At this time of year meat consumption is probably at its highest…..hams, turkeys, ducks, pork…….so many meals to cater for. But maybe you are feeling like you want to opt out and become a ‘veggie” or even a vegan for a while? Jay Z and Beyonce announced that they are on a 22 day plant based diet which will end on Christmas Day. Certainly, giving up animal products can help prevent weight gain during the holiday season, provide an energy boost, help reduce stress by lowering blood pressure and even lower grocery shopping bills. According to the principles of TCM however, cutting out animal products all together may not be such a good idea.
A balance of yin and yang energy is necessary to keep the body healthy. By eliminating animal products the body will become too yin (cold in nature) as most meat, fish and eggs are yang, whereas most fruits and vegetables are yin in properties. Many nutritionists claim that soybeans can be a good substitute for animal products. TCM doctors state, however, that vegetables will not provide complete nutrition long term. Calcium and iron are two important minerals that can be found in many vegetables, such as kale, spinach and broccoli, and also in beans, but they are not as easily absorbed by the body as are animal products because of their high oxalic acid content. Incorrect food combinations can also affect their absorption in the body. For example, for maximum absorption of calcium from milk, it should not be taken on an empty stomach or with fruit or fruit juices.
A vegetarian or vegan diet can be very useful short term and may be very beneficial for people who have problems with obesity, cholesterol, blood fat and uric acid. However, a meat free diet is not considered healthy in TCM in general for seniors, children or pregnant women. So, if you are considering becoming a vegetarian, maybe following in Beyonce’s footsteps this year is not a bad idea.