Hundreds of scientists have joined forces to criticize the promotion of plant-based diets, asserting that meat is an essential component of a balanced human diet. They also caution against demonizing those who consume meat.
A declaration that claims cattle farming is too vital to “become the victim of zealotry” has nearly 1,000 experts from top universities across the globe as signatories.
Numerous experts investigated the evidence which supports recent claims that “eating meat is bad for the environment and causes diseases” as part of a collaboration between professional animal science societies that was published in the academic journal Animal Frontiers.
“Livestock-derived foods provide a variety of essential nutrients and other health-promoting compounds, many of which are lacking in diets even among those populations with higher incomes,” it says in the declaration.
This declaration comes as an answer to the big push from certain companies to demonize consuming meat and make people take up a plant-based diet.
The group of scientists agreed that earlier studies (The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factor Study in 2019) which claimed a diet high in red meat was to blame for 896,000 deaths a year globally, were not accurate and should be retracted.
In fact, the study suggested that even small amounts of red meat a day (18-27g) can lead to chronic diseases and even cancer.
Researchers argue that the link between red meat and disease vanished when part of a healthy diet, suggesting it was the rest of the diet that was fueling health problems. The study has received criticism because it ignored the nutritional value of meat.
Unprocessed meat provides the majority of the vitamin B12 required by humans, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, minerals like iron and zinc, and key compounds for metabolism like taurine and creatine, say researchers.
“Removing fresh meat and dairy from diets would harm human health. Women, children, the elderly and low income population would be particularly negatively impacted” says Dr Alice Stanton from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and one the authors of the peer review of the Global Burden study.
“Animal-source foods are superior to plant-source foods at simultaneously supplying several bioavailable micronutrients and high-quality macronutrients that are critical for growth and cognitive development,” said Adegbola Adesogan, director of the University of Florida’s Global Food Systems Institute.