The news on red and processed meat – should we panic? Read first

So today, all over the interwebs the news was plastered all over our news feeds. World Health Organisation Agency Says Eating Processed Meats Can Cause Cancer. It’s been 3 short years since the Harvard Study on red meat caused the same furore.

There were many sensationalist articles out there. Oh boy were there many. “Meat kills says W.H.O” and so forth, so if you take top line vanilla health advice from the internet you’d have been afraid. Very afraid.

BUT, as with all things, the considered writers come next with their pieces, and I wanted to share some of my favourites. We must be critical thinkers in this day and age and make sense of the evidence before us, and therefore make up our own minds.

The best one today, by Zoe Harcombe. Read it here.

Another favourite is this one from the Nerdist.. Read it here.

And another favourite, from the Paleo Mom here.

Marion Nestlé weighed in too with a sensible, again big picture thinking piece here. 

And, just because it seems a great time, a great piece by Chris Kresser on Nitrates.  

And a great podcast interview on red meat in general that’s worth listening to is HERE.

So what do I think?

One day a study will take into account lifestyle – if you looked into it as Zoe says, you’d find that many other aspects of their lifestyle were unhealthy.

One day a study will discuss the quality of the ‘processed’ meats in question. Italian prosciutto cured with sea salt and that’s it, is a far cry from the fake plastic hot dogs that line the streets of NYC. Is it from animals fed GMO grains? Is it riddled with preservatives, processed salt or other chemicals? Is it grass fed when the animal in question should be? (ie beef / lamb)

One day a study will discuss how it’s cooked. The blackening of meat is carcinogenic and a real issue – it could be as organic as you fancy, but if it’s burnt or blackened, you might as well have saved your cash.

One day the knowledge of what factory farming and overeating meat is doing to our planet – far more concerning on the emissions front than fossil fuels believe it or not – will be in the news, to ensure we stop overeating meat – processed or not –  and progress towards better health and a better planet. (Cowspiracy is a great documentary uncovering this fact, and while I won’t be going vegan given my need for a little animal protein and bucket loads of veg as my majority meal staples, it was nonetheless a super informative doco uncovering a major issue and highlighting that we simply often eat far too much of the stuff and it’s totally unsustainable). I love the idea of considering 50%. Imagine having half the amount, twice the quality. Imagine if the world did that.

I’d like to think instead of panicking ‘blanket style’ with sensationalist headlines, we might instead consider eating a bit less meat including processed meat, upping our veggies and ensuring we eat grass fed beef and lamb and organic free ranging chicken and pork (to ensure their grains aren’t GMO) of the best, most local quality – or whatever other local, sustainably raised animal protein is native to your region. If eating processed meat, again as well as provenance and rearing, the chemical cocktail that goes into many main stream offerings is absolutely worth investigating and ditching the ones with complicated ingredient lists, 200 family preservatives or other strange chemicals (Chemical Maze app for your phone will help you decipher if you’re new to all this).

What are your thoughts on the news and the articles I’ve linked up?

Look forward to hearing and here’s to considered choices, choices that feel good for the individual and a healthy overall lifestyle that need never cause us panic.

Real Food. Happy Bodies.

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Comments 1

  1. When I studied nutrition 30 years ago, nitrates were associated with cancer. Therefore have never been a big consumer of ham, bacon, salami and the like. Recently one of my sons has become a vegetarian and his views on ethical and sustainable food production have challenged me enough to re-think my diet. I was a vegetarian once for over 20 years and have decided to go back to it with the inclusion of some line and pole caught fish, eggs and a little dairy such as feta cheese and yoghurt. I have been trying to remember some of my old recipes from books such as Diet for a Snall Planet etc. Even though I was following the Palio diet for some time, I do believe that eating at the top of the food chain is unsustainable in modern times. However It is an individual choice, and I still will cook a little bit of meat for those in my family who eat it.

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