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The linkage of meat consumption to chronic diseases

Causes: (a) Saturated fats and cholesterol that clog our arteries, increase hormone activity and reduce insulin activity (b) Acidic proteins that increase the pressure on our kidneys and lead to loss of bone mineral density 

Meat's foodprint: Heart diseases, Cancers, Diabetes, Kidney diseases, Osteoporosis

The consumption of meat products has been associated with a number of health issues & most of the leading chronic diseases plaguing humans. Consumption of meat products is harmful for the human body, due to 2 primary reasons:

  • The human body is not designed to consume meat products
  • Certain substances in meat products, cannot be effectively digested by our bodies, which is the primary driver behind a number of chronic diseases

The human body is not designed to consume meat products

Ability to hunt: Humans have no claws, out teeth would not render flesh, our mouths are not large enough to catch or wound an animal, nor do we have the speed and reflexes required to ambush and overpower an animal. Humans also lack the basic carnivore instincts: carnivores hunt and tear apart their prey while still alive, and enjoy the smell of blood and raw flesh. On the other hand, humans are sickened by the sight of blood and eat our meat cooked.

Ability to digest meat: When people consume meat, the meat remains in their intestines for significantly longer (24-36 hours, as compared to a few hours for carnivores) due to the larger length and structure of the human intestine. We also do not have the required acidic levels in our saliva and stomachs, essential to break down and digest meat. This results in meat putrefying (meat typically putrefies within 4 hours of consumption) and rotting within our bodies, producing a range of toxins and amines that accumulate in our livers, kidneys and large intestines. These toxins poison our bloodstream, leading to a number of diseases including diabetes, cancers and kidney diseases.

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Harmful substances in meat products

A large part of all health issues associated with meat consumption, can be traced back to certain harmful substances present in meat products, which our bodies are not capable of absorbing without harm. The primary substances that cause the harm include

Harmful substances in meat products

  • Saturated fats: our body reacts to saturated fats, leading to
    • Heart diseasedue to clogging of our arteries
    • Diabetesinterference with insulin activity 
    • Cancerpromotes increased hormone production
  • Acidic proteins: our body reacts to proteins in animal products, leading to
  • Carcinogenic substances: released during cooking and processing of meat, increase cancer risk

Scientific evidence: Meat and disease

Research that has been conducted on the linkage between meat consumption and diseases have found:

  • Medical costs related to meat consumption estimated at between $28-60 bn
  • Higher risks of contracting heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, kidney diseases and osteoporosis amongst meat eaters
  • Higher mortality rates for meat eaters compared to vegetarians across a range of diseases

Details of the same (including the research methodology, key findings and a link to the original study) are available in the resource tab below. More research studies related to specific diseases are also available in the individual disease sections.