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What is the role of meat in a healthy diet? (oup.com)
40 points by sridca on May 28, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 85 comments

The short answer is that we don't know. Refreshingly enough, this article seems to focus on that fact.

There are studies that say eating meat will give you cancer, or just kill you younger in general, but there are studies that show the opposite, and studies that show no correlation.

And pretty much all of these studies have issues, the biggest usually being, as the article says, that they're observational, based on a subject's ability to remember what they ate, how much they ate of it, and report that information correctly and truthfully.

The human body is massively complex, and we just don't know very much about how diet affects it. We know that eating a lower calorie diet helps you lose weight, and that's about the only thing we can prove with any kind of certainty.

Does a low-carb diet improve health outcomes? Or a vegan diet? We just don't know, and anyone that tells you they do know is either selling you something or, at best, telling you what worked for them.

> We just don't know, and anyone that tells you they do know is either selling you something or, at best, telling you what worked for them.

I read a great newspaper article ten or so years ago. The journalist visited a vegan and a person following LCHF (low carb high fat). Both said that their diet made them feel great, made them lose weight, gave them lots of energy, kept them free of illness, and so on.

The journalist noted that they basically split the nutrition circle (I don't know if this is a world-wide thing, but it divides different food sources into pie slices) in half: the vegan eating the grain and vegetable parts and the LCHF person eating the animal parts.

The article basically showed how good the human body is at making up for when you limit an omnivore diet. If you asked any of the two participants, they would say their parts of the nutrition circle were the healthy ones.

I'm quite late but will still comment...

While both high quality keto (grass fed, wild caught etc.) and high carb whole food plant based diet will make you feel great only one of those is sustainable for all people on the planet to do.

If we put all cows we have currently in the world on pastures we'd have to use all land of North and South America combined and we would - even with all that land, removing Amazon and total destruction - only be able to feed 3 billion people.

I've tried both of those diets for significantly long time. I feel good on both. High carb one is cheaper, foods are faster to prepare, it's easier to eat out (yes, if you're keto you won't get good, clean, unprocessed meat easily while a simple salad is available everywhere), animals get to live, environment gets to live - there are just too many benefits outside of your health alone.

Keto is an egoistic diet.

such epistemic issues apply to all domains of knowledge. also, anecdotal evidence, ie, "what worked for them", is still valid data, and should be valued as such

> anecdotal evidence, ie, "what worked for them", is still valid data, and should be valued as such

It's useful information, but it's also limited information. If Atkins worked for your buddy two cubes down, that might indicate that it's worth trying yourself, but it's less useful in terms of making, say, national level nutritional policy. Though I suppose in this case I'm more worried about lobbying than anecdotal data.

Exactly. Sadly however some people would still prefer to believe WHO's authority and take their meat-causes-cancer factoid to be a fact.

> Does a low-carb diet improve health outcomes? Or a vegan diet? We just don't know, and anyone that tells you they do know is either selling you something or, at best, telling you what worked for them.

Yup; and the same applies to anyone looking to refute a diet they do not like. For example, a vegan asserting that the carnivore diet is unhealthy and vice versa.

We do know, all the evidence points in the direction that the western diet, high in animal products and processed foods is the number explanation for the rampant increase of cancer, diabetes and heart disease in the west.

This argument is old: we don't know because the perfect experiment has not been conducted and never will and because the studies that we have don't say what we want to hear.

If the news is bad, question the source and keep doing the same thing. This was what was done for decades with tobacco, for decades the validity of the argument that it causes cancer was questioned.

Here we are in 2019 and still 15% of adults smoke in the US. And still, the perfect experiment was never done and never will.

Take any population that is healthy, they move to the west and develop these illnesses. The places in the world that have the best health are the ones that eat fewer animal products.

The Inuit that eat only meat and fish have rampant arteriosclerosis.

People on the paleo diet have been found to have much higher levels of a biomarker linked to heart disease than people on a normal diet, for which cancer rates are increasing - https://www.sbs.com.au/news/study-links-paleo-diet-to-heart-...

When a whole country stopped eating animal products for a year (during WW one) their health as a population massively increased.

The list goes on and on, we have epidemiological studies, we have population studies, we know some of the mechanisms through which cancer is developed, we know that a plant-based diet reverses heart disease.

