This may be a very sad thing to read for the millions of bacon aficionados out there. It may also be the the best piece of information they’ll ever receive, depending on how you look at it; it’s really all about perception. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued a report stating that just 50g of processed meat a day (less than 2 slices of bacon) increased the chance of getting colorectal cancer by 18%. Processed meats were places in the “Group 1” list, alongside asbestos and tobacco products.

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The repost also stated that red meats in general were “probably carcinogenic,” while at the same time stressing that meat also has some health benefits (which, at least for myself, feels like an attempt to appease corporate interests). Cancer Research UK suggests that this is enough of a reason to cut down your red meat and processed meat consumption, rather than giving it up completely. While I do believe there is a time and a place for the occasional portion of organic, unprocessed meat, in light of this new information it seems incredibly irresponsible to suggest people continue eating processed meats, even if in smaller quantities.

So, What Is Processed Meat?

Processed meat is any type of meat that has been taken away from its original form in order to extend its shelf life or change the taste. The methods of processing meats are smoking, curing, or salting and/or preserving. Types of processed meats include: bacon, sausages, salami, corned beef, jerky, canned meat, hot dogs, and some meat-based sauces.

Sodium nitrite is a common chemical that is often added to processed meats, and it is believed to be carcinogenic. Unprocessed red meats may still pose a risk to your health though, but that is generally when it is eaten in excess; there are still many benefits from eating red meat on occasion. If you do choose to continue eating red meat, it is important to do so in moderation. It is not something that needs to be eaten every single day of your life, or in large portions.

What Did The Meat Advisory Panel Have To Say?

“What we do know is that avoiding red meat in the diet is not a protective strategy against cancer,” said Robert Pickard, a member of the Meat Advisory Panel and Emeritus Professor of Neurobiology at Cardiff University. “The top priorities for cancer prevention remain smoking cessation, maintenance of normal body weight and avoidance of high alcohol intakes.”

So, even though the World Health Organization classifies processed meats in the same category as cigarettes, asbestos, arsenic, and alcohol, the Meat Advisory Panel says it’s basically fine. Who are you going to believe?

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Professor Tim Key, Cancer Research UK’s epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, said: “Cancer Research UK supports IARC’s decision that there’s strong enough evidence to classify processed meat as a cause of cancer, and red meat as a probable cause of cancer.”

“We’ve known for some time about the probable link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer, which is backed by substantial evidence.”

“This decision doesn’t mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat. But if you eat lots of it you may want to think about cutting down. You could try having fish for your dinner rather than sausages, or choosing to have a bean salad for lunch over a BLT.”

Other Reasons You May Want To Consider Cutting Back On Red And Processed Meat Products

Aside from the obviously pressing health concerns, there are many other reasons you may want to drastically cut down your processed and red meat consumption.

For one thing, the way we are consuming animals these days could be viewed as straight up inhumane. To produce something from birth to death for the sole purpose of being slaughtered is entirely cruel. Many of these animals don’t even get to graze on grass for their entire lives. Click the following to learn more: A Worldwide Genocide Is Happening Right Under Your Nose.

Aside from that, these animals take up an extreme amount of land mass. No one ever really stops to think about how much land and resources are actually needed to produce enough animals and products to cater to the excessive over-consumption of meat across the globe. Just think about how much these animals need to eat and drink — feeding 10 billion animals in the US alone is a considerably larger undertaking than feeding the entire planet. Currently, according to the UN, raising animals and producing the feed for them uses 30% of the Earth’s land mass. Wow. Click the following to learn more: Factory Farming Is Destroying Our Environment.

What Can You Do?

The answer is very, very simple, and it will benefit your health, the animals, and the environment. The question is, why wouldn’t you do it? If you knew you could help make a difference in the world, why wouldn’t you? Simply put, eat less meat. If this seems too daunting of a task for you, try starting out small. Start by participating in one meat free day a week and go from there. Check out Meatless Mondays for some amazing tips and recipes to get you started. If you try this and realize that eating plant based meals is more delicious and simpler than you thought, then you may want to consider cutting even more meat out of your daily diet. A lot of people get scared when people suggest veganism, and that is completely fine and understandable. Start by cutting back, and then go from there. Moderation is really the key here, and it is something that too few of us practice.

If I Cut Back My Meat Consumption, Can I Still Be Healthy?

Reducing your intake of meat does not mean you need to worry about getting sufficient nutrients (and while we’re on the subject, it’s important to remember that many devoted meat eaters aren’t getting enough nutrients anyways). According to the Wall Street Journal  in 2011, approximately 80% of Americans who ate meat rarely consumed vegetables at all.

“Studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.” – Harvard Medical School

For example, the American Dietetic Association weighed in with a position paper, concluding that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” — Journal of the American Dietetic Association, July 2009

In Conclusion

We cal all do our part to live healthy lifestyles, not just for ourselves, but for all sentient and non-sentient beings on this planet!

Much Love

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