When I saw online that the World Health Organization (WHO) had concluded that processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat might be carcinogenic as well, I clicked to read the whole story.
That’s how the Internet works.
But I was definitely not an appropriate target for the bacon ad, because I haven’t eaten bacon in decades (it’s the chemicals that scared me first). And I haven’t eaten red meat in years.
I came to the same conclusions as the WHO years ago after reading the book “The China Study,” a book by T. Colin Campbell that was published in 2005 and has sold over a million copies.
Now, even the U.S. 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is on board: its recommendations from February of this year said, “a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.”
Granted, part of the reason for the committee’s recommendation to reduce red meat consumption was its impact on the environment, a factor that some argue was outside its purview.
In any case, the growing case to reduce meat consumption has the meat lobbyists up in arms. This is their livelihood we’re talking about, and they’re not going down without a fight.
Leading the way, apparently, will be the North American Meat Institute (formed in 2015 via a merger of the American Meat Institute and the North American Meat Association, which in turn was formed in 2012 via a merger of the National Meat Association and the North American Meat Purveyors.)
Note: the head of the North American Meat Institute is Barry Carpenter, who’s been leading the organization (and its predecessor) since 2007, following his retirement from a 37-year career at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He’s got friends in high places, but not at the WHO! And he’s clearly got a fairly hefty budget, though I was unable to discover how hefty.
In any case, the trend away from processed meat and red meat is clearly under way (though still early), and I look forward to watching the trend’s evolution.