What’s in meat and why I don’t eat it

8 slices of roast lamb, a lot of potatoes, parsnip and pumpkin roasted no doubt in animal fat and peas and carrots underneath. Bargain at $19.

Recently I agreed to help a friend who couldn’t drive by buying her regular roast meal from a local shop and delivering it to her for her dinner. Knowing I was vegan she checked out if it was OK by me to do that for her. Yes it was.

But during the afternoon I felt a little uneasy and so I began to work out why I didn’t eat meat. So I did some online research and wrote the following–which I ended up not giving her because if she read it she might not get her money’s worth. Here it is, though I have probably left out heaps of reasons:

What’s in Meat and why I don’t eat it

Heme iron. Often described as being good because it is more easily absorbed than non heme iron, heme iron is actually now thought of as harmful because once ingested and absorbed, the body has no mechanism to remove excess iron. This causes oxidative stress and heme iron has been linked to metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, type2 diabetes, Alzheimers disease, arthritis, cancer and other serious medical conditions.

Neu5Gc. This may pose a significant health risk. The immune system recognises it as a foreign threat, producing antibodies to it and setting up chronic low grade inflammation. Neu5Gc has been linked to cancer as well as cardiovascular and other inflammatory diseases.

Endotoxins. Endotoxins are one of the most important bacterial components contributing to the inflammatory process. The high bacteria load in animal foods may trigger a surge of inflammation, which may be exacerbated by the presence of saturated animal fat.

Cholesterol  100 gm of lamb has 97 mg cholesterol. Your body makes enough cholesterol for you and you don’t need extra.

Saturated fat

The Mayo Clinic says, “The USDA defines an extra-lean cut of beef as a 3.5-ounce serving (about 100 grams) that contains less than:

  • 5 grams total fat
  • 2 grams saturated fat
  • 95 milligrams cholesterol”

And that is extra lean meat. Decades of sound science has proven it can raise your “bad” cholesterol and put you at higher risk for heart disease.

Animal protein. According to the WHO an average woman needs 0.66 g of protein for every kg  body weight a day. So a 57g woman needs 25 gm protein. 100gm of cooked lamb has 25 g of protein. Protein is not the key to weight loss – it is actually one of the biggest factors behind the obesity epidemic. Animal protein is not the healthiest food we can eat. It is strongly associated with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. Some scientists have suggested Westerners probably eat double the amount of protein needed.

Carnitine. When people digest meat a substance called TMAO (Trimethyl amine oxide) is formed in the body as a gut bacteria by-product. (The exception is when vegans eat meat because their gut bacteria is different, but this protection only lasts briefly if they continue meat.) People with higher levels of TMAO in their blood may have more than twice the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular problems, compared with people who have lower levels. Other studies have found links between high TMAO levels and heart failure and chronic kidney disease. High levels of TMAO in the blood have been shown to be a powerful tool for predicting future heart attack, stroke and death risks.

Many or all these inflammatory agents damage the lining of your arteries. Atherosclerosis associated with high dietary intake of meat, fat, and carbohydrates remains the leading cause of mortality in the US. This condition results from progressive damage to the endothelial cells lining the vascular system, including the heart, leading to endothelial dysfunction. The damaged endothelium can’t then produce enough nitric oxide, a gas which relaxes the inner muscles of the blood vessels, causing them to widen, stay slippery and smooth and thus increase circulation. Once there is damage to the lining of the artery, cholesterol passing by sticks to it, forming unstable plaques. Artery disease affects the heart, kidneys, lungs, lymph system, back, brain, sexual organs. Blood has to get unimpeded to all the body.

Compounds containing sulphur-containing amino acids

This quote is from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website. “Animal proteins are high in sulfur-containing amino acids, especially cystine and methionine. Sulfur is converted to sulfate, which tends to acidify the blood. During the process of neutralizing this acid, bone dissolves into the bloodstream and filters through the kidneys into the urine. Meats and eggs contain two to five times more of these sulfur-containing amino acids than are found in plant foods. Consuming meat leads to calcium loss which can lead to bone fractures”…” A 1994 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when animal proteins were eliminated from the diet, calcium losses were cut in half.”

Climate change Beef continues to be the most climate-damaging. While it is not so climate-damaging as beef, growing lamb produces more emissions per calorie or per gm of protein than growing any plant protein.

Sources. Websites of Health Heart Harvard, nutritionfacts.org, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Dr Garth Davis. There are plenty of studies quoted at https://nutritionfacts.org/?s=beef.