Back in December, I shared my resolution for the upcoming new year: To limit my consumption of red meat to two meals (or less) per week.
Since we’re more than halfway through the year, I wanted to share an update on my progress. I’m proud to say that despite my shoddy New Year’s resolution track record, this is one commitment that I’ve managed to keep. In fact, I’ve decreased my red meat consumption from nearly daily to once or twice per month.
Before I share how it’s changed my life, I’d like to reiterate why this resolution is important to me.
- Heart disease. There is a clear and documented link between red meat consumption and heart disease. Depending on the cut, red meat can be high in unhealthy saturated fats which tend to raise blood cholesterol levels and increase heart disease risk.
- Cancer. In some studies, red meat has been associated with certain types of cancer.
- Overall death risk. According to one study of 500,000 people by the National Institutes of Health and AARP, red meat eaters had a 30% increased chance of dying during the 10 year study. In a separate study at Harvard, researchers found that 9% of male deaths and 7% of female deaths would be prevented if people lowered red meat consumption to 1.5 ounces (or less) per day.
- Environment. When you compare the environmental impact of red meat to other foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, chicken, etc., it’s not just a little bit worse. It’s hugely worse. According to one study, red meat accounts for just 30% of the world’s meat consumption – but it’s responsible for 78% of the emissions.
Instead of the usual burger or steak, I’ve been consuming red meat substitutes and opting for healthier cuts of chicken and turkey. Truth be told, it really hasn’t been difficult to make the transition and I can’t help but notice that my body feels cleaner and more energized.
The difference is most noticeable when I do eat red meat. I’m surprised at how gristly and fatty it tastes – and how sluggish I feel when digesting it. I never seemed to notice how unfavorably my body responds to red meat until I started cutting back on my intake. Because of the unpleasant response that red meat consumption inspires, it’s been very easy to stick with my resolution.
By far, replacing red meat with healthier options has been the best change that I’ve made to my diet in the last year. My only regret is that it took me 29 years to figure it out.
Are you interested in decreasing your red meat consumption? Do you think it’s something you’d like to try? Let me know in the comments below!