Time to Give Up Red Meat?

July 15, 2021

A new study elaborates the connection between red meat and cancer, but the story is much more complicated than the media lets on.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Discovery, found specific patterns of DNA damage caused by diets high in red meat. The study elucidates how a high consumption of red meat damages health, but news coverage of the topic adds to a long list of articles whose takeaway is that we should avoid red meat and focus more on “healthier” proteins like poultry, fish, and even lab-grown meat. This is far too simplistic. We don’t need to give up eating organic, pasture-raised red meat, as long as it’s in moderation and accompanied by other healthy foods. We particularly do not need to turn to the plant-based meats that are becoming increasingly popular.

The mechanism by which red meat damages DNA is the alkylation of heme iron in unprocessed meats, which produces highly carcinogenic n-nitroso compounds. Yet these markers were only found in the top centile of red-meat eaters (those with the top 10% of intake of red meat: an average of about 155 grams, or about 5.5 ounces, of red meat a day).

As our friends at ANH International point out, we know these very big meat-eaters often don’t consume a lot of quality plant foods, vegetables, herbs, or supplements that can counteract the DNA damage. The meat is also largely from industrial farming systems (not pasture-raised) where animals are stressed and given foods to which they haven’t adapted (like genetically modified soy and corn).

The type of meat being consumed matters a great deal. We know that pasture-raised beef is healthier than beef that comes from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Grass-fed beef has nearly seven times more omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids, so eaten in moderation, it offers healthier levels of essential fats. Moreover, grass-fed beef is lower in total fat, and higher in vitamin E complex, beta-carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Part of the attack on red meat is that it is bad for the environment. Again, it depends. Pasture-raised cattle can be carbon neutral. In some cases, operations that pasture-raise beef are “carbon sinks”: for every kilogram of beef produced on one farm, 3.5 kilograms of carbon were sequestered in the farm’s plants and soil. CAFOs, on the other hand, are notorious for their greenhouse gas emissions.

More and more people seem to be turning to lab-grown meat, but there are significant problems with these products. For starters, many of them contain unhealthy ingredients like sugar, genetically modified heme that has not undergone safety testing, carrageenan, artificial coloring, and methylcellulose; they are also high in omega-6 fatty acids since some of them contain sunflower or canola oil. Plant-based meat also contains many soy-derived ingredients. This disrupts the argument that plant-based meat is better for the environment, since they rely on monoculture crops like soy which hurt ecological diversity. Again, as ANH International points out: “[Monocrops] destroy soils, they are often dependent on large agrochemical inputs such as glyphosate (as a herbicide and desiccant) and fungicides that wipe out soil microbial life. Their lack of diversity and insecticide inputs kill off natural predators and parasites of pests, maintaining the pesticide spiral.”

The point is this: the “don’t eat red meat” narrative we often get from media reports on these kinds of studies are over-generalized to the point of doing the public a disservice. As we’ve shown above, the type of meat, the amount of meat, and balancing the diet with foods and supplements that can protect against DNA damage (like foods or supplements that contain carotenoids, vitamins C and E, flavonoids, and polyphenols) are all part of the story. So you don’t need to give up steak: just be mindful how much you eat, where it comes from, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables too.

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29 responses to “Time to Give Up Red Meat?”

  1. Cynthia Mattera says:

    I think people should give up all animal products, including red meat, chicken, fish and dairy. Good for our health, great for the planet, and even BETTER FOR THE ANIMALS!

  2. Ellen Segale says:

    There is no plant based meat. There are plants and meat.

  3. Gordon Stewart says:

    There are good quality and poor quality plant based meats. You need not attack something that is clearly healthier than the best red meat has to offer. Animal agriculture is a horrible ,failing business. The logic that you gain health by eating an animal’s meat ,an animal that only consumes plants ,rather than just eat the plants that made the animal healthy escapes most of us. This entire article is like a commercial for the meat industry. btw… If farming animals for food ended in the United States we would have about 75% more farmland because the vast majority of plant agriculture is for the cows,pigs and sheep etc.. We would never need the amount of farmland presently used to feed the country on a plant based diet. Likely about half.

  4. Arlene Uzmed says:

    Thank you for this additional information on consuming red meat. My family is trying to eat healthier and was trying to remove red meat from our diets. I am fortunate that I can purchase meats from small local farmers.

  5. Gail says:

    Gee, you are really grasping on this one.

