How Much Meat Should We Eat The Lancet Report

January 21, 2019

References: LancetScience DailyChatelaine,

The headlines were all about the recommended huge reduction in red meat because that is what is startling about this report. You heard it everywhere this week. A very broad and acknowledge group of nutrition experts (Walter Willet from Harvard was chair) looked over the whole nutrition scene and concluded they had to do more than just a narrow interpretation of what's good for you, personally. Your personal health merges and also connects to the health of your ecosystem, the planet. 

What is the reduction recommended? Well, how about down to one hamburger a week. And throw in two servings of fish and a daily dairy serving. One dairy serving. Get that. One. (This is Wisconsin!) And don't forget the eggs, two of those.....a week. If meat goes down that much, what goes up. Vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, and fruits. It also recommends cutting sugar to 8 teaspoons a day or 38 grams. That's it on the sugar so that also is a 70-80% reduction. Finally, lose all those starchy vegetables like potatoes. This is a big nudge against the idea of the keto diet until you remember that if you shift mostly to green vegetables, you are eating stealth keto because those veges turn into beta-hydroxybutyrate in your colon.

But that's not the biggest change in this report. Really! The biggest change is the recognition that what we do individually aggregates up to a planetary impact on the ecosystem that we live in. The production of red meat is no innocent affair. At the best guess we now can make, planet earth will have 10 billion of us in another 30 years. How we eat drives how we produce food, and that drives the fertilizers we use, the carbon we release, the methane our animals make in meat production. Each of those drivers pushes the boundaries of what this precious blue planet can tolerate. Earth only has so many molecules of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon to go around, and the demands we humans put on that system make for boundaries that eventually are exceeded. 

What I am finding most interesting is the confluence of the two. In fact, eating lots of red meat, sugar, and starch is the engine that drives our diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's, heart disease epidemics. So, it's not so bad for you to think about how this report actually is good for you in the overall sum of things.

WWW. What will work for me. It's all about change management. What can you do to make you feel good about changing? One little step at a time, building on something you already like is what works for me. I like roasted vegetables. This weekend I've added green beans to the mix. I bought two pounds of them and in 10 minutes with the broiler and 2 T of olive oil, some salt and pepper, I had a great batch of yummy green beans. They didn't make it till supper. Now, Trader Joe's and Pick and Save both have packages of pre-prepared cauliflower. The rack in my oven is already set on "grill" so I'm doing cauliflower this afternoon and that will be our dinner salad. If I make it this morning, it won't make it till dinner.

Pop Quiz

  1. How many people will planet earth have in another 30 years? Answer: 30% more or 10 billion.
  2. How much more oxygen, water, and phosphate will be on planet earth in 30 years? Answer: We are a closed system of chemistry and will not change much (well, exclude the tiny bit of space dust and meteorites hitting us every day)
  3. What's wrong with growing red meat? Answer: High environmental cost. Surprisingly large amounts of methane comes out of cows' guts adding to the global burden for climate change. Not to mention TMAO in your arteries driving heart disease.
  4. Cutting down on sugar? Can you do it? Answer: No, I like it too much. Seriously, it's in everything, everywhere in all sorts of secret names. That takes real focus and work. Peanut butter is my downfall. And can't have ice cream in the house as it seems to auto-levitate after 8 pm.
  5. Two eggs a week? Can you do it? I used to eat 4 eggs a day when I was trying the animal based keto diet. My A1c when up. I now have the TMAO Cleveland Heart Lab kits in my office and I'm winding up to start ordering them. In the meantime, I'm down on eggs, not because of cholesterol, but because of animal protein and TMAO. Right now I have just finished a delicious bowl of roasted Brussel's sprouts with olive oil for breakfast.