Eating healthy creates healthy living

Claire Tillinghast, Staff Writer

We live in a country that loves meat. When In-N-Out burger opened in Santa Rosa, people could not scramble fast enough to get their daily meat fix. I won’t even go into the repulsion I feel when I see the line of cars in front of the place at 8 a.m. There’s nothing like a steaming ground beef patty and a side of greasy fries to start your day off right.

I’m not saying that In-N-Out isn’t delicious, or that everyone should be a vegetarian. Some people just can’t say no to their bacon and burgers, and that’s all right. Go ahead and favor your palette preferences over the lives of your furry animal friends. Neglect your cholesterol levels and disregard the fact that coronary heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. That is a personal choice.

According to U.S. & Canadian Dietary Reference Intake guidelines, the recommended intake of protein is 46 grams a day for an adult female and 56 grams a day for an adult male. A person who eats meat with every meal can far exceed this recommended amount. It is not difficult to attain an adequate amount of protein by eating a plant-based diet.

We should be more worried about conditions linked to excessive protein consumption such as osteoporosis and kidney failure. The stigma regarding protein deficiency in vegetarian diets is unfounded and has come to affect our dietary choices.

Animal-based diets are linked to diseases such as diabetes, heart attacks, high-cholesterol and cancer. By excluding meat from your diet you can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease because a vegetarian diet is lower in saturated fats and cholesterol. Also, a 12-year Oxford study published in the British Medical Journal found that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by six years.

We are not “meant” to eat meat. A carnivore’s intestines are very short, while an herbivore’s are long. Humans have quite long intestines. Not to mention our stomach acid is 10 times weaker than that of a meat-eater’s. Regular meat consumption means that your intestines are never clear. Meat sits there and rots in your digestive tract, sometimes taking up to four days to leave your system.

Growing old can be a smooth and peaceful transition if you develop the right habits now. You can enjoy your steak and chicken in moderation, just don’t make meat a mealtime necessity. Choose that veggie wrap over the steak sandwich next lunchtime. Your heart will thank you later.