Monday, September 12, 2011

The Meat we Eat

Watching the documentary "Forks Over Knives" got me thinking about the consequences of the food I eat. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those Americans who is out gorging on fast food everyday. But I do like my take out. Yes I do. I was raised with a high awareness of "good" and "bad" foods, and when I cook I make sure that my produce is organic, fresh, and local if possible, and that my meat is humanely raised and hormone-free. But is this enough?

"Forks Over Knives" makes a compelling argument that these efforts are not enough. Showcasing the work of pioneering researchers Dr T. Collin Campell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, the film endorses a plant-based diet as the only way to assure healthy living. They link the ingestion of animal byproducts to degenerative diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. They even go so far as to show cases in which food is used as medicine, reversing degenerative diseases through diet alone. This part of the documentary, I found to be highly convincing.

The film gives a rich depiction of the social climates that led to the current animal-heavy diets of most Americans. From the horribly unbalanced food pyramids of late to the dairy industry's advertising propaganda, it is clear that our society's conception of what food to eat has gone terribly awry. In the 1950's a "good" wife's duty was to provide her family with a hearty well balanced meal. A way to a man's heart was through his stomach. Wonder bread, fluff and a glass of milk for the kids, steak and potatoes for the hubby. All in a days work. This clearly is not the way to go.

But is an animal-free, plant based diet the only answer? While the film argues yes, I have a hard time buying it. The studies highlighted in the film were all conducted on populations eating processed, factory raised meat. OF COURSE these meats are bad for you! Feeding growth hormones to developing children is NEVER a good idea. There is no doupt in my mind that the general population will benifit from eating more fresh produce in general. But what about good meat? Where is the study on grass fed beef and free range chicken? Show me a study that links organically raised, humanely butchered poultry to breast cancer and maybe I will reassess my perspective. I'm proud to say that I am a meat snob. And until facts surface that prove that my "good" meat is "bad", I will stick to my carnivorous ways -- thank you VERY much.

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