Saturday, September 24, 2016

Confessions of a Red Meat Addict: How To Get More Vegetables In Your Diet

One of my closest friends from back in high school is addicted to red meat.

He’s a Meataholic in my book.

He just loves meat, mostly beef. He was raised on meat, and never liked vegetables. But as he gets older, he’s noticing the adverse health effects of having a high meat diet.

He’s asked me to do two things: Explain how a high meat diet can negatively affect your health, and provide some tips on how to get more vegetables into your diet if you are a Meataholic.

The thing is, some people just don’t like vegetables but know that they need to eat them.

Even if you aren’t a Meataholic, this article is still useful to read so you can understand the dangers of consuming a high meat diet.

Plus, learning about how to sneak more vegetables into your diet can’t hurt either.

The Dangers Of Red Meat

I think most people have heard someone or another say, “Don’t eat too much red meat, it’s bad for you.” But, why – what specifically can it cause?

Hardening of Blood Vessels

hardening blood vessels

Red meat is generally high in saturated fat, which we know is bad for our hearts and circulatory systems already. But red meat also contains cartinine, an amino acid with both good and bad properties.

An article posted on the Harvard Health Blog explains that consuming red meat delivers cartinine to bacteria that resides in our guts. As a result, a compound called TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide) is produced. It’s this compound, TMAO, which has been studied and shown to increase risks of hardening blood vessels in humans.

Risk of Diabetes

risk diabetes

While the detrimental effects of red meat on heart health and blood vessels may be more well known, a lesser known, but still serious concern is adult-onset, or type 2 diabetes.

A study published in the Diabetes Care Journal by doctors at Harvard Medical School aimed to assess whether red meat intake was related to an increased occurrence of adult-onset diabetes.

They studied over 37,000 participants for around 9 years – mostly women over 45 years old. They found that a high intake of red and processed meat may indeed increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in these women.

Risk of Cancer

risk of cancer

The International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC) explained in a press release that eating red meat and processed meat is carcinogenic to humans. The press release indicated that the cooking process results in carcinogenic compounds within the meat.

Further, some carcinogenic compounds are already present in the raw meat before it is cooked.

According to an article posted on, the World Health Organization has stated that processed meat can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. It’s also been shown to increase the risk of pancreatic and prostate cancer as well. Yikes!

Increased Risk of Death

increased death

Unfortunately, eating too much meat, especially processed meat, can also increase your risk of death.

A study posted in BMC Medicine analyzed roughly 450,000 men and women to see whether meat intake was associated with cardiovascular, cancer, or “other causes of death.” The results indicated that there is a “moderate” relationship between eating meats and mortality. Scary stuff.

Easy Ways to Eat More Vegetables

Now, this isn’t to scare you though. Instead, it should be noted that having a balanced diet that includes meat is fine.

Meat is a great way to get many nutrients including protein, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. So this doesn’t go to say that you need to remove it from your diet, only that having a balanced diet is preferred.

Even so, some heavy meat eaters just don’t like vegetables.

To help out, here are some easy ways to get more veggies into your diet. Some tactics are even sneaky.

Sneak Vegetables Into Meat

get veggies in

This idea takes a little bit of preparation, but will give your hamburger patties and other ground meat recipes extra flavors. Essentially, all you need to do is grate or chop vegetables and mix them into your ground meat before making them into patties, taco meat, or whatever meal it is you plan on making.

Try these tasty add-ins:

  • Chopped Parsley
  • Grated Zucchini
  • Chopped Bell Pepper

Here’s how to do this: Mix the vegetables in a large bowl with the ground meat. You can add an egg to keep the mixture from crumbling if you notice it’s starting to separate. From there, make your patties as usual and toss them right on the grill! It’s that simple.


fruit and veg

I love smoothies – who doesn’t? It’s an easy way to get fruit, sure, but adding just a little bit of vegetables does next to nothing to the flavor, and you get one step closer to meeting your vegetable quota for the day!

Just fix up your usual smoothie and add a cup of pretty much any leafy vegetable you want. I’d suggest vegetables with less bitterness since these may also have a sweetness to them.

The most common additions are:

I usually make smoothies by throwing in a whole banana, a handful or two of frozen blueberries, a dollop of peanut butter, and a cup of spinach. Add in a base like soy milk or orange juice, and some ice for additional texture, and blend away!

Swap Carbs with Veggies

swap carbs

I like to have mashed potatoes with many of my meals, especially with steaks. But have you ever tried mashed… broccoli? I’m not even kidding, mashed broccoli is a thing.

You’ll need a few bunches of broccoli, some garlic, oil, and butter. Simply steam up the broccoli and mash everything together like you would mashed potatoes (or use a blender).

For those of you who hate broccoli, have no fear, it’s not the only vegetable you can serve up mashed. Here are a few more:

  • Cauliflower
  • Butternut Squash
  • Carrots

To be frank, mashed potatoes served straight are pretty boring. At least to me. I usually have to add some flavoring like cheese or spices. No one says you can’t do that with mashed vegetables. Go crazy!

Salsa is a Vegetable


I love salsa. You can put it on top of, or inside of, pretty much any meat and it will taste good.

You can make salsa with a ton of fresh vegetables you don’t like the taste of and you won’t even notice them in there.

While salsa at the store might taste good, it would be wise to make your own so you know exactly what’s going into it.

Here’s a really easy salsa recipe to try:

  • 2 cups of diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cups of chopped onions
  • A handful of chopped cilantro
  • Minced jalapeño to taste, if you like spicy food
  • Lime juice to taste if you like it sour
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Blend in the magic blending machine

You can also add corn, beans, and bell peppers if you want to beef up the vegetable count.

Final Thoughts

get a mix

To wrap up, we’ve gone over some of the pitfalls of eating red meat, or too much processed meat in general. As I mentioned, meat does have its benefits, but too much of it can really take a toll on your circulatory system and put you at risk for diabetes and cancer.

There are a lot of easy ways to balance your diet in terms of adding vegetables, and I only went over a few of them here. I like to experiment with adding vegetables to ground meat and using it for tacos or burgers – certain vegetables add more of a kick (think peppers).

You’d be surprised at what you can do with vegetables to both increase your meal’s nutritional value, as well as flavor.

Let me know if you guys have any easy way you get vegetables in your own diet, I’d love to know!

The post Confessions of a Red Meat Addict: How To Get More Vegetables In Your Diet appeared first on Nutrition Secrets.

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