians who eat milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs. (I would be in that last group.)
It’s no secret the black community is a primary target for fast-food advertising – food that is cheap, tasty and loaded with fat and cholesterol. The thing is, now African Americans are loaded with fat and cholesterol, and heavier and sicker than any other population group. Our magazines contain fewer ads for healthy foods than others. Do you see the link?
And yet, of all the diet and exercise advice out there to encourage us to be healthier, switching to a vegetarian lifestyle is almost never mentioned. Why is that? Instead of prescribing Lipitor, why not prescribe 30 days without meat, poultry or fish, and to ease up on the dairy?
It sounds simple, which usually indicates a problem. I do know a couple of overweight vegetarians, and I can imagine why that is: mashed potatoes, fries, ice cream, cakes and even Twinkies don’t contain meat, either. Vegetarian or not, the weight-loss formula is still the same: We need to burn more calories than we consume.
Right now, I’m concerned about getting enough protein, and so have been looking for healthy percentages. I’ve learned that soybean products are very high in protein; I just don’t know what a soybean product is. So today, I’m focused on all sorts of beans – garbanzo, kidney, navy, lima – eggs, nuts and whole grains.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll try to figure out tofu. Maybe.
To wrap up, here’s a bit more food for thought:
· The total direct medical costs in the United States attributable to meat consumption were estimated to be $30-60 billion a year, based upon the higher prevalence of hypertension, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, gallstones, obesity and food-borne illness among omnivores compared with vegetarians.
· The prevalence of hypertension among vegetarians is about one-third to one-half that of non-vegetarians. Among African Americans, the prevalence was 44 percent of omnivores and 18 percent of vegetarians.
· Adopting a vegetarian diet significantly lowers blood pressure in both normal and hypertensive individuals.
· People who include generous amounts of fruits and vegetables in their daily diets have lower rates of cancers of the lung, breast, colon, bladder, stomach, mouth, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, and cervix compared to people who avoid such foods.
I am not systematic at all when it comes to religion. I just love life. And I'm not judgmental. And I'm a vegetarian. ~ Erykah Badu
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.