  6. Mary says:

    The grass fed idea is great, except that isn’t gong to happen in any number to make a difference. People who eat meat are looking for price, not quality. It would be wonderful if mono crops were going away, but they won’t. Entire states are planted in corn and soybeans that are fed to cattle. The reality is the Cattlemen’s Association has a lock on the politicians. Take a look at the corporate welfare they collect, they aren’t going to give up billions of dollars. Full stop.

  7. Terri says:

    I am a big meat eater. I also support local Farmers. The healthy meats, not the CAFO meats, are THE healthiest for our environment. The Great Reset is going after our meat supply and our food supply in general. If people do NOT wake up, push back and take control, the game’s over folks. It’s that simple.

  8. Joanne DeHart says:

    All animals feel pain and suffer. It’s way past time to end all meat consumption. Where is the compassion?!! End meat consumption!

  9. Martha Hyde says:

    Since most of red meat eaten in the US is from cattle and a bit less from pig, we tend to ignore lamb, goat, etc. This article mentioning organically grown red meat as being a way to avoid the problems with non-organically raised meat is a very extremely important conclusion to make. Pointing out the source of the food is also critical warmed my heart, since I have been following this issue for years. I thought the glyphosate prominent in GMO corn might play a role since cattle in feed lots are usually fed corn. But this article points out that other cereal crops are also fed to cattle and pretty much all foods fed to cattle are GMO now. As a pesticide, glyphosate should attach to the fat cells readily, but I found out from a really good review article (https://academic.oup.com/jas/article/95/7/3247/4702986) that it leaves the body readily and thus residues of glyphosate have been very low. Moms Across America found high amounts in breast milk but their sample size is low. The review article points out that the few studies that showed high amounts in humans had a number of flaws in their procedures. Maybe one control has been left out of both these latter studies and the ones reviewed in this article above. Location of the bodies being tested. Other environmental factors both internal and external to the body may play a role in the inability to process glyphosate. There are a lot of criticisms that could be applied to all of these studies. Since our medical professionals do not measure toxic load in our annual exams, a very critical measure of the workings of individual physiologies is not even being applied in any of these studies. That test might reveal a lot about how various toxins work on the inside, without having to let them reach extreme levels before we wake up to the damage.

  10. Fred Ruhoff says:

    I would not change a word in this article. Well done!

  11. Vic H says:

    Thank you for pointing out that pasture-raised animals are good for the environment. Further, they replenish the topsoil that is being so rapidly depleted by mono-crop agriculture saturated in pesticides. For this reason, they are connected to the health of the soil for future generations.

  12. Patricia Panitz says:

    A big factor which you have chosen not to address is the cruelty to animals that meat production on a large scale entails. This factor alone makes meat consumption undesirable.

  13. The Next Level says:

    This is good info, but completely misses the biggest point of all regarding red meat: it needs to be unprocessed. You know that processed sugars are toxic, processed grains are toxic, processed dairy is toxic, so similarly: processed meat is toxic. And for meat that specifically means cooking it. Cooking = processing = toxic. Yes, I’m saying meat should be eaten RAW. The majority of you are probably immediately discounting this entire comment, which lets you know that have a whole world of “raw primal diet” to explore. RAW meat, ESPECIALLY RED MEAT, is incredibly healthy, and the body will use it for HEALING.

    You show me ONE study that compares eating RAW meat to the same meat cooked, even if factory-farmed.

    When someone finally does that, then the truth will be clear to all.

    Aajonus Vanderplanitz was WAY ahead of everyone. Teaching about what humans did for thousands of years… before the enslavement of all societies through agriculture.

    I have eaten raw for years now. Red meats (beef, bison, lamb), foul (chicken, turkey), seafood (many fish, shrimp, etc), organ meat (especially liver!), various eggs (foul & fish), “high meat”, all dairy (not pasteurized, not homogenized)… it’s just so much tastier. And cheaper. And easier. And healthier.

  14. Holly says:

    Animal products are not necessary to get those nutrients and there are a ton of healthy alternatives. You are using a biased approach comparing it to an unhealthy lab meat. That even though might have sugar at least doesn’t make your blood cloudy. Pleas don’t promote the killing of animals. I’m not happy to see this article on a “nutrition” site.

  15. Roger Fuller says:

    When you talk about the harm of CAFO meats; the genetically engineered corn and soy are not only poisoning the cattle and pigs and chickens with genetically altered plants; but also, these plants are full of Roundup herbicide, another poison. On top of all that, the genetically engineered hormones used on CAFO animals are toxic and Ractopamine is highly toxic to the animals. And many other drugs are used on CAFO animals. Given all these poisons used on CAFO animals; it’s no wonder that red meat eaters are getting cancer. The Organic Consumers Association knows all about CAFO poisons. Since this information gives you an even stronger argument against CAFO meats; why would ANH-USA leave this information out ?

