You possibly saw the coverage in the press this week of the highly publicised “processed meat may increase pancreatic cancer” studies. If not, head over to this Guardian article for a particularly potent example of why it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if journalists were forever banned from interpreting scientific data. Or, at the very least, it should be mandatory that they’re trained to understand the differences between “processed meat” and “meat”. Then all of us - whether followers of the paleo diet or not – might be able to avoid more bad journalism about meat.
If you can’t bring yourself to wade through the whole thing (and I wouldn’t blame you for that) here’s a summary of what the author has extrapolated from her reading of the evidence:
- She trumpets her own vegetarianism because she’s averse to the thought of “dead stuff traveling through my intestines, like a corpse on a raft ride”. I can only assume, therefore, that she never eats anything made from non-living plants, like bread, rice, porridge, tofu, soy sauce, or orange juice. And possibly only eats fruit if it’s still attached to the tree.
- She conveniently skips over the fact that the studies focus on processed meats, and vilifies eaters of all types of meat as clearly lacking in smarts. “My conversion to flesh-eating couldn’t happen because, frankly, I’m not stupid enough. As in, I can read.” Perhaps she temporarily lost that ability whilst reading the material she needed to understand in order to write the article.
- She points out (rightly) that the media has been lambasting us for years with news that eating meat is unhealthy, particularly poor-quality processed meats like conventional burgers and kebabs. Then – in the very next sentence, implies that: a) because the media has been telling us this, we’d be daft not to listen; and b) that all people who continue to eat meat – of any type or quality - are just plain stupid. Which leaves me with an almost irrepressible urge to rearrange the words “calling”, ”kettle”, ”pot”, ”black” and ”the” into a complete sentence.
- She presumes (at least she has the presence of mind to understand that that’s what she’s doing) that “meat-laden diets (Atkins, Dukan)…are colonic time bombs waiting to happen” – yet provides no credible evidence for this, which is interesting given that the Atkins diet has been around for around 40 years.
- She closes by stating that “the modern committed carnivore must have nerves of steel” – because, she explains, with all this information about the dangers of meat-eating around, they must be very brave to continue eating it. Does she understand, I wonder, that the definition of carnivore isn’t “consumer of additive-stuffed burgers, pork pies, sausages et al”. It also isn’t an accurate description of what most meat-eating humans are, anyway, since they’re omnivores.
Anyway – there’s so much that’s wrong-headed about the article (and countless others like it) it doesn’t merit a line-by-line deconstruction. Rather, I’m just going to provide some links that will – I hope – enable those people who are struggling with the whole “is eating meat going to kill me?” question to find some genuinely useful information on the subject.
My new paleo diet motto: if you can’t avoid more bad journalism about meat, at least provide some good information as an antidote…
- Pancreatic Cancer, Processed Meat, and a Load of Bologna – Tom Naughton
- Red Meat & Cancer & Very Bad Journalism - Zoe Harcombe
- Is Red Meat Unhealthy? – Mark Sisson
- Humans Evolved to Eat Meat - Paleo Diet News
- Myths & Truths of Paleo – Paleo Diet News
- Paleo Diet Associated With Longevity – Paleo Diet News
- Why vegetarianism doesn’t guarantee health - Zoe Harcombe
- What’s The Beef With Red Meat? – Dr. John Briffa
- Eating Animals Ethically – Paleo Diet News
- Paleo Protein Doesn’t Harm Kidneys – Paleo Diet News
- Characteristics of Healthy Diets – Weston A Price Foundation
- Five Meats to Avoid – Mark Sisson
What are your favourite healthy meat dishes? Share ideas and recipes below!