Is Meat Healthy?

Is Meat Healthy?
August 16, 2011 Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

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There are a lot of reasons to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet plan, and as a nutritionist one at the top of my list is the health benefits. I’m a pretty positive person, so I usually try to stick to the positive side of things and pump up the virtues of plant foods.

But I think it’s important to talk about the negatives too, and answer the question – is meat healthy?

Despite growing evidence that a healthy vegan diet plan can support growth and health, many people still think that it’s necessary to eat animal foods.

Although they do have nutritional benefits, most of the reasons given for why meat is necessary aren’t true. There are lots of different sources of the major nutrients, so no one type of food is absolutely essential – there is room for variation in diets.

Is Meat Healthy For Getting Protein?

A big part of the push to eat animal products is for protein, since they are generally more concentrated than plant sources. Nutritionally, humans don’t need to eat animal proteins, we just need protein.

And we certainly don’t need protein in the quantities that it’s currently being eaten in the developed world. Because of the wide variety and natural abundance of proteins in plant foods, we’re able to grow, build muscle and maintain brain function without meat.

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Is Meat Healthy For Getting Vitamins And Minerals?

Although meat is a source of some of the essential nutrients we need, there are plant sources for almost all of these. You do need to supplement a couple of nutrients on a pure vegan diet plan – vitamins D and B12.

But animal foods are getting to be of lower and lower quality, as industrial agriculture standards fall, so there are plenty of meat eaters who are deficient in those vitamins – plus a lot of other nutrients that they’re missing from not eating enough plant foods. The bottom line is that lots of meat eaters should be taking supplements, too.

Is Meat Healthy When We Eat So Much?

The fact is, in North America and other rich countries, we eat much more meat than we need these days. Even if someone has a physical need to eat meat or animal products, they don’t need more than a small serving a few times a week to maintain health.

Traditionally, cultures valued animal foods as rich resources that should not be eaten excessively. Many of the most serious diseases we face in North America are directly related to excess meat in our diets. You don’t need to cut meat out of your life entirely, but you will be doing yourself and the planet a favor if you cut back.

What do you think? Is meat healthy? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.

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