Go Meat-Free This Memorial Day
Get your summer off to a safe and healthy start by going plant-based at your Memorial Day barbecue. Moving away from meat—and other animal products—is one of the best things you can do to protect your health and the health of the planet.
You can start by swapping hot dogs for carrot dogs [or these PETA recipes, some of which are higher in protein, and some use store-bought vegan hot dogs]. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs, which, like other processed meats, the World Health Organization has classified as “carcinogenic to humans.” Eating just one hot dog daily can increase your risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Processed meats are also linked to heart disease and early death.
Next, get the rest of the meat off your grill. Cooking beef, pork, fish, and poultry at high temperatures, such as grilling, releases carcinogens called heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
So what should you include on your menu? As a dietitian, I recommend vegan options loaded with beans, vegetables, grains, and fruit, such as Black Bean and Corn Salad With Lime, Potato Salad, Barbecue-Style Portobellos, Perfect Portobello Burger, Chickpea Burgers, and Grilled Peaches With Sweet Balsamic Glaze.
A plant-based diet built around meals like these provides all of the protein, iron, and other nutrients you need, as well as fiber and antioxidants that aren’t found in animal products. Just be sure to add a B12 supplement; B12 is not made by plants or by animals but by bacteria.
In its position paper on vegetarian diets, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals—says that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. … Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity.”
Going plant-based may also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are causing climate change that is leading to increasingly hotter summers. Research shows that 57% of global greenhouse gas emissions from food production come from meat and dairy products, with beef contributing the most.
But shifting to plant-based diets has the potential to mitigate climate change, as well as improve human health, according to Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change, a report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Visit PCRM.org to learn more about the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet and for delicious plant-based recipes.
If you want some inspiration for after Memorial Day, check out these photos, most linked to recipes, from PETA’s Flickr:
And for dessert….:
Banner Image: Hot For Food Blog Vegan Hot Dog. Image Credit – PETA