You’ve likely seen the news by now: Last week, Harvard School of Public Health released the findings from an incredible 28-year study that connects eating virtually even the slightest amount of red meat with a significant risk increase in early mortality. It’s the kind of information that makes vegans like us wonder just how much longer the insistence that meat is a necessary part of the human diet will continue. (Seriously, we want to know, how long?!) For your health, and certainly for the health of our animal friends, there’s simply no greater time than now to add more vegetarian meals into your diet every day.
Study urges moderation in red meat intake
P.J. Skerrett, Senior editor, Harvard Health
A study linking red meat and mortality lit up the media in more ways than one. Hundreds of media outlets carried reports about the study. Headline writers had a field day, with entries like “Red meat death study,” “Will red meat kill you?” and “Singing the blues about red meat.”
The warning from the study, done by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, sounded ominous. Every extra daily serving of unprocessed red meat (steak, hamburger, pork, etc.) increased the risk of dying prematurely by 13%. Processed red meat (hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and the like) upped the risk by 20%. The results were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study included more than 121,000 men and women followed for an average of 24 years. All submitted information about their diets every four years. Over the course of the study, almost 24,000 of the participants died. Death rates among those who ate the most red meat were higher than among those who ate the least.
Because this was the largest, longest study to date on the connection between eating red meat and survival, the findings are worth paying attention to. But they aren’t the last word on the topic, and the numbers need to be put into perspective.