A useful and inspiring guide to eating healthy, natural foods – by Katie Panamarenko
It seems there is almost a fear of being told, “You shouldn’t eat meat!” Some folks would apparently rather go hungry than change their eating habits to one of a vegetarian or think they will starve due to a lack of options. The truth is the average meat eater maintains a more mundane menu than the typical veggie. This results in a lack of variety in their diet (the spice of life!), potentially resulting in serious health issues from lack of dynamic nutrition.
The average American omnivore’s daily diet resembles something of a small simple breakfast (or eggs/pancakes with meat for a treat!), some kind of meat sandwich or salad with meat for lunch, and meat with a side of carbohydrates (and hopefully a helping of vegetables) for dinner. This was my reality growing up and since the day I gave meat up I began to see, more than ever, those who followed these patterns and just how many of them there were.
The problems that come along with these habits are perhaps more than you would believe. To name a few – a heavily-saturated meat diet is directly related to high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, lethargy, digestive problems, cancer and more. Not to mention most of the meats consumed are raised in horrible conditions, fed the worst of foods, pumped with steroids and growth hormones and maybe carrying diseases.
Also, there are environmental threats such as cows releasing tons of methane a year, producing as much pollution as automobiles, while at the same time consuming more grains than we humans, thus not only forcing us to dedicate land to raising cows but also to feeding them. The fishing industry is notorious for raking (I prefer ‘raping’) the sea as they constantly pull up nets full of diverse sea life and choose only some, leaving the rest to die on the deck, just so we may have a tuna melt for lunch.
To help surpass, instead of surrender, to my meat cravings after I took the vegetarian “dive” I found some satisfying alternatives. Products such as Gimme Lean Sausage, Smart Bacon, Veggie Burgers, Tofu Pups (hotdogs for the grill!), LiteLife BBQ Chicken, Gardinn’s Pulled Pork and more! The great news is all these products can be found in your local food store (look in the organic/produce section).
The ideal meal should please your palette while satisfying your stomach without any meat trace. Stay tuned to to future weeks to get some great recipes for healthier, happier habits and easy, affordable alternatives. In the meantime try one of the above on for size! You just might be surprised.
Katie Panamarenko owns Higher Grounds Coffee House and Organic Market at 479 West Perry Street, telephone (609) 884-1131.