Being overweight and even obesity are on the rise in Europe and along with them are the diseases they are responsible for. A few examples are: Diabetes, Arthritis, increased risk of Cancer, high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. According to an OECD report(1) from 2014 more than half of the adult population of the European Union is now to be considered as overweight, every sixth even as obese. For Germany alone, the direct costs (rehabilitation, treatment of diseases etc) of being overweight amounted to 23.39 Billion Euros, the indirect costs (sick leave time, loss of production) however even amount to an incredible 33.65 Billion Euros(2)! The truth is, it is the result of our diet, too much fat, too much sugar, too much fast food, making changes to one’s diet has many benefits and we should start now.
The most direct impact of changing your diet towards a more plant-based diet is on your very own body and your health. In 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO)(3) classified processed red meat as a cause for cancer and red meat as a probable cause for cancer. As little as 50g of processed red meat a day, increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. According to a Harvard study(4), your chance of suffering from Type 2 Diabetes is 93 times higher if you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 (Obese) or more.
Additionally, there is a steep increase of using antibiotics in factory farming. Due to the mass production of meat, antibiotics are nowadays already given as a “precaution”. Knowing for example that there are too many chickens in a stall and there will be sick ones among them antibiotics are given in advance in their food. What does that have to do with us humans? Just like humans animals also build up a resistance for antibiotics when they are given too many during their lifetime. By eating the meat from those farms, we take in those antibiotic-resistant microbes and after catching a disease the prescribed antibiotics from our doctor will not be effective anymore. Today about 700,000 people die every year as a result of antibiotic-resistant microbe infections. Well, that is not a lot is it? By 2050 it could be 10,000,000, that is more than are dying from cancer, according to a study from the UK government(5).
So what exactly are the benefits of changing your diet towards less meat and more vegetables and fruits? In Europe, Austria(6) is the country that shows the highest meat consumption of more than 100kg per person per year on average. The German Society for Nutrition recommends a consumption of 15kg to 30kg per person per year. There is no country in the European Union who meets those recommendations, Finland being the lowest with a consumption of 46.5kg per person per year(6). A study led by Zhangling Chen, Ph.D., from the Erasmus MC Rotterdam, the Netherlands(7), found out that turning towards a more plant-based diet shows a significant reduction on one’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and fat mass. In general, followers of a vegetarian or vegan diet, suffer significantly less from Obesity, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular diseases. Now one might suggest that is because this group also shows higher numbers in exercise, smoke less and also consume less alcohol than others. Well, that can be ruled out because such factors had been considered.
There are, however, many more contributing factors that speak in favor of reducing your meat consumption. Environmental, ethical, consuming foodstuffs of higher quality by paying more for less treated food products, the list goes on and on. The most important factor that should make one reconsider changing his diet is, your own health after all! We all would like a life that leaves us healthy for as long as possible, after all. Think about it and pass on the one or the other steak, your body might thank you in a decade or two.
Last modified: August 28, 2018