Check out my latest article published in the Temple News.
Grace Dickinson: Trendy dieting
Ellen DeGeneres’s is doing it. Ex-pres. Bill Clinton’s doing it. Beautiful Black Swan star Natalie Portman’s doing it. Alicia Silverstone’s promoting it.
Will you be next to hop on the meat-free, dairy-free vegan bandwagon? Veganism and vegetarianism aren’t only for peace-loving hippies who love the slimy white stuff known as tofu.
The diet is also for “Skinny Bitches” according to the authors of the best-selling book by the same name, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, macho pro athletes, like Mike Tyson, suburban moms who care about their kids’ health and hipsters striving to keep their legs stick-like for their skinny jeans.
All types of people seem to be moving towards a meat-free lifestyle, with many attempting to rid themselves of diary, as well. And it’s for good reason, too.
“I decided to become a vegetarian to have a healthier diet and to inspire me to experiment with new healthy options for cooking,” said junior advertising major Grace Raffensberger, a newly-turned vegetarian. “Being vegetarian seems like a healthier option for both my budget and lifestyle as a college student.”
“And it’s easier than going on a diet where you have to buy certain foods or tons ofspecial books,” she added.
A vegetarian diet, full of fiber-filled plants and low-fat proteins, is definitely a good option for anyone looking to slim down or boost his or her health.
According to the American Heart Association, vegetarian diets are usually lower than non-vegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol –– all the elements dangerous to your health and bod.
However, as Dr. John Briffa points out in a Jan. 14 Epoch Times article, a meat-free diet doesn’t necessarily signify perfect health.
There are those who become vegetarians entirely for moral reasons
and who could care less about nutrition. These vegetarians live off pizza, chips and mac and cheese, and have far less nutritional value than many of their carnivorous peers. Even vegans, who don’t consume fatty cheese or heavy creams, could essentially have a trashy diet if they gorged daily on French fries or other fried or convenience-based foods.
In general, vegetarians tend to be healthier and vegans even healthier, because a well-balanced meat-free diet far surpasses one filled with meat.
Animal flesh, often full of artery-clogging fat and cholesterol, is inherently unhealthy. No matter how many hardcore, meat-loving people out there like Britta believe otherwise, the facts are clear. Numerous studies have proven meat’s harmful effects on the body.
A Sept. 2010 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that diets rich in animal-based proteins and fats are linked to higher mortality rates. After studying over 100,000 individuals over the course of 20 to 26 years, researchers found that frequent consumption of animal protein is linked to higher date rates, including those caused by cardiovascular and cancer-related issues. The study also found that individuals whose diets were based off of plant-based fats and proteins had lower mortality rates.
For further proof, read the “China Study,” a book detailing a comprehensive, 20-year study on the detrimental effects of meat on health. One part of the book linked animal protein consumption with activation of cancer cells in the body.
One might wonder, as much as vegetarianism and veganism is becoming the hottest new trend, why aren’t these types of studies more well-known? It boils down to politics. In short, our nation is largely run by business and politics. Co-author of the “China Study” and Cornell University professor emeritus T. Colin Campbell told the New York Times in Jan. 7 article it’s primarily the meat and dairy industries funding medical research and nutrition education in schools.
And who receives money for the surgeries and treatments required to fix the problems of these two food groups? Doctors, who, according to Campbell, only receive an average of two measly credits in the field of nutrition during medical school.
However, while the health benefits of a meat-free diet have yet to fully go mainstream, vegetarianism and veganism is clearly on the rise. Making the switch to a vegetarian diet has become even easier.
Tofu’s no longer one of those UFOs (Unidentifiable Food Objects). It can be found pretty much anywhere. The Fresh Grocer sells packages for $2.69, alongside tempeh, another soybean-based, vegan staple. You can even get some late night general tso’s tofu at the local Temple Garden, although I highly advise against this. (Hit Whole Foods’ instead if delicious vegan general tso’s is what you’re looking for.) Or you can trek to Seventh and South street for amazing dishes at Horizons, one of Philly’s completely vegan restaurants.
According to the Washington Post, more than half the 1,500 chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association for its new “What’s Hot in 2011” list included vegan entrees as a hot trend.
And the vegetarian/veganism trend is one that’s likely to stay. For one, it’s spawned by so many different reasons. Not only is a well-balanced vegetarian diet nutritionally healthier, it’s also more humane for both animals and the environment.
Large-scale meat production presents a horror show in terms of ethical treatment of animals and is also a leading source of greenhouse gases. The evolution of tasty, meat-free food shows that this movement is likely one that won’t quickly fade.
Grace Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.