Meat being unhealthy is a common argument used against the consumption of meat, often by vegans. But is this a myth? Can you eat meat and still be healthy? Meat isn’t as bad as some people believe, and you can still be healthy and eat meat… Of course, in moderation!
Differing Meat Opinions
The topic of eating meat will ALWAYS be divided straight down the middle, with one camp vehemently against eating anything derived from an animal for ethical reasons. The opposite camp will be the meat eaters who like to include meat in their diet.
While we support both sets of beliefs and opinions (because who are we to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat!), we also understand that eating meat has some unique dietetic and nutritional qualities that cannot be wholly replicated in any other format, although some substitutes do come very close!
For a majority of people, meat provides the integral element of the main meal of the day. This thought process can be traced back centuries when there might have been only 1 meal a day, centred around the meat that was either acquired or caught for the family to eat.
With a heavy focus on plant-based living, we need to remember sometimes what meat can bring to our metaphorical diet table!
Let’s have a good look at a few of the main dietetic and nutritional qualities meat has to offer:
Meat Is High In Protein
This is not a point to be scared of (as you may be envisaging a bodybuilder right now!).
Protein is an absolutely crucial part of any diet. Protein derived from an animal’s flesh is considered ‘Complete Protein,’ meaning it has all of the essential amino acids contained within it for optimum dietary health.
There is nothing out there that can completely replicate the make-up of what meat has to offer in its entirety.
Vitamins And Nutrients From Meat Are More Bioavailable
Bioavailability refers to the uptake of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals by the body for its correct functions.
Meat is considered a highly bioavailable food source, as the body can metabolise meat in a more efficient way to be able to use all of the benefits that meat has to offer.
So for instance, meat has high levels of Iron and Zinc, and these elements would be used by the body more efficiently once the food is metabolised versus a tablet form of the same component, for instance.
Meat Is The Only Natural Source Of Vitamin B12
It’s a fact! Meat is the only natural source of Vitamin B12. This is important for optimum brain development in children and feeding your nervous system the essential vitamin it needs to work correctly.
It is roughly estimated that 1 in 5 people have a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can bring around symptoms such as feeling faint or loss of consciousness, mouth ulcers and sore and inflamed tongues, and extreme lethargy and constant tiredness.
So it is an essential vitamin to have!
Meat Can Help Control Your Weight
In moderation, meat can actually help you to maintain a healthy weight goal.
The complete protein is incredibly filling, so it can help to turn off the hunger receptors which can stop you from overeating, which is handy if you find yourself overdoing the portion sizes of your meals and then feeling obliged to eat every morsel!
Protein can also help to stabilise wayward blood sugar levels. While you may not think this is an essential factor if you don’t have diabetes, you may find it helpful to know that fluctuating blood sugar levels in a healthy human can be a trigger for exhaustion, sugar cravings, headaches, and disturbed vision.
Eat Meat In Moderation
While we are singing the praises of meat here, it is essential to know that it is completely possible to have too much of a good thing. This rule is undoubtedly applied to meat in terms of everyday eating.
Do you need to eat meat every day to get all the benefits from it? No, certainly not.
But what is important to remember about meat is that the quality should be the best you can find, ideally from a butcher or farm shop with local connections who can provide meat with the best nutritional quality.
Cheap meat won’t cut the mustard as much as fresh, top-quality meat regarding dietetic benefits and nutritional content!
How Much Meat Is Too Much?
Current guidelines suggest that you should keep to 70g and under a day of red or processed meat, and by processed we men meat that is not in its raw and natural state, such as sausages, paté and in pies, etc.
However, this is only the upper limit that is considered within a healthy range and is most certainly not a target amount!
The best advice we have here is to make some days in the week meat-free days and fully explore other avenues of meals, but make the meat days you have as special as they can be with the best quality meat you can find.
You can also practice with your higher quality meat and make meals that will take the meat further:
Meatballs in a vegetable-based tomato sauce, goulash that has 1 part meat and 3 parts chunky veg, and “Slim Lasagne” where there is one delicious layer of meat and sauce, and the other layers are root vegetables chopped finely in the same sauce.
The Healthy Bottom Line
So can you eat meat and be healthy? Cutting straight to the chase, yes, you can eat meat and still be healthy.
Meat is the purest source of protein which has a unique balance of so many vitamins and minerals that are great for health, that cannot be entirely replicated by any artificial means.
Our human bodies are designed to be carnivorous, so the body knows how to metabolise precisely what it needs from meat; it’s like an unspoken communication where your body is given something and instantly knows what to take from it.
However, there is such a thing as too much, and too much meat can take away all the positive effects that eating meat can give you when it is within the suggested guidelines for health.
Make sure your meat is the best quality you can find and source from a butcher, who will be a craftsman of your meat requirements and can offer something so nutritionally dense and of outstanding quality that you’ll be hailing them as your best meat-friend!