But we still prefer to keep saying that we just don't know, because we don't like the news.

> We do know, all the evidence points in the direction that the western diet, high in animal products and processed foods is the number explanation for the rampant increase of cancer, diabetes and heart disease in the west.

Here's the thing: we don't know that, at least not with the kind of certainty you're claiming. In particular, "high in animal products" and "processed foods" are totally divorced from one another, and can't be lumped into the same causal bucket without a good reason for doing so.

Are the animal products in our diet causing diabetes, or is it the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup, or is it something else entirely? I have my own suspicions, and plenty of people more qualified than me have their suspicions, but they're still just suspicions, not proven facts.

Same thing with heart disease. Red meat was blamed for coronary troubles for years, but there are plenty of people on paleo diets that seem to improve all of the important markers for heart disease. There are also plenty of people on vegan diets that seem to improve all of the important markers for heart disease.

I think we can say, without any controversy, that eating more vegetables is better for us, and that eating foods that come in cans or boxes is worse than eating food that comes farm-to-table. But aside from those two broad categories, I don't think we can make sweeping claims about what foods are "good" or "bad" for us, simply because there is no consistent, conclusive research to prove it.

From the article you linked:

> Eating more red meat under the Paleo diet paired with a lack of whole grains results in higher levels of a biomarker linked to heart disease

WITH A LACK OF WHOLE GRAINS. Does that mean that red meat is the cause or that the lack of a balanced diet is the cause?

> The places in the world that have the best health are the ones that eat fewer animal products.

Where's the evidence for that claim? If we look at the life expectancy for each country:


The US ranks at #30 out of 180 which is quite decent despite their huge consumption of animal and more importantly processed foods. The countries which are at the bottom are there not because they consume animal products but because they have poor living conditions and little to no health care available. Meanwhile Japan is at #1 and all kinds of meats including raw are a frequent part of their diet.

It just means that the population cancer rates in general just keep rising, and adopters of the paleo diet which is promoted as a meat-based health diet have even higher levels of certain cancer biomarkers.

The current science says that processed meat is a known carcinogen, and red meat a likely carcinogen. This

The places with the highest lifespan have all low animal product diets and are known as the blue zones - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Zone

The health in the US is pretty bad, the rates of cancer, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes are at all-time highs and keep rising.

You can give drugs to people and keep them alive for longer, but in which conditions?

Did you see the source of the article? It's a journal sponsored by the meat industry - https://academic.oup.com/af/pages/About

> Did you see the source of the article? It's a journal sponsored by the meat industry - https://academic.oup.com/af/pages/About

You keep repeating this all over this thread, but this is an academic journal specializing on animal agriculture (it says the same thing in the link). Besides, the OP should be discussed on its own.

Check the sponsors of the multiple organizations linked in the About page, here is one - https://academic.oup.com/af/pages/About

What if the adopters of the paleo diet have turned to it because they are already suffering from a disease and it's the most popular healthy option?

While the animal products consumption per person has increased in the US, so have other factors such as stress, depression, loneliness, alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle which all contribute to diseases. And if you pay close attention, the reduction of all these factors is what countries in the "blue zone" all have in common.

The level of the TMAO biomarker is higher in meat eaters especially paleo eaters, and lower in strict vegetarians.

Actually, strict vegetarians when fed meat won't even produce TMAO, because they don't have the gut bacteria that produces it as its a meat-eating bacteria.

Note that depression is also linked to food consumption and impaired gut health, which is linked to a diet heavy in animal products.

In the blue zones, clearly the biggest factor is the diet which is almost 100% plant based. There is this correlation between health and plant-based diets everywhere.

In the US for example, meat eaters have higher body weight than vegetarians, which have a higher body weight than strict vegetarians. Actually, strict vegetarians are the only ones of those groups that have a normal body weight.

> In the blue zones, clearly the biggest factor is the diet which is almost 100% plant based.

Clearly you are extremely biased and refuse to look at things in any other way but life doesn't revolve around "I eat animals or I don't".

Vegans aren't immune to cancer or heart diseases (they only have a small reduction of these in some studies) and they don't live 20-30-40-50 years longer than omnivores. And the reason vegans weigh less is because they're more aware of how much they eat compared to the mostly uneducated (in terms of nutrition) population.

