Doctors Debate Possible Changes to Your Body When You Give Up Red Meat

Joel Eisenberg

Animal rights and carbon footprint controversies aside, red meat contains beneficial nutrients such as iron, which is also available in non-animal products. How much red meat is healthful, however, remains debated.

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Author’s Note

This article is free of bias, and is based solely on modern medicine, science, and accredited media reports. No medical advice is offered herein on the part of the author. All listed theories and facts within this article are fully-attributed to several medical experts, scientists, and media outlets, including Forbes.com, Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Bradley Johnston of Dalhousie University, Dietary Guidelines For Americans, Harvard Health, Google.com, SciTechDaily.com, EatThis.com, and Nutrition Reviews.

Introduction

In disclosure, I follow a plant-based diet. However, my wife and entire family eat beef and chicken on a regular basis. Thankfully, all of them are healthy, according to current doctors’ examinations.

I was a heavy meat-eater. I did not turn vegan to save the planet or lessen my carbon footprint, in all sincerity. I did so as an experiment for my health, which I’ve written about for NewsBreak here and here. The results worked for me; I have not tasted meat for the last 13 years.

For the record, though, I am not convinced a vegan diet is healthy for everyone. I recently lost a friend to cancer. A month before she passed, we spoke about asking her doctor if she should alter her diet to plant-based. He strongly recommended against it, as he said it would make her far too weak.

This article, though, is not about reasons for leaving meat behind. This is an unbiased piece that recognizes many doctors continue to eat meat and applaud its health benefits.

Let us explore further.

Red Meat and Health

In a November, 2019 piece from Forbes.com, entitled “I’m A Physician, And I’ll Continue Eating Red Meat” by Paul Hsieh, the doctor justified his continued meat consumption by referring to a then-recent study as reported by the Annals of Internal Medicine: Last month, a group of 14 health researchers led by epidemiologist Dr. Bradley Johnston of Dalhousie University sparked enormous controversy by publishing a series of articles challenging the conventional wisdom that people should reduce their consumption of red meat. Their recommendations in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine basically stated that adults could “continue current levels of red meat and processed meat consumption.”

In its article reflecting the study, entitled “Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium,” the Annals of Internal Medicine posted results went against conventional wisdom.

As stated in the article, which references the Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommendations from 2015 to 2020 of approximately one weekly serving of red meat weekly, processed or otherwise: These recommendations are, however, primarily based on observational studies that are at high risk for confounding and thus are limited in establishing causal inferences, nor do they report the absolute magnitude of any possible effects. Furthermore, the organizations that produce guidelines did not conduct or access rigorous systematic reviews of the evidence, were limited in addressing conflicts of interest, and did not explicitly address population values and preferences, raising questions regarding adherence to guideline standards for trustworthiness.

In another mode, Harvard Health, in its February, 2020 article referring to said study, titled “What’s the Beef With Red Meat?” states: Unsurprisingly, the backlash from the science community was sharp and swift. For instance, Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health issued a statement that the new advice could potentially harm people's health. "This new red meat and processed meat recommendation was based on flawed methodology and a misinterpretation of nutritional evidence," says Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition. "The authors used a method often applied to randomized clinical trials for drugs and devices, which is typically not feasible in nutritional studies."

Indeed, the consensus among doctors, as seen in a targeted Google search, appears to continue to recommend a limited intake of red meat.

As a host of other doctors, however, recommend altogether switching to a vegan or Mediterranean diet, the latter rich in legumes and fish as you can see here in a SciTechDaily.com article comparing the two diets (or lifestyles), it remains highly recommended to visit a doctor for any dietary change.

Finally, click here for “Side Effects of Giving Up Red Meat, According to Science,” written by Rebecca Strong and fact-checked by Kiersten Hickman. Per the article: Not to mention, saturated fat has been linked to higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which increases your risk of heart disease by causing plaque buildup in the artery walls—and red meat is high in saturated fat. So, giving it up could improve your cholesterol, thus helping to protect your heart. In fact, a 2017 study published in Nutrition Reviews revealed that plant-based diets can reduce LDL cholesterol by 15 to 30%.

The potential for weight loss and the avoidance of possible carcinogens are also discussed in the above piece.

Conclusion

Beef is rich in iron and protein, both of which can be replaced via the intake of non-meat foods such as tofu and legumes.

Though controversy continues over the true efficacy of red meat, or lack thereof, once again a visit to your doctor is heartedly recommended if you are considering any changes to your diet.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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