It seems that nearly every day we are told that cherished health facts we have come to know and love are, in essence, a load of tosh. Yep, according to the experts, you don’t lose the most heat out of your head (ahh), eating close to bedtime doesn’t make you fat (phew) and sugar doesn’t make children hyper-active (I’m not willing to test that one out). So we put together our own Top 10 list of meat and dairy myths so you can easily sort fact from fiction.
1. Myth: We need to eat meat to get enough protein
Fact – Eating too much animal protein has been directly linked to the formation of kidney stones and has been associated with cancer of the colon and liver. By replacing animal protein with vegetable protein, you can improve your health while enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods.
2. Myth - Children need dairy products to grow up strong and healthy.
Fact – Contrary to a popular milky myth, studies strongly implicate dairy in causing, rather than preventing, osteoporosis, because its high protein content leeches calcium from the body. Fortified soya and rice milks however, provide calcium, vitamins, iron, zinc and protein, but contain no cholesterol.
3. Myth: Meat is needed for a healthy and balanced diet
Fact – Population studies show that meat-eaters have three times the obesity rate of vegetarians and nine times the obesity rate of vegans. Eek!
4. Myth: Milk is easily absorbed by the body
Fact – It is biologically normal – and usual in most human populations – for humans to be unable to digest lactose (the sugar in milk). Millions of people are lactose-intolerant, a condition that can bring on bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes and asthma. As early as 2 years of age, most people begin to produce less lactase, the enzyme that helps with the digestion of milk.
5. Myth: Men aren’t men if they don’t eat meat
Fact – High cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, prostate cancers or inflammations, and hormonal imbalances cause the vast majority of all cases of impotence. Medical science suggests that all of these conditions can be managed, or in some case even prevented, with a low-fat vegan diet.
6. Myth: Meat is good for the heart
Fact – Research has shown that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and they have 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters.
7. Myth - Humans are natural carnivores
Fact – Ah this old chestnut. Carnivorous animals have claws, short digestive tracts, and long, curved fangs. Humans have flat, flexible nails, and our so-called “canine” teeth are minuscule compared to those of carnivores and even compared to vegetarian primates like gorillas and orang-utans.
8. Myth: Fish is a health food.
Fact - Fish flesh contains toxins from the water that fish live in, and those toxins get passed on to people who eat fish. Fish raised on farms are given antibiotics, which are also passed on to consumers. Even if you could be sure that the fish you eat were free of chemicals, the flesh of some sea animals, especially shrimps and scallops, contains even more cholesterol than beef!
9. Myth: Milk is ok to drink throughout your adult life
Fact – Besides humans (and domesticated animals who are fed by humans), no other species drinks milk beyond infancy or drinks the milk of another species. Cow’s milk is suited to the nutritional needs of calves, who – unlike human infants – have four stomachs.
10. Myth: Vegetarians can’t get Vitamin B12
Fact – Heath experts encourage everyone, not just vegetarians, to take a multivitamin or a B12 supplement (or eat B12 fortified foods like some breakfast cereals, soya milks, meat substitutes, and yeast extracts like Marmite) to ensure that they are getting adequate amounts. Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria, not animals or plants.