Wrong. His data on BMI comes from Adventist study. Being healthy and taking care of their body is part of their religion so they are perfect study subject. Some eat everything, some eat fish and veggies, some eat veggies, eggs and milk and some eat only plants.

Of all of them - taking excercise, drugs, alcohol, smoking into account - vegans live the longest and have the most optimal weight.

I stopped eating meat 6 years ago. I miss it, but decided to try going veg-only + eggs/dairy and see how it impacted my life. If I found myself unable to keep up with my exercise routines (bicycling and sporadic weight work), I'd have stopped.

But it really didn't affect things, and I find myself unable to justify the cruelty of meat production.

One note: I did notice that it's tougher to control carb intake while eating veg, because meat is a great way to feel full without spiking blood sugar. When that's not an option and you're feeling like snacking, you're faced with a ton of unhealthy options. So I'm probably 10-15 lbs heavier than I would be if I ate meat.

> I find myself unable to justify the cruelty of meat production

I understand this argument, but it doesn't apply to all meat I suppose. Conversely, eggs/dairy also often involves cruel treatment.

Not to say your choice is wrong, I'm just wondering what's the most rationale way of dealing with these aspects.

It's a lot easier and more affordable to source eggs and dairy from humane sources than it is to source meat.

Sadly there is no such thing as humane dairy or eggs.

Cows are identical to human women when it comes to milk production. They are therefore forcibly impregnated (in hardware called "rape rack"), then they carry their child for 9 months and the calf gets taken away in first 24 hours - as they'd "steal" the milk we want to sell. Cows visibly grief when that happens. If the calf was a boy he's sold as veal, slaughtered in his 6th week of life. If the calf is a girl she follows her mom's path. Lastly when dairy cow is spent - can no longer produce milk after 5 or more pregnancies - they are slaughtered and their meat is used for pets (dogs and cats) food.

There are rarely dairy farms that avoid some of those actions but none that does not do any.

As for eggs, to produce hens we need to breed chickens. Statistically half of them are cocks and are useless for most of the industry so they are macerated (blended alive) as soon as they are born and turned into pate or pets food. Traditionally hens have been able to lay one egg per month. Using selective breeding, feeding methods and artifical light they now do it nearly every day. The process is very painful and impacts their health a lot. It's similar to period of a human woman. Imagine having that every day.

So in short, if you dig a bit all animal exploitation we do is abhorrent, especially when we now know it's absolutely unucessary and done for pure pleasure. Any other abuse wouldn't be treated so leniently by so many people.

I stopped eating meat ~4 years ago, but still eat eggs and a limited amount of dairy. I occasionally eat fish when abroad or when there's no other healthy option (maybe it happens once every month or two). I haven't seen any impact on my health and I exercise regularly.

Apart from the obvious cruelty / environmental impact etc... What I like about being vegetarian (or mostly veggie) is that I started to eat a lot of different food, a lot of ingredients I would have never touched before. Constraints drive creativity and it's true in the kitchen too.

In a world of food abundance, I enjoy the restrictions of a self-imposed diet. Having those rules helps me eat healthy food.

Vegan diet alone does not bring a ton of benefits. True health benefits happen only when you eat whole food plant based diet.

Remember that fries and soy mayo are vegan. Nobody will call that healthy though.

With eggs you are probably getting plenty of protein.

I have been mostly vegan for a while and I don't think my bike riding has been affected, but I can tell you it definitely affected me when it came to weight lifting. For the first time in my life I just wasn't improving at all from session to session (and this is in the early stages when you just start lifting again after time off when gains come easy).

I know there are vegan weightlifters out there but from what I know getting all of your protein requirements from plant-based protein powder is a big undertaking.

It's not enough to make me go back to animal products but definitely something I miss from my meat eating days.

I don't see how getting enough protein on a vegan diet would be a problem, especially when you mention plant-based protein powder. I think healthy calories may be an issue if you don't include nuts and seeds, but as long as you cover your energy needs from vegetable sources you get enough protein and enough of all essential amino acids. You didn't mention this, but protein combination is a myth, and only very few vegetable sources lack certain amino acids. So does some animal sources as well, but that is almost never reported.

