Food

On a #MeatlessMonday?

When TGIF begins to promote Meatless Monday with its introduction of Beyond Meat plant-based burger patties in the US, you know the world is serious about reducing its meat consumption. Then there’s No-meat-May done to “Save our planet, end factory farming, improve your health, feed the world”. Plus the latest research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, on meat proteins being less heart-healthy than those from nuts and seeds. Add to that the social media frenzy every Monday morning that seems to suggest that the start of the working week is the right day to detox, after a weekend of excesses. And the one thing to give up, that spells sin and health hell, is meat.

“It’s true that too much meat leaves behind acid ash (an acidic residue after digestion) which is not good for the body,” says Lovneet Batra, a Delhi-based dietician. Fruits and vegetables leave an alkaline environment that is less hospitable to disease and inflammation. However, “detox” and “meatless” are not synonymous. You could be eating high-processed chips and believe you’re being virtuous, when really, a portion of lean meat is a better alternative.

But it’s worth knowing that “An overload of meat dehydrates the body and increases uric acid, and any extra protein in the body gets stored as fat. There’s also the thermogenic effect — the body generates a lot more heat in digestion, assimilation, and utilisation, as compared to plant protein.”

On a #MeatlessMonday?

Then there’s the matter of carcinogen concentration that is higher in animals. If hormones are pumped into meat and pesticides are sprayed onto produce, it’s likely that the meat retains the residue more than the produce. “A lot of meat, especially of the commercial variety, is minced, and you don’t know anything about its quality. Stabilisers, emulsifiers and enhancers cover their natural taste, so you’re never sure if it’s stale,” she says (burger patty begone). Cured meats are also high in chemicals and salt — all bad from a health perspective (sympathies, bacon lovers).

So why are we eating meat at all? For the iron, B12 and vitamin D that are all far more bio-available in animal protein. This means that if you eat 50 grams of spinach and the same amount of meat, the iron from the meat is absorbed easier by the body. “Most people in India eat meat not more than once a day, or even just a few times a week,” says Batra. The grouse of most fitness trainers and dieticians, in fact, is that as Indians, we don’t consume enough protein.

“Also, look at meat in totality — as a part of a diet and an ecosystem, rather than as a single isolated food. Eaten in small portions with veggies, it’s fine.” Organic, though priced high and not easily available, may actually help you eat less, because “the brain doesn’t register satiety from calories but from the quality of nutrients,” she says.

Mohit Yadav, who started Greenr Cafe in Delhi, as a vegetarian (almost vegan) place for people to explore the vastness of no-meat menus, has seen people enjoy the meatless meatball that has mushroom, brown rice, black olive; the vegan sausage made with black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and a 14-spice mix; as well as the jackfruit that resembles and has the bite of pulled pork with barbecue sauce. It’s not just about the protein, he feels. “It’s also about the way the food looks and its texture, both of which you can get with vegetarian options.”

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 4:54:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/on-a-meatlessmonday/article23555032.ece

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