An alarming research conducted few weeks ago claimed that a diet high in animal protein can increase the risk of dying from cancer or diabetes by almost four times. More recently, another study by a group of scientists recommends you to keep your hands off the red stuff. It transpires that red meat does not only raise bad cholesterol but it also contains a type of iron that may work as a catalyst in developing coronary heart disease. Suddenly, we're being told to cut back on 'everything'.
On the flip side, University College London dished up a report on how consuming seven portions of fruits and vegetables a day could make you live longer by lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke or cancer. All the science behind what we choose to eat got me, a voracious meat eater trying to turn green, wondering if vegetarianism is the way to go?
Of course, eating less meat for environmental reasons is how the fundamentalists would convince themselves. But should meat lovers be worried? Dr Ashutosh Gautam, Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager, Baidyanath, says, "From an Ayurvedic perspective it is advised to avoid meat from larger animals like beef and mutton. It is best to opt for organic poultry or seafood and pay heed to the quality of meat before purchasing. Meat forms a part of a high fat diet and therefore its consumption should be limited. Ayurveda is all about creating a balance."
Flexing for your health
Recently, lot of talk about a flexitarian diet has popped up. This genius concept was made popular as an easy way to lose weight by American Dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner through her book that narrates the perks of being a casual vegetarian. The word flexitarian has been creating some noise since 2003, when it was selected by the American Dialect Society as the "most useful word of the year." Moreover, some studies indicate that flexitarians weigh 15% less than their carnivore counterparts.
A flexitarian concentrates on a largely vegetarian diet, but occasionally eats meat. You could accuse me of being obscure and insist that you're either a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian. But you've heard of vegetarians that eat fish (pescatarian) and those that avoid dairy products (vegan) and also those who eat chicken (confused). Bad joke. So, I was saying that I found myself instantly driven to this concept as it's all about flexibility, choices and one simple rule - eat less meat and enjoy what you eat more. No, it's not a quick fad diet. It's conscious eating. And a smart way to cut calories.
Tapasya Mundhra, Nutritionist and Health Counsellor, says in agreement, "Numerous studies are being conducted these days in every part of the world but the prime point is how you eat meat, the quantity, the combinations and the quality all matter. A flexitarian diet is a much healthy way of living. If your menu consists of meat day in and day out then there won't be much nutrition that you would be gaining. You need to absorb different types of nourishment from different food groups and fibre from vegetables and fruits is most important."
"But you don't have to give up on meat completely. To start off with, limiting it to about three times a week could help. For non-vegetarians, an ideal meal should have about 30 percent of meat and 65 percent of vegetables." she adds.
Being a flexitarian is about adding more to your diet, not taking away. It doesn't punish you for dreaming about those juicy burgers and with all the added fibre it's had to overeat. A win-win situation. For all you committed carnivores, nothing is really off limits - just that you should junk the junk. And who can argue a healthy step forward is always welcome. If you feel inspired to be a part-time vegetarian, begin here. These vegetarian versions of my favourite meaty dishes will totally sway you.
Recipe by Niru Gupta
Spicy Soy Meat BallsRecipe by Vicky RatnaniThese veggie meatballs are so good that you won't be able to tell the difference! Made with soy granules, potatoes and herbs, these roundels are pan fried and lathered with a tangy tomato sauce. Why should meat eaters get all the fun?
Recipe by Vicky Ratnani
Essentially a meat pie with crusted potatoes, this vegetarian shepherd's pie matches up to the classic taste. A mélange of assorted veggies, soy granules, and black beans pepped up with tomato puree, white wine and cream.
Recipe by Aditya Bal
Recipe by Aditya & Devanshi
Go light and healthy as we take you on a vegetarian trip today. The freshness of this recipe will get you hooked!