In 2006 an estimated 150,000 vegans were living in the United Kingdom. According to a survey by the Vegan Society, this number has now risen to 600,000. Combine this growth with the popularity of the “Veganuary” trend, and you can see a movement towards meat-free alternatives. For many, the global climate crisis has inspired the change. Research increasingly points to the meat industry as a significant contributor to CO2 emissions. But, for many, becoming vegan (or indeed vegetarian) has been inspired by a perceived health benefit.
Netflix documentaries, social media influencers, and prominent nutritionists have lined up to extol the virtues of a switch to a plant-based lifestyle. There has been a backlash in some circles as carnivores claim that millennia of meat-eating has done us no harm thus far, so why change a winning formula. But who is right? Is meat bad for you, or is it an essential part of a complete diet?
The Anti-Meat Argument
The most common argument against eating meat is its classification as a carcinogen. This is believed to be due to the lack of fibre in meat as well as the presence of carcinogenic compounds which form during the process of cooking. Advocates also point to the high cholesterol content of meat which has been shown to be linked to heart attacks, strokes & diabetes. Another thing plant-based lifestyle proponents say backs up their case is the presence of hormones in the majority of meat. The hormones are injected into the animals to maximise the amount of meat you get from them. These hormones are then passed onto the consumer, where they can have a negative impact on hormonal balance.
The Pro-Meat Argument
Team Meat will point to a study by a 14 member international team. This study found that there was no certainty to the links between meat consumption and chronic disease. The study claimed that all data up to this point had, in fact, been inconclusive. Meat-eating proponents will also point to studies which show that many plants eaten by vegans and vegetarians have a higher hormone content than most meats. In response to the criticism of the meat industry’s contribution to climate change, advocates will say that it is far down the list of concerns and that, in advanced countries, it’s contribution to greenhouse emissions is as low as 3% (United States) of the total emissions.
Considerations To Make When Choosing Meat Or No Meat?
With arguments on both sides of the divide, it appears as though the current evidence is inconclusive either way. But on an individual level, it is essential to consider your own reaction to eating meat. This is where a food intolerance blood test can be crucial. A food intolerance blood test can help you identify whether or not you have an intolerance to any meats which can cause symptoms including diarrhoea, fatigue and vomiting. You can find a food intolerance blood test to help you determine your sensitivity to meat here.