Excessive Meat Consumption Leads To 45,000 Deaths Per Year

Skirt Steak NightThe Oxford University’s Department of Public Health recently conducted a study that showed that eating meat 3x per week or less could save lives. This study was conducted in the United Kingdom, and they estimate that 45,000 lives could be saved in the UK each YEAR if people cut back on their meat consumption.

Side note: This research study was funded by Friends of the Earth, which is actually an organization that focuses on environmental issues. They discuss more information about the environmental impact of eating excessive amounts of meat… but I’m not going to discuss that in this blog post. This post is focused only on the health consequences of high meat consumption by humans.

This research study concluded that high meat consumption leads to higher levels of cancer, heart disease, and strokes. They estimate that decreasing meat consumption to 3 times per week (or less) may prevent 31,000 heart disease deaths, 9,000 cancer deaths, and 5,000 stroke deaths in the United Kingdom each year.

Think about the implications of this study in the United States. Currently, there are about 61 million people living in the UK, and about 307 million people living in the United States. Since the US population is about 5 times larger than that population of the UK, does this mean that there is an estimated 225,000 lives that could be saved in the US each year?

Of course we can’t scientifically pin down that number for the US by simply plugging numbers like that into a calculator (because of the difference in location, culture, etc). But, the significance of the findings is this: cutting back on meat consumption can help prevent life-threatening diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Here are a few thoughts that I have about the topic:

  • I agree that eating less meat is beneficial to health, study after study has shown that higher levels of meat consumption leads to increased risks of heart disease, cancer, and strokes (just to name a few).
  • So, does this mean that you need to stop eating meat all together? Not necessarily. This decision is a very personal choice that each individual needs to make, and I suggest that you research the topic and make a decision based on what you feel is best for yourself and your family. I personally do not eat meat on a regular basis, it is more of an occasional every-so-often occurrence. If I eat it, I am usually eating at a friend/family member’s house, eating out at a restaurant, or on a rare occasion I will cook it at home if I have guests over that are big meat eaters.
  • Small changes can make a difference in the long run. Even if you don’t want to cut meat out of your eating habits, try decreasing portion sizes (and increasing the fruits and vegetables that you are eating). Or plan 1 or 2 meatless dinners each week, beans and legumes make a great substitution for meat.
  • When you choose to eat meat, I suggest that you focus on high-quality meat. Look for brands that are organic, grass fed (beef), don’t contain any hormones or antibiotics, etc. Part of the problem of our modern meat consumption is the fact that the quality has decreased so drastically. The nutritional value of chicken today has been compared with the nutritional value of chicken 40 years ago, and today’s chicken contains almost 30% less protein and 3x as much fat per serving!
  • Also, if you choose to consume meat, make sure that it is in it’s natural form– try to avoid processed meats such as hot dogs, sausage, lunch meat, etc. These meats almost always contain nitrates which can cause cancer when they are consumed on a regular basis.
  • If you choose to not consume meat, it is essential that you are eating other healthy foods that will provide your body with the essential amino acids so that you get the protein that you need. Try replacing the meat with beans and legumes, lots of green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Eat a variety of these whole foods so that you have a balanced diet and you are providing your body with good nutrition.

The reason that I am sharing this information is to help you understand the implications of eating meat so that you can make an educated decision and adjust your eating habits accordingly. I understand that people have very strong opinions on this topic, and many people don’t want to hear information about how meat can be detrimental to their health. Please understand that it is my goal to provide healthy eating information based scientific findings… not to tell everyone what they “want” to hear. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I know that there is a lot of conflicting information about protein and meat consumption, and this is a topic that I have studied in depth– because cutting back on meat consumption was a completely different approach than what I learned growing up. I am currently writing a series of blog posts to provide you with more information and detail about this topic. If you would like to be notified when I post something new, please subscribe to the RSS feed so that you can receive updates when new blog posts are published.

Suggested Reading:

The Oxford University’s Department of Public Health Report – The report that was published last month about the findings of the study.

The China Study – The most in-depth study that I have found which analyzes how animal protein affects health.

American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets – The ADA’s opinion on vegetarian diets (Click on the “PDF Version” link below the article to read the entire report)

If you found this blog post interesting or informative, please take a moment to share it with your family and friends. Simply click on the buttons below to share this information via Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon or Email. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo credit: Another Pint Please
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4 Responses to “Excessive Meat Consumption Leads To 45,000 Deaths Per Year”

  1. Nicole says:

    Thank you for this post! I have cut back my meat consumption significantly. The added bonus is that my weekly meals are much cheaper!

  2. Becki says:

    Yes, you are right… it can be expensive to keep the fridge stocked with meat. It’s awesome to be healthy AND save money at the same time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Cherie says:

    I had a heart attack at the age of 42 in December, my doctor told me to eat no more then 3 oz of meat a day. before this I ate mostly chicken. Since my heart attack I now eat mostly vegetarian and feel sooo much better, you can almost make anything using mushrooms or soy product instead of meat and it taste just as good!!!

  4. Becki says:

    Cherie, that sounds like a scary experience, I am glad you are ok and feeling so much better now! I agree, many vegetarian dishes taste just as good as meat-based dishes. Thanks for your comment! ๐Ÿ™‚