Red meat includes all types of muscle meat
that comes from a mammal, including beef, lamb, pork, veal, mutton, and goat.
While pork is sometimes marketed as the "other white meat", in the
context of healthcare, it is widely considered to be red meat. When analysing
dietary advice on red meat, it's important to distinguish fresh from processed
meats, with the later referring to meat that has been transformed to enhance
flavour or improve preservation. Processed meats include ham, bacon, and
salami, which are produced through methods such as salting, curing, and
According to most healthcare bodies around
the world, meat should always be eaten in moderation. The latest research from
the World Health Organisation (WHO) links meat consumption with an increased
risk of developing cancer, albeit at a very small risk. The WHO classify both
red meats and processed meats as cancer-causing substances, and link excessive
consumption to diseases such as heart disease and colon cancer. In fact, the
World Cancer Research Fund recommends just three portions of red meat per week,
and little or no processed meat at all.
Meat also has a wide range of health
benefits. It is an excellent source of protein and a highly efficient source of
many important vitamins and minerals. For example, red meat is a rich source of
iron, which is especially beneficial for growing toddlers and pregnant women.
Red meat can also help to control appetite, with its rich nutritional profile
often leading to reduced consumption of carbohydrates and processed foods. The
paleo movement has received a lot of attention in recent years, with advocates
recommending a diet of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and
Like many things in life, moderation is
key, with the amount of red meat consumed having a dramatic effect on whether
or not it's beneficial. The association between red meat consumption and cancer
is not straightforward, with a contentious relationship existing between cancer
rates and increased red meat consumption, and no clear cause-and-effect
relationship found. Rather, excessive red meat consumption has simply been
associated with certain diseases, with additional lifestyle factors also likely
to play an important role.
When planning your diet, it's also
important to recognise the negative environmental impacts of meat consumption.
Animal farming is a very inefficient way to produce protein and other nutrients
when compared to plant-origin food systems, and one of the leading causes of
land clearing and habitat destruction around the world. While meat consumption
can be extremely beneficial in moderation, limiting your meat intake can help
to limit the risk of disease and foster a more sustainable ecological