If you are concerned about the environment, you may be wondering if you should keep eating meat.
Food production has an impact on the environment as it consumes water and land. Hence, it is often said that eating foods that are made with fewer resources (and that do not contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions) is better for the planet.
Plant-based foods are generally considered to be more environmentally friendly than meat and animal products, and vegan or vegetarian diets are often referred to as sustainable.
However, there are many points to consider when assessing the environmental impact of meat. In fact, there may be ways to eat meat more sustainably – and eat less of it – without completely giving up it.
This article explores the nuances of meat’s environmental footprint, then discusses tips for consuming meat while following an environmentally friendly diet.
Raising animals for food requires large amounts of land and water. It also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions through animal feed, manure, and methane emitted by burping (1).
In fact, farm animals are responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. In addition, industrial livestock farming leads to deforestation, soil erosion, freshwater pollution, and air pollution (1, 2).
Beef is said to have a greater environmental impact than dairy, pork, fish, eggs, or chicken, but the footprint of these foods varies depending on how they are made (3).
Whole, minimally processed plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and olive oil have the lowest environmental impact (3).
Still, it is difficult to compare every type of animal and vegetable product. Some plant-based foods, like certain nuts and highly processed products, have a much greater impact on the environment than other plant-based options.
It is also important to consider the extent of meat production – small farms versus fattening farms – when assessing the environmental impact of meat, as the debate about the role of livestock in climate change has many nuances.
Focus on the environmental impact of beef
While the meat industry typically uses more resources and contributes more to climate change than plant-based foods, certain methods of meat production are more sustainable than others.
Although beef is widely considered to be more polluting than other meats, some analysis suggests otherwise.
For example, beef is produced more efficiently in the United States than in most other parts of the world. Innovations like better breeding and feed additives are helping farmers use fewer cattle to feed more people and reduce environmental pollution (4, 5).
It has been shown that adapting the diet of dairy cows to a specific type of algae improves digestion and reduces methane emissions by up to 60%. In the case of beef cattle, the reduction in methane emissions through the addition of algae can be up to 80% (6, 7).
Current research suggests that US beef production accounts for 3.7% of national greenhouse gas emissions and less than 0.5% of global emissions. The total agribusiness accounts for 10% of US emissions, while the transportation industry accounts for 29% (8, 9, 10).
Proper cattle husbandry can have environmental benefits
Although beef cattle production emits more greenhouse gases than poultry, pork or dairy products, most US cattle are raised in areas unsuitable for growing vegetables and other plant-based foods. Using this land to raise meat can be seen as an efficient way of feeding people (9).
In addition, beef and other meats have health benefits. Meat is very rich in protein and contains essential micronutrients.
Many communities in the United States and around the world rely on livestock for both food and work.
Additionally, some people may not have access to a nutritionally adequate plant-based diet, which means that consuming less meat can harm their diet and livelihood. Eating meat can also be an integral part of their culture or traditions.
After all, well-managed livestock can help keep the soil and land healthy. Adequate grazing techniques can make the land more resilient to flooding and keep carbon in the soil instead of being emitted into the atmosphere.
These techniques involve grazing cows on long grass while preventing them from grazing or decomposing the ground with their hooves. As a result, the grasses retain healthy, long roots that can absorb water and bind carbon in the soil (11).
Grazing cows can also help prevent forest fires by reducing the amount of grass available to fire (12).
CAFOs in focus
All food production has some impact on the environment, which largely depends on the production method.
Concentrated animal feeds (CAFOs) – known as feedlots in the beef industry – have many negative effects on the environment (13).
Animals in CAFOs are kept in a confined space and are not allowed to graze. Not only does their manure pollute the surrounding land, water, and air, but the cramped conditions are also a breeding ground for diseases and infections that can spread to humans (14).
Grass-fed, grass-refined, and pasture-raised meat and animal products are generally considered to be more environmentally friendly than meat raised in CAFOs and feedlots.
Farmers who produce these types of meat aim to restore ecosystems and reduce environmental pollution on soil and water. For example, they manage manure better than CAFOs and may use pasture techniques that promote healthy, flood-resistant land.
However, some claim that grass-fed and prepared meat can cause more greenhouse gas emissions than other species.
Grass-fed cows have a longer lifespan than beef cows and therefore release more methane through belching during their lifespan. Additionally, as more people choose to eat grass-fed beef, the number of cattle and land area used to produce that meat may increase (15, 16).
