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Less red meat means more good health

It’s been said that one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Many people are choosing to skip the meat on their plates for a variety of reasons. A “Vegetarian Times” Study showed 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians, and another 22.8 million follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.

I followed a vegetarian-inclined diet (occasionally including only chicken and turkey) for many years. My choice was inspired by the cardiac patients that I worked with during my years delivering the Dean Ornish Program For Reversing Heart Disease. The patients used a prescriptive vegetarian diet. I witnessed them reverse disease in their bodies and eliminate many prescription drugs as they healed.

Over time, I’ve aligned with the 7.3 million Americans who are vegetarians. It was rewarding, choice-by-choice shift for me to become fully vegetarian.

According to the Vegetarian Times 2008 study, of the non-vegetarians surveyed 5.2 percent, or 11.9 million people, are “definitely interested” in following a vegetarian-based diet in the future. This vegetarian trend in growing. The study also indicated that over half (53 percent) of current vegetarians eat a vegetarian diet to improve their overall health.

Also, environmental concerns were cited by 47 percent; 39 percent cited natural approaches to wellness; 31 percent cited food-safety concerns; 54 percent cited animal welfare; 25 percent cited weight loss; and 24 percent weight maintenance.

Further data collected based on age, gender and other demographic factors showed 59 percent are female; 41 percent are male; 42.0 percent are age 18 to 34 years old; 40.7 percent are 35 to 54; and 17.4 percent are over 55. Also, 57.1 percent have followed a vegetarian diet for more than 10 years; 18 percent for 5 to 10 years; 10.8 percent for 2 to 5 years, 14.1 percent for less than 2 years.

So where do meat substitutes weigh-in to the vegetarian/vegan equation?

It is a personal preference. My daughter never embraced meat analogs (another name for fake meats), while her boyfriend and I both enjoy them several times per week. Many people find meat substitutes a bridge from meat eater to vegetarian. Veggie-based products such as veggie burgers, tofurkey, chick’n, and fakin’ bacon, look like and have the texture of meat. These products have become popular items in the frozen section of the grocery store. We all eat beans and legumes daily.

All veggie meats provide fiber (about 2 to 5 grams per serving), something animal foods lack. Unfortunately, meat substitutes can be high in sodium, often comparable to many deli meats. So, wise choice-making is still required.

Most adults require an average of 45 grams of protein per day. It is possible to tally up those protein ratios without meat or meat subs by adding nuts, lentils, eggs, beans, low fat dairy and cheese, nut butters, quinoa, and soy and tofu to your menu. Vegans would cut out the eggs and low fat dairy and cheese.

Overall, the study shows that people of all genders, age groups and demographics have very personal reasons for cutting meat from their diet. However, once that choice is anchored into their lifestyle, they stick with it, whether or not they choose to include meat substitutes.

If you are a little turned-off by the thought of trying a food product that masquerades as meat, it may shock you to learn that science is in the process of growing actual meat in a lab for consumption.

“Last year, a team of Dutch scientists unveiled the first test-tube burger, which was developed by growing muscle tissue from bovine (cow) stem cells. It got surprisingly decent reviews for taste and texture,” per UC Berkeley’s “The hitch was that the 5-ounce patty cost more than $330,000 to produce—which means we won’t be seeing lab-grown meat (or “schmeat” as some have called it) in supermarkets for at least another decade or two, when prices come down. Even then, it will likely remain a luxury item for some time.”

The meat of the matter is that health and wellbeing have been proven clinically to be linked to the reduction of red meat consumption and limiting other animal products. Inflammation, the underlying cause of many diseases including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease, can be curtailed by limiting the amount of animal products in your daily menu.

(Lori Brothers is a wellness consultant and educator who has been teaching healthy lifestyle concepts and yoga-based therapies for more than 20 years.)

Tomato Rice Stew


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41/4 cups water

2 cups uncooked brown rice

2 unpeeled potatoes, diced

1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 bay leaves

1 (13.5 ounce) can whole leaf spinach, drained

1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, drained and sliced

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans (optional)


In a large saucepan, mix the water, rice, potatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce.

Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and stir in basil, sugar, salt, and bay leaves. Cook about 15 minutes, stirring often, until potatoes and rice are tender but firm.

Mix spinach, stewed tomatoes, beans, and lemon juice into the saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, or until rice has finished cooking and the mixture has thickened.

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