Is eating meat harmful?

The media is alarming: “Meat kills!”, “Eating meat is as harmful and smoking cigarettes”, “Meat causes cancer”. Many people, because of such strong influence of the media, limits the intake of meat, or even totally resign from it. Is it really justified? Is meat harmful for us? Or maybe meat-free diet is not healthy?

Here are some phrases you may read or hear:

  • “meat is not good for our species”,

  • “Excessive intake of protein from animal products may be connected with dramatical increase of death rate caused by cancer and premature death in general...”,

  • “Meat causes multiple diseases and leads to war”,

  • “Each 100 grams of pork or beef increases the risk of large intestine cancer by 70 per cent”.

These are the expressions that mostly vegetarians promote.

Is there truth in such statements?

Certainly, there is. Processed meat can be found on the list of carcinogenic factors prepared by the World Health Organisation. It turns out, that consuming even 50 g of processed meat a day may increase the risk of large intestine cancer by 18 per cent.

Inappropriate thermal treatment of meat also occurs to be calamitous. Excessive frying and roasting meat leads to creation of carcinogenic substances.

However, there is no scientific proof for red meat to influence the increased morbidity to cancer.

We shouldn't resign from meat because it's the source of precious protein and many minerals and vitamins, among others, zinc, iron and vitamin B12. From estimates it can be concluded that 34 thousands of deaths caused by cancer may have its reason in diet with high content of processed food, including sausages, smoked bacon, ham, canned meat, cold meat. For comparison – smoking cigarettes causes about one million deaths per year, alcohol – about 600 thousand and pollution – 200 thousand.

There is research which indicates that vegetarians are ill more often than those who eat meat, and their quality of life is worse than that of meatarians.

The tests were done on 1,320 volunteers. They were divided into 4 groups of 330 people. All of the groups had similar amount of women and men, were of similar age and social-economical satus. Also the fact if a person smokes or is physically active, was taken under consideration. The level of BMI was on the right level in all of the groups.

The only thing which differed the four groups was diet. The division was following:

  • vegetarians,

  • meatarians with large amount of fruit and vegetables,

  • people who ate little meat,

  • people who ate a lot of meat.

The results of the study overthrown the common belief that vegetarian diet is healthier than the remaining ones. It turned out that vegetarians have twice as many allergies as meatarians, as well as higher risk of suffering from cancer. What's more, the scientists revealed that vegetarians had 150% higher rate of heart attacks.

The scientists took a closer look at 18 chronic diseases. Among vegetarians there were more people suffering from 14 out of 18 of them. Those were illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes, migraine, ostheoporosis. It also occurred that vegetarians, compared to meatarians, suffer from anxiety and depression twice as often.

You can see that the promises made by the vegetarian organisations are not scientifically justified.

There's no doubt that meat and animal-origin products are the best source of valuable protein. It is very well absorbed and it contains any necessary for the body exogenous acids. Meat is an irreplacable source of iron, which is absorbed much better than that of plant origin. Besides, it also contains many vitamins from the B group, which influence, among others, the functions of the nervous system and the metabolic conversion of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

To sum up, it turns out that excluding meat from diet is not necessarily a good solution. For sure, it's good to eliminate processed meat products and introduce the right thermal treatment.