You didn't mention this either, but if you want to avoid protein powder, it may be harder to find lean protein sources. I just looked up nuts (peanuts specifically), that have 27% protein but also 51% fat. Chicken breast also has 27% protein, but only 8.7% fat.

I'm not a body builder and haven't investigated how to go about it in detail as a vegan though the full cycle of bulking and shredding, but if you just want to gain strength getting enough calories and protein shouldn't be a problem. I've also read that most body-building magazines completely overestimate how much protein you need, citing numbers four times what sports science says.

You have first-hand experience in this situation and I'm clearly speculating, but perhaps you didn't get enough calories rather than enough protein? Of course it all depends on what you're eating. When some people say vegan food, they mean raw food or mainly vegetables, while others include a lot more legumes, nuts, and seeds.

The real stinger for vegan diets, but also poor meat based ones is lack of certain known micronutrients. Mostly D, B12. Potentially also potassium, magnesium, molybdenum. Some investigational ones like boron as well.

This is because he of the food chain is deprived and in case of D and B12 these really are not available in plant sources only.

Animals that haven't eaten natural diet and haven't seen the sun get B12 shots before slaughter. 99% of meat consumed is so poor that majority of population is B12 and vitamin D deficient despite eating it regularly.

> With eggs you are probably getting plenty of protein.

Eggs are between 6-7g of protein each, which isn't a lot.

Depending on your goals, and where you fall between being sedentary and an athlete, you should be aiming for 1.6 g/kg/day and 2.2 g/kg/day [1].

Add to that the satiating affects of protein in a diet, particularly through ghrelin secretion [2], and you've got a stronger incentive to increase your protein intake.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29497353

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19820013

The problem with the ethical argument - that meat production is cruel and vegetable production is not - is that it makes all kinds of assumptions about plant anatomy and behavior that may be wrong.

In fact, the growing field of plant behavior strongly suggests that those assumptions are wrong. That plants aren't unthinking, unfeeling at all, but every bit as alive and aware of their environment as animals. It's a really fascinating field of study.

They've found evidence of an analogous nerve system (that appears to send pain responses), evidence of non-genetic memory, surprisingly advanced communication (tobacco plants communicate using over 3000 chemical compounds that mean different things), environmental awareness (you can perform pavlov's experiment on pea plants using wind for the bell and sunlight for the food), kin recognition, and more.

It's a lot harder for us to recognize the signs of awareness, pain, even - maybe - intelligence of a sort, because plants are completely alien to us. They communicate with chemicals, move by growing, live at a different speed.

For example, most of us would immediately recognize and empathize with any animal screaming in pain or fear. Most of the animals that scream to communicate are social animals. The scream serves as a warning, "I'm hurt or afraid, there's danger, watch out!" Grass plants, when cut, release a chemical that cause other grass plants to raise their defenses. It serves pretty much the same biological purpose as a scream, "I'm hurt, there's danger, watch out!"

But we would never recognize the smell of fresh cut grass as a scream.

I'm mostly for the health and environmental impact, but the ethical side I think has validity too.

Plants have but a resemblance of a nervous system if any, and they don't have a brain.

Does anyone really think that slitting the throat of a cow can be compared to harvesting corn?

I think the ethical argument has a good ground. If it's not necessary at all to have good health to engage in slitting animal throats, shooting male calves at birth for milk, grinding male chicks alive etc. then why keep doing it?

Especially with the impact on climate change of most crops that are mostly meant to feed livestock, the methane produced, the excrements produced, plus it's linked to all sorts of diseases.

So to me, the ethical aspect more than the lives of animals is also about the lives of humans. This abuse of the environment and this diet is causing disease and climate change which is impactful for humans as well.

I like to think I have an open mind, but this line of reasoning is a non-starter for me. Releasing chemicals upon damage is a far cry (no pun intended) from the anguish and pain a sentient creature is obviously capable of. Plants just do not have the necessary information processing facilities to allow them to suffer. But hell, supposing they did, what could we even do about it? Are we supposed to switch to some sort of enzyme slurry diet produced by nano-machines? I don't even...

Are we so sure that plants aren't sentient or can't be sentient? We originally assumed we were the only sentient and self aware animal on the planet. We've gradually realized that we're definitely not, but the assumption that self-awareness and sentience must look similar to what it does in us seems to have stuck.

