Whilst it’s a universal truth that a bacon sandwich is the most delicious thing on earth, it’s also true that processed meats don’t do great things to your body. A life of limp hemp salads and granola burgers can be an unappealing prospect, but luckily the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, which provides support for everyone affected by bowel cancer, have stepped in to provide a bit of motivation in the form of the Veg Pledge challenge.
Tap your meaty habits into their Veg Pledge calculator to discover how much you’re spending on animal flesh each week, then go without for seven short days and donate the dosh saved. Then sit back, relax, and bask in the healthy glow of moral and physical superiority your plant-based diet and charitable actions have given you.
If riding the moral high-horse instead of eating it isn’t incentive enough, note that it’s not just your waistline that suffers from meaty treats. Study after study have launched processed meats firmly into the WHO’s Group 1 category – meaning that “there is convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer.” Bacon, sausages, ham and other delicious guilty meals lie here, rubbing shoulders with well-known villains such as a lifetime of smoking and regularly imbibing far too many beers. This doesn’t mean they’re all equally risky, but still…
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One in 14 men in the UK experience bowel cancer and the World Cancer Research Fund estimates that almost half of bowel cancer cases in the UK – over 20,000 new cases annually – could be prevented through lifestyle choices. Whilst these include the usual culprits of risky behaviors like smoking, drinking too much and being overweight, there is also a strong link between bowel cancer and a diet that’s high in red and processed meat – so by taking part in the Veg Pledge you’ll be helping cut your own chances of developing the disease whilst providing essential support to those already suffering.
Conversely, the praises of a predominantly vegetarian diet are being sung louder and louder. With the NHS recommendations for veg intake recently being upped from five to eight portions a day, it makes sense to swap out some ham for fibre and nutrient-rich veggies. As well as improving your general health, lots of fibre helps keep your digestive system healthy and the vitamins in veg help keep your immune system strong. The NHS recommends eating no more than 70g of red or processed meat a week, going cold imitation-turkey for a week good be the impetus you need to get under that target once and for all.
And if your meat-and-two-veg dinner is looking a bit sad minus the meat, check out the recipes Veg Pledge provides, such as lentil curry, veggie lasagna and a cheese rice bake. Not to be outdone, we’ve gathered some of our own vegetarian recipes, below.