What Are the Negative Health Effects of Red Meat?

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It has been known for a while that the saturated animal fat in red meat contributes to heart disease and atherosclerosis. Recent research also shows red meat is thought to increase the risks of rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis. There is good evidence that eating red meat may be a probable cause of colorectal cancer. Processed red meat, like cured and smoked meat, has recently been declared carcinogenic, with strong scientific evidence linking it to cancer.

Red Meat: The Good and Bad

Meanwhile, according to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and other debilitating medical conditions. While red meat is a key source of protein and vitamin B12 in North American diets, nutritionists explain that properly planned meat-free diets easily provide these important nutrients.

In fact, most people probably do not need to eat as much protein as they think they do. Daily protein requirements are relatively modest, and much of it can be found in legumes, nuts, and other foods.

Reducing your intake of red meat is also justifiable for environmental reasons. Raising cattle requires a lot of resources, including water, and cows produce a significant amount of greenhouse gases.

For some, an alternative could be the consumption of game meat like venison. It is very lean, low in saturated fat, and does not have the negative land use and water consumption issues associated with cattle. Venison can be kept healthiest by using lead-free ammunition.

For more information see the World Health Organization October 2015 Press Release.

Edited by Frederic Beaudry.