Think about what's required for pavlov's experiment. They took pea plants and turned on, by turns, a fan and a light from one of two opposite directions. In the control group, there was no correlation between when they turned on the fan and when they turned on the light. In the experimental group, they consistently turned on the fan an hour or two before they turned on the light.

Pea plants will grow towards light pretty actively. In the experimental group, they would consistently grow in the direction of the fan - expecting the light to follow the wind.

Think about what's required for that. You have to be able to sense your environment. You have to have an awareness of light and wind. And you have to be able to associate the presence of wind - something that normally has nothing to do with the presence or absence of light - with the later coming of the light.

That pretty strongly suggests there's some level of sentience at work here.

My point isn't to say "Don't eat plants." It's to question whether eating other sentient beings is really avoidable for us as autotrophs. And if it is unavoidable, where does that leave us ethically?

For me, it leaves me trying to treat everything I eat with care and respect and an awareness that my life comes at the cost of other lives.

And then primarily examining the health and sustainability impacts of my diet, rather than using an incomplete ethics.

>Are we so sure that plants aren't sentient


>Pea plants will grow towards light pretty actively. In the experimental group, they would consistently grow in the direction of the fan - expecting the light to follow the wind.

You don't need sentience for that.

Let us assume you are right, and plants "feel" pain. What would be the conclusion?

If you grow cattle, you have to put more crop/hay calories in then you get meat calories out. Which would mean, by eating less animals (best none) we would reduce the overall pain on all plants, as we don't need to cut so many of them.

I believe that plants do react on cuts and their environment, but comparing it with killing living, conscious beings, is just rude.

Most vegetarians have no trouble swatting a fly or a mosquito, though.

The studies of plant "neurology" (if you can call it that) are all very interesting, but the argument that anything that has a nervous system is holy and untouchable is decidedly fringe.

To compare the awareness of a tree with the awareness of a cow or a pig or even a chicken is clearly asinine.

If you're worried about plants, you shouldn't eat animals, because they eat a lot more plants than you would.

And during plant collection lots of animals die:

- rodents die in wheat field during harvest

- recently there was an article on HN of olive harvests killing hundreds of birds

- entire forests are destroyed with wildlife by burning to grow palms for palm oil

I run 5k < 20m and fully vegan so I do not think there is a correlation. You should check what you're missing in your diet because when you remove a pillar you need to replace it with something. For me it is legumes, I eat mostly legumes.

Good for you! I stopped two years ago. I live with a vegan so I basically only ate meat on special occasions for years anyway so it wasn't a huge transition for me.

Same with exercise: still pulling in a < 30m 5k run twice a week, cycling... hasn't affected anything. Vegetable based proteins are fine. And it turns out the average person even at my level of fitness doesn't need to eat protein like an Olympic athlete.

I'm in the same boat (but vegan). I supplement B12 and iron out of caution, but I am not sure they are even necessary. Just copy what the Indians do; they get by without meat and their diets and classic recipes seem to have evolved recipes that compensate for lack of meat.

The traditional Indian (largely vegetarian) diets rely heavily on seasonal vegetables, grains (wheat, rice, millets), and legumes. Indian cuisines are such a varied lot that you're likely to find one you enjoy.

In respect to your concern for B12, an Indian Medical Council study from a few years ago found very few cases of clinical B12 deficiency in the country. This, despite the average Indian diet being deficient for B12 by European & American standards. It was one of the reasons for reducing the suggested daily intake for Indians to 1 mg, as recommended by the WHO, substantially lower than in Europe or the US.

If you are male be careful of too much iron, you probably get enough from green leafy vegetables...

> I find myself unable to justify the cruelty of meat production.

First off, nice job quitting meat. However,

> eggs/dairy

Just wanted to point out the amount of cruelty going on with eggs/dairy production is also absolutely harrowing. I'd recommend researching that as well and giving it up.

It's very possible to get egg and dairy from farms with happy animals. You gotta pay for it, but that just demonstrates market desire for non-cruel farm products so I pay happily.

The fact that you eat eggs/dairy doesn't invalidate the entire exercise. Cutting meat out of your diet reduces animal cruelty significantly. While going all the way is better from an animal cruelty perspective there are other factors to consider (going all vegan is hard).

Getting a few chickens, if it's an option, can help with the latter :).

