A few weeks ago a study was picked up by the press concluding that processed meat causes cancer. I am a vegetarian, and I can tell you that in moderation, processed meat is fine, even with all of its nitrates and preservatives.
The headline from CNN was “World Health Organization links processed meats to cancer- and vegetarians get smug on twitter”.
A friend of mine and I were just discussing this subject. This friend owns a very successful restaurant here in Pittsburgh that serves specialty meats and cured meats and seafood. He serves some of the finest cured meats in the country.
His career and life are predicated on serving meat, but good quality meat. So he has quite a bit invested in meat not causing cancer.
My friend used to be a pig butcher and also a pig farmer. He knows his meats. He knows where his meat comes from and knows how it was raised and what it fed.
I study nutrition and study longevity. That is why I am a vegetarian. The evidence is conclusive that eating a plant based diet long term is better for you overall then eating animal products.
That being said, realistically what works more is cutting back on animal products and animal protein, and eating it periodically.
A few generations ago, our relatives ate animal protein, but sparingly. They would have some type of animal protein maybe once a week. Or they would have a few bites of meat with a meal or use it for flavoring in dishes and stews.
We are not designed to eat animal protein at every meal, every day. When we eat animal protein frequently, our bodies start storing the excess fat and cholesterol all over. In between the muscles, in our livers, between your organs, in the belly, you can even get cholesterol deposits in your eyes.
Eating too many animal products means having a diet that consists of over 20% animal protein. I read a study that concluded that a diet of 30% animal protein gives you the same rise factor for cancer equivalent to smoking. Societies have thrived who have eaten diets of 7% animal protein. It should be noted that no society has thrived that traditionally ate a high protein diet.
If eaten in moderation though, then good quality meats, proteins and animal products can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Small portions of animal products occasionally are fine. Even my friend who owns the restaurant said that his food is not meant to be eaten every night. Restaurant food is very rich and high calorie.
The average restaurant meal is over 1,000 calories. When you cook at home, you can make your food healthier, and just as tasty, as what you get in a restaurant. But you know what is in it.
I spent many years working in the restaurant business. I did everything except manage and cook. But I did learn how to cook from being around all of that amazing food.
Another friend of mine who is a well-known chef in Pittsburgh put a picture on his facebook page that joked the reason why food tastes better in restaurants is because they use lots of butter.
If you put enough butter, sugar and salt into any food, it will taste good. The processed food industry uses those tastes to mask any off tastes that are produced during the processing. And they use those ingredients to make any food taste good. But it won’t be healthy.
As long as the animal products are good quality, then they will be better for you. Look for animal products that are hormone and anti-biotic free, free range, pasture raised. These animal products will be more nutritious and tastier than feed lot raised animals.
Meat eaten like this every week or two is fine. Your body just can’t handle it every day.
There is convincing, and mounting, evidence that all animal products contribute to most preventable causes of disease in our society. But if you eat animal protein intelligently and occasionally, then there is no reason why you can’ eat the foods that you love, and still live a long and happy life.
Any eating habit/style/diet that is taken to an extreme and vilifies a specific ingredient or food, should be taken with a grain of salt. Anything in moderation is fine.
If you eat intelligently, you can occasionally eat any food that you want to.
Eat intelligently. Exercise smart. This is the Pain Free Way.
Here is a link to the article on CNN about processed meats and cancer: