Happy Hump Day! Or, Happy Half-Way to Friday Day! 😀
I wanted to start off with a post on the up & coming trend of vegetarianism and veganism. While I understand, respect, and in many cases agree with the reasons people opt to omit meat and animal products from their diet, I do feel many people make this change in diet without understanding the very severe potential consequences of their food choices.
The blogosphere often likes to reference books such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The China Study to support vegetarian and vegan diets. I own these books, I’ve read these books, and I agree with many points in these books. However, they strongly represent only one side of this nutritional debate.
I am in absolute agreement that a diet laden with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help prevent diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer when compared to a traditional omnivore diet which includes meat. More specifically, the plentiful amounts of red meat consumed in the average American diet. And while I am 100% agreement that a lower meat consumption has its benefits, I think there should be more emphasis on types and cuts of meat, as well as cooking methods to help reduce saturated and trans fat. But it is fact that it is nearly impossible to intake sufficient vitamins, such as Vitamin B12, in a vegetarian or vegan diet without supplementation. And over time, B12 deficiency leads to anemia.
Additionally, iron, particularly high biological value proteins such as meat, poultry, and fish, which are readily absorbed, are not present in a vegetarian or vegan diet. There are non-heme (plant) sources of iron, however they are not as well-absorbed and require the assistance of vitamin C. Here is where complimentary proteins (amino acids) come into play — a tactic for preventing anemia in vegetarian and vegan individuals. Without a concerted effort to pair proteins, iron-deficiency often occurs.
As for vegan and dairy-free diets that omit animal products, there are other (additional) nutritional concerns. It is estimated that 2/3rds of the American population does not meet calcium or vitamin D needs. The best sources of both calcium and vitamin D are found in dairy and meat, offering 2-4x the amount of calcium and vitamin D than is found in plant sources.
Vitamin D is what I call the “Hollywood Vitamin” — everyone is looking to intake more vitamin D. Low levels are potentially linked hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, tuberculosis, inflammatory conditions, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and increased mortality rates. And most of us know, insufficient vitamin D and calcium lead to decreased bone density and over time, osteopenia and osteoporosis.
In summary, I am not inherently opposed to vegetarian or vegan diets but I am a firm believer that our bodies are best fed through the nutrients available in our food supply. I, personally, trust and believe that there is a purpose and role for every food group, in moderation. Just like with weight loss, it is always a danger, in my eyes, to remove entire food groups from the diet. If you choose a vegetarian or vegan diet, I urge you to do so under the supervision of a physician and have regular blood work. I also encourage you to learn about the potential draw-backs to a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle before jumping right in.
On a completely unrelated note…dinner! Meat!
Thai-Style Pork Stew adapted from Cooking Light, as seen on I Made Dinner
2 pounds boneless pork loin roast, trimmed, cut into 4 pieces
2 cups (1 x 1/4-inch) julienne-cut red bell pepper (I used 1 red and 1 green)
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 Tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 Tbsp 1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
To prepare stew, trim fat from pork. Place pork and next 5 ingredients (pork through garlic) in an electric slow cooker. Cover with lid, and cook on low-heat setting for 8+ hours. Remove pork from slow cooker, and coarsely chop/shred. Add peanut butter to liquid in slow cooker; stir well. Stir in pork.
Serve stew over hot rice*. Top each serving with 3/4 tablespoon of peanuts and a pinch of scallions; serve with lime wedge. Serves 6.
*Rice not accounted for in nutritional information
Nutrition Information (per serving): 337 calories; 17.2 g. fat; 91 mg. cholesterol; 654 mg. sodium; 8 g. carbohydrate; 2.7 g. fiber; 38.3 g. protein
Result: This was good…not incredible, but very good. Mr. Prevention said, “it grew on him…and he really liked the peanuts and lime on top.” I enjoyed the simplicity and the flavor of the peanut butter and lime. I would give it a B rating, Mr. Prevention agrees. 🙂 Enjoy![/print_this]
Question: Are there any food groups you avoid or limit?
I think I’ve been eating a lot more meat in these cooler months. And I would like to see more fish in my diet…that has been slacking!
Lots of love,