Once a mainstay of the American diet, consumption of red meat has steadily declined since the 1960’s. This is due to its association with increased risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other degenerative diseases.
Notably, red meat has several excellent features, beyond taste. From a nutrition standpoint, it contains a wealth of nutrients, such as protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins and others.
To its detriment, red meat has a high level of saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, nitrates, added hormones/ antibiotics as well as other components that are linked with diseases. Studies conducted by Harvard’s School of Public Health show how individuals who consumed daily servings of pork, lamb or beef tripled their risk of developing colon cancer.
Many nutritionists and dietitians advise on reducing red meat consumption to a few times per week. Alternatives to red meat are: poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, soy, legumes, grains and other plant-based sources.
If you decide to switch or transition to a mostly plant-based diet, it is important to understand which vitamins and minerals you will need to focus on. The protein composition and bioavailability of some nutrients (ie. iron, vitamin B12, etc.) are not comparable to red meat.