What Is This Meat Free Week You Speak Of?
Meat Free Week is right here, right now, right here, right now…..
This global movement in its 7th year, runs between the 23 – 29 September but before you start panicking about not having meat on your plate for an entire week, lets take a look at why this week exists. Meat Free Week is an international event that encourages us to start thinking about how much meat we eat and the impact eating too much has on our health, animal welfare and the environment.
It’s also about raising awareness of some worthwhile charities – including Meat Free Week health partner Bowel Cancer Australia.
I have to say straight up that I have a close affinity with bowel cancer and I am a passionate ambassador for Bowel Cancer Australia.
The Moment My World Went Wonky
Those of you who have been reading along with me for a while will know that my world was turned upside down when my Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Within two weeks he had 30cm removed from his large bowel and had started a gruelling regime of chemotherapy, reducing him to a shell of his former self.
That moment of diagnosis means that I and the rest of my family have an increased risk of bowel cancer. It most certainly made me have a good think about what I could do to reduce my risk in the future.
So What Can We Do To Reduce Our Risk Of Bowel Cancer?
There is convincing evidence that eating too much red meat, particularly processed meat are linked to bowel cancer. Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, salami and other luncheon meats pose the greater risk. However, eating more than 350g fresh red meat every week can also be a problem.
Meat Free Week is not about pushing people into vegetarianism or veganism. The fact is, red meat provides valuable key nutrients such as iron, zinc and protein. I personally enjoy eating meat as you may remember from my thoughts on Grass Fed vs. Grain Fed beef and as someone that battles with persistent iron deficiency, I need it in my diet.
We just need to be careful about the amount, how often we eat it and the way we cook it.
Some Meaty Tips
- Consume less than 350g of unprocessed red meat per week and avoid the processed varieties (unless you happen to find yourself in Italy for itsy bitsy amounts of time)
- Cook meat carefully. Charred or blackened meats can damage the cells lining the bowel
- Partly cook meat to reduce cooking times on open flames, grills or BBQ’s
- Keep cooking temperatures low and use marinades to protect meat from burning
What About The Meat Free Alternatives?
Australians rank among the top in the world when it comes to meat consumption and 95% of us don’t eat enough vegetables or wholegrains. Bowel cancer is Australia’s second deadliest cancer too, with 103 people dying each week from the disease. It gets you thinking doesn’t it?
As a poverty stricken uni student, I enjoyed vegetarianism for many years due to financial constraints and it very easily became a way of life (although it had to really). Over the following years, I reintroduced meat a few times each week to counteract low iron levels. Now with three kids, we do eat red meat but certainly less than 350g per week each and I am very militant about the amount of processed meat that is eaten in our household. Much to our children’s despair.
This can be especially challenging as we love all things Italian and their penchant for prosciutto, salami, ham and every processed meat other imaginable. Preparing meals without meat certainly requires a bit more thought and design simply because it not a simple matter of removing the meat and leaving the salad or vegetables to fend for themselves. It is important to include quality protein in your meal and this can be challenging if you have become accustomed to having red meat as a staple item.
Do you have any fave recipes or ideas on how you incorporate some meat free days in your week that you would like to share?