Red Meat Is Not Unhealthy

Nineteen scientists author a new paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a well regarded peer-reviewed journal:

Contemporary dietary guidelines recommend limiting consumption of unprocessed red meat and processed meat. For example, the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting red meat intake, including processed meat, to approximately 1 weekly serving. Similarly, United Kingdom dietary guidelines endorse limiting the intake of both red and processed meat to 70 g/d, and the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research recommend limiting red meat consumption to moderate amounts and consuming very little processed meat. The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer has indicated that consumption of red meat is “probably carcinogenic” to humans, whereas processed meat is considered “carcinogenic” to humans.

Their paper provides solid evidence that these long time recommendations for both red meat (i.e. steaks) and processed meat (i.e. deli ham, hot dogs) are wrong. In fact, their evaluation of the data shows only a weak recommendation with low-certainty evidence for the current guidelines. In other words, there is no data to show that consumption of red meat or processed meat has ill health effects.

You may have other reasons to avoid beef and pork – the environmental cost of production, religious beliefs, or taste – but there is no scientific basis for the assertion that eating red meat is unhealthy.