Changing the Way We Eat


Alivia Anderson, Writer

People have eaten meat in all of the 200,000 years of human existence. It has often been a good source of protein and other essential nutrients. However, recent studies have proven that eating meat may not be as necessary or beneficial as before. More and more studies are debating the risks and rewards of eating meat. The conclusions that have been drawn lead many to believe that meat consumption is correlated with disease and should be substituted by a whole-grain, plant-based diet. 

PLOS Medicine is a peer-reviewed journal discovering the links between consumerism and disease. A recent study published by PLOS Medicine proved a link between nitrates in many common foods and Type-2 Diabetes. Nitrates are a chemical compound used to make food more addictive. Nitrates are commonly used in processed foods, specifically meat. Many plant-based diet advocates have discussed the correlation between meat consumption and chronic health conditions, and PLOS Medicine set out to prove it. Through a study of 104,168 participants, researchers explored the association between someone’s diet and health. In this NutriNet-Sante Study, people over 15 submitted their health records, diet, and lifestyle between 2009-2022. From then on, scientists observed their health compared to what they ate. In the end, they found that, for the most part, the amount of meat with nitrates consumed and the likelihood of developing type-2 diabetes were proportional. Therefore, the more processed meat you eat, the higher your chances of developing this chronic and lethal disease.

A recent study published in American Medical Association (AMA)’s medical Journal JAMA Neurology claims that eating meat also leads to decreased brain function. 60% of the Standard American Diet (SAD) food is ultra-processed. AMA’s new study proves that eating more than 19.9% ultra-processed foods (UPF) leads to a 28% faster rate of global cognitive decline. The study concluded, “A higher percentage of daily energy consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with cognitive decline among adults from an ethnically diverse sample.” This proves that no matter your background, you risk losing your intelligence 28% faster if you eat meat. On average, people reach peak intelligence at 24 years old. From then on, you will have lost 28% percent of your intelligence by 75. However, this study proves that if you overconsume UPFs, your intelligence will have lost 28% percent of your intelligence by about 60 years old. Because most people in the US follow the SAD, we are creating a less intelligent generation.

Similarly, The BMJ found that high consumption of UPFs increases men’s risk of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is a disease in that cells in the colon or rectum replicate out of control. It is not extremely painful but highly lethal. Research at Tufts University and Harvard University found that most men diagnosed with colorectal cancer consumed almost eight times the recommended amount of UPFs, especially meat, poultry, and fish products. The World Health Organization classifies processed meats as a group one carcinogenic.  A group one carcinogen is a category for agents with over an 80% chance of causing cancer. Therefore, as people continue to eat processed foods and meats, they will get sick and die.

Not only will eating meat increase your chance of contracting a disease or decreasing your quality of life, but it can also decrease your life span. Following these trends, Nature Foods published a study claiming to eat just one animal-based hot dog can take 36 minutes off of the consumer’s life. Accounting for the fact that on the SAD, people eat an average of 70 hot dogs per year, we are taking years off our life through our diet. The study also found that lifespan is most often reduced through the consumption of hot dogs, burgers, breakfast sandwiches, and sugary drinks. On the other hand, fruits, cooked grains, and non-starchy vegetables were linked to a higher quality of life and extended lifespan. 

While, in the end, our diet is up to us, science sure does point us in the right direction. Consider swapping some carnivorous food for plant-based alternatives or choosing a salad instead of a steak. We all want to be able to make the most of our lives, but if we continue to fall for corporate propaganda, we’ll die off before we get the chance. So make smart decisions for your body, mind, and soul, and remember, science is real.