Everything may go better with bacon, but the news is not good for meat lovers. People who eat red or processed meat every day have a shorter lifespan than people who eat little or no meat at all.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic reviewed a number of studies that looked at the effects of a meat-based diet versus a vegetarian diet on mortality. The idea was to be able to give primary care doctors evidence-based guidelines they could use to counsel their patients.
People seem to be concerned about eating enough protein and think meat is the only place to get it.
They looked at data from over a million people and consistently found that those who ate the least processed meats, such as sausage, hot dogs, ham, bacon and sausage, and the least unprocessed meats — beef, pork, game or lamb — lived longer than those who ate less meat.
“This data reinforces what we have known for so long — your diet has great potential to harm or heal,” said Brookshield Laurent, of the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, in a statement.
The study's findings have led the group to recommend that primary care doctors advise patients to limit the amount of animal products they eat and to consume more plant foods. But it could prove difficult to change the mindset of a culture where meals are typically planned around a main course containing meat. People seem to be concerned about eating enough protein and think meat is the only place to get it.
Start with just one meatless meal a week and gradually build to more.
In reality, most Americans get plenty of protein, and it is found in many foods other than meat. The thought of giving up meat — or greatly cutting back — may be daunting for some. You don't have to go cold turkey. Start with just one meatless meal a week and gradually build to more as your repertoire of meatless recipes grows.
When you do eat meat, keep your portions small, and fill your plate with whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.