The meat debate is no longer a hot topic. The March issue of Time magazine revealed that more than a third of the world’s population is now vegetarian or vegan. This is in part due to the fact that some animal meat is linked to disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that one in 20 Americans is at risk for a serious type of cancer caused by a meat-related food, known as colorectal cancer.

We’ve all heard it, “Eat meat, it’s the only thing that will keep you alive”. While there’s no question that meat has the highest amount of protein per gram, there are some important questions that we don’t seem to be able to answer. Does the human body digest meat differently than plants? If meat consumption is so important, why are we still so susceptible to all kinds of malformation diseases?

Meat is today’s most controversial food. The primary reason is that it contains high amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol and salt. These three main nutrients are considered to be of low nutritional value, and are linked to many health problems. The debate about the suitability of meat is very long and very complicated, but one thing is for sure: meat is not bad for you.

This week, I’d want to talk about something that’s come up a lot in the past few weeks. The debate over whether or not eating meat is really beneficial to our health – or if it is a sickness waiting to come.

Meat: The Controversy

As most of you are aware, I just began a “vegetarian” or “plant-based” eating adventure. Well, my trip came to an end last week. Right now, I’m finishing up my reports, which includes collecting all of my body comp data, photos, and other materials. And I’m aiming to get my final tally and opinions by next Wednesday.

This week, though, I’d want to talk about something that’s come up a lot in the past few weeks. The debate over whether or not eating meat is really beneficial to our health – or if it is a sickness waiting to come.

In today’s media environment, it seems that this is one of the hottest issues, with omnivores and vegetarians standing up on opposing sides of the fence and hurling information bombs at one other.

Objectivity, of course, is thrown out the window anytime someone attempts to defend their own personal lifestyle with references, study, and citations after the fact. On the anti-meat side, people like Dr. Colin Campbell (of “The China Study” fame), a vocal vegan, are urged to take action. On the pro-meat side, vocal omnivores like Dr. Loren Cordain (of the “Paleo Diet”) are brought in to fill in.

So, who is correct? And who is the knucklehead?

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no I mean, they’re both well educated. Both are well-known authors. Both are outstanding individuals. Both seem to make a great deal of sense. As a result, none of them is a moron. And it’s possible that neither is incorrect. Indeed, this is how I see it.

It’s not uncommon for two competent individuals to arrive to different conclusions after reviewing the same material.

Depending on the conditions, it’s also conceivable for two clever individuals to arrive to opposing conclusions that are both right.

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Interview with a vegetarian

Chris Shugart of T-nation found out about my plant-based experiment a few weeks ago and requested for an interview. The following is a transcript of the interview:

Is It Possible for Vegetarians to Gain Muscle?

And there was a very lively debate thread on the T-nation boards after the interview. There was some genuine antagonism, as one would anticipate. My experiment was ridiculed by the meat eaters. They’d never give up their prized meat. The vegetarians, on the other hand, felt the experiment was fantastic. Finally, some reassurance.

However, the reality is that many of them missed the idea entirely. I didn’t conduct this study to determine if vegetarian diet is superior than meat eating or vice versa. I did it to see if there was any value in both methods.

I also did it to bring attention to the very real risk vs. benefit analysis that must be done when deciding whether to eat a meat-heavy diet or a plant-based one. Both kinds of eating have the potential to significantly harm your health.

So the trick isn’t to choose one over the other. It’s recognizing the benefits and disadvantages of each eating pattern. Making the greatest nutritious choices, regardless of the style you pick.

So, is meat a terrible thing?

Isn’t this the most important question? Many vegans, inspired by Dr. Colin Campbell, believe that meat is harmful to our health. That it is cancerous. It significantly raises the risk of illness.

Are they, however, oversimplifying the situation? To be honest, I believe so. After all, here’s a question that’s similar:

Is it true that being overweight is bad?

Isn’t that a ridiculous one? We all know that the question is too easy in today’s world. What sort of fat are you talking about? In what proportion? What do you mean by “prepared”? All of these differences are important to understand before deciding on the importance of fat in our diets.

The same may be said about beef.

There’s no doubt that eating the appropriate kinds of meat in the right quantities contributes to a balanced diet. It’s also an important component of a muscle-building or muscle-preserving diet. It’s essential to include a lot of protein, B vitamins, and iron in your diet. If any of these nutrients are lacking, both health and muscular growth are significantly harmed.

However, there is evidence that eating too much of the incorrect kinds of meat may be harmful to certain people. There’s no denying that there’s a link between meat consumption and the risk of cancer. And this isn’t simply a guess. It has been shown in over 100 epidemiological investigations.

Here’s the main question for meat eaters: what’s the connection? Well, it’s possible that a significant part of it is due to the fact that most people who eat a lot of meat also consume fewer of the other nutritious foods. Vegetables, for example. Whole, unprocessed grains, for example. Healthy fats, for example. As a result, their meals tend to be rich in calories, saturated fat, and fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, among other things. For most individuals, this is a fairly excellent formula for illness risk.

The reasonable answer here isn’t to abstain from eating meat. Rather, it’s to keep meat from displacing all of the other nutritious meals. It should contain both meat and high-fiber meals, as well as fruits and vegetables.

Hormones, meat, and cancer

Aside from dietary displacement, which has already been addressed, there are two additional issues with meat-heavy diets. First, there are carcinogens. Then there are hormones and antibiotics.

There’s a lot of evidence these days that eating cooked meat exposes us to a slew of possibly cancer-causing chemicals, such as N-nitroso compounds, heterocyclic amines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The most common cancers related to these chemicals are colon cancer and stomach cancer. Other connections have been reported, although they aren’t as strong.

