Less meat would improve American’s happiness, health


Savon Gray is a contributing columnist for the Kentucky Kernel.

Savon Gray

Meat is American. Going to a baseball game and eating a hotdog is almost as American as shaking Uncle Sam’s hand, and meat has become a staple of American society. 

Many Americans are given no choice of how much meat they consume, and from the time they are old enough to chew, they are given meat and taught to consume it. Science is beginning to show that this lifestyle can cause problems down the road. Studies have shown that eating processed and red meats can actually cause cancer. This was major news, and although the amount of meat that Americans consume has been decreasing yearly, it seems as if most are unable to give up their diets.

Even fewer people think to completely cut out animal products from their diet and go vegan. However, making this decision can bring many health benefits other than reducing cancer risk.

Clearer skin can be one side effect of a vegan diet, as the saturated fats found in animal products have been found to clog pores. The average American male eats 6.9 oz of meat a day and the average American woman eats 4.4 oz. With a vegan diet, these amounts of meat are often replaced with fruits and vegetables that have vitamins and minerals in them which promote healthy skin. Beans contain zinc which combats zits and pimples, and Vitamins C and E help prevent wrinkles and discolored spots.

An Oxford university study found that out of a sample of 38,000 adults, those who ate meat had the highest body mass index, while vegans had the lowest. Vegan diets tend to be high in fiber and antioxidants, both of which have been linked to weight loss. 

Plant-based diets have also been found to reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as one third. Doctors have noted that as their patients transition to a more plant-based diet, they observe immediate improvements in cholesterol profiles, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and many other aspects of health.

The British Journal of Health Psychology conducted a study in which 300 individuals were asked to keep a food diary for three weeks in which they rated their moods. The study found that the individuals who consumed more produce had more energy, were more calm, and had a greater sense of happiness (and these effects extended into the following days).

When science tells us that our habits are doing damage to ourbodies, we should listen and in return make changes — regardless of how instilled these habits are. Perhaps good health should be as American as eating meat is, and there needs to be a shift in American values. 

To face the facts, it is crucial to be able to make life changes that allow us to be as healthy and live as long as possible. Although a vegan diet is often looked at as taboo, making the decision to have an entirely plant-based diet could have a large impact on an individuals health — something Americans need.  

Savon Gray is a journalism sophomore.

Email [email protected]