The Verdict on Meat: Less Cowbell
By Tammy Donroe on April 03, 2009
BlogHer Original Post
Findings from a study published last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that regularly eating red meat increases the odds of premature death. Pork, too, was lumped into the red meat category, unfortunately for me.
I’m the first one to make excuses when the news is something I don’t want to hear, but I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: science is tricky. You don’t always know the whole story and how all of the variables were accounted for. For example, was it the actual meat that was killing people, or was it the stuff we’ve been feeding to the cows that’s killing people by proxy? Did the esteemed scientists build a time machine to go back and do the experiment at the turn of the 20th century, when cows ate only grass and didn’t get injected with shit, to make a fair comparison? What about the social dynamics between the test group and the control group? Maybe the people who didn’t get to eat meat were jealous of the people who did, and they sent threatening e-mail messages to the others and the stress put the meat-eaters at a higher risk of heart disease. So the meat-eaters ended up making twice as many cell phone calls to their friends and family for comfort, which put them at a higher risk for cancer. Did the researchers at least bug the rooms of all the test subjects? Maybe people genetically predisposed to premature death are genetically predisposed to love meat? Can you prove that's not true?
Skimming the study, I was heartened to read that the experts didn’t go so far as to recommend eliminating beef and pork entirely from one’s diet, but suggested that people avoid eating it everyday. That seems doable, except for the fact that I tend to fill up the empty space on my plate where the meat should be with eggs. What do the current studies say about eggs these days?
Still, we’ve been cutting back on meat in the past year, ourselves, and so I know it’s not easy. Some of my strategies have included swapping in a bean or lentil dish for the meat. Thus far, this has not met with approval with the man of the house. Beans are a side dish, I was told. A more successful approach was cooking up a steak and slicing it thinly, then fanning it out so it looks more impressive. It’s nice on salads, too. This has worked well because it turns out that both Husband and I feel a huge sense of relief that we don’t have to eat a whole steak each.
Another tactic is to look to ethnic cuisines for inspiration, particularly the ones with religious dietary restrictions, and see what kind of awesomeness they come up with. Indian food, for example. I recently made a very tasty lamb curry for the family with less than one pound of meat. It looked paltry, I’ll admit, a few chunks of meat in a great pool of sauce. But the meal ended up being all about the sauce, anyway, as it soaked into the rice, and the greens braised in ginger cream weren't bad, either. The meat was just gravy, so to speak.
Here are some other practical tips gleaned from the food community about how to reduce your meat consumption ever so slightly.
A summary of a great Mark Bittman article on the subject by Life in Webster.
Eating more mushrooms by The Good Eatah.
More suggestions by the Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl.
Tammy Donroe can also be found documenting the messy collision between food and life on her blog, Food on the Food.
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