Not sure what you mean by unhealthy snack options? There are loads, I tend to eat nuts and fruit, hummus, fruit, etc.

I'm not sure where you are, but there are some lovely snack bars in the UK called 'nakd' that are cold pressed fruit bars in a variety of flavours that often do the trick when I want to snack. If I'm not wanting any of the former, crisps are always a way for me to feel full quickly though they're hardly a 'healthy' option.

Most supermarkets even do ranges of Vegan cookies and other snacks now too!

>there are some lovely snack bars in the UK called 'nakd' that are cold pressed fruit bars

We have these in the US too, they are called Lara bars and RX Bars.

Also know as candy bars!

Better than the typical candy bar. More similar to a serving of dried fruit & nut trail mix.

Remember it is still a high calorie count snack. Pretty much due to nut fats.

Yeah, nuts are pretty much my staple snack food.

I try to reduce sugars, though -- they've got an addictive quality -- which takes out fruit and most snack bars and cookies.

I don’t believe there are valid studies showing that sugar in a whole food, like a piece of fresh fruit with all the fiber and water that entails that slows down the intake and the absorption of the sugar, has that ability anywhere nearly as much as in stuff like cookies, snack bars and so on. Like at all. I really don’t think you should limit your (whole) fruit intake.

If you know something I don’t, though, please do tell.

You can better control the feeling of full by eating enormous salads. Normally you divvy up the large salad mixing bowl, that mixing bowl is now your salad portion. Congrats if you do this, you'll easily lose 15+ lbs down to a new equilibrium if you don't overload the salad full of crap.

I moved to a house in a rural area that is pretty much surrounded by fields full of pretty happy looking cattle and sheep - I have to say this has actually made me a bit squeamish, particularly about eating lamb (young lambs being some of the cutest animals you could wish to see).

I don't know what your pre-veg weight was, but the science we have on the health impact of 10 - 15 lbs. gain from a certain range of base weight is significant, last I read. YMMV, of course.

> I find myself unable to justify the cruelty of meat production.

Would you eat meat from an outfit that convinced you it was raised without cruelty, right up to a pain and panic free slaughter? For say, a 20% premium?

Yes. And do. And so do millions of people. The market is there, but the mechanism is not -- because to trust that the animals are not abused, you must know about the farm, which breaks traditional supply chains where a chicken is a chicken.

I've often wondered if a single-source brand could arise where they simply print a QR code on the package that would let you track the meat from its source and review living conditions (video, photos, etc). Its just a matter of historical record, so its feasible if you're willing to install the technology in the farm. There are independent auditors to assess farm quality for organic, etc -- why not also employ them for cruelty practices.

Most people who have the means to do so probably would.

However, the killing in itself is very difficult to defend at all, in my opinion.

You very quickly run into some sketchy philosophical dead-ends, such as for example the notion that human life fundamentally has some kind of divine right to make decisions of life and death over lesser lifeforms.

>divine right to make decisions of life and death over lesser lifeforms

Are plants not lesser lifeforms?

I ask this as someone who does not eat factory farmed meat and buys nearly all organic produce, from local farms if possible.

But I just don't find this argument compelling. It's not our "divine right", it's just a survival mechanism for our species. There are other much more compelling arguments for avoiding meat consumption.

It is hopefully obvious to everyone that a plant does not suffer in the same way that a cow does.

Add to this that many plants actually rely on being consumed for reproduction. Sure, our sewage systems prevents it from actually working, but it is clearly not a crime in any metaphysical sense to consume a fruit that contains seeds.

Not making a comment on the veracity of the article, but the source is "Animal Frontiers", the journal of "The American Society of Animal Science (ASAS)" which is "a non-profit professional organization for the advancement of livestock, companion animals, exotic animals and meat science" [1]. They are not agnostic in the meat vs vegetarian debate.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Society_of_Animal_Sci...

The one thing that I know eating meat (and/or other tyrosine sources) affects, is the switching frequency of tyrosine kinases in your cells. (Helpful mental model: some of your cellular organelles are finite-state machines. Tyrosine kinases trigger their state transitions.)

