Monday, September 26, 2011


United Kingdom (The Independent) - Sales of meat have slowed to a crawl around the world, thanks in part to the growing number of ‘flexitarians’ - that murkily-defined group of part-time vegetarians - and public health warnings outlining the perils of red meat consumption.  According to an August report from Euromonitor International, meat was one of the worst performers over the 2005 to 2010 period, with sales growing less than 14 % over the six-year period.  Only vegetables fared slightly worse, with a growth rate of 11 %.  The global trend is a reflection of the growing movement away from meat consumption, the report pointed out.  Red meat in particular has been getting a bad rap from scientists, public health authorities and governments around the world. 

Earlier this year, a groundbreaking study found a direct link between the consumption of red meats and processed meats and the increased risk of colorectal cancer.  The findings prompted public health authorities in the UK to advise cutting meat consumption to 70g a day.  Celebrity-led crusades championing animal welfare and environmental advocates have also made an impact on the meat market, the report said, as a growing number of consumers have either adopted a vegetarian diet or significantly reduced their meat intake - a population of semi-vegetarians also known as ‘flexitarians.’  While 1 % of US citizens described themselves as vegetarians in 1971, that percentage grew to 3.4 % in 2009.  Vegetarianism was also found to be fairly common in Taiwan, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Israel and the UK.

The “Meatless Mondays” movement - very popular among health and eco-conscious consumers - and celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in the UK were identified as influential chefs and food personalities who have been able to change consumers’ eating habits by raising public awareness on animal welfare issues.  India has the largest non meat-eating population in the world with an estimated 31 % of that country’s largely Hindu population described as lacto-vegetarians: they consume milk and honey, but no other animal-derived products. 

Recently a group of eminent doctors called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), themselves members of the American Medical Association, have decided to change the US consciousness on human nutrition, particularly among the medical community.   Armed with decades of nutritional research data, the PCRM - which is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. consisting of doctors and laypersons - frankly says:  “The fact is, it is very easy to have a well-balanced diet with vegetarian foods. Vegetarian foods provide plenty of protein. Careful combining of foods is not necessary.  Any normal variety of plant foods provides more than enough protein for the body’s needs. ... A diet focused on beans, whole grains and vegetables contains adequate amounts of protein without the ‘overdose’ most meat-eaters get.”

“What Is Hinduism?” :
Chapter 43 - “The Meat-Free Life”

“Five Reasons to Be a Vegetarian & Ten Arguments Against Eating Meat”
Hinduism Today Magazine

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