The media has been overflowing with the news that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared processed meat as carcinogenic. Many conscientious people are mourning their bacon while others are making rebellious statements about how they will continue to eat it because their 96 year old grandma who smokes 20 a day still does. Go on then - yawn.
This really isn't news, though I am glad if the declaration does bring some more purity back to the diet of many people: that would be a wonderful outcome for everyone (including the poor farmed animals, and our suffering planet). It is indeed important to be mindful of the amount of processed meat in your diet - aim for none if you can. Anything close to none would be great if coupled with an outstandingly healthy diet to wash it through (high natural fibre - thick oats, legumes, leafy veg and berries, to name a few).
By the way, examples of processed meat include salami, hot dogs, bacon, sausages, luncheon meats/cold cuts and so on....
The bottom line remains the same: we have had overwhelming research for a very long time which shows that diets which are predominantly plant based are associated with lower rates of chronic disease, including cancer. In addition to the research, we have real world observational studies which show the same thing. We know how to improve our diets to an excellent settling point - avoiding processed anything! Don't go swapping that processed meat for fake, processed, tofu bacon - yucky and likely unhelpful. Don't start eating cereal (more refined carbs) instead of cold cut processed chicken - not helpful.
Roast a whole organic chicken or piece of organic beef and use it for meals and cold slices for sandwiches (this can work out as more economical too).
Use cold, precooked oily fish in sandwiches or salads instead (mackerel or salmon are delicious).
Legume based dips make a fantastic, protein rich sandwich filler - hummus is now available everywhere, and making your own dips from mashed beans and/or lentils is so easy and yummy.
Don't forget about nut butters - so yummy and versatile. Try peanut butter and banana together.
And don't neglect eggs - so reliable, versatile and cheap - remember to get organic ones if possible.
Every meal should be accompanied by a lovely mountain of vegetables - rotate through different types ensuring a large pile of dark, leafy greens at least once a day.
You really won't look back once you start trying the fillings I've listed above: yummy, so healthy and colourful too - the way food is supposed to look.
The announcement about processed meat is just another nail in the coffin of processed food in general: eat real food, mostly plant based - see how different you feel. If you don't know how to go about it, come and see me!