One Man's Meat Is Another Man's Poison?

This popular idiom carries more weight than meets the eye. We’ve all heard that eating red meat is bad for you and with more and more headlines suggesting that people seek meat substitutes; I must admit I’m getting a bit worried that the media may be causing consumer paranoia.

Twice a day I’m reminded why I can eat both meat and vegetables. Whenever I brush my teeth, I see a dental formation that is suited for an omnivorous diet.

Now I perfectly understand why some people choose to live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, but that’s a discussion for another time…let’s focus on the consumption of red meat for this blog entry.

I enjoy foods like fruit, nuts, vegetables, fish, poultry and seeds. I also enjoy eating red meat. I know that all these foods are good for me and that like everything, eating them in moderation is key for maintaining good health.

Now consider the panic that the media is causing about the potential dangers of eating red meat.

Red meat for some reason usually gets slapped with the same cautionary tale as processed meat…the REAL bad stuff. That’s not really fair in my opinion.

Eating meat should be enjoyable for everyone who chooses to consume it. By reducing the amount of red meat you eat per week (maximum two to three times) and only cooking your meat to no more than medium rare, you should be able to not only savour the taste of red meat but also reap many nutritional benefits such as iron, protein, choline, carnitine, creatine, small amounts of saturated fat (which can be good for you, especially considering the role they play in hormone production), and many other vitamins and minerals.

Again, common sense needs to prevail. If you like eating red meat don’t go overboard and eat it everyday…but then again, don’t exclude from your weekly diet either.

2 Responses

Red meat (and butter) is healthy. If eaten under the correct circumstances and prepared the correct way. The health giving properties of meat are too large for this article but a book called "Nourishing Traditions" is a great read. Meat eating (as does grains / fruit / veg) comes with a responsibility if you are looking for optimal health.
*Meat must be eaten raw, rare or braised in water or stock. (Meat cooked at high temperatures contain elevated amounts of carcinogens. Charcoal grilled meats and smoked foods contain chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are used to induce cancer in lab animals.
*Animal protein foods (meat, eggs, milk) always come with fats and this is how we should eat them – Animal fat provides vitamin A and D needed for the assimulation of protein. (aside from the health given properties of saturated fats, evaluation of the fat in artery clogs reveals that only about 26% is saturated, the rest is unsaturated of which more than half is polyunsaturated.) *Must be grassfed / organic. (v important for those living outside of NZ, i feel it now that i live in Australia). Lot fed meat in supermarkets are contaminated and vastly inferior in nutritional quality.
*Cutting out all processed meats unless they have been prepared by someone you trust in the traditional manner (salt, curing, lacto-fermenting etc)
*We also have to make sure that our digestion system is working efficiently (because meat doesn’t digest its self like fruit can), which means cutting out the processed food, eating more fruit and veg, having 50% raw enzyme rich food and perhaps embarking on a vegan detox / colon therapy until you are eliminating daily (minimum). If your digestive system is not working correctly then meat (and everything else) will sit in your gut to rot and eventually your body will be unable to absorb the wonderful nutrients rendering you malnurished.

The amount of meat you include in your diet depends on your genetic makeup and on hormonal factors. Some people require more red meat where others do not produce enough hydrocholoric acid in their stomachs to handle large amounts very well. Requirements for individual amino acids vary enormously.
I follow fruit for breakfast and raw vegetable, nuts or sproated grains diet for lunch. For dinner i have my meat and veg. I have cut down to red meat once or twice a week and chicken / fish on the others with one or two vegetarian nights. I think this is great balance, i have energy a cool clear head and my digestive system is working right for the first time in a decade.

Smith August 27 2010

I agree with you Dean.  Something you didn’t mention was the omega-3s in red meats produced on pasture, along with the lower saturated fat.  Much of the negative comment that is highlighted in the 15 second soundbite screaming headline media is based on feedlot beef produced in the USA and Europe, and our beef and lamb in NZ is shown by laboratory analyses to be nutritionally different as well as free from harmful residues.  Most of the better known nutritional medicine websites advocate pasture-fed meats, preferably organic.  While our beef and lamb is not all organic it can be described as low chemical input compared with feedlots.

Fortunately there is a growing number of farmers who are turning to organics and also going to biological farming approaches (also called BYO or beyond organics).  These emphasise soil biology friendly practices, a wide range of pasture species, and soil/plant/animal management that results in growing the topsoil and in the process sequestering large amounts of atmospheric CO2 into soil carbon.  It is a true form of carbon farming.

Oh, and the argument about how much water it takes to grow a kg of beef and how many more people we could feed if we grew food crops instead – absolute rubbish!  Continuous cropping depletes soil carbon and minerals, requiring more and more chemical phosphate and nitrogen, and eventually the soil carbon is mined to extinction.  If you look at human civilisation for the past 5000 years or more you see a series of communities that have grown and prospered because of rich soils, but before long they die out or move on because they have depleted soil resources to the point where they will no longer sustain the population. 

It’s still happening all over the world.  The only places where soils have been used sustainably are those that incorporated animal farming in tandem with cropping.  Pastoral farming in a biologically friendly manner allows the building of topsoils to the point where they can be used for food crops for a few years before being put back into pasture and rebuilt.

That’s a diversion from the nutritional value of red meats, but it is important from the perspective of sustainability.

Richard August 27 2010

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