Tag Archives: meat consumption

Meat consumption continues to rise

Grilled meatAmericans are eating even more burgers, chicken fingers and bacon, and the trend could say a lot about our health, the environment and, of course, the farm animals.

American consumption of red meat and poultry per capita is forecast to hit 222.2 pounds per person in 2018, up from 216.9 pounds in 2017 and 210.2 pounds in 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s the highest amount of meat consumption within the last 50 years. Production of both red meat and poultry will increase in 2018, at the same time the U.S. economy is growing and Americans have more money to spend on food. Read more

Arnold Schwarzenegger goes vegan

arnold-schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Is Arnold Schwarzenegger really going vegan? It looks like he is!

The action star, body builder, and former California governor has been dairy-free for at least 40 years, but lately, he’s been hearing from his doctors to lay off meat consumption for his health. Arnold says, “The more I went to my physical exams, the more doctors started stressing: “Arnold, you’ve got to get off meat,” so I’m slowly getting off meat, and I can tell you, I feel fantastic!” The former bodybuilder says he’s found that the best way to cut down is to have a couple of meat-free days a week and proceed from there.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger tells people they should eat less meat, you can imagine the reaction he gets, but he pushes back on that: “I have seen many body builders that are vegetarian and they get strong and healthy. Luckily, we know that you can get your protein source from many different ways – you can get it through vegetables if you are a vegetarian.” Take it from Arnold: “If they tell you to eat more meat to be strong—don’t buy it.”

Well known for his concern about environmental issues, especially global warming, Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron have teamed up, not for another installment of the Terminator series, but to combat climate change and highlight the ill effects of meat and dairy consumption on health. Schwarzenegger sums up his feelings on the subject when he says, “Less meat, less heat, more life.” Let’s hope that message reaches as many people as his movies did.

We’re Eating Too Much Meat!

Global Meat ProductionThe world is eating too much meat, and that’s bad news for the earth’s forests, arable land, and scarce water. That’s the conclusion of a report released this week by the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute.

Global production of meat hit a new high of 308.5 million tons last year, up 1.4 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the report says. “In response to growing purchasing power, urbanization, and changing diets, meat production has expanded more than fourfold over just the last fifty years says the new report, entitled “Peak Meat Production Strains Land and Water Resources.” Read more

East Eats West, and Gets Diabetes!

McDonalds in ChinaIt’s a diabetes disaster! Rapidly escalating levels of meat, poultry, fish and egg consumption have combined to give China the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Yes, their rate of this so called “western disease” is now even higher than ours.

The statistics are both startling and sobering. 12% of Chinese now have diabetes and 50% of Chinese now have pre-diabetes, technically known as metabolic syndrome, which means 114 million Chinese adults are diabetic and another 493 million are pre-diabetic, according to the latest study.  ”Diabetes in China has become a catastrophe” said Paul Zimmet, president of the International Diabetes Federation.”

China’s levels of meat consumption doubled between 1990 and 2002. Today the average Chinese eats an astounding 215 pounds of meat, poultry, fish and eggs every year.  Back in 1961, the Chinese consumed just a few pounds of animal products each year. Even as recently as 1980, they still following a mostly traditional, nearly vegetarian, diet, and the diabetes rate in China was only 1 percent. But consuming animal products, especially those high in saturated fats, can dramatically increase the risk of diabetes.

There’s a financial cost to all of this as well. The booming level of meat consumption in China has brought with it a medical problem which could bankrupt their health system. Covering all the new and emerging cases of diabetes will consume more than half of its annual healthcare budget.

And then there’s all the complications diabetes sufferers face. The researchers recently warned, in a Journal of the American Medical Association report, that China will also have to face “a major epidemic of diabetes-related complications” including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and chronic kidney disease, in the near future, without an effective national intervention.

Just as China has turned to western, meat-centered diets, it has also turned to western ways of handling the problem. China’s rising prevalence of diabetes has helped fuel a 20% per year growth in drug sales, stoking the need for medications from drug companies. China’s government is trying to fight the scourge by expanding basic medical coverage, buying medicines in bulk to lower costs, and conducting a corruption inquiry into international drug makers, including GlaxoSmithKline.

Yet the real solution to this epidemic, like so many others, is a vegetarian solution. Not only is a vegetarian diet powerful in preventing diabetes, but several studies now show it is also powerful in reversing it. Let’s hope the Chinese government realize this quickly, before the situation gets any worse.

Veg-Comeback in China

Gingko Tree restaurant, ChinaVegetarians are making a comeback in China, yes, China! While we have lamented the sky rocketing meat consumption in China, the growing popularity of meat-based, fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and have been dismayed by the China’s purchase of the world’s largest pork producer and processor, Smithfield, there is a silver lining to this darkening cloud.

A deepening environmental crisis, marked by growing levels of water pollution on the local level and climate change on the global level, combined with counterfeit food and adulteration scandals of the very worst kind, endangering the health of all and sickening many, has motivated a small but growing number of Chinese to return to a traditional vegetarian diet.

One such person is Long Kuan, an early follower of urban China’s growing vegan trend. “It started when global warming was a big issue, and I looked into a lot of information about food’s impact on the environment,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about it before. I was just loving the animals and didn’t want to eat them.” Four years ago, Long Kuan was a pop singer, pixie-faced, in her late 20s, with little pig tails. A song of hers out at the time, “LOHAS Queen,” was an ode to LOHAS – “lifestyles of health and sustainability.” She decided to switch from just being vegetarian to being vegan, after reading a United Nations report that said that raising, slaughtering and processing livestock produces more greenhouse gases than cars. And these days, she says, it’s a lot easier to be a vegetarian or vegan in China than it used to be.

With this growing trend towards the veg-diet, there has been an upsurge in vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants. One example is Beijing’s Gingko Tree café with its vegan buffet, and flavorful dishes, offering all the taste but none of the meat that many Chinese love. On the menu at Gingko Tree are lamb kebobs with cumin, fish with black bean sauce, a salad, spring rolls and rice — all vegan. Chinese vegetarian cooks have ingenious ways of making tofu taste like meat. And while some purists may feel that defeats the purpose of giving up meat, Long Kuan celebrates having so many different flavors to choose from, with less harm to animals and the planet.

Another example is Shanghai’s Jen Dow buffet style restaurant offering over 200 different dishes. A rich compliment of meat substitute dishes, such as duck legs made out of mushrooms, are complemented with numerous vegetables just as they are – powerfully adaptable ingredients that make some delicious dishes, with no need for artifice.  A selection of colorful skewers of vegetables and tofu for hotpot, and a seemingly endless row of stir-fried vegetables, including white asparagus, bamboo shoots, and burdock, and all sorts of melon, are to be found in this popular vegetarian hot spot.

China once had one of the highest rates of vegetarianism in the world, rivaling even India, having been sparked by the influx of Buddhism over 1,000 years ago.  This continued until very recently, and it wasn’t very long ago that T. Colin Campbell was able to document the health advantages of a plant-based diet in his famous book, The China Study. Today, with many Chinese viewing a meat diet as a sign of success, and with a growing middle class, a strong shift away from the more traditional plant-based diet occurred. But with that change towards a western diet, a surge in the incidence of western lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, has taken place.

While statistics on the number of vegetarians in China are hard to come by, one analyst placed the number at around 50 million people. While that’s not much compared to the one and a half billion people in China, many think it is more than enough to spark a renaissance of its once flourishing vegetarian diet.