BIG NEWS about red meat misses the main point!

Headline: “Red Meat Tied to Increased Mortality Risk”

Not a good week for the beef and pork folks

The big story this week (see links below) was all about the increased mortality associated with eating red meat. But they said nothing about the similar dangers of eating poultry, fish and certain “low-fat” dairy products. They even recommended them as “healthier” choices of protein.

And they completely ignored the overwhelming scientific and clinical evidence proving that we shouldn’t be eating any animal protein at all. Not as infants, toddlers, children, teenagers, or adults of all ages. That’s the “main point” that they completely missed in this “bad news” report about red meat. And, since that information almost never gets clearly communicated, the general public remains in the dark on this crucial topic…and confusion reigns supreme.

All of this news was driven by a a new study published earlier this week. It was based on “more than 37,000 men from the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and more than 83,000 women from the Harvard Nurses Health Study for 28 years.

The Harvard School of Public Health

In the study, they concluded that red meat is bad for you, and they recommended healthier substitutions, stating that

“fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains were associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality.”

But what they failed to show was how a whole foods, plant-based diet is FAR better still than the diets that included the so-called “healthier” proteins. Why was that life-saving information not mentioned?

Because none of the 120,000 people in the study ate a whole foods, plant-based diet. So the net result is just more confusion. The meat and pork industry are furious while the chicken, turkey and fish people are loving this news.

On a brighter note, Dr. Dean Ornish took this opportunity to weigh in on many of the not-so-well-known benefits of eating a plant-based diet. He went well beyond our health and talked about the environment, climate change and the energy crisis. It almost sounded like he was reading from our book. Regarding health, he pointed out that:

Dr. Ornish mentioned some of these words in his front cover endorsement of our book.

Plant-based foods are rich in phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, and other substances that are protective. In other words, what we include in our diet is as important as what we exclude, so substituting healthier foods for red meat provides a double benefit to our health.

In addition to their health benefits, the food choices we make each day affect other important areas as well. What is personally sustainable is globally sustainable. What is good for you is good for our planet.

But he came up short in terms of letting us know about the dangers of eating the “so-called” healthier choices of protein mentioned in the study.

 The Bottom Line. I think this story has caused more harm than good. It just promoted more confusion about what we really should be eating. Most people had already started moving away from red meat anyway. So this “news” will simply reinforce that move, while reassuring all of those people loading up on fish and chicken that they’re on the right track. An ABC news article ended with this very misleading commentary:

Hu says his study doesn’t mean that everyone should become a vegetarian, but that choosing alternative sources of protein may be a good idea.

“We found that other sources of protein, such as fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, and no-fat dairy products can have substantial benefits if they are used to replace red meat.”

If you’re really interested in learning about the true, health-promoting sources of protein, I recommend that you review my post from a few days ago—Protein—There’s only one way not to get enough of it…

And the articles mentioned earlier.

Dr. Dean Ornish weigh in (3-12-12) in the Archives of Internal MedicineOrnish comments on “Red Meat Consumption and Mortality

ABC News Article 3-12-12 “Red Meat Tied to Increased Mortality Risk.”

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

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About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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4 Responses to BIG NEWS about red meat misses the main point!

  1. huracan says:

    Our kids are still being fed “pink slime” (until the contracts run out). See here…..

  2. Leo S. says:

    Moderation. The word that allows us to continue to have moderate health or disease. Drink, smoke, do drugs and other detrimental things in moderation. A phrase often used is “all things in moderation.” Maybe it would be better to say “all GOOD things in moderation and detrimental practices not at all.” Do we really want to settle for moderate health and be one of the crowd or strive to take advantage of information that will allow us to make positive changes in our lives? The right choices are sometimes hard to make but our future health is the reward we hope to achieve.

  3. Bill K. says:


    When I heard these news stories I thought the same thing. Why are we recommending the other animal foods when in fact they are equally bad for human health. Although we have come pretty far since the days when Howard Lyman and Oprah wound up in court over their comments on red meat. We still have a long way to go. Just the fact that the mainstream news is making such bold statements indicates to me that red meat has now become the next tobacco. Everyone will gang up on this new strawman and go about their lives filling their bodies with the next toxic food and indignantly wonder where their health is going. Hey, but we need to fix healthcare, don’t we!

    The lemmings run to the cliff every year.


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