There has, for decades, been a debate between vegetarians and vegans and meat eaters over which is the healthier lifestyle. While many vegetarians avoid meat for ethical rather than nutritional reasons, there are others who are strong proponents of the argument that meat is unhealthy and that those who abstain from eating it are less likely to suffer from things like diabetes, heart disease, and various forms of cancer.
While people’s decisions about what to eat are their own, it pays to understand the facts when making decisions relating to your own health and lifestyle. Many of the arguments in support of a meat free diet have long been debunked by proper peer reviewed scientific studies, and it is these we should be looking to, rather than internet hearsay.
Meat Consumption and Obesity
Of course, some people do eat too much red meat, but then equally, some people eat too much sugar or too much fat. The increase in obesity in America has been linked to the increase in meat consumption, but this is only part of the story. While Americans do indeed eat more meat today than ever in the past, they also eat more of everything else too. This article in the New York Times references studies that have shown no correlation between obesity and whether or not someone is a vegetarian. Equally, we must take into account the simple matter of caloric density – when it comes to weight gain, all meats are not the same. Meat is mostly protein, and protein does not have as many calories per gram as fat, therefore while very fatty meat is highly caloric, lean meat is not.
Meat Consumption and Disease
Observational research on vegetarians and meat eaters has on occasion shown that the vegetarian subjects were less likely to suffer from certain health problems than meat eaters. However, as with all observational studies, cause and correlation are two different things. In fact, when researchers have looked into this more thoroughly, it appears that the reason for this is that the vegetarian group were more health aware in general – they didn’t smoke or drink as much, and exercised regularly. If they were then compared to health conscious counterparts in the meat eating groups, there was actually no difference at all.
Being a Health Conscious Meat Eater
So, if you like eating meat and have no moral or religious objections to it, it seems that giving it up will not make you healthier. However, what is important is that meat is part of a generally healthy lifestyle. High quality, lean meats of the type you can get from farmers or online farm shops like Good Grub People are a better choice, and of course, also taste much better than bland supermarket meats – and after all, the taste is the main reason to want to eat meat in the first place!
Everybody has the right to choose what they put in their bodies, but it is important to do your research and understand what is fact, and what is opinion in the great meat debate!