However, some studies suggest that the increased emissions are offset by the carbon that grazing cows store in the soil (17).
The environmental impact of meat is generally greater than that of plant-based foods. Meat production uses large amounts of land and resources, but some techniques related to raising animals can help maintain healthy ecosystems.
Analyzing the environmental impact of meat is complicated.
While some environmental advocates suggest avoiding meat and animal products entirely to combat climate change, many other considerations speak in favor of keeping animal products in an environmentally friendly diet.
In general, eating more whole, minimally processed plant-based foods is a step in the right direction. These foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Limiting total meat consumption and choosing sustainably grown animal products are also helpful.
Here are some tips for including meat as part of a green diet.
Choose meat that is grass-fed or raised in pasture
Check the label before buying meat and limit or avoid products raised in a CAFO or feedlot.
If the label doesn’t say grass or pasture husbandry, it is likely from a CAFO.
If you can speak to the farmer directly, for example at a farmers market, you can inquire about the sustainability techniques they are using.
Although grass-fed or pasture-reared cows may have higher methane emissions than conventionally reared cattle, the overall impact on the local ecosystem is much smaller – and possibly even positive.
Invest in a meat stock
Local farms may offer meat cuts that allow you to buy a package of sustainably raised meat to pick up every week, month, or quarter.
Cut down on your meat portions
The addition of meat in small quantities, e.g. B. in a side dish or as a side dish can help you reduce your overall intake.
Experiment with making meals that are mostly plant-based but have small amounts of meat, such as salads with beans as the main source of protein plus a few slices of chicken or stir-fries with lots of vegetables and grains and a small amount of beef.
Set a realistic goal to reduce your meat consumption
Don’t force yourself to cut out meat at once. Instead, try the following suggestions to help you eat less meat without removing it from your diet:
- Try Meatless Monday – an international movement that encourages people to cut out meat on Mondays in order to reduce their meat consumption.
- Only eat meat for dinner.
- Prepare plant-based lunches.
Choose an option that works for you and go from there.
Divide a serving of meat into several recipes
You can add small amounts of meat to myriad recipes without it being the focus.
For example, 1 pound (454 grams) of ground beef can be spread over burgers, tacos, and soups.
You can make burger patties with beans, a whole grain, and a small amount of beef, then change your favorite taco recipe to use half mushrooms and half beef. Finally, cook the remaining beef in a bean-based chili.
Focus on adding new plant-based foods to your diet instead of cutting back on meat
If you are struggling to cut back on your meat consumption – perhaps out of convenience or habit – focus on new foods to try instead.
Browse food blogs and cookbooks for plant-oriented recipes, and make it your goal to try a new dish every week. For example, if you’ve never tried lentils before, experiment with dal or lentil-weight grain shells. Lentils can also be used to make meatless “meatloaf” or stuffed peppers.
Choosing meat from grass and pasture, limiting your meat consumption, spreading a single serving of meat across multiple dishes, and making plant-based foods the focus of your meals can help the environment without cutting meat from your diet.
Like all food, meat also needs resources to produce. While it generally has a larger environmental footprint than plant-based foods, the bigger picture is more nuanced.
Animals raised in CAFOs affect soil, water, air, surrounding communities, and global warming far more than pasture-raised and grass-fed animals. The cultivation of plant-based foods, on the other hand, is generally considered to be more environmentally friendly.
If you are interested in an environmentally friendly diet, try to moderate your meat consumption and eat more whole, minimally processed plant-based foods. If you eat meat, try to be pasture, grass-fed, or sustainably raised.
Do Grains Go Bad? Yes, But They Don’t Have To
AAre you someone who goes to the grocery store every time you want to eat pasta or rice, or do you stay stocked with your favorite cereal forever? If you’re resonating with the latter, we have some news that may have shocked you: grain goes bad – but how quickly it happens is up to you.
“Grains have a longer shelf life than most foods, which makes them one of the best foods to stock up on at home,” says New York-based nutritionist Jennifer Maeng of Chelsea Nutrition in Manhattan, noting that she has one Offer range of health benefits.
“Compared to refined grains, whole grains contain all parts: bran, endosperm and germs. If all these parts of the grain are left intact, they will be rich in nutrients such as B vitamins, minerals, fiber, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, phytochemicals, healthy fats, vitamin E, carbohydrates and proteins. “
Of these nutrients, she says the most notable is fiber. “The fiber contained in whole grain products slows down the breakdown of starch into glucose and thus prevents a high rise in blood sugar,” says Maeng. “Constant increases in blood sugar can negatively affect your energy levels, weight, and general health.”
