By Julia Ries
- Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but it's still unclear why too much may be harmful to our health.
- Researchers looked at the impact of meat on our health and found that eating too much unprocessed and processed meat increases your risk of heart disease and death.
- It may also mess with our gut microbiome, something scientists are just learning is an important component for heart disease risk.
Health experts have long suspected that eating too much meat can have a detrimental effect on our health.
Eating meat was linked to a slightly higher risk.<p>Researchers looked at the health data of nearly 30,000 adults who had no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline and provided follow-up data for up to three decades.</p><p>Information about the participants' <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/diet" rel="noopener noreferrer">diets</a> was self-reported via a food frequency questionnaire or diet history.</p><p>The researchers had standardized the serving sizes: One serving constituted 4 ounces of unprocessed red meat or poultry, or 3 ounces of fish. Regarding processed meat, one serving was 2 slices of bacon, 2 links of sausage, or 1 hot dog.</p><p>Then, the researchers tracked the number of cardiovascular events, including strokes, heart failure events, and CVD deaths.</p><p>The researchers found that people who ate two servings of red meat — but not fish — a week were linked to a 3 percent higher risk of heart disease and premature death. That risk went up to 7 percent for processed red meat.</p><p>Those who ate two servings a week of poultry were associated with a 4 percent higher risk of heart disease, though the researchers say there's not enough evidence to make a clear recommendation about poultry.</p><p>The researchers found no associations between fish consumption and heart disease or death.</p>
What is it about meat?<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/meat-good-or-bad" target="_blank">Meat</a> is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but it's still unclear why too much of it may be harmful to our health.</p><p>"The biological mechanisms underlying the associations of unprocessed red meat and processed meat intake with heart disease have not been fully understood," Zhong said.</p><p>Zhong suspects it may be due to the high levels of saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, heme iron, and added sodium in certain types of meat. These dietary factors are all associated with a handful of heart health conditions, including hypertension, high cholesterol, vascular stiffness, insulin resistance, and diabetes.</p><p>Dr. Nicole Harkin, a board-certified cardiologist and lipidologist with <a href="http://www.cardiologistmidtownnyc.com/" target="_blank">Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates</a>, says eating a lot of red meat increases blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two big risk factors for heart disease.</p><p>"Consumption of meat also may have other adverse effects on the heart and vascular system that we are still investigating, such as adversely affecting the lining of the blood vessels, called endothelial dysfunction," Harkin added.</p><p>It may also mess with our gut <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/microbiome">microbiome</a>, something scientists are just learning is an important component for heart disease risk, Harkin said.</p>
Do you need to give up meat?<p>So, is there a safe amount of meat intake? According to Zhong's new study, most meat consumption carries a higher risk.</p><p>"Our study did not find a safe consumption amount for unprocessed red meat and processed meat. Only zero consumption was associated with no increased risk of heart disease and premature death," Zhong said.</p><p>Harkin advises her patients to eat red meat rarely — about once to twice a month, at most — and to avoid processed meat.</p><p>She also recommends eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans — all things that can help lower your risk of heart disease and keep you healthy.</p><p>"While we do not know an exact amount of meat that is 'acceptable' (and this probably varies from person to person due to other factors such as genetics, environment, and other lifestyle choices), this study and others indicate a dose response relationship: The more meat consumed, the higher the risk of heart disease," Harkin said.</p>
The bottom line<p>New research has found that eating too much unprocessed and processed meat (like pepperoni, bologna, and deli meats) increases your risk of heart disease and death.</p><p>This new study follows a controversial report that came out November 2019 suggesting that lowering your meat intake has no effect on heart health.</p><p>Health experts suspect meat has this effect because it contributes to higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two huge risk factors for heart disease.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><a href="https://www.healthline.com/" target="_blank"><em>Healthline</em></a><em>. For detailed source information, please view the original article on </em><em><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/red-meat-processed-meat-is-still-bad-for-your-health" target="_blank">Healthline</a></em><em>.</em></p>
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A group of scientists is warning that livestock production must not expand after 2030 for the world to stave off ecological disaster.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Thanksgiving can be a tricky holiday if you're trying to avoid animal products — after all, its unofficial name is Turkey Day. But, as more and more studies show the impact of meat and dairy consumption on the Earth, preparing a vegan Thanksgiving is one way to show gratitude for this planet and all its biodiversity.
