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Updated: Mar 17, 2022

What do you think of meat?

Mainstream health science has been calling meat – especially red meat - the bad guy for decades. In fact, most animal products have been considered bad for your health at one time or another: eggs were considered dangerous for raising cholesterol and we were told to eat them once a week. Butter was replaced by margarine while products like Quorn and Beyond Meat have become mainstays in our shops. The food pyramid* has meat and dairy in the smaller tiers just below sweets and puddings. Most recently, ‘Veganuary’ was created, schools are promoting ‘meat-free Monday’, and local governments are catering vegan foods at their events.

.................................................Hold up!..............................................................

During January, on Mondays, and at government events it’s ok to eat crisps, sweeties, cakes, candy bars, and all sorts of ultra-processed foods as long as they don’t contain meat?! This is unacceptable health information. Cutting out a food group that humans have evolved eating is a misleading message that will lead to suboptimal health outcomes!

Also, it is not just about our health anymore. Raising livestock is considered to be one of the worst contributers to environmental decay and animal welfare is a top priority for many. These are complex issues that need to be carefully considered to reach a solution that leads to healthy people, a flourishing environment, and happy animals!

Worried about your health?

Meat has more nutrients (vitamins and minerals) gram per gram than any other food we eat including some nutrients like vitamin B12, which are only found in animal products. Other nutrients, like vitamin A, are more effectively absorbed by our bodies when from animal sources than from plant sources.

Meat has very few toxins or antinutrients which means our bodies digest it easily along with all the nutrients it contains. Vegetables have things like oxylates, phytates, solanines, lectins, etc... which can cause sensitivity reactions in some people and inhibit absorption of some nutrients.

As we age, protein is essential to maintain muscles mass which is linked with better health outcomes. For the same amount of protein that meat has, a person has to eat triple or quadruple the quantity of substitute which many times is prepared with fillers and additives which can be detrimental to health. Animal protein is also a complete protein, meaning that your body can make what it needs from that source and you don't have to worry about combining different foods to obtain it like you do with plant proteins.

Choose a wide variety of meats including game, poultry, fish, and seafood. Meats like venison and rabbit and grass-fed animals have higher levels of healthy fats because of the way they are raised. Also, choose a wide variety of cuts from the animals because some cuts, like the organ meats, have higher levels of certain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidents than others. There is plenty of research showing that meat is a part of a healthy diet – good for your heart, brain, and all of your body!

Worried about the environment?

Factory farming - the unnatural way of housing, feeding, and watering animals -- is bad for the environment, especially when you add the fumes from the jet fuel if their products are flown in from, say, Australia. Also, it’s bad for the environment if it is sitting on styrofoam and wrapped in plastic.

Meat, eggs, and dairy should be purchased from butchers and shops who source their meat from local farms who allow the animals to graze on open grasslands. Grazing animals help trap CO2 in the vegetation around them.

Eating game meat should be added back to our diet: venison and rabbit are abundant as well as birds like pheasants and duck. These animals can replace some the meat we get from farming and have a much lower environmental impact.

We should be making stews out of off-cuts of meat, like fish heads, sheep neck, chicken carcass, knuckle joints, etc… to ensure every bit of each animal is used. This is called ‘Nose to Tail’ eating and it should be made common practice.

Worried about the welfare of animals?

Grass-fed livestock are allowed freedom in their natural environment and are allowed longer lives. There are farms that treat chickens in a similar way letting them live longer lives. Choosing mutton over lamb and game meat over livestock can allow the animals to flourish. Always choose fish or seafood that is sourced humanely and do not buy species that are being depleted . Talk with your butcher and fishmonger so they know these things are important to many of us.

Eat ‘Nose to Tail’! If mince and/or steak is eaten all the time, who is eating the liver, tail, or neck; what is being done with the tongue, heart, and hooves to make sure the whole animal is used? By eating the less commonly consumed cut, you are helping to reduce the amount of animals sacrificed.

Abattoirs are a really important part of this topic. UK regulations ensure that all abattoirs use humane practices, but smaller, local or mobile abattoirs are better for the animal. Unfortunately they are struggling to compete with the large slaughterhouses. Source your meat from a local abattoir. Feed your dogs and cats pet food that is sourced from local abattoirs so their businesses can remain viable. Consider sourcing a sheepskin or hide or other leather products from a local business who purchases the hides from a local abattoir.

Looking Towards the Future:

Staying healthy to live longer and feel great invlolves eating highly nutritious food like meats and vegetables and fruits. Our focus should be to cut out ultra-processed, sugar-laden, and packaged products because they have been proven to cause human disease. The factories that grind, chop, flavour, fry, re-constitute, shape, spray, colour, and wrap 'foods' need to be assessed for how much water and energy they use. The rubbish from packaging and exhaust from miles of shipping need to be accounted for. Considering that monoculture (growing a large amount of one crop) kills microorganisms in the soil as well as field animals and birds, as well as life in nearby streams and ponds has to be part of the equation. The staggering resources used by the health industry to treat illnesses that can be prevented by eating nutritious food (like meat) needs to be factored in.

Make good choices in the food you buy, and eat meat!

*actually it is not a pyramid anymore it is the ‘Eat Well Plate’: now meat is grouped with beans and dairy is grouped with soy – still on the small section of recommended intake. This is frustrating because beans are not an equivalent source of protein or other nutrients to meat. Soy in this form is a processed food and is not equivalent to dairy.


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