With meat consumption falling by about 10 percent in the past eight years, it’s more popular than ever to plan a healthful plant-based Thanksgiving. Celebrities like Mayim Bialik and Ellen DeGeneres are sharing their plans for a vegan meal. Last year, Turtle Island Foods celebrated the sale of their 3 millionth Tofurky.
With skyrocketing diabetes and obesity rates, everyone knows it’s time for a change. So the surge in plant-based popularity isn’t a surprise. And more people are realizing that turkey is not a healthful food. Among other concerns, a single serving of turkey can have up to 80 mg of cholesterol, whereas a vegan diet is naturally cholesterol-free.
Plant-based cookbooks like Forks Over Knives and Isa Does It are topping the Amazon Best Seller lists. The Physicians Committee has also prepared several Thanksgiving, Holiday, and Hanukkah menu plans. Even the New York Times is encouraging readers to have a heart-healthy holiday by highlighting over 600 vegetarian and vegan dishes in the 2013 Thanksgiving recipe database.
Good health is definitely something to be thankful for, and a delicious plant-based Thanksgiving is the best early holiday gift you can give your loved ones this year.
The American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout takes place this week, shifting the public’s focus toward cancer prevention. Cigarettes are an easy target, since their link to cancer is well-publicized, and the vast majority of smokers already want to quit.
But despite the drop in smoking, cancer rates are still high. So we need to go several steps further. The next culprits are processed meat products, such as bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats. Just as tobacco attacks the lungs, processed meats attack the digestive tract.
The World Cancer Research Fund says the link between processed meat and cancer is so strong that it should be avoided completely. The EPIC study results published earlier this year show that eating processed meat is linked with a 44 percent increased risk of death. A recent study from the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that colorectal cancer survivors who consume large amounts of processed meat are at a 29 percent higher risk of death from general causes and a 63 percent higher risk of death from heart disease.
While tobacco products have been the object of labeling efforts designed to maximize risk awareness, processed meat products have gone under the radar. Mayor Bloomberg just signed new legislation raising the legal purchasing age of cigarettes from 18 to 21. If he and other politicians truly have their constituents’ health in mind, they will make the same efforts to label and restrict the purchase of hot dogs and other processed meat products. But consumers certainly don’t have to hold out for a new law to can the cigarettes, scrap the bacon, or share a healthful recipe with some friends. Positive change can happen anytime—so start now and help lead the cultural shift towards better health.
The movie Free Birds is running wild in theaters all across the country today. The storyline follows Reggie, a turkey trying to save his loved ones by traveling through time to keep turkey off the Thanksgiving table. And that is a good idea, because a poultry-free Thanksgiving can save more than just Reggie, Jake, and Jenny—taking turkey off the menu will also prevent your loved ones from high cholesterol and heart disease this holiday season.
Turkey is not a healthful food, even before being slathered in butter and lumpy gravy. When your sibling and cousin each grab a drumstick—sans basting or gravy—they’re getting more than 55 percent of their daily maximum cholesterol intake. Thanksgiving is a time when people frequently overindulge, and two drumsticks puts you well into the cholesterol danger zone.
Turkey also contains at least one secret ingredient Grandma didn’t plan on: feces. Nine out of 10 ground turkey products are contaminated with fecal bacteria and E. coli. In addition, 81 percent of turkey meat contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Turkeys are routinely fed arsenic, despite attempts to ban the arsenic-laced feed in favor of consumer safety.
With plenty of meatless holiday recipe plans available, make yours a bird-free Thanksgiving.