Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Red Meat Myth - Bad Advice

Marie Claire advise people to eat unhealthy red meat

The magazine Marie Claire has published a story urging people to eat red meat, Viva!Health say this is bad advice, we should be encouraging people to cut back or omit red meat from the diet! The article ‘8 Food Rules to Ditch Now’ in the June 2014 edition of Marie Claire says that it is a myth that eating red meat is bad for you. This flies in the face of all the scientific evidence which shows how harmful red meat is… Viva!Health have contacted them about this but if would like to add your voice calling for our right to reply, please email the editor’s PA Caroline Garland.

Our response to Marie Claire:

In your ‘8 Food Rules to Ditch Now’ (June 2014) article you say that it is a myth that eating red meat is bad for you. This flies in the face of a huge body of scientific evidence which shows how harmful red meat is. It is now proven now that red meat causes bowel cancer which is why the World Cancer Research Fund say that people  should eat mostly foods of plant origin, limit their intake of red meat and avoid processed meat altogether! (1) Vegetarians have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and lower rates of type 2 diabetes than meat-eaters (2). They are 30 per cent less likely to develop heart disease (3). Vegetarians tend to weigh less and are less likely to get cancer (4). It is misleading to say that it is a myth that eating red meat is bad for you. Not only is it bad for you, it is bad for the planet too as there simply is not enough food to go around as we are constantly deforesting the rain forests to grow plant food for animal feed, plus livestock farming is a major contributor to greenhouse gases (5). The article cites a Cambridge University study that suggests that saturated fat does not lead to heart disease. However, Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, warns that this study contains major errors and omissions and that the conclusions of this study are seriously misleading and should be ignored (6). In summary, the bulk of the evidence shows us how harmful red meat is and rather than encouraging people to eat it, we should be urging them to reduce or omit red meat from the diet.

If people living in the UK reduced their consumption of red and processed meat to the amount eaten by the bottom fifth of the population, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by the equivalent of 28 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year - and more than 70,000 of the life years lost to ill health every year in the UK could be averted (5).

 

References

1) WCRF, 2007. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective www.dietandcancerreport.org/cancer_resource_center/downloads/chapters/chapter_12.pdf  see pages 380 and 382.

2) Craig WJ, Mangels AR; American Dietetic Association. 2009. Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 109 (7) 1266-82. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864

3) Crowe FL, Appleby PN, Travis RC, Key TJ. 2013. Risk of hospitalization or death from ischemic heart disease among British vegetarians and nonvegetarians: results from the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 9(3) 597-603. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23364007  

4) Fontana et al., 2006. Long-term low-protein, low-calorie diet and endurance exercise modulate metabolic factors associated with cancer risk. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 84 (6) 1456-62.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17158430

5) Research quantifies the reduction in greenhouse gases, as well the effect it would have on health, if UK cut amount of red and processed meat eaten www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/reducing-consumption-of-red-and-processed-meat-could-make-a-major-contribution-to-cutting-greenhouse

6) Dietary Fat and Heart Disease Study is Seriously Misleading: www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2014/03/19/dietary-fat-and-heart-disease-study-is-seriously-misleading

For more information on how to go vegan see our 30 Day Vegan Program http://www.viva.org.uk/30dayvegan.