Why do Russians still eat meat

In the coming decades, the world’s population will have to seriously reconsider their approaches to nutrition: drastically reduce the consumption of sugar, milk and meat in favor of food of plant origin. This is required not only by doctors and nutritionists, but also by environmentalists and economists. They argue that otherwise it will be impossible to feed people and keep their health. In Russia, healthy nutrition has already been undertaken at the state level, this is one of the goals of the national project “Demography”. The bad news is that Russians will have to abandon their usual lifestyle sooner or later, and because of the many years of hunger and the constant fear of being deceived, this will not be easy. Details – in the material “”.
Vegetable perspective
The June conference in Stockholm, Sweden, which gathered at the end of a large-scale research project EAT Lancet, discussed specific steps for the transition to vegetable food, which should be taken by governments and major international companies.
“I watched all the performances, and that I personally was hurt that Russia, the largest country in the territory, does not participate in such initiatives, but on the contrary, calls for increasing consumption of meat, milk and other animal products,” said “ »Zinaida Medvedeva from the National Research Center” Healthy Nutrition “.
Many may answer that Russia is a northern country. That is what determines her traditional diet. However, it was with experiments in the states of Northern Europe that the movement began to introduce healthy plant nutrition, which now exists under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the sixties of the last century, Finland was one of the leaders in cardiovascular mortality in Europe and the world. In the early 1970s, they decided to solve this problem fundamentally by developing a project called “North Karelia”. It was in this region, bordering on Russian Karelia, that it began.
“There lived strong and harsh male lumberjacks who ate fantastic amounts of butter (12 kilograms per year), meat, and actively consumed alcohol, Medvedev said. “By the age of 40, they had serious heart problems, and later they died quite early”.
Finns gathered doctors, sociologists, representatives of rural communities and began to work with the population, persuading people to tie up bad habits and switch to proper nutrition. The latter envisaged a reduction in the consumption of animal fats and butter in particular.
In just twenty years (from 1973 to 1995), the death rate from cardiovascular diseases in Finland has decreased eight times. The consumption of butter decreased by exactly the same amount.

Sergey Mamontov / RIA News
“We went to their nutrition research center, talked to the head of the project, Professor Pekka Puska (he, by the way, then went to work at the WHO, so they wanted to repeat his success in other countries),” recalls interlocutor. – And here we asked: what are you doing with your beautiful butter, which we consider almost a reference? They answered: we sell to Russia. ”
Consumption of domestic products for the Finns, according to her, is part of the national idea, and in this the Russians are similar to them. Only now the emphasis there is on the cultivation of rapeseed, as rapeseed oil is closest to olive oil (as some consider the most useful).
“They taught housewives to use margarine based on rapeseed oil. They gathered right in the kitchens and made traditional dishes using new recipes, ”Medvedev explains.
An additional incentive was savings. Cost of vegetable oil is much cheaper than butter.
It was possible to save and the state. This effect later, with reference to England, was described in his article by Professor Leav Anneman. According to his calculations, when switching 10 percent of UK residents to a vegetable diet, Her Majesty’s treasury will retain five billion pounds, which would be spent on health care.
There are those who perceive it as a call for compulsory vegetarianism, but experts note that this is only a “predominantly vegetable” diet, and there remains a place for meat, fish and dairy products.
Rustic vs. traditional
In Russia, a healthy diet is inextricably linked with the increase in milk consumption. However, in the affluent Western countries, the opposite trend is observed.
For example, US residents now eat 40 percent less milk than forty years ago. And this is not related to poverty. According to the 2019 Food and Health Survey, seven out of ten Americans are trying to eat more plant foods because they find it more useful.
Compound products are becoming increasingly popular in the west. Dairy products with vegetable fats are promoted by manufacturers there as something innovative, healthy, tasty and more environmentally friendly. The latter statement is supported by studies that the production of animal products requires significantly more natural resources.
“And in Russia, the same companies in advertising materials emphasize the traditional character of their products, their naturalness, closeness to nature,” says Zinaida Medvedeva. “This reinforces the delusion of our compatriots that dairy products of full fat are more beneficial, and its acquisition for their loved ones is a sign of special concern for them.”
The usefulness of full-fat milk without herbal supplements is actively emphasized in government programs conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture : “Three dairy products per day” and “School milk”.
“The choice of products for yourself and your children is a safety issue. And this default choice is made in favor of tradition, that is, in favor of the experience accumulated by the person himself, his parents and many generations of fellow tribesmen. But now we, the Russians, often go against traditions and there are reasons for that, ”explains psychologist Victor Vorotyntsev .
If you take the classic rustic “Russian table”, he notes, then this is wholemeal bread, porridge, turnip, wild berries, mushrooms, nuts, honey, fish, and so on. Basically – quite healthy food. However, the dietary features were not due to the struggle for healthy eating, but to the annual cycle of ripening and harvesting products, the lack of freezers and modern conservation methods, and the poverty of the Russian village.
In addition, almost half of the year, people spent in multi-day and one-day religious posts, the purpose of which was to pacify the flesh, and not recovery.
“Thus, the current opinion that the main thing is to eat milk and meat is not an appeal to tradition, but rather a desire to eat for a perennial half-starved existence, when food restrictions were imposed on people against their will,” Vorotintsev notes.
He believes that the purchase of cream and kebab instead of cheaper spread and soy meat by people living on meager wages in the regions is a kind of protest against poverty. “How am I going to feed my children with margarine? No, I can’t get down to such humiliation – that’s what Russians think, ”he adds.
And talk about the health benefits of such people are perceived as a mockery. Like, you tell us about the medical hunger strike.
Benefit benefit
An important reason for the negative attitude of Russians towards composite products was that in the 90s they were distributed by unscrupulous manufacturers, who concealed information on the composition on the labels for profit.

Frank May /
People were simply deceived by selling tinted palm oil instead of selected cream. The state failed to respond quickly to this problem. Only recently, the requirements of the Customs Union “On the safety of milk and dairy products” require a mandatory indication of the package “milk-containing product with milk fat substitute, produced by technology …” and so on.
This measure can really affect the consumer habits of Russians. A study conducted by the National Research Center “Healthy Nutrition” showed that 53 percent of those who buy composite products in supermarkets today under the guise of ordinary ones, will refuse them after renaming.
However, the dietitian, MD Alexei Kovalkov believes that the current international campaign in support of the transition of people to a predominantly vegetable diet or vegetarianism is a new attempt at mass selling.
In his opinion, it is no longer by concealing information on the composition of products, but through conducting custom-made research on producers, they impose on consumers what is beneficial to them.
“There is a shortage of proteins in the world. Making pork, for example, is significantly more expensive and more difficult than bread, bread and other high-carb foods. Now the benefits are explained by benefits, but we need to understand that our ancestors for a million years ate mostly meat, and that is what made man a man, ”Kovalkov says.
However, the market for compound and vegetable substitutes for classic dairy and meat products has formed small companies and startups, which would hardly have had enough money for reputable authoritative research. The food giants, who had such opportunities, were not ready for change and went the way of absorbing innovative start-ups.
So, Nestle last year acquired the American firm Sweet Earth Foods, which made burgers from vegetable protein. The French company Danone acquired the innovative company Alpro, which produces a wide range of vegetable analogues of cow’s milk, desserts and yoghurts. Finnish conservative worship of butter, Finnish companies from Valio, introduced an odd-based oat-based drink to the international market.
Perhaps for large and reputable dairy companies, which probably have their own lobby in national governments, the absorption of innovative food companies is not a whim, but a struggle for survival. This happened to the American Dean Foods, which, experiencing serious financial difficulties due to falling demand for milk, tried to find a way out by buying 70 percent of the shares of Good Karma Foods, which produces flaxseed based drinks.
In 2018, the Nemoloko brand from the Volgograd company “Sady Pridonya” appeared on the Russian market. It can be found in almost any store, but it is often perceived by consumers as before – as a product for those people who cannot drink regular milk, or as a substitute for milk in the post.
However, there is no need for domestic producers of milk to buy “vegetable” start-ups and fight for survival. But the situation may change in the future. According to the plans of national projects, the death rate from cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and strokes by 2024 should be reduced by almost a quarter. Options to achieve this without changing the diet, in the world have not yet found.
However, a lot will depend on the cost of vegetable analogues of meat and dairy products. The best quality of them is hardly affordable for most Russians.

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