Now that you know the benefits of storing grain in your kitchen, it is time to see the cons, too. Grains actually spoil and, thanks to their typical storage, can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Read on to find out more.
Does Grain Go Bad?
According to Maeng, the reason grain goes bad is because it is often stored incorrectly. With that in mind, she says grain should be stored in airtight containers (like OXO’s Good Grips POP storage containers) in a cool, dry environment.
“Whole grains can usually be stored (dry) for up to six months,” she says, noting that they can be kept for up to a year in the freezer. “Cooked whole grains can be stored in the refrigerator for four days and in the freezer for six months.”
Of all the grains there is, Maeng says that pasta, barley, brown rice, spelled, wheat, corn, farro, and rye are among the grains with the longest shelf life when dry.
And then there is white rice. “When properly (dry) stored, white rice can be stored for 25 to 30 years,” says Maeng. “As a study has shown, polished rice does not spoil and retains its nutritional and flavor profile for up to 30 years.”
Signs that your grains have gone bad
As with most foods, Maeng says you know your grains are spoiled if you notice a change in color, smell, or texture. “They tend to degrade in environments with a lot of humidity, heat, and temperature fluctuations,” she adds.
Speaking of changes in humidity and temperature, grains can serve as an abundant source of foodborne contaminants, according to the National Institutes of Health. “Unfortunately, whole grains usually have more pollutants than refined cereals, but they contain more nutrients that can combat these pollutants,” says Maeng. “The National Institutes of Health emphasize that despite an increased risk of contamination, the benefits of consuming whole grains outweigh the risk of contamination.”
Proper storage of grain
Remember: The best way to avoid spoilage and foodborne contamination is to properly store your grain. While dry and cooked grains require different storage solutions, Maeng says that “both uncooked and cooked grains should not be stored in environments with temperature changes, as this creates condensation and increases the risk of food contamination growth.”
That said, learn how to store your grains below.
As mentioned earlier, airtight containers and dry, cool environments are best for dry grain storage.
“The best temperature for storage is 40 ° F,” adds Maeng, noting that rice stored at 70 ° F (with the help of oxygen absorbers) can be stored for years.
Cooked grains, on the other hand, have a much shorter shelf life. “Cooked grains that are stored in the refrigerator should be used within a few days, ideally three,” says Maeng, noting that they can be kept in the freezer for up to six months. “The shelf life of already cooked grain is much shorter than that of uncooked grain due to the addition of water and its role in microbial growth.”
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What’s the Best Diet for Runners? Nutrition Tips and More
Before shopping for groceries for running, it is important to understand the science behind it.
The three macronutrients that are important to your overall diet are:
In addition, a varied diet ensures that you are also getting micronutrients and antioxidants, which play key roles in muscle function and recovery.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and are essential for long distance running.
When you consume them, your body breaks down dietary carbohydrates into their simplest form, the sugar, glucose.
Glucose is a vital source of energy for humans. This is because your body needs it to produce your cells’ energy currency called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) (1, 2).
During a run or exercise, your body can send glucose to muscle cells as an immediate source of energy. Any extra glucose in your bloodstream is sent to your liver and muscle cells to be stored as glycogen (1, 2).
During a run, your body first draws glucose from the blood to keep working muscles powered. When glucose levels start to drop, the body starts converting stored glycogen back to glucose through a process called glycogenolysis (1, 2).
Your VO2max is the maximum rate at which your body can consume oxygen while exercising, and it increases with higher exercise intensity.
This limits the oxygen available for energy production. As a result, your body engages in anaerobic (lack of oxygen) energy production that relies primarily on carbohydrates (3, 4).
When your exercise intensity increases, e.g. For example, when running and sprinting over shorter distances, your body uses carbohydrates as a primary source of energy and fat as a secondary source (2, 3, 5).
Because of the shorter duration of a sprint, most people have adequate blood sugar and glycogen stores to support their run (2, 3, 5).
During longer, lower-intensity runs, your body increasingly relies on fat stores to produce energy. This can happen, for example, on runs longer than 10 km (6 miles) (3, 4, 5, 6).
Additionally, most long distance runners also need to fill up on simple sugars to keep their run going. This is why many long-distance runners consume sports drinks or energy gels (5, 6).
Eating around 45–65% of total daily calories from carbohydrates is a good goal for most runners (7, 8).
Stored body fat is another great source of energy, especially when running long distances.
In general, you should aim to get between 20% and 30% of your total daily calories from mostly unsaturated fats. Avoid eating less than 20% of your caloric intake from fat (8).
Low fat intake is linked to a lack of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids (8, 9, 10).
During long-lasting endurance training, your body falls back on its fat reserves as the primary source of energy.
It does this through a process called fat oxidation. Stored triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids, which your body then converts into glucose (1, 3, 5, 6).
While the process of fat oxidation is useful in long distance running, it is less efficient than using carbohydrates during high-intensity exercise. Because fat takes more time to be converted into energy, and that process also requires oxygen (8, 9, 10).
In addition, dietary fat is less efficient as a training fuel than carbohydrates, which are consumed very quickly and are more readily available during exercise (8, 9, 10).
So instead of consuming fat specifically for running, you should consume it as part of a balanced diet to support the functions of your body.
Dietary fat is crucial for:
- healthy joints
- Hormone production
- Nerve function
- General health
It also supports the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), making it an important part of your diet (8, 9, 10).
If you have stomach upset, eat low-fat meals in the few hours before running. Instead, try to eat higher fat meals during recovery periods (10).
Protein is not a primary source of energy during endurance training. Instead, your body supports (11, 12):
- Muscle growth and regrowth
- Tissue repair
- Injury prevention
- the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells
- Total recovery
Your muscles break down as you run, which makes protein fueling important in rebuilding those muscles. Without protein, the muscles cannot be rebuilt efficiently, which can lead to muscle wasting, increased risk of injury and poorer performance (11, 12).
Although individual needs vary, most research suggests consuming around 0.6-0.9 grams of protein per pound (1.4-2.0 grams per kg) of your body weight per day.
This is sufficient for recovery and can prevent muscle loss in extreme endurance athletes (8, 10, 11).
Exercise puts a strain on your body’s metabolic pathways, so you need a diet high in micronutrients to support its function.
While every athlete has different needs, some micronutrients are particularly important (8):
- Calcium. This is a major contributor to bone health and muscle contraction. Most people get enough calcium-rich foods in their diet, including dairy products and leafy greens.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for bone health as it supports calcium and phosphorus absorption. It can also contribute to muscle metabolism and function. You can get it through sun exposure, supplements, and foods rich in vitamin D.
- Iron. This is critical to the development of red blood cells, which provide oxygen to working muscle cells. Long distance runners, vegetarians, and vegans may need more than the recommended food intake – more than 18 mg per day for women and 8 mg per day for men.
- Antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce cell damage from oxidation from intense exercise. Eating foods high in antioxidants – like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds – seems to be more effective than taking antioxidant supplements.
- Other nutrients and aids. Many athletes use supplements or consume foods to improve performance, such as beetroot, caffeine, beta-alanine, and carnosine. Some of these are backed by more research than others.
For most people, eating a variety of whole foods ensures that you are getting enough micronutrients.
If you think you have a deficiency or want to try a new nutritional supplement, speak to a doctor.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy during exercise. As you increase the distance and time of your runs, your body also begins to use stored fat for fuel. Prioritizing your diet can help improve your performance.
Good timing when eating can make all the difference in your runs. Your timing largely depends on:
- how long and far do you run
- your personal goals
- your tolerance
- Your experience
The best way to find out what works for you is through trial and error.
Diet before the run
Most people who run for less than 60 minutes can safely exercise without eating first. Even so, you may want to have a small, high-carb snack to provide a quick source of glucose. Examples are (13, 14):
- 2-3 Medjool dates
- Apple sauce
- a banana
- a glass of orange juice
- Energy gel
If you plan to run for more than 60-90 minutes, have a small meal or snack containing about 15-75 grams of carbohydrates at least 1-3 hours before your workout.
This gives your body enough time to digest your food (8, 13, 14, 15).
Examples of carbohydrates to eat are:
- a fruit smoothie made from milk and a banana
- Scrambled eggs and toast
- a bagel with peanut butter
Avoid high-fiber foods a few hours before running, as these take longer to digest and can cause stomach upset during exercise. Examples are whole grains, beans, lentils, and some vegetables.
After all, people who run for more than 90 minutes may want to recharge with carbohydrates a few days before an event.
This involves consuming a large amount of carbohydrates before a long distance run to make sure your body is storing as much glycogen as possible for quick energy supply (8).
