Blog Post: Stuart Diamond, Editor-in-Chief - May 29, 2009

Here is another story on the dangers associated with eating red meat. The research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine said that for men who eat only the equivalent of a ¼ hamburger a day had a 22 percent higher chance of dying of cancer and a 27 percent greater chance of dying of heart disease. The women who ate the most red meat were 20 percent more likely to die of cancer and 50 per cent more likely from heart disease. Finally, we have to admit that statistics are compelling. For the vast majority of us who grew up eating red-meat, carnal abstinence can be challenging. Over the years I think I have been reasonably successful a switching off the red meat -- with the occasional glorious fall from grace. (Those infamous BBQ spareribs at Saigon Grill is definitely one of the last great hurdles to a vegan lifestyle.) But for the most part, I do stay away from red meat.

I was thinking about how I did it. And it comes down to strong flavoring. Skinless chicken is a good low-fat protein source, but admittedly bland when served naked. But the very blandness of chicken is a plus when you surround it with flavors. I enjoy chicken because it absorbs the flavoring and spices in which it is cooked. It can be aromatic. It can be spicy. It can be sweet. All this works, of course, as long as we are not deep frying or loading our chicken dish with saturated fats (e.g. thick slices of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.)  Same with many fish recipes. Cook fish in a chili curry sauce and it can be rich and flavorful.  And then there is the blandest of vegetarian bliss – tofu. With the right chef, tofu and its cousins, can make a quite respectably tasty meal. Maybe not Filet Mignon, but respectable.

Heavy meats – your basic slab of marbled sirloin or that glistening pork roast – inevitably dominate a meal flavor-wise. You can add some tasty accents to the flavor of meat, but it’s always meat. So here is the insight – eating healthy is a chance to experiment -- to widen one’s palate. Think of healthy eating as a journey to the wild, off-beat tastes.

So let’s think of meat eating as parochial and conservative and healthy-eating as a walk on the far side and we all may end up a lot better off along the way.


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