1. Meatless Turkey<p>The traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal may feel like the most intimidating element to swap out, but there are plenty of faux-turkey alternatives on the market. Juliet Lapidos <a href="https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2009/11/what-s-the-best-vegetarian-turkey-hint-it-s-not-tofurky.html" target="_blank">sampled four back in 2009</a> and rated the Gardein Stuffed Veggie Turkey Roast as the tastiest. The product is now sold as the <a href="https://www.gardein.com/products/savory-stuffed-turky/" target="_blank">savory stuffed turk'y</a> or <a href="https://www.gardein.com/products/holiday-roast/" target="_blank">holiday roast</a>. Gardein's replacement turkeys got a bill of approval from <a href="https://www.thespruceeats.com/gardeins-savory-stuffed-turky-3376903" target="_blank">The Spruce Eats</a> for their natural ingredients and realistic appearance.</p><p>You also don't have to bother with fake meat at all. <a href="https://wellvegan.com/recipe/6-turkey-alternatives-for-a-vegan-thanksgiving" target="_blank">Well Vegan</a> suggests an all veggie-take on the turducken: the Butternut Squash Vegducken. This dish stuffs a zucchini inside an eggplant inside a butternut squash for "a flavor combination that's perfectly suited for the season."</p><p>Epicurious has the original <a href="https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/vegducken" target="_blank">vegetarian recipe</a>, plus tips for <a href="https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/vegan-thanksgiving-vegducken-recipe-article" target="_blank">turning it vegan</a>.</p>
2. Animal-Free Gravy<p>Gravy is another dish that screams animal product, but there are actually tons of recipes that don't require meat juices.</p><p><a href="https://lovingitvegan.com/vegan-gravy/" target="_blank">Alison Andrews of Loving It Vegan</a> shares a recipe for a gravy made in 30 minutes from garlic and onions, vegan butter, flour, coconut milk, vegetable stalk and soy sauce.</p><p>People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also has <a href="https://www.peta.org/living/food/celebrate-vegan-holiday/" target="_blank">lots of gravy recipes</a> that emphasize different flavors, from <a href="https://www.peta.org/recipes/roasted-garlic-gravy/" target="_blank">Roasted Garlic Gravy</a> to <a href="https://www.peta.org/recipes/red-wine-shallot-gravy/" target="_blank">Red Wine and Shallot Gravy</a>.</p>
3. Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes<p>You don't need milk and butter to make your mashed potatoes nice and creamy.</p><p>"They're extremely easy to veganize," <a href="https://simpleveganblog.com/vegan-mashed-potatoes/" target="_blank">Iosune of Simple Vegan Blog writes</a>, "you just need to use oil or vegan butter instead of regular butter (extra virgin olive oil is my favorite choice) and any unsweetened plant milk instead of cow's milk or cream (soy milk works so well), that's all!"</p><p>Iosune explains how you can make your own <a href="https://simpleveganblog.com/vegan-butter/" target="_blank">vegan butter</a>, too. All you need is plant-based milk, lemon juice, coconut oil, a neutral oil like sunflower oil, nutritional yeast (if you can find it) and salt.</p>
4. Vegan Casseroles<p>Side dishes are probably the easiest holiday foods to conceive of as vegan, since they tend to be veggie-based anyway. But that also means there are lots of exciting recipes out there to try. <a href="https://www.vegkitchen.com/12-comforting-easy-vegan-casseroles/" target="_blank">VegKitchen</a> suggests several, but the most seasonal include Quinoa, Broccoli and Vegan Cheese, Roasted Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese and Vegan Green Bean Casserole.</p><p>"Vegan casseroles are always comforting," VegKitchen writes, "and it's nice to know that they're also good for you, not starchy and heavy like the old-fashioned kind."</p>
5. Earth-Friendly Pumpkin Pie<p>Pumpkin pie is a holiday classic, but many traditional recipes call for cream or eggs. Then there's the fact that it's usually topped with whipped cream.</p><p>However, you can have the full pumpkin pie experience without any animal products. <a href="https://lovingitvegan.com/vegan-pumpkin-pie/" target="_blank">Loving It Vegan</a> shares a recipe that uses canned pureed pumpkin for the filling, and <a href="https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/vegan-pumpkin-pie" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the BBC Good Food</a> walks you through the process of making the filling from pumpkins or squash directly.</p><p>There are also plenty of vegan whipped-creams options out there, <a href="https://www.peta.org/living/food/dairy-free-vegan-whipped-cream-brands-recipes/" target="_blank">according to PETA</a>. You can buy one of the many ready-to-spray varieties for sale or make your own from chilled coconut milk, sugar and vanilla.</p>
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By Anne-Sophie Brändlin
October 16 marks World Food Day this year, a day celebrated every year by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
World Food Day is a call to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible for everyone, while nurturing the planet at the same time.
