Once again, meatless Monday is upon us. My recipe of choice tonight was not only meat-free, but dairy-free and egg-free as well. Trying to mix things up ethnically as usual, I picked an oriental stir fry with tofu, lots of colorful veggies, peanuts, and a garlic sesame sauce. This is what it looked like in the pan:
I am extremely proud to say that I made tonight’s dish ENTIRELY BY MYSELF, WITHOUT ANY HELP WHATSOEVER. And I got a lovely response from my family. And I thought it was quite tasty myself. And vegan! So there you go. I served it over brown rice, as in this photo of my partially eaten portion:
I was talking to my dad as we ate about my growth as a “chef” this summer so far. While I’d say that I obviously still have a lot of room to grow, skills to hone, recipes to master, and instincts to develop, my confidence in the kitchen has increased fifty-fold. If cooking is the barrier for you to eating healthfully, know that it doesn’t take too long to become proficient. That being said, I have had my mom to help me along the way, so it probably would’ve taken longer without her. But if I can do it, anyone can. And frankly, it’s probably simpler to cook without meat! But that’s not the reason I’m giving you this week.
So this week I’m reading The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. The book summarizes the findings of a lifetime of research on the benefits of a plant-based diet and the harms of eating animal products. He’s a bit biased, but as I’ve said before, who isn’t? You have to weigh all the evidence together, which he claims and appears to do. But an awful lot of his evidence is correlational, and he frequently doesn’t explain what factors were controlled for, so I take it with a grain of salt. That’s not to say that I don’t believe him; I’m just saying if you questioned his claims I don’t think I as a reader would be able to defend them thoroughly using just the evidence he gives. But there is one phenomenon that he explains quite convincingly, and that is the connection between animal protein and cancer.
Campbell has pretty much convinced me that eating animal products increases one’s risk of developing all types of cancer. I learned in my intro nutrition class that prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer are most dependent on diet–lung cancer, for example, is still only linked to smoking. Regardless, I certainly believe that the more animal based foods and refined carbs and sugars you eat and the fewer whole, plant-based foods you eat, the greater your risk for all types of chronic disease. But in the specific case of cancer, he provides the following evidence:
- Observational studies out the wazoo showing highly significant associations between consumption of animal protein and cancer mortality.
- Controlled animal studies showing that 100% of rodents exposed to carcinogens on a 20% animal protein diet developed cancer, while NONE of the rodents on a 5% animal protein diet developed cancer.
- Controlled clinical studies showing that cancer patients who switched to diets low in animal protein ostensibly halted and in many cases reversed the progression of their disease.
- A biologically plausible mechanism by which animal protein promotes development of cancer, which he tested and demonstrated in controlled studies.
So do with that information what you may, but wouldn’t you rather eat less meat than pay the myriad costs of cancer later in life? You can even lower your risk just by eating meat-free one day a week ;).