We in the west have a problem. Well, we have a lot of problems, but they all stem from one thing… our diet. We live in an age where we’re born knowing only an assault of temptation from all sides. We can’t walk a hundred yards outside the house without seeing color saturated, high contrast images of succulent fast food emblazoned on the sides of buses, on billboards, on bus stops and even popping up here and there in our social media feed. While recent legislation has restricted companies from advertising fast foods to children on social media platforms, let’s be honest, we adults are not immune from temptation.
Why Adopting A Mediterranean Diet Could Solve Your Health Problems
Every visit to the supermarket is a stroll down aisle after aisle of gaudily packaged processed foods which are high in calories, high in fat, high in sugar, high in salt but low in nutrients. Even foods we assume to be (or that are marketed as being) healthy are loaded with hidden sugars. And then there’s the meat. Oh, so much meat! Despite the recent explosion of awareness of the health and ethical benefits of a plant based diet in the US, meat consumption is at an all time high. In 2018 the average consumer will eat 222 pounds of meat and poultry. That’s a lot of saturated fat coursing through the nation’s arteries. Moreover, a great deal of this will be processed red meats like bacon, salami, pastrami, ham and pepperoni. These are not only loaded with salt and saturated fats, they’ve also been deemed class 1 carcinogens by the World Health Organization. That’s the same category as cigarettes!
The Health and Ethical Cost Of The "Western Diet"
So, what’s the upshot of the ubiquity of processed foods, red meats, dairy products, sugars and refined carbohydrates like white flour in bread, pasta and baked goods? Look around you and the state of the nation’s health will speak for itself. We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Research shows that around 40% of adults and 20% of children are obese. Despite national efforts to improve nutritional awareness and encourage exercise, our reliance on the wrong foods is not just making us fatter, it’s seriously damaging our health. Heart disease, diabetes, cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes and cancer are ruining the nation’s life expectancy.
Moreover, the “Western Diet” isn’t doing our planet any favors either. Our reliance on red meat and dairy mean that we’re raising more and more cows for slaughter which consume so many edible crops and so much water that we’re squandering resources that could feed millions to feed hundreds. Just under 45% of all available land in the continental US is used for food production. Moreover, the methane produced by cows is a huge contributor to global warming. As the population continues to grow, our reliance on meat and dairy will inevitably become untenable.
In light of this, you could be forgiven for thinking that a plant based diet is the only way to redress the balance. But while vegetables and fruits are extremely important, they are not the only way key to a healthy lifestyle. If you love fresh fish, shellfish and sharp, tangy cheeses, you may do very well on a Mediterranean diet. This still emphasises fresh produce but doesn’t rule out animal products or seafood altogether (although it does limit them).
What Is The Mediterranean Diet?
Who says eating healthily has to be boring and tasteless? Have you adopted a Mediterranean diet? How has it benefited you? Do you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments below!
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