Meat Kills (& Killing Meat)

meat kills billboard

I’ve been wanting to write about two recent studies for a couple weeks now. This sort of fun, sort of sad, and sort of controversial billboard from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) — now up in Chicago — seemed to offer a nice segway into finally getting to those studies.

Meat Kills

The first study actually came second, but I think it’s the more important one for readers who can’t make it to the end of a post these days. The study found that red meat consumption is linked to “increased mortality from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer,” as Tanya Sitton of sister site Eat Drink Better reports.

The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and included data from 37,698 men and 83,644 women that were collected over the course of many years.

According to Harvard nutrition professor and study author Frank Hu, the statistical findings are “staggering.”

Here are a few words from NPR:

“The increased risk is really substantial,” [says Hu]… He found that people who consumed about one serving of red meat (beef, pork or lamb) per day had a 13 percent increased risk of mortality, compared with those who were eating very little meat. And processed meats raised the risk higher, to about a 20 percent increased risk of death from diseases including cancer and heart disease.

Killing Meat

OK, it’s a play on words — this next study I’ve been meaning to get to finds that meat consumption has perhaps peaked in the U.S. (Yay!) It’s not clear if this is from increased awareness of meat’s negative health effects, an increasing number of people not wanting to be involved in the suffering and murder of animals, increasing awareness that cutting meat consumption is critical to stopping global warming, or something else, but my guess is that’s it’s some a combination of those three factors above.

Here’s a little more on this finding from Janet Larsen of Earth Policy Institute:

U.S. meat consumption has peaked. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that meat eating across the country fell from the 2004 high point of 184 pounds (83 kilograms) per person to 171 pounds in 2011. Early estimates for 2012 project a further reduction in American meat eating to 166 pounds, making for a 10 percent drop over the eight-year period. For a society that lives high on the food chain, this new trend could signal the end of meat’s mealtime dominance.

Total U.S. meat consumption peaked in 2007 at 55 billion pounds and has fallen each year since. In 2012, consumption is expected to drop to 52 billion pounds, the lowest level in more than a decade.

For more more on this one, check out the sustainablog post “Peak Meat: U.S. Meat Consumption Falling.”

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