Meat Week: Nutritional Values with Lisa Levine!
We've looked at meat through a number of lenses over the past couple of weeks, but we know that we're missing something.
For many of us, health and wellness are values that parallel others we've discussed, and they may carry equal weight when we make our shopping choices.
However, this is one area where we definitely want to defer to the experts in the fields of nutrition, wellness, and overall whole-being health.
Today, we're bringing you an interview with Lisa Levine, Wellness Coach at Audacious Health & Wellness (and, full disclosure, personal friend and overall amazing person), about meat!
SARA LEHOULLIER: IF WE’RE GOING TO CHOOSE TO EAT MEAT, WHAT IS THE BEST, MOST RESPONSIBLE WAY FOR US TO EAT IT – FOR OUR HEALTH?
Lisa Levine: The way I would suggest is to go directly to the source. The best thing for your body is to eat animals that are sustainably raised – so I suggest going to your local Farmer’s Market, or a delivery service that has a shipping option, like Belcampo (a female-led company serving Organic, pasture raised meat from their CA farm and butchery). As far as what’s good for your body – like any particular type of meat – as a wellness professional I would say that it totally depends on what works for you. Everybody is different (and every body is different) – and a lot of what's good for you depends on your genetic profile, or Epigenetics. What works for me might not work for you.
Some people do better health-wise when they eat a more vegetarian diet, and some are much healthier when they incorporate animal protein. If you are going to eat red meat, you might not want to eat it more than 2-3 times per week - both for your health and for the planet. Poultry (sustainably raised!) is a little better for your body because it is less saturated.
One of the things I appreciate about Whole Foods is their rating system. The higher the rating the healthier the choice. Expect to pay more for higher numbers because it’s grass-fed or more humanely raised. Sustainably raised pork can be hard to find in the higher numbers; I will only buy pork from farmers at the farmers market.
The most important thing is to create a balance.
SL: ARE THERE ANY TYPES OF MEAT OR MEAT PRODUCTS THAT YOU THINK EVERYONE SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM?
LL: Anything processed. There are studies that say processed meats have the potential to contribute to cancer. At first we just heard about things like bacon & salami, but now warnings include all processed meats - even those with the 'right' labels. Health-wise, you should try to avoid nitrates, but sometimes when producers remove the nitrates, they add in sugar – they need some kind of preservative. If you are trying to avoid sugar it’s important to ask your butcher or at the deli-counter about the ingredients. Overall the jury isn’t totally out, but processed meats are something we should pay attention to. If you’re throwing food on the BBQ, probably chicken or even a steak would be a better choice than a hot dog or a sausage.
Meats and grains are an individual thing. As you pay attention to your priorities and your values, factor in what your body likes. I had a friend who was eating plant based for years and she was sick all the time. She was advised by her doctor to try adding in sardines and little fish – and her health improved drastically. Her value was stay plant-based but her body was saying that she needed to incorporate some other protein.
SL: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MEAT REPLACEMENTS?
LL: I think some are better than others, I don’t personally like them but they can be a great option. If you’re going to eat tofu then stick to non-GMO and organic varieties, otherwise they can be really contaminated by pesticides. Tempeh is slightly better for you than tofu. Across the board, the less processed the better.
SL: WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T HAVE AN ACCESS TO A FARMER’S MARKET BECAUSE OF LOCATION, INCOME, OR JUST PLAIN TIME?
LL: I'd recommend that people find friends or neighbors to go in on a large purchase with you. There's a great website that's continually growing its database of farmers -- Barn2Door is Seattle-based, but expanding nationally. Female founder, Janelle Maiocco’s passion is to connect farmers with consumers all over the country so you can go directly to them – there are pick-up places, there’s delivery, and if you go in with two or three friends and if this is one of your values. If it's a priority to you, then you can always figure out how to spend a little more between a few people to be more healthy and make the world a better place at the same time.
There are definitely farmers or butchers that ship, so even if you don’t have a farmer’s market nearby, if you do a little investigating, you can still usually find a farmer who does shares. If you don’t have friends to go in on it with you, the farmer might be able to connect you to some people!
SL: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MEAT-BASED RECIPES?
LL: My Shepherd's Pie is pretty darn delicious and it’s great with grass-fed beef or lamb.
I'm a huge fan of pork shoulder in the crock pot or instant pot for carnitas. I'm all about 'cook once and eat twice' - or three times. The other thing I love is my bone broth and the recipe is on the blog. It's great because it uses the whole animal; I’ll pick up the parts that are typically discarded like the chicken feet, and the backs and necks. Using the whole animal is part of my personal value system, and it actually makes the bone broth better for you because it retains all of the collagen and gelatin, which are excellent for your health.
We eat beef once or twice a week because my family does like it health-wise it works better for us than meat alternatives. And I'm totally judgement free about whatever anyone chooses! Sometimes people on both sides can be judgy and I want to avoid that. It’s all about bio-individuality here.
The bottom line is that everyone needs to eat more veggies. Everyone. Roast them, puree them, do whatever to them - just eat ‘em. And here's a little tip for those of you who have an abundance of zucchini every year in the garden: lightly steam them, freeze them and add them to your smoothies! It adds nutrients, has a great consistency, and very little flavor (so your kids won't even know, shhh).
I like meat, but I also try to not take it for granted. I understand that consuming a lot of animal products is not good for the planet, so I try to balance all of my values to be a conscious consumer while paying attention to what my body needs to be well.
A huge thanks to Lisa for being our first expert - we hope to have her back on the blog often!
We're also really excited to announce her upcoming retreat, Yes, This! Womens Wellness Retreat taking place October 13-15 on the Oregon Coast. Lisa has teamed up with Dr. Louise Rose, ND. to create a transformative weekend of self-care and relaxation that’s all about getting to experience what wellness for you, and then helping you create a customized roadmap so that you can get there whenever you choose. You’ll leave feeling inspired, renewed, recharged, transformed and EMPOWERED in body, mind & spirit. You can learn more about it right here.