And I don’t know with the same level of certainty, but do believe, that this switching/state-transitioning in your cells is a major contributor to cellular senescence. Decreasing the switching frequency of tyrosine kinases in the body is, IIRC, being proposed as as both 1. a major reason that intermittent fasting increases lifespan, and 2. as a potential mechanism by which some aquatic species that live in extreme cold can live for hundreds of years.

It’d be nice to be able to turn this effect down, is what I’m saying. Sadly, it seems that doing so makes some things (like maintaining homeostasis during exercise) much harder. So there’s, maybe, a trade-off here: a longer life, but one constrained to only a part of the range of human activity. Interesting choice.

ive not heard of the journal "animal frontiers" before, but they seem to be partially funded by something called "american meat science" which, according to wikipedia, "represents the scientific advancement of meat production, including animal welfare, slaughterhouse operations, meat biochemistry and microbiology, and food safety." i'm not sure if that equates to a conflict of interest (is this just a lobby group with "science" in the name?) maybe somebody more knowledgeable can chime in.

Upon skim, the study appears to be about the relationship between meat consumption and colon cancer, not the more general question of what role it plays in a healthy diet.

Everything I have ever read seems to indicate that people who are strict vegetarians, especially strict vegans, have trouble getting enough B vitamins. If you consume some animal products, such as seafood but not beef or chicken ("pescatarian"), this is not an issue.

I think there is an argument to be made that eating a low meat diet is generally wiser for most people. It's also easier on the earth -- which is a not insignificant detail these days, what with there being 7 billion people on the planet.

On the other hand a pescatarian diet exposes you to lots of delicious heavy metals and mercury, which also have their downsides.

It is likely that the association of red-meat consumption with colon cancer is explained either by an inability of epidemiology to detect such a small risk or by combinations of other factors..


We are not entirely sure

Podcast with the author (Dr. David Klurfeld) discussing this subject: https://peakhuman.libsyn.com/dr-david-klurfeld-on-meat-not-c...

Interesting report of his experience with WHO:

- He was on the World Health Organization working group to decide if meat causes cancer in 2015 with a bunch of vegetarians and vegans and says it was the most frustrating professional experience of his life

- There were 22 scientists - half of which were epidemiologists

- They claimed they used 800 studies but they actually only used 18

- There was a group of people that were strongly against the vote

- He thinks a number of the people made up their minds before they even arrived

This is what was so frustrating to me about working in medical research.

>- They claimed they used 800 studies but they actually only used 18...

I hate this, it happens all the time. Basically, say, 20 studies, which each reference other studies. Group all the references, remove the duplicates, add 20, and BAM! 800 studies!

What's worse, if you take the time to read through the studies, related papers, and data, you'll find ridiculousness. Circles of "peer reviewers", who clearly either never read the papers they reviewed, or are not as good at advanced math as I am. (I choose to believe they never even read the papers, because I'm not the smartest guy in the world.)

Data that doesn't match conclusions.

Oftentimes you won't find a single replication of a given study.

And on and on and on.

It was hard out there for a pimp.

>- He thinks a number of the people made up their minds before they even arrived ..

I can guarantee you this happened. Having said that though, it's important to remember in situations like the ones the podcast describes, that people have their minds made up "for" and "against". Believe it or not, it's a lot like liberals and conservatives in that, they don't really care what the data says, they're going to do whatever ridiculous thing they want to do in any case. Which frustrated me to no end. I mean, in politics, OK, that's the way things work. Fine.

But in science? I was just like, man, what are you people doing?

I'd recommend the book "How to not Die".

Here are some takeaways: "Which foods contain the most cholesterol? Eggs, fish, chicken, and red meat all earn the red light..."

"As for saturated fat, desserts, dairy, and snack foods are all designated as red light, with eggs, chicken, fish, and red meat getting the yellow light. Most of the saturated fat in the American diet comes from cheese (8.5%), pizza (5.9%), grain-based desserts (5.8%), dairy desserts (5.6%), and chicken (5.5%)."

"Salt levels are highest in lunch meat and snack foods, which both get a red light."

"...The more plant-based we get, apparently, the better."

Conclusion: Meat is bad, ultra processed foods are bad, and plant based diets are healthiest. Based on your comment alone, sounds like both Dr. Klurfeld and the WHO scientists are biased, whereas that book provides references to each and every claim that has science backing it. It's not rocket science, it's no surprise at all to find cholesterol, sodium, saturated fats, etc. are in meat and processed foods.

