You’re probably used to hearing meat-eating reviled in the media, but a new study out of Australia suggests that meat-eating has at least one serious benefit: it has extended the life-expectancy of humans across the world.

The study was published in the International Journal of General Medicine on Tuesday. It examines the overall health effects of total meat consumption in over 170 countries.

According to the researchers at the University of Adelaide, it is because of our significant consumption of meat that we have “evolved and thrived.”

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Meat-eating: life-extension benefits


According to one of the principal authors, the team “wanted to look more closely at research that has thrown a negative spotlight on meat consumption in the human diet.”

The researchers analysed the correlations between meat-eating and life expectancy, including child mortality, at “global and regional levels” in order to make the conclusion “more representative of the general health effects of meat-eating”.

According to the researchers, the consumption of energy from carbohydrate crops “does not lead to greater life expectancy”, whereas total meat consumption correlates to greater life expectancy “independent of the competing effects of total calorie intake, economic affluence, urban advantages and obesity”.

The senior author of the study, University of Adelaide emeritus professor Maciej Henneberg, said humans “have adapted to meat-eating” over the course of their evolution.

“Meat of small and large animals provided optimal nutrition to our ancestors who developed genetic, physiological, and morphological adaptations to eating meat products and we have inherited those adaptations,” Prof. Henneberg noted.

Increased Male Height Associated with the Superior Nutrition of Animal Proteins

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Meat and two veg

An extensive study from 2017 which was widely discussed on Twitter recently shows that the tallest male statures in the world are associated with high consumption of animal protein. 

In a further blow to any claim that vegetarian or vegan diets can be equal to or superior to diets rooted in animal products – recently we discussed a new study showing that low-fat vegetarian diets are disastrous for male testosterone levels –  the authors are clear that animal protein, especially from red meat, eggs and milk, is superior to protein derived from plant and grain sources.

The study builds on a previous study of men from 42 European countries, as well as Australia, New Zealand and the USA, which showed that nutrition and genetics were the strongest correlates of height among young men. 

Anthropometric data – body measurements – were collected from 105 countries in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Oceania. Data on average consumption of 28 different kinds of protein source were collected for these countries, as well as socio-economic data.

Click here to read more about this study that has graincels in tears everywhere

One of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Arthur Saniotis, said that the findings are “in line” with other studies that show cereal-based foods have lower nutritional value than meat.

“While this is no surprise to many of us, it still needs to be pointed out. It highlights that meat has its own components contributing to our overall health beyond just the number of calories consumed, and that without meat in our diet, we may not thrive,” Dr. Saniotis added.

Will graincels be convinced?

While this study and others like it should prove devastating to the case for switching to plant-based diets, advocates are unlikely to take much notice. In fact, as a recent study showed, advocates are already realising that health and taste claims will not be the most effective way to get people to switch to plant-based diets.

A new study suggests that the best way to get people to go plant-based is to give them little to no choice in the matter. Seriously.

The study, out of the University of Westminster, reports that meat-eaters are much more likely to choose a plant-based meal if most of the options they have to choose from are plant-based. Study authors conclude that menus which are at least three-quarters vegetarian have the best chance of converting a carnivore.

These findings chime with other recent research which has showed that only social pressure, not health or taste claims, is really effective in getting people to choose plant-based alternatives, and with changing attitudes from governments, such as that of the UK, which are quickly coming round to the notion of giving people no choice whether to go plant-based.

As we wrote in a recent article on the British government’s new National Food Strategy, a wide-ranging evaluation of the United Kingdom’s “food security” in the wake of the decision to leave the European Union, in 2016, “the age of dietary choice may very swiftly be coming to an end.”

At the governmental level, this is signalled by the looming threat of “meat taxes” – narrowly avoided in the National Food Strategy’s final report, but still a future possibility – and an increasing recognition among legislators that people cannot be allowed to continue to consume meat at anything near present levels.

Christopher Snowdon, a journalist who heads the Lifestyle Economics unit at London’s Institute of Economic Affairs, even went so far as to say, during a televised interview, that “the political reality is that Boris Johnson is going to have to stop advising people to fly less and eat less red meat and find ways of forcing people.”

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