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Will Red Meat Really Kill You?

March 22, 2012

The folks at My Healing Kitchen are so good at digging deep into a story. Sometimes things aren’t quite what they seem and this is a good example.  It’s not the meat itself, but what goes into that meat that is the problem:

Two news stories that made the rounds last week may give you pause before slicing into another steak or biting your next burger.

The first one was the Red Meat Consumption and Mortality study published in theArchives of Internal Medicine.

The study found that red meat consumption is associated with a 20% increased risk of death from heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.

Vegans and vegetarians are having a field day with the study because they’re convinced it proves that consuming animal products isn’t just bad karma, but it’s also bad for your health.

A tragically flawed study.

There are about a half-dozen reasons why you should ignore the conclusions of this research. A gaggle of scientists and health writers have already poked it full of holes.

The most serious flaw is that while the study may have shown an association between meat consumption and higher mortality, it fails to demonstrate causality.

There’s a big difference between finding a bunch of fire-fighters at a blazing house and assuming they started the fire.

When you look closer at this “observational study” (in which participants recalled what they ate over a multi-year period by answering questionnaires), some interesting data becomes apparent.

For one thing, men and women with higher intake of red meat were also less likely to be physically active. They were more likely to smoke … to drink alcohol … to weigh more … and to have a higher calorie intake per meal.

In addition, the participants with a higher red meat intake also reported lower consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

So why didn’t the headlines read…

“Not Eating Your Vegetables Will Kill You!”

Because as every reporter will tell you: “Sensational news sells.” And we already know that skipping your veggies and smoking are bad ideas.

Besides, headlines shouting that eating red meat raises your risk of heart disease “by 20%” sound really impressive and scary…

…until you realize this is the relative risk, not the absolute. Here’s the difference…

If your absolute risk of cardiovascular death is 5%, then a 20% increase only amounts to a measly 1% bump in absolute (read: real) risk, all the way to 6%.

Not really worth giving up meat over, is it?

Maybe not. But the other meat story making the news last week definitely is…

“Pink slime” is invading our meat supply”

Maybe you caught this story?

If you aren’t familiar with pink slime, I urge you to Google it to see a photo. Just don’t do it on an empty stomach — because this stuff is truly gross.

Pink slime is a filler used in hamburger and ground meat. The meat industry makes it out of fatty beef “offcuts” (the leftover parts of a steer that it can’t sell anywhere else).

These questionable ”meat parts” are then treated with ammonia and pink dye to produce a meat-like substance. It’s then added to ground beef to “extend” it.

“Where’s the beef?”

This means you’re paying the same price for this cheap junk as you are the ground beef. Only you aren’t getting any beef.

I’ve seen reports claiming that this junk is currently in about 70% of supermarket ground beef — and doesn’t have to be labeled. So you don’t know you’re eating it.

While this has been going on for years, the story first broke when it was revealed that McDonald’s was using pink slime in its burgers. When grossed-out customers protested, McDonald’s agreed to stop.

Now comes the discovery that the USDA recently purchased 7 million pounds of pink slime to be added to school cafeteria lunches all overAmerica.

If there ever was a reason to give up meat — this is it!

The disgraceful quality of feedlot meat (nearly 95% of all the beef eaten in the US) is already a shame and an embarrassment.

First, the steers are raised in deplorable, inhumane conditions. Then they are pumped up with antibiotics, steroids, and hormones to make them fatter and grow faster. Diseased animals that can’t walk, called “downers,” are routinely carried to slaughter on forklifts.

Worse: Because feedlot steers are fed corn and grain to fatten them up, their high fat content is mostly omega-6 fatty acids, which triggers widespread inflammation in the human body.

Adding insult to injury, the USDA permits meatpackers to pump the animals’ carcasses with up to 30% water. This is like jacking up price you pay by a third — because you get absolutely no value from it. What a rip!

Is it any wonder why American beef is banned byCanada, Europe, andJapan?

What you can do about this…

You should ban it from your kitchen too — until the USDA cleans up the feedlot beef and pink slime situations.

For now, the best way to protect your family’s health is to only purchase beef and bison labeled “100% free-range.” This is the cleanest, most healthful red meat you can consume.

Because free-range cattle and bison graze on fresh grass and wild herbs all day, the omega-3 content of their meat rivals that of certain fish varieties.

And forget the “organic” labels when you’re shopping. This is a common ruse that growers use to fool you. These are usually feedlot cattle which have been fed organic grain. But the steers may never munch a bit of grass.

Yes, “free-range” is more expensive.

This is largely because growers who use free-range practices don’t qualify for federal farm subsidy payments. They’re actually penalized for raising a pure, nutritious, clean product.

But the extra expense you’ll pay is worth the superior flavor, nutrition, and health-nourishing properties.

To compensate, I suggest you save this delicious, nutritious meat for occasional treats.

Try eating more beans, legumes, whole grains, and canned wild salmon as affordable protein substitutes. You’ll be leaner and wealthier as a result.

To find truly “free-range” meat and animal products in your area,

If you have children or grandkids, send them to school with a healthful brown bag lunch. This is the only way you’ll be sure they not being fed burgers or meatloaf containing pink slime.

And be careful of the lunchmeat you buy. Look for varieties that say “no nitrates, nitrites, or chemical preservatives.”

Send a message to the meat industry.

Following these tips will send a powerful message to theUSmeat industry.

It says they won’t get another dime of your money until they start providing you with pure, healthful, humane products.

If enough of us do this, it won’t take long to get results.

This is because food manufacturers are closely attuned to consumer trends. If they see we’re serious, they’ll give us want we really want. And soon.

What are your ideas?

How do you meet your protein needs in these cash-strapped times?

How often do you eat meat? What are your favorite kinds and cuts?

What are your substitute protein sources — and your best recipes that feature them?

Are you willing to purchase only “free-range” meat and animal products in order to pressure the conventional meat industry to clean up its act?


Do you have other ideas for protecting our health and improving America’s food supply?

Your tips could help others eat better and safer!

Please share your ideas and comments here for all to see.


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