Book: https://www.amazon.com/How-Not-Die-Discover-Scientifically/d...


>It's not rocket science, it's no surprise at all to find cholesterol, sodium, saturated fats, etc. are in meat and processed foods.

You say that like dietary cholesterol, sodium and saturated fats were bad for us. (They're not.)

Cholesterol is not bad for you. You need it to live, that’s why your body makes it.

Eating cholesterol has very little impact on the cholesterol levels in your body.

Salt is also not bad for you.

>I'd recommend the book "How to not Die".

I'm sorry but Michael Greger, M.D., author of the said book, is a nutrition quack.


I am no expert but just on the face of it I would take any book that thinks eggs and fish are bad for you (other than in obscene quantities) with more than a few grains of salt.

Except neither “cholesterol” nor saturated fats nor salt are “bad” for your health.

This book was the catalyst to me going vegan a few years ago. It was easier than I expected. I can't really say that I feel much different. I like the idea that my cholesterol level will likely never be an issue. I'm loving beyond burgers, because something I missed before was a proper burger.

Yet another dietary article not in favour of veganism/vegetarianism got flagged. Well done Hacker News.

Indeed, why would this be flagged? There's plenty of vegan stuff on this site and it's never flagged. The same argument always comes up too: "red meat causes cancer!". Now we have an article exploring that point and it's flagged so we can't discuss it. Lame.

This seems to be from a magazine sponsored by the meat industry, so it could be why it was taken down - https://academic.oup.com/af/pages/About

I'd rather see their points addressed than just flagged because they're from the "wrong" industry.

Yes I agree, concerning that I have been following this debate for a couple of years now. And you just don't find independent studies that claim that meat is healthy.

The WHO and similar organizations are extremely conservative, so if they adopted this stance concerning meat its because there was some solid science to back it up.

I mean, they knew how people would react, and probably delayed this recommendation for a long time.

Every credible study that I see coming out, they all point in the same direction.

Check Dr Fhurman books, he is not vegan and even gives non-vegan recipes in his books. He is looking for the best human diet from a point of view of longevity and health, without ethical claims.

Here is his current food pyramid, he recommends less than 10% of calories from animal products https://www.drfuhrman.com/get-started/eat-to-live-blog/90/dr...

Just as I don't want to dismiss the OP because of the industry they are in, I also don't want to blankly believe the WHO. We should be free to discuss this and come to our own opinions and having this article flagged goes against that.

What "meat industry"? From the quoted link:

> These organizations are dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of science-based knowledge concerning animal agriculture.

This is a scientific magazine on a particular domain (animal agriculture).

Even so, this article should be discussed on its own. And its author, Dr. David M Klurfeld, is not associated with the meat industry.

If you just want to suppress discussion of health benefits of meat why not just honestly say so? After all, that's likely the motive behind this submission getting flagged.

There is an undeniable conflict between an article published in a publication financially sponsored by a given industry and the results that benefit that industry.

A study has shown that studies funded by a particular industry are 85 times more likely to bring results that favor the funding industry, so money has a huge influence.

The tobacco industry used this tactic for decades, the strategy is simple. To question the claims that a product is unhealthy, without ever actually denying it.

All they have to do is create doubt, and the public will be confused, throw their hands up in the air and eat whatever.

In the words of a famous memo leaked in the tobacco industry: "doubt is our business".

Here is a summary of the multiple tactics used by the tobacco industry, one of them is precisely to publish studies that aim at raising doubt, without actually addressing the health concerns - https://www.who.int/tobacco/media/en/TobaccoExplained.pdf

But I don't know if that is why the article was taken down, I'm just speculating. Probably the flagging happens automatically, after a certain number of manual flags.

Indeed there is a lack of transparency about why certain articles are taken down, at least a reason should be given.

> Indeed, why would this be flagged?

It has been un-flagged now, though it is no longer on the front page. Isn't it interesting how the community does its "soft censorship"? I've said this before, but the Hacker News community is increasingly biased towards vegan/ vegetarian movements, so much that they will do anything to suppress discussion of anything positive about meat.

You can continue the discussion of this article here: https://www.reddit.com/r/ScientificNutrition/comments/btzkzg...

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