Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals and can form part of a balanced diet. But eating a lot of red and processed meat can increase your risk of bowel cancer.
An article in the UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph reported last month of research which concluded that a ‘Meat Tax’ which would almost double price of sausages should be brought in to save lives.
The research team that carried out the study were from University of Oxford in the UK and the International Food Policy Research Institute in the US.
Researchers have also worked out the likely health and economic cost of eating red meat and processed meat. Both types of meat have been linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as cancers of the digestive system, such as bowel cancer.
The researchers looked at how introducing a tax to increase the price of meat might affect consumption, deaths and economic costs. They estimated taxes would need to be highest in high-income countries like the US and the UK, while they could be much lower in less wealthy countries.
In the UK that would mean a price increase of about 13% on red meat and about 79% on processed meat. Researchers say this would translate to about a 22% drop in deaths and nearly a 19% drop in healthcare costs linked to processed meat consumption.
The principle behind the suggestion is that many people eat far more red and processed meat than is recommended and higher prices might mean some people choose to switch to a less meat-heavy diet.
The current advice, says adults who eat more than 90g of red and processed meat a day should reduce their intake by about 1/3. You can do this by eating these meats less often, eating smaller amounts or exchanging them for alternatives.
Although there is an ethical element to this and we should be doing more to save animals, rather than eat their meat, it’s a fact that processed meats are bad for us. I think it’s important for us all to consider what we put into our mouths and ask ourselves if eating red and processed meat is really necessary?
Not only is it unhealthy for us, we’re harming livestock that in the process will help us sustain our own lives, as part of the ecosystem we all occupy.