Humans have been eating meat for a very very long time, it’s a nutritious food and provides benefits that other foods lack, such as easily bioavailable iron.
The thing is that even though humans have eaten meat for so long they haven’t eaten it in the quantity that people eat now. They haven’t eaten as much processed meat as people eat now, and they’ve eaten far more plant foods alongside it.
All of those things that applied to the old ways of eating meat made meat a healthier proposition.
There have been studies showing that meat is linked to increased levels of colorectal cancer and that processed meat such as bacon may be linked to stomach cancer. The jury is still very much out, and there can be other lifestyle factors at play in people who eat lots of meat. But there is little health controversy around vegetables, and they are so beneficial, so it makes sense to eat them as the basis of a healthy diet.
Eat just a little meat along with fish, poultry and dairy products, nuts, beans, lentils and other pulses. Check out our heathy eating pyramid.
One reason that eating lots of meat might cause health issues is because it leaves little room for vegetables, meat becomes the main attraction on the plate and there is only a token amount of veg.
Veg should be the star of the plate in terms of nutritional benefits, and meat the side dish to back it up.
Eat less but better
By eating less meat we can afford to buy better meat and that means organic and less intensively farmed. Kinder meat. Not just kinder to animals but choosing organic meat greatly reduces the likelihood of the animal having been given antibiotics. Routine use of antibiotics in non-organic livestock is on the rise in the UK, although thankfully hormone use was outlawed here in the 1980s. Organically reared animals are only treated with antibiotics as a last resort.
What should you choose to eat?
Our eatnaturally plans provide loads of non-meat options along with some really tasty meat ones. We encourage clients to make their meal choices in this order: vegetarian-based, then fish, then poultry and round it off with a little meat, a couple of times a week.
I don’t think I’ll ever grow old and say, “What was I thinking eating all those vegetables?”