What are the pros and cons of eating meat? We know from previous articles how important meat quality is, how it relates to risk of developing disease, and what bad habits to avoid when eating meat regularly. Now it’s time to evaluate: is meat worth including in our diets?
Downsides of meat eating
The first thing we need to realize is that meat became hyper-available and hyper-palatable thanks to our modern food processing. This means we now have things like bacon, salami, and sausages at our fingertips virtually always. Such processed meats pose a serious health risk if eaten in excess and often, which is not a rare scenario nowadays, unfortunately. Meat is also not for everybody. Some people naturally produce less stomach acid and have a harder time properly digesting meat, which can become a problem over time.
Another very serious downside is the fact that meat consumption became one of the major causes of inhumane treatment of animals. Conventional animal feeding operations are also breeding grounds for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Buying organic and supporting small, local farmers should be a priority for any responsible meat eater.
Benefits of meat eating
Meat is incredibly nutritious. It is a great source of highly bioavailable complete protein, and a vitamin and mineral powerhouse. Meat from organically raised animals also has a very favorable fatty acid profile and contains powerful antioxidants. Thanks to its nutrient content, meat has been shown to promote healthy development in kids. Meat consumption also improves athletic performance in strength-based sports and helps with fertility in both men and women.
One of the biggest issues with nutrition today is that we simply don’t get enough essential nutrients. Junk food or “empty calories” are a major reason for that. They are available at all times and usually tastier than any other option. Quality meat can be a great antidote for that; delicious yet very nutrient dense food. Including various types of meat can serve as insurance for covering our nutritional bases.
For a health oriented, educated consumer, the pros outweigh the cons easily. However, it is possible to stay healthy without meat; it just takes a bit more effort. In the end, the choice is yours. Only you know if you can get the nutrients you need without meat. Only you know what kind of impact you want to have on our planet. So choose wisely.