7 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Eat Red Meat — and 8 Reasons Why You Should
April 18, 2016
Your guide to deciding whether eating red meat is for you
7 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Eat Red Meat — and 8 Reasons Why You Should
Before diving into the pros and cons of red meat, we want to give you a quick refresher on what red meat actually is. It can come from mammals such as cattle, bison, lamb, deer, and swine, as well as from some flightless birds like ostrich, emu, and rhea. In most cases, the only processing involved occurs during the butchering (and possibly the aging) process, as opposed to processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, salami, sausages, and lunchmeat.
There are some important facets of red meat and its consumption that directly influence your health. The accompanying slideshow will help you decide whether red meat is for you.
Con: Blood Vessels May Harden
A study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, shows that carnitine, a compound found in red meat that you may also see on the ingredients list of various energy drinks, may be responsible for the clogging of blood vessels.
Con: Diabetes and Red Meat
In 2011, the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that regularly consuming red meats (both processed and unprocessed) may increase your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.
Click here for 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Diabetes and Diet.
Con: Heart Disease and Saturated Fat
Although trans-fats may be worse, some still look to the saturated fat content of red meat as a potential cause of heart disease.
Con: Meat Glue
Meat glue… need we say more? Red meat is, at times, bound with more red meat using transglutaminase, an enzyme formerly harvested from animal blood that is produced through the fermentation of bacteria. When added to meat, it forms an invisible bond, and can be used to make smaller pieces into a more desirable shape.
Click here for Move Over ‘Pink Slime’: Industry Defends ‘Meat Glue.’
Con: Red Meat Allergies and Ticks
It appears that over the last few years, tick bites have been responsible for meat allergies. Sure, you won’t know this until you go to eat a burger and experience some horrendous side effects, but are you willing to do what it takes to find out?
Con: Red Meat May Be a Carcinogen
In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that processed meats, such as bacon, sausages, and hot dogs, are carcinogenic. The WHO also announced that red meats, such as beef, pork, veal, and lamb, are “probably carcinogenic” as well, as they have been linked to increased risk of pancreatic and prostate cancers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency within the WHO, based these claims on research conducted by 22 experts from 10 different countries.
Pro: Beef Can Be Sustainable
“Grain-fed beef (conventional beef) comes from cows that have been fed a diet of grain, soy, and sometimes even animal byproducts,” says Mike Salguero, founder and CEO of ButcherBox, a company that delivers 100 percent grass-fed beef to the contiguous 48 US states and offers free shipping. “Many cows are also pumped with hormones to expedite the growth process and hooked up to antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease in crowded feedlots. Ninety-seven percent of the beef produced in the U.S. is grain-fed.
Click here for What Is 'Sustainable' Food and Why — and How — Should You Cook It?
“100 percent grass-fed beef comes from cattle that are only fed their natural diet of grass for their entire lives. They enjoy free range on pasture and are never put into feedlots. They live longer lives because their growth isn't accelerated by the administration of artificial hormones. As a result, you get a much cleaner piece of beef, just as nature intended.”
Grain-fed cows are often shoved into overcrowded feedlots, and their meat is usually shipped across many miles, involving the use of nonrenewable energy sources. Choosing local, pastured, grass-fed beef is not only healthier for you, but for the environment as well.
Pro: Brain Health
According to The Daily Mail, “Many evolutionary biologists believe that a diet rich in red meat eaten by our ancestors was responsible for the dramatic increase in the size of our brains compared to other plant-eating primates. Gorillas, for example, which have a plant-based diet, can grow up to three times bigger than us, but their brains are far smaller than the human brain.
Additionally, carnosine exists in high levels in red meat, and it has been shown to protect the brain against aging.
Pro: Fight Your Cold With Red Meat
Red meat is one of the best food sources of iron and zinc, and it is also rich in vitamins A and D. This combination of vitamins and minerals makes red meat a great way to combat colds and maintain a healthy immune system.
Click here for 11 Juice Recipes That Will Chase Your Cold Away.
Pro: Not Everyone Feels That Red Meat is Horribly Carcinogenic
“The evidence WHO found suggested that eating processed red meat increased the likelihood of getting cancer by one percent over a lifetime, while smoking increases your risk of cancer by 2,500 percent,” says Mike Salguero, founder and CEO of ButcherBox. “Keep in mind this is ‘processed meat’ we’re talking about, not whole muscle. WHO classified fresh red meat, like steaks, as ‘probably carcinogenic.’ This puts consuming red meat in the same category as working as a hairdresser or barber, with a less than one percent risk of cancer.”
Pro: Protein, Creatine, and Your Muscles
If you’re looking for sources of complete protein, you can’t beat lean cuts of red meat. The healthiest cuts of red meat include lamb leg steaks, skinless chicken thighs, lean ground beef, lamb’s liver, and pork filet medallions, each containing significant amounts of protein, creatine, calcium, and potassium. This blend of macro- and micronutrients is perfect for building muscle.
Click here for Creatine 101 – What Is It and What Does it Do?
Pro: Red Meat Contains Vital Nutrients for Americans
According to Mike Salguero, founder and CEO of ButcherBox, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the most common nutrient deficiencies in Americans are vitamin B6, B12, and iron. 100 percent grass-fed beef is an excellent source for all three.” Other types of red meat are also high in B vitamins and iron.
Pro: Red Meat and Healthy Fats
Click here for 8 Ways to Get Your Daily Dose of Good Fats.
According to Mike Salguero, founder and CEO of ButcherBox, “Compared to conventional beef, 100 percent grass-fed beef has:
•less omega-6 fats, calories, and cholesterol
•two to five times the anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy omega-3s
•two to three times the amount of CLA, which research indicates might be protective against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”
Pro: Fertility and Virility
“Selenium, an antioxidant found in red meat and nuts, plays a key role in conception because it is crucial to the development of healthy ovarian follicles,” writes Thea Jourdan and Jinan Harb of The Daily Mail.
“Many studies have demonstrated that men with selenium-deficient diets — which tend to be short on red meat, wholegrains, and nuts [We tell you what the healthiest nuts are here.] — can see significant improvements in sperm motility, which is the swimming ability, if they take additional selenium,” says Dr Gill Lockwood, medical director of Midland Fertility, Tamworth, in Tamworth, England.