While carbohydrate loading, many people attempt to consume 3.2-4.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound (7-10 grams per kilogram) of their body weight per day 36 to 48 hours before running. The best sources are complex carbohydrates like (8, 9, 10):
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole wheat pasta
- Brown rice
- Multigrain bread
- low fiber cereals
During your run
The only macronutrient that you need to focus on while running is carbohydrates. What you consume should largely depend on the length and intensity of your run.
Here are general guidelines you can follow for different run lengths (8, 9, 10):
- Less than 45 minutes. No high-carb foods or drinks are required.
- 45-75 minutes. You might want a high-carbohydrate mouthwash or small sips of a sports drink.
- 60-150 minutes. You may want to replenish your blood sugar level with 30-60 grams per hour of a sports drink or energy gel.
- 150 minutes or more. For long distance endurance runs, you may need to fill up with 60-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Most people prefer to stock up on high-carb sports drinks, gels, chewy candies, and bananas.
Whether you eat right after your run depends on the intensity of the exercise, the duration of the run, and your personal preferences.
If you want to eat right away, try a small snack with carbohydrates and proteins, such as chocolate milk or an energy bar.
Try to eat a meal that is high in carbohydrates and protein within 2 hours of your run.
Try to consume between 20 and 30 grams of protein. Research has shown that this can promote increased muscle protein synthesis.
Some examples of high protein foods are (8, 9, 10, 16):
- Protein powder (whey or vegetable based)
You should also replenish your glycogen stores by eating complex carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, potatoes, brown rice, and whole grain bread, which provide a constant source of glucose for hours after your run (7, 8, 9, 15).
In most cases, food intake before, during and after the run depends on many personal factors. Try out some of these pointers and tweak them as needed to see what works best for you.
The benefits of fiber | 2021-09-21
The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025” state that more than 90% of women and 97% of men do not adhere to the recommended intake of fiber, and such deficits are associated with health risks. This is where fiber fortification in baked goods, a traditional source of intrinsic grain-based fiber, helps consumers get closer to their intake goals. While there is a lot of fiber in it, bakers may want to explore those that give the recipe a function, such as: B. those that can eliminate gluten in bread or reduce sugar in biscuits.
Family-owned and operated Royo Bread Co., New York, launches a low-calorie, keto-friendly artisanal bread that has 30 calories, 2 grams of net carbohydrates, and 11 grams of fiber per slice. Wheat-resistant starch is the first ingredient. Other sources of fiber include wheat protein, wheat bran, whole rye flour, ground flaxseed, and psyllium husk.
“Flax seeds are high in omega-3 fats and fiber,” says Ronit Halaf, a registered nutritionist who started the company in 2019 with her baker husband, Yoel Halaf. “Psyllium husks are an important part of all of our products. It contains soluble fiber and insoluble fiber that will help increase fullness, slow digestion, and most importantly, help you stay regular. Wheat protein, also called wheat gluten, is essential to keep our products together. It contains traces of wheat and is a rich source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. “
For Nature’s Path, Richmond, British Columbia, the focus was on eliminating added sugar in muesli. But ingredient technology also added fiber to it.
“People worry about the amount of sugar they’re consuming,” said Arjan Stephens, general manager of Nature’s Path. “Our new granolas contain 0% added sugar and are still 100% delicious.”
The muesli is available in vanilla-almond butter and mixed berry flavors, with each serving containing 17 grams of whole grain products. That doesn’t mean everything in fiber, however, as one serving only contains 3 grams. This still enables a high-fiber claim. The secret of the muesli’s sweet taste is its main ingredient: date powder.
“Dates are also high in fiber, which is great for digestive health,” said Stephens. “And their fiber content makes dates a low-glycemic food.”
While most Americans are aware that they need to consume more fiber and less sugar, it is not an easy task. You are not ready to forego quality and enjoyment.
According to a study by ADM Outside Voice, more than half of consumers associate fiber with benefits like digestive health. In addition, 56% of consumers report adding or increasing fiber to their diet, the Hartman Group reports in their report, Reimagining Wellbeing Amid COVID-19, 2021.
“However, added fiber can also be linked to digestive problems,” said Sarah Diedrich, Marketing Director, Sweetening Solutions and Fibers, ADM. “Our research has shown that almost 70% of consumers would stop buying a product if it caused gastrointestinal problems.”
This article is an excerpt from the September 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the full fiber optic feature, click here.
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