  16. Paul Citro says:

    Be mindful of how farm animals are treated. Many lead lives of unimaginable suffering.

  17. DawnieR says:

    Red Meat = Cancer?? Wrong! ONLY if the animal has eaten GMOs and/or feed sprayed with PESTICIDES; given TOXIC water and hormone/other drugs. I buy ORGANIC Grass-fed meats/dairy.

  18. Sandra Lee Smith says:

    More of the globalists efforts to poison us via foods & meds (see Codex Alimentarius; this is by intent), so more will die of whatever diseases , & pharmaceutical poisons they unleash, as part of their depopulation program. They have not hidden their intentions, but few take the time to read the documents detailing all this, which is also as Yhwh God prophesied.

  19. Aaron says:

    cattle are not carbon neutral or environmentally healthy. I would remove that from your article. it reduces the credibility of an important topic as the title displays.

  20. Ann B says:

    The media propaganda has gone to far on this one.

  21. Rita Butler says:

    I do not eat any land based meat. There are plenty of ways to get protein from vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. I do not trust lab grown meats. I agree with you that people who feel they need the taste of meat should eat organic, pastured meats a few times a week. It is more expensive but if they eat fewer meat meals, it is affordable.

  22. abinico warez says:

    I will never give up red meat.

  23. The Next Level says:

    REPOSTING:

    This is good info, but completely misses the biggest point of all regarding red meat: it needs to be unprocessed. You know that processed sugars are toxic, processed grains are toxic, processed dairy is toxic, so similarly: processed meat is toxic. And for meat that specifically means cooking it. Cooking = processing = toxic. Yes, I’m saying meat should be eaten RAW. The majority of you are probably immediately discounting this entire comment, which lets you know that have a whole world of “raw primal diet” to explore. RAW meat, ESPECIALLY RED MEAT, is incredibly healthy, and the body will use it for HEALING.

    You show me ONE study that compares eating RAW meat to the same meat cooked, even if factory-farmed.

    When someone finally does that, then the truth will be clear to all.

    Aajonus Vanderplanitz was WAY ahead of everyone. Teaching about what humans did for thousands of years… before the enslavement of all societies through agriculture.

    I have eaten raw for years now. Red meats (beef, bison, lamb), foul (chicken, turkey), seafood (many fish, shrimp, etc), organ meat (especially liver!), various eggs (foul & fish), “high meat”, all dairy (not pasteurized, not homogenized)… it’s just so much tastier. And cheaper. And easier. And healthier.

  24. Paul says:

    Can this be a manifestation of UN Agenda 21, 30. People are being herded into cities and small towns and suburbia are under attack to go extinct as single family homes will be slowly outlawed and people will be made to live in stack and pack Chinese style housing. Nature will be cut off from people and private property will be outlawed and the capitalism system will be replaced by a communist socialist order. Natural resources will be controlled by a few and minimized consumption will be managed so to “save the planet, from global warming”, and the population will be reduced to a small number. The Great Reset from the World Economic Forum.

  25. The Next Level says:

    REPOSTING AGAIN (and will continue to…): This is good info, but completely misses the biggest point of all regarding red meat: it needs to be unprocessed. You know that processed sugars are toxic, processed grains are toxic, processed dairy is toxic, so similarly: processed meat is toxic. And for meat that specifically means cooking it. Cooking = processing = toxic. Yes, I’m saying meat should be eaten RAW. The majority of you are probably immediately discounting this entire comment, which lets you know that have a whole world of “raw primal diet” to explore. RAW meat, ESPECIALLY RED MEAT, is incredibly healthy, and the body will use it for HEALING. You show me ONE study that compares eating RAW meat to the same meat cooked, even if factory-farmed. When someone finally does that, then the truth will be clear to all. Aajonus Vanderplanitz was WAY ahead of everyone. Teaching about what humans did for thousands of years… before the enslavement of all societies through agriculture. I have eaten raw for years now. Red meats (beef, bison, lamb), foul (chicken, turkey), seafood (many fish, shrimp, etc), organ meat (especially liver!), various eggs (foul & fish), “high meat”, all dairy (not pasteurized, not homogenized)… it’s just so much tastier. And cheaper. And easier. And healthier.

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