Carne asada, puerco, and BACON. Who can go a day without having meat, right? From breakfast, chorizo con huevo, to lunch, a ham sandwich to dinner, arroz con pollo or an asado. On the weekends, we know what happens on Sundays – a good ol’ BBQ – some pork ribs, hot dogs, hambuguesas, carne asada, pollo y lo que sea, no?!
Let’s face it and say it – it is very macho to eat meat.
Meat is part Latino staple (is it, really? Our ancestors ate plenty of plant proteins until ‘colonization’ took place and it’s all-American, as in United States of Meat-ica! We see it daily in our mainstream commercials and culture from the sexualization of meat in Carl’s Junior ads to those Black Angus commercials on loop between Netflix flicks. Dancing cows to wrestlers (remember, Macho Man Randy Savage?) selling beef jerky. It is inescapable. It’s everywhere.
Giphy Credit: Wendy’s Puerto Rico
Let’s talk about the mainstream meat industry. It’s a powerful one. A very Washington political and bureaucratic one backed by politicians and regulators alike. The fierce demand of meat requires fast processing and distribution of product to the point that workers are stretched in unbelievable ways, for example, no bathroom breaks for poultry workers standing shoulder to shoulder. The regulations and rules vary from plant to plant from slaughterhouse to slaughterhouse, of course, putting meat workers at risk in health and safety. It’s a dirty job and left to a mostly people of color, Latino workforce that is marginalized, at that.
This close association between men and meat in the Estados Unidos is making us sick! The health problems connected with a high consumption of meat are the following: weight gain, cardiovascular disease, cancer, kidney disease and on and on. In 2011-2012, for example, American men between the ages of 30 and 39 ate an average of 110 grams of protein, according to US government data. That’s roughly double the 56 grams the government currently recommends for men. What men? We are going to assume this study was or did not include many Latinos or men of color, because that’s usually what goes down with these studies. But what about all the nutrition, animal protein that meat gives us? The high iron and B12 vitamins that we need? Well, that’s just it, the meat industry sells us on ‘protein-rich’ diets MUST include meat. Protein can also come from eggs, vegetables and plants, legumes, beans and grains which have proven to lower our risk to cancer, cardiovascular disease and lastly, Type 2 diabetes, which is an unfortunate epidemic in our Latino community.
So baby steps towards a healthier, less-meat, non-animal diet? Can’t quit cold turkey (no pun intended) we get it!
Here’s what adjusting your diet to cut back on meat could look like:
- One day a week – replace one meal with plant-based protein meal like a quinoa or beans/frijoles with brown rice (contains about 2.5 grams protein) bowl and veggies
- Incorporate more chick peas (hummus dip), avocados (contains 2% complete protein), peanut or almond butter (peanut butter sandwiches, anyone?), coconut milk, hemp and chia seeds as snacks alone or a side dish.
Here’s a great list of plant proteins or alternatives to try.
Stay healthy amigos. Our familias need us.