Meat Free Week is almost upon us. If you’re already Meat-Free – yay for you! If not, it’s a fantastic way to explore a plant-based diet. We bet you’ll feel so much better in the first few days you’ll be hooked and will leave meat off your plate more often than not in the future.
For those of you who don’t know what it is, Meat Free Week is an initiative that started back in 2012. It was conceived and launched by the founders of The Vegan Company, Lainie Towner and Melissa Hobbs. The girls grew it to a global brand that spans Australia, New Zealand and the UK and garnered celebrity support from the likes of uber-celeb chef Jamie Oliver and actress Krew Boylan.
In 2015, they handed the reigns over to Bowel Cancer Australia and it’s still going great guns, growing more popular each year!
The 2018 Australian campaign will run from 24-30 September and has attracted support from even more international celebrities and cooks, including Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney, of Meat Free Monday, Anna Jones, Bruno Loubet and our own Hetty McKinnon and Rowie Dillon.
So, why take part? Aside from giving your gut some relief (digesting meat takes a lot of hard work), there is convincing evidence that a high consumption of meat increases cancer risk.
Of course, there’s the all-important reason that you’re sparing an animal a life of cruelty and a terrifying death, and then there’s the impact that meat production has on our already fragile environment.
There’s always a good reason to take meat off your plate, but if you feel like you need some extra support during your transition, perhaps refer to these facts that were given to us by the guys at Bowel Cancer Australia!
- 95 percent of Australian adults don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables!
Only one in 20 (five percent) of adults meet the Australian Dietary Guidelines for fruit and vegetables consumption. One in two adults (50 percent) are not eating the recommended intake of fruit, while only seven percent are meeting the guidelines for serves of vegetables.
Don’t be a statistic!
- Fruits and vegetables makes you happier
Eating fruit and vegetables increases happiness levels with each extra portion consumed. Chalk that up to all the antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and nutrients they contain! A large Australian study of over 12,000 adults suggests that eating eight serves of fruit and vegetables leads to an increase in overall life satisfaction, wellbeing and happiness scores.
It’s by no means a quick fix but stick with it! Eat at least five servings of non-starchy vegetables (a serve is one cup or a total above 400g) and two pieces of fruit every day by loading up on salads, juices and vegetable snacks.
- Red and processed meat increase bowel cancer risk
Studies show that bowel cancer risk increases by 12 percent per 100g of red meat consumed per day and by 16 percent per 50g of processed meat consumed per day.
Scary stuff! On the other hand, consuming more plant-based foods decreases the risk of bowel cancer.
- Eating a plant-based diet is better for your heart
Plant-based foods have been shown to benefit heart health. Whole, plant-based foods where nutrients are delivered in their natural form seem to be healthiest.
- Plant-based foods help you maintain a healthy weight
There’s strong evidence that eating foods containing dietary fibre helps protect against weight gain, overweight and obesity. The findings from a US study conducted over a 24-year period showed that higher intakes of certain types of fruit and vegetables lowered the risk of weight gain, how and where you store fat in your body, and helped in the management of glucose and insulin levels.
- A Plant-based diet helps you look and feel younger
Boosting your fruit and veggie intake has the potential to reduce depression, anxiety, improve mood, and help your life flourish within just two weeks. And higher levels of physical vitality are seen where adults eat the recommended five serves of vegetables a day. Plus, the higher intake of carotenoids from carrots, tomatoes, spinach and kale may increase melanin and carotene in our skin, making us look healthier and decreasing the signs of ageing. The antioxidants in fruit and vegetables also lower skin oxidation and reduce the effect of sun damage and wrinkles.
- The risk of heart disease and diabetes is reduced by plant-based foods
Foods such as wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds have a good mix of soluble and insoluble fibre, which can improve blood sugar balance and make your body more responsive to insulin.
What’s more, replacing saturated fat rich foods such as meat with polyunsaturated fats like nuts and seeds may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
For more information or to sign up for Meat Free Week, visit: meatfreeweek.org
About the Author
After 30 years of working in Australian media, Shonagh is one of Australia’s busiest and most in-demand beauty, health, travel and lifestyle writers.
As a health and lifestyle journalist and consultant, Shonagh has worked closely with international wellness experts and icons, including Dr. Sandra Cabot, Therese Kerr and Miranda Kerr.
In other aspects of her work, she has travelled the world reviewing wellness retreats and luxe holiday destinations, and she has interviewed and written feature articles on some of the world’s best love celebrities, including Sting, Elle McPherson, Pamela Anderson, Simon Baker, Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, Tina Arena, Heather Graham and many more.
She currently lives in the NSW Southern Highlands with her four dogs (three Siberian Huskies and one Maltese Cross), where she grows her own veggies and advocates ending Factory Farming and animal cruelty.
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