Meatless is an avenue explored by people who want to improve their health. Going vegan or vegetarian is not an easy thing to do. Some people go meatless for health benefits, and others do it for humane reasons. I bet a lot of you will be seriously thinking of going meatless after hearing what my guest, Kristie Middleton has to say. So let’s get this show on the road!
Kristie Middleton grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia. Together with her older sister, Kristie Middleton doted so much on their three dogs who were regarded as dear members of their family.
Because of her background, it wasn’t surprising that Kristie Middleton has always had a soft heart towards animals, not only dogs. So when there was an in-depth class discussion on euthanasia when she was in college, it struck her hard.
According to that college professor, set aside the term ‘meat,’ we are technically and eating the flesh of dead animals. The term ‘meat’ is something that most people take for granted. Consequently, Kristie Middleton says that class discussion was the turning point of her decision to become a vegetarian.
Going meatless was a struggle at first. But whenever Kristie Middleton is reminded of the billions of animals being abused and slaughtered for food, it strengthened her resolve not to waver from her meatless diet. It was hard years ago to find vegetarian restaurants and supermarkets, but times have changed.
Kristie Middleton found that embracing a plant-based diet was initially difficult. But seeing there were more benefits than disadvantages, she persevered. She eventually took her advocacy a notch higher by gradually becoming a vegan and getting involved with a variety of non-profit animal welfare organizations.
The Humane Society Of The United States
Aside from working with several non-profit animal welfare organizations, Kristie Middleton leveled up and became the senior food policy director of the Humane Society. This is where she has been working for the past eight years. The Humane Society Of The United States is the country’s premier organization whose mission is primarily to protect animals.
“We help institutions with incorporating meatless or more plant-based dishes in their menus. Surveys show that 95% of consumers want animals to be cared for, but there is a big disconnect between what consumers want and what the reality is,” shares Kristie Middleton.
Most of the work Kristie Middleton does is helping to change institutional menus rather than changing individual diet. This small but significant effort apparently has a massive impact on animals.
Kristie Middleton cited egg-laying hens as an example of the harsh reality that animals face. Apparently, egg-laying hens in food production factories in the United States and Canada are confined in tiny battery cages. To paint a more brutal picture, those cages are just about the size of a desk drawer!
Those hens are not able to do anything natural. After 18 months of living in cramped cages, they are sent off to slaughter. They do not get to walk around to exercise or even get out for some sunshine. As a comparison, when we go on long plane flights, it is pure torture to be sitting in a small chair that hardly bends back, right? Just imagine what those poor chickens go through, only to meet their doom months later.
“When animals are intensively confined, they are fed a high dose of antibiotics,” reveals Kristie Middleton. “About 80% of antibiotics that we use are given to treat animals to prevent them from getting sick. In effect, we are consuming whatever the chickens are ingesting, and that has adverse effects on our health.”
Earlier this year, Kristie Middleton launched her book entitled, ‘MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live — One Meal at a Time.’ In the book, she explains the numerous reasons why we should go meatless, as well as several delicious plant-based recipes that are very easy to do.
There’s one part of the book that readers are sure to be interested in reading about. Kristie Middleton narrated this one woman who the Humane Society helped. She, along with her husband, bought a property in the central valley of California.
Right beside the property was an egg farm, where the breeding conditions were inhumane. Kristie Middleton recalls that it was also an environmental nightmare. The manure from the chickens were disposed of in a big lagoon nearby, hence causing water contamination.
Kristie Middleton narrates that the ammonia fumes from the egg farm were so severe such that it caused the neighbors’ eyes to burn during hot days. It also caused nausea and headaches to anyone living nearby. What’s worse, there was a very bad fly infestation around the area.
As a countermeasure, Kristie Middleton said the Humane Society helped the couple file a suit against the farm. The court eventually awarded them a monetary settlement. There are still many farms in the United States operating under inhumane conditions so Kristie Middleton remains aggressive in advocating programs that protect animals and promoting a plant-based diet.
“The Humane Society advocates the 3Rs: Reducing, Replacing and Refining. We reduce meat consumption, replace it with plants and refine by choosing to buy food from higher welfare stores,” said Kristie Middleton.
Transitioning To A Meatless Diet
If you’re serious and ready to transition to a plant-based diet, I highly recommend Kristie Middleton’s book. Her book expounds on how to make gradual changes by taking small steps.
“To avoid being overwhelmed with the sudden change, try meatless Mondays. If that is initially too much for you, try to eat vegetables all day and indulge in what you want to eat for dinner. Essentially, the goal is to commit to something that is doable for you,” suggested Kristie Middleton.
Another way is to make meat a side dish and making fruits, vegetables, whole grain plants and proteins the center of your plate. However, there seems to be a considerable debate on how much proteins we should consume.
Kristie Middleton says that ideally, women should consume 45 grams of protein while men should consume 55 grams. She says that protein is an over-emphasized nutrient and too much protein causes an increase in saturated fats and cholesterol. For a list of suggested menus, you may refer to the Menus Of Change website.
“Beans, legumes and nut butter are good. Make sure to eat a balanced diet because we overeat meat. Increasing plants and reducing meat your diet will help us achieve a humane and healthful society.
Kristie Middleton is the senior food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States, the world’s largest animal protection organization. She directs the group’s efforts to promote plant-based eating. Kristie has worked with some of the nation’s largest school districts—including Los Angeles Unified School District, Detroit Public Schools, and Boston Public Schools—as well as dozens of hospitals and colleges to implement healthier eating programs.
Kristie Middleton is the author of MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live—One Meal at a Time, due out March 2017. She travels and frequently speaks to groups associated with food and nutrition and is a regular speaker at national animal protection conferences.
Kristie Middleton completed a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in August 2014. She lives with her husband Mark, a dog and four cats in Oakland, California.
Get Connected With Kristie Middleton!
Book By Kristie Middleton
Recommended Reading by Kristie Middleton
How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger