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Eating Meat Kills People. So Why Do We Keep Eating It?

Eating Meat Kills People. So Why Do We Keep Eating It?

Editor’s Note: This post is a Care2 favorite, brought back by popular demand. It was originally published on April 23, 2013. Enjoy!

What’s the news in nutrition these days?

It’s that red meat can kill you, and processed meat can kill you.

We knew that already, you say?

Sure, but it turns out they can kill you even faster than we thought.

According to Dr. Frank Hu, co-author of a new Harvard study on the topic, what is new “is the magnitude of risk associated with very moderate red meat consumption.” Predictably, the magnitude is greater. And the magnitude for processed meat is even greater than that.

The Harvard study concluded that one serving of red meat a day increases the risk of early death by 13 percent. The same single daily serving of processed meat (like bacon or hot dog) increases that risk by 20 percent. And “one serving” means that little deck-of-cards sized lump that doesn’t satisfy anyone over the age of 10.

Hu acknowledged that “it’s not really surprising because red meat consumption has been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. What is surprising is the magnitude of risk associated with very moderate red meat consumption.”

The study, published on March 12th in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, followed over 120,000 U.S. health professionals for 28 years. Every four years the subjects completed food questionnaires.

The researchers had to tease out the health effects of red meat from all the other bad habits beef-eaters tended to have, like smoking, drinking and physical inactivity. Even when they accounted for all the other terrible things research subjects were doing to their bodies, the strong association between red meat and death still stood out.

Eating more healthful protein sources in place of red meat has a significant positive effect. Eating nuts instead of red meat decreased a person’s mortality risk by 19 percent.

Even eating higher-quality beef can help, says Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. He recommended eating “a vegetarian dinner once or twice a week. And when you eat red meat, switch to leaner cuts and grass-fed cattle,” because when you eat an animal you are also eating whatever the animal ate.

Hu summarized, “I think the public health message is pretty straightforward. We should switch from a red meat-based diet to a plant-based diet with healthier protein choices.”

We should switch to a plant-based diet? Huh. That isn’t news either.


Related Stories:

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4 More Reasons Not To Eat Meat

Western-Style Diet: A Recipe for Dying Before Your Time


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1:42AM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

You're observant and pretty much "spot on", Dale. Even though both Marilyn and Barbara are not vegan or vegetarian, seems their P.O.V. is about polar opposite of each other. I tend to believe as Marilyn does. It all depends on the individual physician, same as knowledge of canine nutrition varies from veterinarian to veterinarian. Maybe Barbara has never met a doctor who has more than basic nutritional knowledge/education, but there are many out there. They usually refer to themselves as "naturalpaths", but many others are interested in alternatives to traditional medicine and also support acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal supplements.

1:19AM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

Interesting thoughts about doctors and the subject of nutrition, herbs and various alternatives.

Certainly an interesting thought MarilynBusy W, when it comes to the rather tired stereotypical views of some of the more militant vegans when, as you remind us of the fact that there are some of them that hold the rigid belief that you mentioned earlier:

"Some vegans will always find a way to use pseudo-science and pseudo -compassion to justify their narrow judgment and disdain for the majority of humanity."

Chaaht A seems to believe that 'eating meat kills people' as she states that:

'yeah this is the right fact.'

Perhaps the so-called 'right fact' that often jumps out of the pages of PCRM fairy tales which then blames everything that goes wrong with people on 'The Demon Meat,' because they are reading only from the book of veganism that so many of them seem to believe in?

3:19PM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

We have several doctors in the family and none of them went to any required seminars on nutrition and only took a few hours of basic stuff in med school. I know more about nutrition than they do.

8:13AM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

Barbara. just read your comment to Dianne D. You said, "Dianne D, I have to disagree that physicians have never studied nutrition. It's basic education required to understand human metabolism and disease processes. They don't get their information from the same place you do - if they were reading Care2 articles they'd of course agree with you.
They attend required continuing education seminars and study professional journals and approved and published scientific studies"............actually, you are just partially right, and it depends on the physician. I recently had a conversation with my own doctor, and she is the head of the clinic where she practices. I had asked her about using a particular natural supplement to address my chronic back pain, and her reply to me was that she had no knowledge of "herbal" or "natural" supplements, period. She wasn't opposed to my trying anything other than prescription NSAIDS, or narcotic pain killers, just that she knew ZIP about them, and that was not anything taught in medical schools.

1:12AM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

yeah this is the right fact

1:26AM PST on Feb 23, 2014

MarilynBusy W, the old cannibalism canard has been floating around for quite a while.

Lol, if Teresa W actually believes that a human eating meat is a cannibal, do I have a mossy made of green cheese bridge for sale. It even has a walkway for cute anteaters who might walk beside humans. As mentioned earlier (and I have also been mentioning for I don't remember for how many years when Teresa W mentions cannibals), this is only applicable if I am going to serve up another person. Not likely. However, I have seen some vegans commenting on Care2 that they will eat humans before they will eat an animal.

So cute, a cannibalistic vegan who obviously forgot that humans do happen to fall into the animal kingdom as well.

10:32AM PST on Feb 19, 2014

c2 is acting up today...sorry for the duplicate post

10:32AM PST on Feb 19, 2014

Some vegans will always find a way to use pseudo-science and pseudo -compassion to justify their narrow judgment and disdain for the majority of humanity.

10:31AM PST on Feb 19, 2014

Some vegans will always find a way to use pseudo-science and pseudo -compassion to justify their narrow judgment and disdain for the majority of humanity.

10:16AM PST on Feb 19, 2014

Definition of CANNIBALISM
: the usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being
: the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of the same kind

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