‘Meat Free Week’ can offer physical and mental benefits according to new research

Bowel Cancer Australia

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A major scientific study authored by researchers from the University of Queensland and the University of Warwick has revealed eating fruit and vegetables not only reduces risk of cancer and heart attacks, but also increases happiness levels with each extra portion consumed.

The release of the new study coincides with Meat Free Week (August 1st - 8th, 2016).

A dynamic awareness and fundraising campaign that motivates action, Meat Free Week is about making the choice to eat less meat, care more and feel good.

“Going meat free for one week creates a great opportunity to get people thinking about how much meat they eat and the impact consuming too much may have on their health not only physically, but now in light of new research, mentally,” said Claire Annear, Bowel Cancer Australia Community Engagement Manager. “Previous research has shown convincing evidence of increased bowel cancer risk with consumption of red (17% increased risk per 100g/day) and processed meat (18% increased risk per 50g/day)[i],” Ms Annear said.

The goal is that during the other 51 weeks of the year meat-eaters will consider portion sizes when including meat as part of a balanced diet. “This new study suggests health benefits from eating fruits and vegetables may extend beyond the body to the mind, which makes the Meat Free Week challenge even more compelling,” said Ms Annear.
The study, soon to be published in the prestigious American Journal of Public Health, followed more than 12,000 people, and found that alterations in fruit and vegetable intake were predictive of later alterations in happiness and satisfaction with life. People who transitioned over a two year period from a diet consisting of barely any fruit or vegetables to one that included eight portions per day, had the same increase in life satisfaction as someone who went from being unemployed to employed.
Less than 10 per cent of Australians meet the current guidelines recommending five serves of vegetables each day and less than half meet the recommendation of two serves of fruit[ii]. “We hope the new research will encourage more Australians to take up the challenge and sign on for Meat Free Week this year,” said Claire Annear, Community Engagement Manager at Bowel Cancer Australia.

"Raised on a farm, meat was a staple and I ate a lot growing up," said Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador Stephanie Bansemer-Brown.

“I still enjoy it now in moderation, but have become far more vigilant about how much meat I consume after being diagnosed at 41 with bowel cancer,” said Ms Bansemer-Brown.
“Meat Free Week gives me a chance to re-calibrate my eating choices and make a positive change to my own life while raising funds in support of Bowel Cancer Australia’s great work in helping to save lives. That certainly makes me happy! ” Ms Bansemer-Brown said.
Further details on Meat Free Week, including downloadable resources, recipes and fundraising tips can be found at www.meatfreeweek.org.
[i] World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007
[ii] Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 4338.0 - Profiles of Health, Australia, 2011-13. [Online]. Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/Lookup/by%20Subject/4338.0~2011-13~Main%20Features~Daily%20intake%20of%20fruit%20and%20vegetables~10009#, last accessed July 2016.
iii]Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Bowel cancer (colorectal cancer) 2015. [Online]. Available at: http://aihw.gov.au/cancer/bowel/, last accessed July 2016. 
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