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OPINIONWellness

The Battle Continues: Red Meat vs. Plant Meat

Changing attitudes, plus some confusion about meat

The Lempert Report

Will Coggin, managing director at the Center for Consumer Freedom, which is funded by restaurants, food companies and other interests, wrote an op-ed piece in which he discusses being steak-shamed for a variety of reasons: climate change and health in particular.

He points to Sen. George McGovern’s 1977 Dietary Goals report that declared red meat a health villain, and since then, Americans have been chided out of eating red meat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, red meat consumption has fallen more than 24% since 1976. During that time, Coggin writes, study after study has attempted to tie red meat to a laundry list of health problems.

Three studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last October reviewed 61 past studies, with more than 4 million participants to see whether red meat affected the risk of developing heart disease and cancer.

All three came to the same conclusion: Decreasing red meat consumption had little to no effect on reducing risk of heart disease, cancer or stroke. The studies and Coggin point out the imperfections in studies: how people lie in order to make them appear to be healthier, or more concerned about animal welfare or the environment. 

He also points to the confusion that many consumers have when it comes to the new plant-based meat alternatives, such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. According to Mintel, 46% of Americans believe that plant-based meat is better for you than real meat. 

He says a lean beef burger has an average of nearly 20% fewer calories and 80% less sodium, and the two most popular alternatives are “ultra-processed” food, filled with unpronounceable ingredients. 

While he may be correct in some of the things he writes, implying that nutritional studies are flawed and that eating meat has no effect on our health are simply misleading, and it leads to more consumer confusion. Everyone’s body and metabolism is different. For some, being a carnivore is best; for others, being vegan is. The reality for most consumers is that moderation and balance in the foods we consume is the best.

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