Why Meat and Dairy Are Bad for the Climate<p>Livestock are responsible for almost 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the <a href="http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/" target="_blank">FAO</a>.</p><p>Cattle is the biggest culprit. Raised for both beef and milk, cows represent about 65 percent of the livestock sector's emissions, followed by pork (9 percent), buffalo milk (8 percent), and poultry and eggs (8 percent).</p><p>A byproduct of cow digestion is methane (CH4) and accounts for the majority of livestock emissions. The greenhouse gas is estimated to be at least 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>But livestock production is also responsible for other greenhouse gas emissions, such as nitrous oxide (N20) and carbon dioxide (CO2), mainly through the production of their feed, which often involves large applications of nitrogen-based fertilizers.</p><img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTk5OTYzOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTIxNTgyOX0.8F1SHHSaID2I5npqGimiUuE48Gm07i4YFeYXefmCcUY/img.png?width=980" id="d7c92" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a607bc1060e3439bbc0d90f560485117" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The Opposite Approach to Combat Hunger?<p>But with over 800 million people still going hungry every day, impact on the climate cannot be the only guide for what people eat, the study points out.</p><p>Animal source foods, specifically milk and eggs, are in fact a valuable source of protein and nutrients like calcium, which are especially important for young children and pregnant women.</p><p><em>Read more: </em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/pakistan-struggling-to-eradicate-malnutrition-in-children/a-49294026" target="_blank">Pakistan struggling to eradicate malnutrition in children</a></p><p>"Some countries, such as Indonesia, India and most of the African countries may actually need to dramatically increase their greenhouse gas emissions and water use, because they have to combat hunger and stunting," Bloem said.</p><p>In these countries, there is still a 40 percent rate of stunting, a side effect of undernutrition that results in lower than average growth in children.</p><p>Stunting also has a major, long-term impact on the cognitive abilities of the children.</p><p>"It's irreversible by the age of two, so stunting has huge implications for the human capital in those countries. That's why it's very critical that we prevent stunting and we need animal source foods for that," Bloem said. "We cannot keep that out of the equation when talking about climate protection." </p><p>Another solution, according to Bloem, would be to fortify certain products, like cereal. This would help reduce the need to get nutrients through animal products. It's a practice already in use in many developed countries, but so far hasn't been applied in many poorer countries.</p>
Fish Could Make All the Difference<p>Diets in which protein came predominantly from low food chain animals – such as small fish and mollusks – were found to have nearly as low of an environmental impact as a vegan diet.</p><p>"Small fish are really critical for poor people, particularly in Africa and Asia, as that's one of the main sources for protein and calcium, because the milk intake is very low in those countries," Bloem said.</p><p>"But 80% of all the fish produced nowadays actually comes from Asia and is imported in Europe and the US. And the feed for some of these bigger fish we import are actually those smaller fish, which means the poorer people have no more access to this vital source of protein and calcium." </p><p>Researchers also determined that a diet that reduced animal food consumption by two-thirds – termed by study authors as going "two-thirds vegan" – generally had a lower climate and water footprint than vegetarian diets that included eggs and diary, but not fish.</p>
Where You Get Your Food From Matters<p>Researchers also found that local production wasn't always the best way to go from a climate perspective.</p><p>The production of one pound (0.45 kilograms) of beef in Paraguay, for instance, contributes nearly 17 times more greenhouse gases than one pound of beef produced in Denmark. Often, this disparity came from deforestation to create grazing land, according to the study.</p><p>"So a food's country of origin can have enormous consequences for the climate," Bloem said.</p><p>"In Europe the soil is much more fertile, for instance, which makes the production there more efficient. So trade could actually be good for the climate if food is produced in places where the climate impact is the lowest," Bloem said, adding that this is the case even when emissions from transportation are factored in.</p><p>The study concludes that middle- and low-income countries need to be guided and supported by developed countries to avoid environmental mistakes the planet is already paying for. </p><p>"It needs to be a close collaboration between developed and developing countries. It's a joint problem. We are all in this together," Bloem said.</p><p>Another way industrialized countries could reduce their impact on the climate is <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/fighting-climate-change-by-tackling-food-waste/a-48384916" target="_blank">reducing food waste</a> — one-third of all food produced worldwide ends up in the bin, with Europeans on average throwing away 95 kilograms (209 lbs) of food per person, per year. In low-income African countries south of the Sahara, it's only 6 kilograms (13 lbs).</p><img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTk5OTY0OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxODE4NDE2Mn0.uQPcuPUg8AcuSSDvgd87IJOJRFtn6bLm_MBs7P4yJJQ/img.png?width=980" id="3a3ed" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d80706920d88c1ee328e8b9ea51cb4d9" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Context Is Key<p>But despite the findings, one key conclusion of the report is that there aren't always straight-forward answers, according to Bloem.</p><p>"That's why we conducted analyses in all these different countries so that you can see what the most optimal way is for each individual country – but also the entire world to deal with diets and health criteria, as well as climate and sustainability," he said.</p><p>In the end, the study came up with nine plant-forward diets, ranging from no red meat to pescatarian (a vegetarian diet that includes seafood), lacto-ovo vegetarian (a vegetarian diet that includes dairy and eggs), to vegan, which are to be presented to policymakers in each country.</p><p>At the same time, the study urges people in the Western world to do more. </p><p>Baby boomers in the developed world, for instance, on average spend less than 10% of their income on food, while the same generation in countries like Nigeria, Kenya or Bangladesh spends 50 to 60% of their income on food, according to Bloem.</p><p>"For us in the Western world, we can pay more for our food so that we can pay for the unintended consequences."</p>
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It has long been a public health truism that limiting meat consumption is better for your body. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Cancer Research Fund both say red or processed meat can cause cancer, as Reuters noted. But a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine Tuesday argued that this might not be the case.
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Meat-eaters put a lot of faith in USDA inspection facilities, which are often overwhelmed by an endless flow of animals ready for slaughter to meet our seemingly endless demand for meat.
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The world's population will hit 10 billion in just 30 years and all of those people need to eat. To feed that many humans with the resources Earth has, we will have to cut down the amount of beef we eat, according to a new report by the World Resources Institute.
By Dan Gray
Processed foods, in their many delicious forms, are an American favorite.
But new research shows that despite increasing evidence on just how unhealthy processed foods are, Americans have continued to eat the products at the same rate.
What is Processed Meat?<p>Processed meat isn't hard to identify.</p><p>Any meat product that's been altered in some way to add flavor or shelf life is considered processed.</p><p>The long list includes certain deli meats, along with hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and ham.</p><p>"The World Health Organization (WHO) <a href="https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr240_E.pdf" target="_blank">declared</a> processed red meat to be in the same cancer-causing category as cigarettes and plutonium, so it obviously carries some significant danger," <a href="https://www.nationaljewish.org/doctors-departments/providers/physicians/andrew-m-freeman" target="_blank">Dr. Andrew Freeman</a>, a cardiologist and director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health, told Healthline.</p><p>To understand what makes these meats so unhealthy, it helps to look at what's in it.</p><p>"A lot of it has to do with the actual components associated with the processing of red meat," explained <a href="https://www.kristinkirkpatrick.com/" target="_blank">Kristin Kirkpatrick</a>, MS, RDN, a licensed, registered dietitian who manages wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.</p><p>One primary component of processed meat are nitrites and nitrates, components that prevent the growth of bacteria and add a salty flavor.</p><p>"A large WHO <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/retrieve/pii/S1470204515004441" target="_blank">study</a> showed strong associations between nitrates and nitrites and cancers of the stomach and colon," Kirkpatrick told Healthline. "Just last week, The BMJ <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l2110" target="_blank">found</a> early death associated with processed red meat as well, showing that processed red meat carries much more sodium than unprocessed meat, potentially increasing the risk for hypertension, stroke, and heart attack."</p>
