No one disputes the fact that obesity is a major problem in this country. Bottom line, Americans are fat. Reversing that epidemic is the problem and we just can't agree on the best way to do that. Well, Los Angelinos think they may have the answer. The city council has just declared "Meatless Mondays."
The idea behind it is that meat consumption isn't just a big contributor to weight problems, it has also been linked to heart disease as well as colon, prostate, kidney, and breast cancers. "Eating less meat can prevent and even reverse some of our nation's most common illnesses," said councilwoman Jan Perry, who led the motion. Translation: meat is evil. While I applaud this noble attempt to make citizens healthier, this plan is destined to fail.
The problem isn't just meat. It's just a convenient bad guy. Yes, being a vegetarian can be a healthy lifestyle, but it's not always. I have seen plenty of pudgy people who don't eat meat. This whole initiative glosses over the real problem -- which is portion control. We are a gluttonous bunch whether we are noshing on steak or soy patties.
So, if people attempt to go meatless on Monday, I bet they will still fill their plates with fatty and high calorie foods: pasta loaded with cheese, veggies soaked in better, fried fish. Added the councilmen: "We've become disconnected in some ways from the simple truth that our health is directly affected by the foods we eat." I give people more credit than that. In this day and age, everyone knows that unhealthy food will make you unhealthy. That is no big secret. Though even with that knowledge, people still want more for their money.
They don't want 8-oz. steaks and palm-size broiled fish fillets. They want to feel stuffed. And they want delicious, mouth-watering, savory meals. Not baked cod with a dash of salt or steamed broccoli without butter. This is a problem, of course. People have to want to make sacrifices to get healthier. But cutting out meat one day a week still isn't the answer. They need to get people thinking about how much they put in their mouths, not just what they consume. So what if they give up meat one day if they gorge on it the six other days of the week?
There are plenty of people who have meat in their diets who are healthy. Perhaps there are lessons we can learn from them -- grill instead of frying; cut back on butter and oil; eat fish at least a couple times a week; make sure that half the plate is filled with veggies. I bet those kinds of changes will have a more lasting effect on our health overall.
Do you think "meatless Mondays" are a good idea?
Image via The Marmot/Flickr