Do You Know What You Are Putting in Your Body?

Do You Know What You Are Putting in Your Body? I doubt you do. I don’t either…well, not really, not all the time. You see, developed society has developed a major problem in which there is a disassociation between the foods we eat and the ingredients that are in the food.

It was one of the reasons why I decided to become a vegetarian. This was a recent change for me. Me and my girlfriend only made the change on 5 February. It’s something I wanted to try for years. My brother is vegan and I frequently eat vegan food when I am with him. I enjoy dairy so I think the move to veganism would be difficult for me at the moment. Becoming a vegetarian wasn’t, it really wasn’t. It really has not been that difficult, as I have been able to substitute meat with non-meat alternatives most of the time.

I love animals, however I have been a meat eater all my life, all 33 years of it. In a strange way, I have respect for farmers who can look after an animal for years and then kill it and eat it. I couldn’t do that. My whole life, there has been not been any association between the animal and the food I ate. Everything comes packaged. When I ate a hamburger, I did not think about the fact it was once a cow. I knew it was, however it’s not something I thought about.

I had eaten many different animals. Cow, pig, lamb, shark, ostrich, crabs etc. Again, there wasn’t really any association with what I was eating and the animal that died.

In September, me and my friend ate cuy. You will know the animal by it’s English name Guinea Pig. Yes, the cute little animal that kids in my country keep as pets. In Peru, and in some other South American countries, cuy is a delicacy. In Cusco, Cuys are seen in the same way as chickens, and it is common to see them in cages in the markets etc. As a meat eater, it was something I wanted to try.

Eating Cuy in Cusco

On the one hand, I can understand why people are against eating animal such as guinea pig. It’s the same way that most meat-eaters feel about dog, yet it is common for that to be eaten in China. From an ethical point of view, there really is no difference.

I did not enjoy eating Cuy. Perhaps it was the fact it was just fried, perhaps it was the fact that there was an association with the animal. This meat wasn’t pre-packaged, you could steal see all it’s major organs and its testicles were still put on my plate (no, I didn’t eat them!).

Do You Know What You Are Putting in Your Body?

I continued to eat meat after eating guinea pig. I didn’t have a life-changing moment which completely changed my view all at once, however, it did re-enforce something that I had been thinking about for a long time.

I became a vegetarian whilst the horse meat scandal was going on back in Europe. This was nothing but a coincidence. I had read about the issue here in South America, but it didn’t change my mind. My mind was already made up. Countries like Argentina are known for the quality of their meat. The truth is, the standard of meat when I travelled through South America was not that great. It was common for chicken to be undercooked and for beef to be pink.

So whilst I love animals and do not want to kill any animals myself, my decision to stop eating meat came from a health point of view. I have read a little about the subject. One side says that you need to have meat to have a balanced diet and that eating meat increases intelligence. The other side says that you can have a balanced diet without eating meat.

I am not an expert on the subject but I do know that after eating meat, I regularly felt like crap. I felt lethargic. Learning more about how meat went from being a living creature to being on my plate, also put me off. As you read more about how meat is prepared, you start to understand exactly what is being put in your body.

Take hot dogs for example. I loved hot dogs. I knew they were unhealthy, however I didn’t have any problem with eating one every now and then at the cinema. My opinion changed a little after seeing how hot dogs are made. For those who don’t know, hot dogs are made from all the crap that is normally threw away. Take a look at this video to see exactly what I mean.

I have generally eaten healthily over the last several years. I try not to drink too much soft drinks (soda) and I try and eat vegetables and fruit every day, so I never felt guilty when I didn’t eat something that wasn’t good for me. Moderation is the key, and a few unhealthy snacks from time to time wouldn’t kill me…or would it?

Long term, it cannot be good for the body to have crap put into it. The vast majority of meat comes from animals that have been been modified in some way. They have been pumped full of steroids or eaten food that has been modified with chemicals. There are many scare stories with seafood too.

Soft drinks are something else that is damaging all of us. The sheer volume of sugar in soft drinks will astound you. Think about this: If someone offered you a coffee or tea, you would probably only take one teaspoon of sugar, perhaps two if you had a sweet tooth. Yet, we think nothing of purchasing a can of coca-cola and drinking that.

Look at the volume of sugar used in the drinks below. Now imagine someone was making one of those drinks right in front of. Wouldn’t you think twice about what you were drinking if you saw the person pour a full bag of sugar into your drink?

Rethink Your Drink

Diet drinks are apparently much worse for you, increasing problems such as diabetes and increasing your cravings for sugar.

The issue of soft drinks has been in the news in America a lot recently due to Mayor Bloomberg trying to ban sodas over 16-ounce (473 millilitres). To discourage people, they showed the equivalent amount of sugar next to different cup sizes.

On the one hand, I can understand the reaction from some corners that the government is trying to turn America into a nanny state, and that grown adults should be free to buy what they want. However, are the general public educated enough to make this choice, do they know exactly what is in the foods and drinks they are buying?

Sugar in Soft Drinks
Would you like some sugar in your soft drink?

What the horse meat scandal in Europe has brought to light, is that you don’t know what you are eating. Over the last ten years, companies have been made to disclose information about how much fat, sugar, carbs, etc., a product has. How reliable is this information? If beef lasagne is actually made with horse meat, how reliable do you think the information is on the back of packets?

Clearly, there needs to be more regulation in this area, though I am unsure as to how regulators can ensure food labelling is correct, other than giving massive fines to companies that lie to customers.

The point of this article was not to preach to anyone. I have only been a vegetarian for around 6 weeks and I am taking it one step at a time. I do not have any plans to eat meat again, however if I speak to a doctor and they inform me that my health has been affected by my diet, I would have to review the situation.

It is up to you to decide what is put in your body. What I would encourage you to do is to think more about what you are eating. Do not always buy the cheapest meat as it is usually worse for you. Do not always go down the easy route and buy food that is pre-made; it is always better to make it fresh. I know that it can be difficult to eat healthy food if you work full-time and have a fast lifestyle. It can still be done, you just need to make a concious effort to think about what you are eating.

Remember, you are what you eat. The food you eat is responsible for how you feel. Food can make you tired, make you feel awake, even make you feel depressed. We are chemical creatures and we are affected by the things that we consume. Something to think about the next time you reach over for that gigantic coca-cola and hot dog combo at the cinema :)

Good luck,
Kevin

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