Can Meat be Healthy?
The most common message I get when people reach out to talk health is the following; “I’m giving up (or trying to give up meat).” I resist the urge to educate and simply ask the question, “Why?”It's usually something along the lines of “well meats bad for you... everyone knows that,” or “I saw (insert screwball documentary or celebrity here) say that you really don’t need it so why not?”
There’s no one size fits all diet, that’s for sure, but, it’s pretty damn close.
If you believe even 1% of the phrase “you are what you eat,” it’s important to understand WE as a species evolved as hunters and gatherers. Of course NOW, you can drive 15 minutes in any direction in the world and grab Pop Tarts, almonds, chips, carrots, eggs, milk, steak, but just a few generations ago, it wasn’t as easy. And generations and generations before that, it was impossible.
Animal foods, specifically well-raised ruminants and grazing animals, are incredibly valuable and indispensable for optimal human health and have been incorrectly vilified for 60 years. For thousands and thousands of years, we hunted and gathered. While a whole buffalo or elk could feed a tribe for weeks, an entire garden likely would be enough calories for a day if that. The fats and amino acids from meat is how we made it to today and we didn’t make it “by a thread.” We built cities, invented cars and airplanes, a super computer and communicator accessible to pretty much anyone in the world (aka smartphone).
So is meat healthy?
In a word, YES. Check out this graph from "BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com
And that's from 3 ounces of beef. Lesser nutrition, but even more protein can be found in chicken, leaner cuts of pork, bison and game meat. And if there was ever a true superfood, wait for it...
Compared to muscle meats like steak, organ meats, aka; offal, are more densely packed with just about every nutrient, including high amounts of B1, B2, B6, folate and the very important vitamin B12. Organ meats are also loaded with minerals like phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, iodine, calcium, potassium, sodium, selenium, zinc and manganese and provide the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Liver, heart, kidney and others are known to have some of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring vitamin D of any food source. Organ meats also contain high amounts of essential fatty acids, including arachidonic acid and the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.
Liver is known to be one of the most concentrated sources of vitamin A of any foods in existence. In addition to containing dozens of important vitamins and minerals, it is an outstanding source of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 (and other B-Vitamins), copper, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, and iron, which is in a form that is particularly easily absorbed and used by the body. Kidney is also high in Vitamin B12, selenium, iron, copper, phosphorus and zinc. Even though heart is technically a muscle, it also is also a superfood. Heart is a very concentrated source of the supernutrient, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10, important for cardiovascular health and also rich in kidney and liver), contains an abundance of Vitamin A, Vitamin B12; folic acid, iron, selenium, phosphorus and zinc, and is the number one food source of copper. Heart also contains twice as much collagen and elastin than regular meat (which means it is rich in the amino acids glycine and proline), which are essential for connective tissue health, join health and digestive health. Some people can't stomach the though of eating organs and I get that, so we've worked out a nice discount with the folks as Ancestral Supplements so you can still get all the benefits of organ meats, and that's here. (Coupon code "primal" at checkout)
And if you do have guts, pun intended, I highly recommend this cookbook by my friend and podcast guest, The Muscle Maven, Ashleigh VanHouten.
Now. I don’t care if you eat meat, and I think a diet heavy in plants can be a good thing, but please, for the love of God, don’t think for a second that meat is bad for you.