The truth behind red meat

An article was released last week by Annals of Internal Medicine resulting in “new guidelines” encouraging us to continue our current consumption rate of red and processed meat (3-4 serves per week). This sent the media into a frenzy, giving us the “green light” to continue to over-consume red and processed meat. So what? Well, these “guidelines” go against decades of nutrition science, which link over consumption of red and processed meat to cardiovascular disease, some cancers and early death. If you read the actual report, several things are alarming. Firstly, The method itself has flaws: A panel of 14 members were consulted, including 3 community members….what expertise do these community members have in nutrition science? (and of these 14, three actually voted against the final recommendations).
Secondly, “Considerations of environmental impact or animal welfare did not bear on the (final) recommendations….” In a time when the environment is in the spotlight, I find this irresponsible; reducing our red meat consumption is one of the most effective ways we can limit GHGE’s (animal agriculture accounts for around 14.5% of the GHGE’s humans emit globally every year).

These guidelines have been shunned by the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health. The American Institute for Cancer Research says that: “Regularly eating processed meat, and higher consumption of red meat, increases your risk of colorectal cancer” – indeed, consumption of too much red meat accounts for 18% of all bowel cancer rates.

The big shame around this article is that (yet again) it harms the credibility of nutrition science and leaves the public ever more confused about nutrition and their health outcomes.

To put out an article, encouraging people to “carry on, as is” is dangerous. The average Aussie consumes less than HALF of the daily required fruit and veg serves, falls short on fibre intake and even though we have more information than ever before on nutrition, have very poor health outcomes and rates of cancers, and food-related mortality ( globally, 1 in 5 deaths are associated with poor diet, specifically diets too low in whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds).

To really nail this point home: Poor diets result in more deaths than any other risk factor in the world.

So, I recommend limiting red and processed meat to 1-2 serves per week. It’s going to give you significantly better health outcomes, make you feel great to be contributing towards planet health and will help to increase animal welfare standards. Think about replacing red meat with fish, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds.

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