Processed meats (lunch meats, canned meats, jerky, etc.) and highly cooked meats – blackened or charred – seem to be the most troublesome foods in the end.

However, these dangers may also be controlled. As previously stated, the strategy is not to avoid meat. It’s to stay away from processed meats. It’s important not to overcook grilled meat. Finally, increase your fiber and fruit and vegetable consumption. Fiber has been shown to protect against gastrointestinal malignancies. Fruits and vegetables also help to enhance antioxidant protection. This is the ideal antidote to the issues linked with highly grilled and/or processed meats.

Finally, in addition to the cancer danger, we now find a lot more hormones, contaminants, and antibiotics in farmed meats. This is bad news since we are likely to absorb a tiny quantity of these substances. But don’t toss away the baby with the bathwater. Instead of eliminating meat entirely, opt for hormone-free, organically grown meat. It’s worth noting that grass-fed beef is definitely the best.

Don't avoid meat, just eat more of this

Don’t shun meat; just consume more of it.

Wear your seatbelt and eat meat.

Now, before we move on from this subject, it’s critical that we get one thing straight. Almost everything we eat or do in life has some level of danger. In reality, I’m much more likely to die in a vehicle accident than I am of dying from colon cancer. But it doesn’t imply I’m dismissive of either. I attempt to comprehend my dangers. Then they’ll be buffered.

I, for example, use a seat belt because of the dangers of a vehicle accident. Similarly, I avoid processed meats, eat a lot of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as fiber-rich nuts, seeds, and legumes, and consume mostly organically grown, hormone-free meat because of the meat dangers.

This way, I receive all of the advantages of meat while reducing the dangers. There’s no need to be a vegetarian to enjoy this dish.

What about a build-up of meat in the colon?

Many people have asked me if meat builds up in the colon during my vegetarian trial. Yes and no is the answer. Meat-heavy meals may take up to 48 hours to digest and pass through the GI system. This is, nevertheless, a very typical travel time. The majority of meals take this time to pass through the digestive system. As a result, there’s nothing unique about beef in this respect.

However, what about 60-80 pounds of undigested, impacted feces accumulating in our bodies over time? Impossible. Have you heard the tale of John Wayne? This is the evidence being used to back up that ridiculous assertion.

They discovered 60-80 pounds of undigested stuff in his stomach before he died, creating a major intestinal obstruction. This was reportedly discovered after his autopsy. According to a number of vegetarian and colon cleaning websites, this is the case.

For starters, John Wayne was never subjected to an autopsy. He did, however, undergo surgery approximately a month before his death for a cancer-related intestinal obstruction. That, however, had nothing to do with his diet or affected feces.

Of course, this does not rule out the possibility of an accumulation of undigested feces. It is possible to develop a fecal buildup in the colon. Certainly not in multiple pound amounts; accumulation of more than a tiny quantity would be excruciating. Only individuals in unusual situations, such as genetically sensitive persons who consume little fiber and use medications that slow digestion and GI motility, are at risk.

As a result, any minor buildups that may develop are not due to the meat. It’s what the diet is lacking. Also, what medications are they using.

The argument continues.

As I have said, educated individuals may look at the same material and reach different conclusions. As a result, even with the broad suggestions I offer in this essay, I expect some disagreement. And that’s OK with me.

I’m not trying to persuade anybody of anything. I’m also not here to force my lifestyle onto your dinner table. Rather, I’m just here to offer the facts as I perceive them. And as an omnivore and a plant-based eater, I’ve seen it myself.

Finally, it is up to you to determine how you will utilize this information. I simply hope you make good use of it.

My trip to the butcher

Although I consider this endeavor a huge success, it doesn’t imply I’ll stick to a plant-based diet indefinitely. I made a meat run to Lake Land Meats in St Catharines, Ontario, just yesterday.

Lake Land, a member of the Niagara Culinary Trail, is my go-to source for local, free-range, and additive-free meats. Venison, elk, wild boar, bison, ostrich, pheasant, duck, quail, rabbit, trout, and other meats grown in Ontario are readily available.

Just A Few of Lake Land's Offerings

Listed below are just a handful of Lake Land’s offerings.

My excellent (and snarky) buddy Alwyn Cosgrove also aided the process by giving me a large, styrofoam box full of top-quality Omaha steaks last week. These were among of the finest I’ve ever eaten after marinating with a few teaspoons of white vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cajun spice then cooked on my Foreman Grill.

From My Sarcastic Friend, Alwyn Cosgrove. Bringing Me Back From The "Dark Side," He Is. Click The Picture To Check Out His Message To Me.

Alwyn Cosgrove, my snarky buddy. He’s the one who’s bringing me back from the “evil side.” To see his message to me, click on the image.

But just because I’m back on meat doesn’t mean my plant-based experience hasn’t had an impact on how I eat. In fact, as a consequence of this trial, I’ve discovered a slew of new plant-based eateries and dishes that I’ll keep eating. In addition, I’ve learnt a lot about the origins of my food. Finally, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the dedication required to consume only plant-based foods.

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As the debate over the health effects of meat flares up around us once again, with the whole world going vegan, we thought it was time to take a look at what the evidence says.  So, what does the research say?. Read more about vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters fact or opinion and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why we should eat meat debate?

Meat is a source of protein and iron, which are essential for the body. It also contains vitamins and minerals that are important to maintain health.

Is meat good for us?

Meat is not good for us. It contains high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease.

Should we eat meat Yes or no?

Yes, meat is a good source of protein and iron.

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