Why Do We Keep Eating It?<p>Freeman acknowledges one big reason for the popularity of these meat products.</p><p>"It tastes really good," he said. "When meats are cured, salted, and spiced, it makes them taste good — although I would argue you can put those same spices on vegetables and make them taste good, too."</p><p>Delicious as it is, why aren't more people aware of the risks? The study's lead author believes it has to do with a lack of education.</p><p>"While factors other than health (e.g. social, cultural and economic) can influence Americans' food choices, the lack of widespread awareness of health risks associated with processed meat may have contributed to the lack of consumption change in the past 18 years," Dr. Fang Fang Zhang of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, said in a press release.</p><p>Freeman agrees, saying it's good business for major food producers to downplay the risks and continue marketing their products. In this way, processed meat is pervasive in the U.S.</p><p>"The clincher is that these products are served in healthcare institutions," he said. "You can walk into a large majority of hospital systems in this country and get bacon, eggs, salami, whatever. If you see that stuff served everywhere and see fast food commercials, it's hard to realize that there could be harm.</p><p>He also points out that while other carcinogenic products such as cigarettes have warning labels, processed meats contain no such caution.</p><p>"If you go to the store right now, there's nothing on the packaging saying this product may be associated with cancer, or with heart disease for that matter, sadly," Freeman said. "It doesn't surprise me that the study showed no change and it should be a warning to us that we really need to do a much better effort at raising awareness of the risks of consuming these products regularly."</p>
How Much is Too Much?<p>For anyone who loves a hot dog at the ballpark or sausages at a summer cookout, the idea of dropping processed meat entirely may seem daunting.</p><p>A diet that includes no processed meat is ideal, but it can be enjoyed as an occasional treat.</p><p>Kirkpatrick says that eating processed meat even once a day is "way too much."</p><p>"Many experts would say never eating processed meat is acceptable, but if we look at the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l2110" target="_blank">studyTrusted Source</a> in The BMJ, participants were grouped by consumption and the lowest consumption — less than six times per month, or none at all — had better outcomes. I tell my patients to look at red processed meat the same way they do dessert — a few times a month as a treat."</p><p>For carnivores wary of moving to a fully plant-based diet, there are healthier meat-based options available.</p><p>"Fish is a fabulous source of protein and lots of fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may be protective to health," said Kirkpatrick. "Wild line-caught salmon, wild trout, and sardines are some of the best."</p><p>Making change on an individual level requires willpower, but it is still relatively straightforward. Changing things on a societal level constitutes a much bigger task.</p><p>Prior studies have shown the health risks of processed meats. But this most recent study, one that shows societal trends, could help move the needle in the right direction.</p><p>"Findings of this study can inform public health policy priorities for improving diet and reducing chronic disease burden in the U.S.," said Zhang. "Because stores and fast food restaurants are the main purchase locations for processed meat, future policies may prioritize these as primary sites of intervention for reducing processed meat consumption among U.S. adults."</p>
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Tyson Foods is recalling nearly 12 million pounds of frozen chicken strips after three people reported they were injured by metal fragments in the strips, CNN reported Saturday.
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The label information of the recalled beef.
USDA FSIS<p>The first cases in the outbreak were reported to the CDC by health officials in Kentucky and Georgia, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-health-beef/some-156-people-in-10-states-infected-with-e-coli-from-ground-beef-cdc-idUSKCN1RZ2FV" target="_blank">Reuters reported</a>. When it first announced the outbreak earlier this month, CDC said that it had infected 109 people in six states, according to CNN. It has since spread to 10, with cases reported in Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and Virginia.</p>
A map showing the state-by-state spread of the outbreak.
CDC<p>Symptoms usually begin three to four days after consuming contaminated <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/food/" target="_self">food</a> and include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Some people infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli can develop kidney failure, but no cases have been reported in this outbreak so far.</p><p>The CDC said that many infected people had bought trays or chubs of beef from grocery stores, according to Reuters. However, the agency is not recommending that consumers or restaurants stop cooking or serving beef at this time.</p><p>"Consumers and restaurants should handle ground beef safely and cook it thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness," the agency said.</p>
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