“Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can cure the patient with food”
As you may know I’m an avid reader, especially cookery books and journals for healthy eating, I recently came across a great book titled Forks Over Knives: The Plant Based Way To Health. Besides providing plenty of tasty recipes, it talks about how eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet could literally save your life by eradicating many health complaints that are often spurred on by the foods we eat.
Of course this is not a new concept to me. I come from a strictly vegetarian household and a vegetarian culture for that matter. I’ve been raised with the appreciation of a plant and grain based diet. Everyone is well-fed and healthy, so I know first-hand that it’s possible to have a full, varied and nutritious meat-free diet, without a shortage of really yummy food.
If you already thinking about this, then here’s some really key information; Red meat is a huge factor in many health issues found in today’s society, and has been directly linked to chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. An over reliance on protein can cause everything from constipation, high cholesterol and sweating, to kidney problems and calcium deficiency.
On the flip side, a varied plant-based diet has a whole host of medicinal benefits – those of you who have attended our classes will know this. More fruits and vegetables mean more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre, and less damaging fats and difficult-to-digest proteins. There are simply more immune-boosting foods that are easier on our guts within plant and vegetable based food groups. If that makes us less reliant on pills and drugs for minor ailments such as asthma, psoriasis, colds, headaches and stomach complaints, then that’s a great start already. If it also helps to reduce our obesity issues then that’s another great reason to eat less meat.
I’ve often wondered why vegetarianism isn’t embraced as much as it should be; the argument to be one is fairly substantial and growing, particularly as so much of our meat these days is highly processed in one way or another. I personally put it down to the lack of variety in our cookery arsenal – not really knowing how to cook vegetables and alternative proteins, such as tofu or bean curd, lentils and cheese. If your repertoire of vegetarian recipes isn’t wide enough, then you’re really going to struggle to maintain interest. Even the average meat eating household has a limited repertoire of around 5-6 dishes that are wheeled out on a weekly basis, so you can imagine how hard it could be. I actually know a number of vegetarians who don’t eat many vegetables! Inconceivable but true. Instead, they soak up carbohydrates mostly with a bit of cheese. You’d have to really love cheese wouldn’t you?
One of the problems is, by dropping meat people often feel that their omitting a vital part of the dining plate, “the protein”. The trick is to re-educate yourself with a wider range of proteins. For example, mushrooms have as much protein gram for gram as Sea Bass does. Yet you wouldn’t imagine making the mushroom the main protein and then hanging other vegetables around it in the way we do fish or meat.
Then there is the issue of knowing how the cook the meat free protein or vegetables to taste good or look appetizing and so are put off by the idea of a diet without meat. If you’re only steaming or stir-frying your veg then I can see how that’s going to get a bit boring and bland after a while.
The truth is vegetables and grains can be cooked in a variety of creative and diverse ways to bring out the best and most satisfying flavours imaginable! Try out my delicious and filling Easy Breakfast Muffins or hearty Butternut Squash with French Beans Curry and you’ll see what I mean.
Even if you’d rather stick to a weekly #MeatfreeMonday or a couple of days a week to give your digestive system a break, instead of a fully committed vegetarian diet, I really do implore you to try it out. I’ve been incorporating vegetarian cooking into my children’s diet for many years now and have really noticed a difference, so I definitely endorse the message that meat-free cooking does your body the world of good.
If you’re interested to learn more about the benefits of taking in a vegetarian diet I’d highly recommend that you pick up Forks Over Knives from your local library or stockist. It is very informative – let’s call it a “manual for optimum health” – if you’re interested in changing your body and immune system for the better.
Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.