Reducing Meat – What’s It All About?

A third of Briton's have reduced their meat intake, Art31 looks at the reasoning behind it...

A recent report by Waitrose, detailed in The Guardian, suggested that ‘one in eight Briton’s are now vegetarian or vegan’ with an additional fifth purporting to be ‘flexitarian’ – a vegetable based diet, supplemented by the occasional meat. All told that equates to 33% of the country who are leading a vegetable-first lifestyle, Art31 looks at the potential reasons behind this.

Of course the differences between flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan are vast but for the purposes of today we’re going to be focussing on the general reduction of meat in a diet. One of the most pertinent benefits, especially in Western society, relate to blood sugar and half of diabetics who switch to veganism have been able to reduce the amount of medication needed as a result of moving away from meat. The studies show that a a diet focussed on vegetables helps to reduce the balance out the levels of blood sugar and decrease the chances of getting Type II diabetes by up to 78%.

Cutting meat out completely isn’t the only option, though, simply by having more of certain vegetables in your diet can help minimise health risks. Legumes such as lentils or chickpeas, according to studies, have shown a reduction in the development of colorectal cancer by up to 18%.

That’s some cursory figures just thrown at you, there’s plenty more reading out there to be found so if you’re interested have a look, and it’s clear to see from an immediate reflection what health benefits can be found as a result of reducing meat in your diet but, of course, for every processed meat that increased the risk of cancer, there will be a leafy green that does the same.

Don’t get us wrong, though, increasing the amount of vegetables in your diet is a sure fire way to, on the whole, feel healthier and happier.

One of the more aggressive reasons, for want of a better word, is the opposition to the slaughter of animals for human consumption. As a self-confessed meat eater it would be foolish of me to boo-hoo this notion but, what I will say, is that with the increase of vegetarianism / veganinsm throughout the country will come a corresponding change towards ethical and responsible sourcing of meat. That can only be a good thing!

Society is reacting with a swathe of positivity, too, whereas once the whole ‘beets not meat’ movement was considered nothing more than a fad. January has become an international celebration of the diversity of food available from meat – all hail VEGANuary! Throughout the year a conscious effort is being made by restaurants and supermarkets to broaden their appeal and a key component for that is jackfruit.

Now I know that jackfruit is nothing new and I risk getting harangued for lauding it as a wonder of the world by those saying I’m out of date BUT jackfruit is a wonderful thing. Having recently had it for the first time, the plantae boasts substantial versatility in thanks to, frankly, it’s blandness. Not a great first selling point but it means you can turn the fruit into anything you want it, really, y adding your own spices and flavourings. There’s a whole world out there for you to explore!

If that’s not enough for you to to consider the switch then perhaps then let’s look at some celebrities pushing the case – Lea Michele, renowned songstress, is a flexitarian and is on record as saying her diet has bought a newfound Glee! to her life. Heather Small will have you questioning “What have you done to today to make yourself feel proud?” – the answer, reduced meat in my diet! You get the point.

But this article isn’t about forcing any agenda down your throat, it might not be for you, and certainly I’m not going to be upset if you keep eating bacon butties for lunch. Heck it, I’ll still be eating bacon, merely this is to get us thinking – what if I swapped out some meat in my diet without sacrificing flavour. Give it a go, just for a week, who knows what might happen!

Oliver McManus

Special Guest

Hello! I'm currently studying at Canterbury College, in my second year of a journalism course and when I'm not studying or serving pizzas at Pizza Hut you'll often find me either writing or asleep!