Back At It

It's been a tough couple of weeks for red meat. People and pundits and pretty much everybody but the Beef Marketing Board are talking about the new study out of Harvard showing "dose-response relationship between red meat intake and risk of death." This was based on a peer-reviewed study of 120,000 people over 3 million person years. Basically, each serving of red meat we eat per day increases our risk of premature death by 13% (and each serving of processed red meats, such as hot dogs, salami, pepperoni and hamburger, increases it by 20%) accounting for all other factors. So, if you have bacon with your breakfast, cold cuts on your sub for lunch and a burger for dinner every day, or variations on this theme, that's a 60% chance of a shortened life. Bon appetit!

Dr. Dean Ornish, normally a health researcher and author, actually took up part of his commentary in the Archives of Internal Medicine to point out how beef is also very damaging to the environment, which I thought was great. People all over are making these connections - the very ones that led to the Meatless Mondays movement in the first place. 

So is it game over for red meat? Will they just let all the pigs, sheep and cows go? No, of course not. Restaurants will still be selling it (especially ones like the Heart Attack Grill, whose goal is premature death to begin with). But someday soon, red meat will become more like a specialty novelty item on a restaurant menu... something like "Poisonous Blowfish" in a Japanese restaurant. It will come with a health warning, it'll cost you a special carbon offset tax and you'll have to sign a waiver before they'll bring it to you, cooked to an agreed-upon, bacteria-killing internal temperature, as specified in the paperwork. Now that's good eatin'!

And as if that wasn't bad enough, that same week produced another study, this one from the Nutrition Journal called "Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: A pilot randomized controlled trial." The title really says it all, doesn't it? Maybe a simpler explanation would be: "Cut out the meat, feel better." Meanwhile, there is a brand new fake chicken product coming out soon which fooled famed food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman - twice! He thought the real chicken was fake and the fake chicken was real. There were 110 new meat substitute products introduced in 2010 and 2011 alone and many more to come. The market is shifting, which begs the question: Is there even a future for factory farming, or should the meat processing industry adopt the approach, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em - as this writer from Meat & Poultry magazine proposes? 

Those of us trying to reduce our consumption of meat through MM are already on our way to better health and better overall mood. And for this coming Monday, I have yet another family-favourite recipe to share with you. Enjoy with a tossed green salad and save the leftovers for lunch! If, however, you're looking for something less traditional, I would recommend this delicious-looking Ratatouille from The Humane Society. This recipe has you roast the whole thing in the oven and serve over quinoa. If you haven't already, you should sign up for their free weekly recipe by e-mail. I'm always getting new ideas from them. Have a great week!