The Truth About Meat Diets Vs. Plant-Based Diets
Which is better for you – a plant-based diet or a diet that is based on meat? If you believe many of the headlines Google has to offer, plant-based is the way to go. But the reality is that a lot of the research that has been done on this topic is biased, and at Red House Ranch, we subscribe to healthy meat-based diets. In this post, we’d like to talk about why.
Eating Meat is Good for You – Here’s Proof
There is currently no evidence that eating meat or saturated fat will lead to heart disease and diabetes, although you may have heard the opposite. In November 2019, research was published in the Annals of Internal Medicinethat stated that people should not feel the need to change their diets if they currently eat red and processed meat.
This is a controversial subject, for sure. This is largely because a lot of the research has been contradictory. In their article, Dr. Carroll and Dr. Doherty state that, “Although many studies report health risks, many—some even examining the same data sets as those reporting a significant risk—do not. Some reviews of the literature conclude that processed meat is carcinogenic, and red meats are “probably carcinogenic.” Other reviews conclude that evidence supporting the association between red meat consumption and colon cancer and cardiovascular disease is weak.”
Even though there is a lack of consistent evidence that proves that meat is bad for you, this mantra is often repeated by medical professionals. They claim that reducing meat consumption will lower a person’s risk for heart disease and many different types of cancers. But additional research suggests that adults should continue to consume their current levels of meat unless they decide to make a change on their own.
So we know from scientific research that meat is not harmful, but what exactly is it about meat that makes it good for us?
Meat Provides Humans With Adequate Amounts of Protein
Did you know that in America, we only get about 16% of our calories from protein? Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and it is the body’s building block. People should try to get at least 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight. This can help to regulate caloric intake while it builds and preserves the body’s muscle mass.
The human body does not store protein, which means it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of it every day. When you eat it, it is broken down into amino acids, which are then used to complete just about every metabolic process in the body. But not all proteins are the same as far as the types of amino acids they contain.
There are about 20 amino acids the body uses to build proteins, and they are classified as either essential or non-essential. The body can produce non-essential amino acids on its own, but it cannot produce essential amino acids. Those need to come from your diet, and they also need to be in the correct ratios in order for your body to use them correctly.
Animal proteins like meat, eggs, poultry, fish and dairy are considered complete proteins because they contain all of the amino acids the body needs to function at an optimal level. On the other hand, plant proteins are not complete because they tend to lack one or more of the essential amino acids the body needs.
Eating Less Meat Results in More Nutrient Deficiencies, Calories and Carbs
Once a person removes meat from their diet, nutrient deficiencies are bound to occur. That is because plants often lack some basic nutrients that we need, such as:
- Zinc – Zinc is mainly found in animal protein sources, such as lamb, beef and pork. When a person eats a healthy diet that includes meat, the zinc is more easily absorbed than it might be from a supplement.
- Heme-iron – Heme-iron is a nutrient that is predominantly found in meat, and most typically in red meat. They body can absorb it much more easily from meat than from plants.
- Vitamin D – There are many plants that contain Vitamin D, which is a critical nutrient in the body. But the type that is found in animal proteins can be better utilized by the body. The best forms of Vitamin D are found in eggs, oily fish and dairy foods.
- Vitamin B12 – This nutrient is mainly found in poultry, dairy products meat and fish. It is not uncommon for people to become deficient in Vitamin B12 when they avoid eating meat.
- DHA – DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. It is an essential omega-3 fat that is found in fatty fish. DHA is vital for brain health and it can be extremely difficult to find in plants.
Other nutrients that people who eat plant-based diets might be deficient in include:
People who eat plant-based diets often find that they consume a lot more carbs and calories per day simply because they are so hungry. Without an adequate amount of the right kinds of protein, it can be difficult to stay satisfied for very long.
What’s the Bottom Line?
According to the New York Times, researchers have concluded that if there are any benefits to eating less meat, they are minimal, at best. Of course, at Red House Ranch, we know that the most benefits are gained by eating meat from animals that have been pasture-fed and finished.
Meat, eggs and dairy products from pastured animals are ideal for our health. They offer more “good” fats and less “bad fats.” They’re also richer in antioxidants and are raised without hormones, antibiotics or other drugs.
At Red House Ranch, we believe in eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, that includes meat, grains and yes, plants. That is what we need for optimal health.
Would you like more information on this topic? Here are some great resource links you can check out:
Is Red Meat Killing Us? This is a great blog by Dr. Peter Attia. He gives a very complete analysis.
Click this link to be taken to five additional articles written by Chris Kresser. These articles further explain why the sensational new stories we hear every six months about red meat are nothing but flawed science. Some of the articles you’ll find include: