When we attend the Food & Nutrition lessons taught in school, we learn about the Six Food Groups as designed by the Caribbean Food & Nutrition Institute (CFNI). We are taught to use this guide to plan meals for healthy eating as it is modelled off the food we produce in the Caribbean.
The groups are:
1. Staples e.g. cassava, potato, plantain, macaroni, rice, porridge, etc.
2. Legumes & Nuts e.g. kidney beans, gungo peas, peanuts, cashew nuts, etc.
3. Vegetables e.g. callaloo, pumpkin, cho-cho, cucumber, garden egg, etc.
4. Fruits e.g. mango, guava, pawpaw, June plum, sweet sop, pineapple, etc.
5. Food From Animals e.g. meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, egg, yoghurt, etc.
6. Fats & Oils e.g. cooking oil, coconut milk, avocado pear, ackee, butter, etc.
The Caribbean dietary guideline is very well done, except for the inclusion of the ‘Food from Animals’ group. Although, the eating of meat is culturally acceptable for the wider society, we have had different social and religious groups who abstain from consuming animal products to varying degrees. So, we can admit that eating meat is a social normal but, are we really supposed to eat food from animals?
Dan Piraro of Bizarro.com produced a very animated and informative video about why meat is bad for you:
As brought out in Piraro’s video, in many ways, eating meat is like any other unhealthy lifestyle or habit that has long term effects. You won’t necessarily have instantaneous physical injury or other such drastic and obvious effects from maintaining an omnivorous diet. However, the practice of eating meat has its hazards.
Many medical professionals have identified various lifestyles diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, that are the direct result of a diet based on meat and dairy products. These foods are filled with saturated fats, parasites, viruses, and bacteria. Most of the animals raised for commercial consumption are raised on steroids, hormones, and antibiotics, and these extra ‘condiments’ for the meal are not eliminated all together from the heat process of cooking.
There are more factors that could be considered as we ponder the question, “Meat – to eat or not to eat”. Yet, there are more good reasons to stop eating meat than there are to continue.