By Lerato Mashile
Known as the heart of every meal, from steaks to succulent ribs and how can we forget our famous boerewors? Meat is known to be one of the key components that can either make or break a meal. According to Fairplay movement, “the poultry industry is the largest segment of the South African agricultural sector, contributing more than 16% to the Gross Domestic PRODUCT (GDP). It provides employment, directly and indirectly, for nearly 108000 people throughout its value chain and related industries”.
While this sounds great, we cannot deny the rise in genetically modified foods in the wake of the increasing demand for poultry. Genetic modification of an animal according to efsa Europa “involves altering its genetic material by adding, changing or removing certain DNA sequences in a way that does not occur naturally. It aims to modify specific characteristics of an animal or introduce a new trait, such as disease resistance or enhanced growth. “.
Research on food safety stated that genetically modified foods that are currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. The consumption of meat on a daily basis does, however, pose a number of risks.
Meat is known as the biggest source of protein. The daily consumption of meat may leave you feeling rather drained – given that it takes hours for the meat to digest with an average of 33 hours for men and 47 hours for women as according to Healthline This means that the proteins in meat that are meant to provide long-lasting energy actually takes quite a while to boost your energy levels leaving you rather lethargic as opposed to energized.
Another factor to consider is the fact that the daily consumption of meat increases the risks of heart diseases. The lancet said, “raised blood pressure is accompanied by rising obesity trends, with 68% of South African women and 31% of men being overweight or obese.” With the New Year always seen as the year where healthier choices are made and gym memberships rise all in the name of “New Year, New Me”, one has to ask how healthier choices can be made without actually depriving oneself of all things yummy.
What is Meatless Mondays?
Meatless Mondays is a concept adopted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health back in 2003 and is basically “a weekly initiative that encourages conscientious eaters to scale back meat intake by eating vegetarian or vegan one day a week”. This initiative which has seen celebrities such as Paul McCartney creating non-profit organisations called Meat Free Monday in the hopes of combatting environmental as well as health issues related to consuming meat.
Other celebrities that advocate for Meatless Mondays include Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hanks, Katy Perry, Billie Eilish, Kate Moss and even Beyoncé who took it a step further by becoming vegan in preparation for Beychella and offering tickets to fans that also went vegan. This initiative provides a lot of benefits given that it reduces the risks of heart diseases, cancer, obesity and even diabetes. Going plant-based once a week also helps in the aid to great skin, healthier hair even lengthening one’s life.
How does one start Meatless Mondays?
As a daily consumer of meat, going cold turkey which is basically means abruptly stopping yourself from consuming meat seems like a drastic step given that the body is used to the nutrients received from meat. For some, it is easier to do than others. So should you be unable to completely start, try to gradually decrease your meat portions so that your body adjusts and does not affect you in any way. Many believe that cutting down on meat actually means that you will lack proteins so it is important to substitute meat with foods that are high in proteins. Food such as:
- Chickpeas and Most Varieties of Beans
- Green Peas
- Nuts and Chai Seeds
- Other vegetables including broccoli, spinach, asparagus, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts