Photo: Sara Novak
We know eating lower on the food chain, meaning choosing plant-based foods, is easier on the planet. Animal husbandry on the factory farm level uses an abundance of natural resources in production, burps out loads of pollutants, and is needlessly inhumane. But a new Harvard study takes it a step further. According to a new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, red meat consumption is linked to Type 2 diabetes. Even after an adjustment for age, BMI, dietary, and lifestyle risks, red meat consumption was positively associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. This was particularly true of processed red meat consumption.Processed red meats are among the worst for your body and the planet. This is especially true of the factory farmed, conventional varieties. But the addition of energy draining production does even more to increase your impact. Processed and unprocessed red meats are also associated with a host of ailments including heart disease, certain types of cancer, and the latest of the big three: Type 2 diabetes.
This study is one of the most comprehensive of its kind, following 37,083 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2006), 79,570 women in the Nurses' Health Study I (1980-2008), and 87,504 women in the Nurses' Health Study II (1991-2005), according to the study.
According to the New York Times Health blog:
Over all, the authors found that eating a daily serving of unprocessed red meat, equivalent to a 100-gram cut of steak, roughly the size of a deck of playing cards, was enough to raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 19 percent. Eating just 50 grams a day of processed meat -- one hot dog or sausage, for example, or a little more than two strips of bacon -- increased the risk 51 percent.
Additionally, The New York Times reports that the study took it a step further:
[T]he researchers calculated the benefits of replacing one serving of meat with nuts and found it resulted in a 21 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Yogurt and whole grains were also associated with a decreased risk, though buying organic yogurt is crucial to avoiding hormones and antibiotics.