Who can argue with Mom’s admonition to ‘eat your vegetables?’ The benefits of a vegetarian diet are many, and though I do not practice that nutritional approach in its entirety, I appreciate the health advantage and philosophy of the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. Due to popular demand, our Sedona Community Center’s Home Delivery of Meals on Wheels and our Community Lunch menus are now offering ‘Vegetarian Fridays’. In anticipation of this addition to our cuisine, Center staff met with local plant-based living experts Bev Bow and Don Fries. This energetic and knowledgeable duo helped steer us in the right direction for menu choices and delicious alternatives to meat-based entrees.
We are excited to offer this new option and it seems only fitting that we do some exploring into its merits. Besides the more obvious benefits, a plant-based diet offers some surprising results. For example widespread studies show—
- An improved mood: A study by B.L. Beezhold and C.S. Johnston discovered that restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in meat-eaters improved their moods. In this case the absence of meat also means the absence of arachidonic acid—a substance linked to mood disturbances.
- Kidney stone prevention: Doctors from NYU Langone recommend limiting consumption of animal-based protein to no more than six to eight ounces daily to avoid formation of kidney stones.
- Improvement in bronchial asthma symptoms: A promising study published by O. Lindahl in PubMed.gov noted “significant decrease in asthma symptoms” and “medication was withdrawn or drastically reduced” in subjects that practiced a vegan diet over a one year period.
- Reduction of cancer risk: Research published in the British Journal of Cancer found that in a study of over 35,000 women, those whose diets routinely included the most processed and red meat also had the highest risk of breast cancer. One theory is that foods with high fat content increase the hormones that promote cancer formation.
- Healthy gut conditions: The plant-based diet avoids the increase of B.wadsworthia, a bacterial microbe linked to inflammatory bowel disease, found inside the stomachs of people who eat animal foods. Faecil bile acid—a potential cause of gastrointestinal infections—is also more common in meat eaters.
There is so much more that can be said about the worth of a plant-based diet—the five points above are a great start in demonstrating why more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and beans and fewer portions of meat can improve overall well-being. If it is something you have been thinking about trying out, or if you are a plant-based-living connoisseur, I invite you to join us for our Friday lunch. Our Community Lunch is served at the Sedona Community Center Monday through Friday at 12 noon. Reservations are requested and cost is a reasonable $5 for people 60 and above and $6 for people under 60.