Macrobiotics follows the pattern of all the world’s longest-standing civilizations, which are all primarily whole food, plant-based. The macrobiotic diet is part of an overall lifestyle that brings balance and harmony, a comprehensive approach to health and life. The question of whether it is okay to eat meat occasionally or not must be taken in context for each individual and determined by their overall diet and lifestyle. Ultimately, we all have to learn how to make the best choices for our diet and lifestyle.
This is unique to macrobiotics because being vegan or vegetarian alone doesn’t automatically guarantee optimal health. The greater our health, the more flexibility we have with our diet. However, the choice of eating meat has health, ethical, environmental, and spiritual implications.
People may want to eat meat for different reasons. For some, they may want to eat meat for their favorite family and holiday meals. Additionally, some medical treatments (prolonged antibiotic or steroid use and chemotherapy) may require the short or long-term consumption of certain animal foods, including meat or eggs. If you find yourself craving meat, it could be due to an overly restrictive practice over time.
Treating Meat as Part of a Healthy Diet
The most important factor for deciding on whether a person should eat meat or not, is whether it is part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Outside of wild fish, both beef and lamb are the healthiest meats to eat because they come from herbivores. Keep in mind, the quality of these meats is very important. Choose meats that are grass-fed, pasture-raised, antibiotic-free, and free of growth hormones.
Increasing numbers of macrobiotic practitioners are choosing to be vegan for health, as well as ethical, environmental, and spiritual reasons. Others have decided to add wild fish to their plant-based practice. Some people think that meat should be included in a healthy diet, as small amounts were commonly included in meals of traditional cultures. Trying to make such comparisons can prove tricky, as our modern day lifestyle is drastically different from before the Industrial Revolution. In addition, the nutritional content of food is steadily decreasing.
For example, in the 1800s, people spent about 50% of their time outdoors. In the 1950s it was about 25%. Now, the average person spends about 7% of their time outdoors. Our level of activity and contact with nature has decreased dramatically over the years.
Quality, Quantity & Frequency of Meat Intake
The healthiest way to eat meat is to incorporate it into a healthy dish, such as being cooked with beans, grains, vegetables, and soups. This helps to detoxify and neutralize any harmful aspects of the meat and to carry it through the digestive system more efficiently.
Right now, the average person consumes close to half a pound of meat every single day! This includes beef, pork, and poultry. Before the Industrial Revolution in Europe, the average meat consumption was 5-10 kgs per person each year. This was mainly during holidays and festivals in the form of roasts or stews. And in Asian countries during this time, the average was only 2 kgs!
Remember, a varied wholefood, plant-based diet provides all of the necessary nutrients abundantly, except, in some cases, vitamin B-12. Some people live their entire lives without eating any meat and have no B-12 deficiencies. Others have found a need to supplement. To be safe, I do recommend a regular vitamin B-12 supplement because the body will simply excrete what it does not need.
So, if you are wondering whether a person must eat meat to be healthy, the answer is a clear no. Macrobiotics is about learning how to make healthy choices for our diet and lifestyle. We try to include the best guidelines for those people who choose to eat some meat. We hope that this information helps you to make the best out of your holidays!