fitting red meat into the healthy lifestyle.

This is Part XVI of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

You know which question I get asked the most, as soon as people find out that I’m a Dietitian?

Not “how do I lose weight?”

Or “why can’t I lose this last five pounds?”


“What’s so wrong with red meat?”

My answer (coming purely from a health standpoint and NOT from an environmental or animal welfarist point of view)?


Well.  Actually.  The answer should be “nothing and everything, all at the same time.”

Let me explain.

According to the USDA Agriculture Fact Book, each American is eating about 57 more pounds of meat (red meat, poultry and fish) in one year than we were in the 1950’s.

That’s a LOT of meat.

There have been lots and lots of studies regarding red meat consumption and what it does to our bodies and our health.

For starters, we know that cooking meats for a long time at high temperatures can produce carcinogens, which can (drastically) increase the risk of certain cancers.  In addition, studies have shown over and over again the direct link between high meat consumption and heart disease risk.

Diets high in red meat may also (possibly) have a link to an increased risk in breast cancer.

By now, you’re probably wondering where the “nothing” part of my answer comes from.



At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, it really comes down to my whole philosophy on staying balanced.

Because let’s face it.

Ice cream isn’t health food.  Cupcakes aren’t exactly part of the food pyramid.

But they’re good.  We enjoy them!

High consumption of red meat isn’t a good thing.  But then, neither is high consumption of sugary baked goods.

Or apple crisp.



If you enjoy red meat, then learn how to fit it into your healthy living lifestyle!

Choose mostly lean cuts such as top sirloin steaks, eye of round roasts, sirloin tip side steaks, 90-93% lean hamburg and bottom round roasts.

Go vegetarian a couple of days a week and eat fish/lean poultry in place of red meats when you can.

Pile the vegetables sky high on your plate and cut back a little on the amount of red meat you consume.

And, of course, eat  more vegetables.  Because that’s always a good thing.

Red meat can fit into anyone’s plan of eating for health and well being.  It does, after all, offer us a large dose of zinc, which is important for immune health.  And it provides the form of iron known as “heme iron,” which means it is very easily absorbed in our bodies (this is especially important for young women during “childbearing age.”)

So.  That is my answer to the very common red meat question.  Nothing.  And Everything.  

It’s all about Balance.

Little steps.

Big results.

Now if you’re more concerned with meat consumption and its effect on our environment and/or animal welfare, then that’s another topic altogether, which is better saved for another day. 😉

QUESTION: Do you eat meat?  Do you eat other forms of protein on a fairly regular basis?  I’m mostly drawn to vegetarian sources, but I do enjoy the occasional grass fed burger, a saucy taco or the occasional hunk of roast beef. 😀


14 comments on “fitting red meat into the healthy lifestyle.

  1. BroccoliHut says:

    Yet another thoughtful, balanced, and informative post! Love it!
    I haven’t eaten red meat since I was 16 when I decided to become a vegetarian. I now eat fish and eggs because I truly enjoy these forms of animal protein, but I was never a big red meat eater. I eat so much tofu and beans because I like them, not because I feel I “should.”

  2. Janelle says:

    I enjoyed your explanation and I’m surprised that this is the question you get most. I ditched meat about seven months ago and feel really great about it, both mentally and physically. Even when I did eat meat, I pretty much never touched red meat. Just wasn’t my thing.

    I’ve been reading your “31 Days of Healthy Living” series but this is my first comment ever!

  3. Matt and I hardly cook meat, to be both economical and animal-friendly. We do differ in our preferences greatly. I think eating dry and flavourless chicken breast is such a waste of all that chewing effort when I could be eating a nice piece of red meat. That could be the Lebanese side of me coming out in full force…my mom’s family rarely ate chicken.
    On the plus side though, if I buy a whole chicken we can easily split it up: Matt gets the breast and I get the legs.

    • Sarah says:

      A chicken is great for that very reason. It seems to please everyone at the table, depending on their personal preferences. And I’m with you…the legs are the best part. 😉

  4. Nicole says:

    I definitely love my red meat… in moderation. And I love running barefoot in the grass. Ha, ha. That last pick has me craving summer!

  5. Great post, I’m a pescatarian but my boyfriend eats red meat and recently has been concerned about how healthy it is for him (after watching Forks Over Knives). I’ll have to share this post with him. Thanks!

  6. We eat meat, but try to limit it just organic grass fed beef–we buy a quarter beef and split it with another family and lasts us a good chunck of time. My husband still desires an animal source of protein with every meal, but we’ve been able to move away from that being the focus of the meal and more toward a garnish. I also throw in a chicken dish and a fish dish about once a week, and last night was grilled cheese and tomato soup, and a side of brussel sprouts and he didn’t even notice there was no protein! Small steps.

  7. berrypetite says:

    I was actually vegan for 8 months and stopped around Thanksgiving (no, not just for the turkey…. haha!) but I now eat both meat and dairy on a daily basis but stick to low-fat dairy and lean meats! I definitely think living a healthy lifestyle means everything in balance and moderation. I have definitely learned that from my whole experience being vegan- i definitely love me a good burger! 😉 You take amazing pictures by the way!

  8. berrypetite says:

    I just realized just how much I used the word “definitely”- sorry about that!

  9. I love this post! I’ve recently decided that I want to eat a more vegetable based diet but I don’t want to give up my meats completely. This confirms exactly what I have been thinking! Everything in moderation is the perfect motto for me. 🙂 Thanks Sarah!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s