Paul McCartney and Bill Clinton aren’t the only baby boomer vegetarians. According to The Washington Post, more and more boomers are going vegetarian to try and help slow down the aging process and stave off illnesses associated with meat consumption.
In a Harris Poll conducted for the Vegetarian Resource Group, 2.5 million Americans over the age of 55 have removed meat products from their diet. It is expected that interest in vegetarianism has grown as a result of research over the past few years suggesting a meatless diet is a healthier way to live. For example, a diet free of red meat is said to reduce incidences of premature death and colon cancer.
According to one study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, eating just one serving a day of unprocessed red meat – about the size of a deck of cards – could increase risk of premature death by as much as 13 percent. If that meat is processed – bacon, sausage, hot dogs – the risk increases to 20 percent. I don’t know if hot dogs are worth it.
Another study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that meat consumption may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The Harvard Health Guide has also provided serious warnings on the link between meat consumption and colon cancer.
Despite the numerous benefits of a meatless diet, people should still monitor nutrient intake to maintain a healthy immune system and strong bones. Zinc is one nutrient commonly found in meat, which can also be found in nuts, seeds, spinach, asparagus, and mushrooms. A healthy level of calcium should also be maintained.
My father is a baby boomer and whenever I refuse to eat a giant ribeye, his response is “if God didn’t want us to eat meat, he wouldn’t have invented the barbecue grill.” This is probably why it surprises me to hear so many baby boomers are making the change. Perhaps they will inspire their children and grandchildren to do the same.
Image CC licensed by Cory Doctorow: Vegetarian dish (Mushroom strudel)