100 Scientific Reasons to NOT Eat Meat

Meat is Bad

Is meat healthy?

Well, you should ask yourself one question: what does the science say?

Science…not marketing or hype.

For example, do you believe that a pomegranate has more and/or superior antioxidants than, say, an apple? If you said yes, then you are a victim of hype.

And this hype was from twisting the truth of a scientific study…

As mentioned in Wikipedia:

Despite limited research data, manufacturers and marketers of pomegranate juice have liberally used evolving research results for product promotion, especially for putative antioxidant health benefits. In February 2010, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to one such manufacturer, POM Wonderful, for using published literature to make illegal claims of unproven antioxidant and anti-disease benefits.

Source: “Pom Wonderful Warning Letter”. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
Source: “Understanding Front-of-Package Violations: Why Warning Letters Are Sent to Industry”. Retrieved 2011-03-24.

Don’t buy into the hype. Unfortunately, a lot of magazines and blogs will hype a headline and people will regurgitate it without even reading the article. If you want the science behind something you have to look at the studies, plain and simple. Not the advertising.

Also, please note, I am including all animal products and byproducts (e.g. beef, chicken, fish, dairy, eggs, and cheese) when I say meat. Although the studies’ usage of the term varies.

Update: If you want even more reasons to not eat meat and counterarguments to pro-meat studies, then check out the book, Is Meat Good or Bad for You?: Learn What Modern Science Has to Say about Animal Products.

Is Meat Good or Bad?So let us look at the science and find out the…

100 Scientific Reasons to Not Eat Meat*

1.) Neu5Gc is found only in animal meat. Neu5Gc appears to have a strong link to cancer and heart disease.
Notes: Neu5Gc is not produced by the human body or our great ape ancestors (probably due to a common mutation). But Neu5Gc is almost always found in human tumors. The inflammation it causes seems to feed tumors and harden arteries.
Source: Diversity in specificity, abundance, and composition of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in normal humans: potential implications for disease. Glycobiology. 2008 Oct;18(10):818-30.

2.) Top 15 foods for advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are all meat sourced with roasted BBQ chicken skin and fried bacon being the top.
Notes: AGEs are gerontotoxins (aka aging toxins). AGEs cause proteins to cross together causing stiffness, oxidation stress, and inflammation in muscles, brain tissue, eyes, heart, bone, red blood cells, and kidneys. Thought to contribute to muscle loss as we age.
Source: Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):911-16.e12.
Source: Does accumulation of advanced glycation end products contribute to the aging phenotype? J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Sep;65(9):963-75. Epub 2010 May 17.

3.) Arachidonic acid (naturally found in animal foods) is linked to brain inflammation, depression, anxiety, and stress.
Notes: Arachidonic acid is used by our bodies to create inflammation. Our bodies produce all the arachidonic acid we need unlike other animals (e.g. cats) who produce little to none because their bodies expect to get theirs from their diet (meat). Excess arachidonic acid means excess inflammation.
Source: Preliminary evidence that vegetarian diet improves mood. American Public Health Association annual conference, November 7-11, 2009. Philadelphia, PA.

4.) Chicken and eggs are the top sources of arachidonic acid.
Notes: Humans already produce the natural levels needed for our bodily functions.
Source: National Cancer Institute. 2010. Sources of Selected Fatty Acids among the US Population, 2005–06.

5.) A single meal of high-fat animal products has been shown to spike inflammation within hours that can stiffen one’s arteries.
Notes: Possible explanations could be the saturated fat or endotoxemia (see points 7, 8, and 9 below). Wild animal meat also causes inflammation. See point 10 below.
Source: Effect of a single high-fat meal on endothelial function in healthy subjects. Am J Cardiol. 1997 Feb 1; 79(3):350-4.

6.) High-fat animal products consumed will cause inflammation within the lungs.
Notes: Same study as above.
Source: Effect of a single high-fat meal on endothelial function in healthy subjects. Am J Cardiol. 1997 Feb 1; 79(3):350-4.

7.) Significant levels of bacterial toxins are found in animal products that cause endotoxemia (bacterial toxins in the bloodstream) within hours of eating.
Notes: 40 different types of common foods were tested.
Source: The capacity of foodstuffs to induce innate immune activation of human monocytes in vitro is dependent on food content of stimulants of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jan; 105(1):15-23.

8.) Bacteria endotoxins from animal products have been shown to survive high heat cooking for long periods, acid (like our stomachs), and digestive enzymes.
Source: The capacity of foodstuffs to induce innate immune activation of human monocytes in vitro is dependent on food content of stimulants of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jan; 105(1):15-23.

9.) Endotoxins have a strong affinity for the fat transport system in our digestive tract.
Notes: Since our body is using our fat transport system to let in all the saturated fat (which our body loves to absorb) from the animal products the endotoxins can slip right in.
Source: The capacity of foodstuffs to induce innate immune activation of human monocytes in vitro is dependent on food content of stimulants of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jan; 105(1):15-23.

10.) Even wild, grass consuming animals cause inflammation in our bodies.
Notes: Inflammation was less than domestic animals. It is believe that the lower fat percentage for wild animals explains this.
Source: Differences in postprandial inflammatory responses to a ‘modern’ v. traditional meat meal: a preliminary study. Br J Nutr. 2010 Sep;104(5):724-8.

11.) Dietary fat of animal origin is linked to pancreatic cancer.
Source: Dietary fatty acids and pancreatic cancer in the NIH-AARP diet and health study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Jul 15;101(14):1001-11.

12.) The chicken has been linked to urinary tract infections.
Source: Chicken as reservoir for extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli in humans, Canada. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012 Mar;18(3):415-21.
Source: Is Escherichia coli urinary tract infection a zoonosis? Proof of direct link with production animals and meat. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2012 Jun;31(6):1121-9.

13.) Feeding of cow brains to fish is still legal in the United States (brain cows being fed to cows and other livestock used to be legal and practiced a few years ago) and german scientists have shown fish can acquire mad cow disease.
Notes: Please provide any information if the feeding of cow brains to fish is no longer practiced or legal in the United States.
Source: Evaluation of the possible transmission of BSE and scrapie to gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata). PLoS One, 4(7):e6175, 2009.
Source:Bovine spongiform encephalopathy and aquaculture. J Alzheimers Dis, 17(2):277-279, 2009.
Source:Food and Drug Administration, HHS § 589.2001

14.) Cholesterol has been shown to feed and promote the growth of cancer.
Source: Cholesterol and breast cancer development. Current Opinion in Pharmacology. 2012 12 (6):677–682.

15.) Half an egg a day or more is shown to double the odds of mouth, throat, esophageal, prostate, and bladder cancer; triple the odds of colon and breast cancer.
Notes: May be explained by the dixons present. While banned, levels are still present in our food and seem to be worst in animal products.
Source: Egg consumption and the risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay.

16.) The obesogen (chemicals that signal cells to turn into fat cells) organotin has been found in large amounts in fish.
Source: Environmental obesogens: Organotins and endocrine disruption via nuclear receptor signaling. Endocrinology, 147(6 – Suppl):-50, 2006.
Source: Dietary intake of organotin compounds in Finland: a market-basket study.

17.) Meat has little to no antioxidants. Most can’t beat iceberg lettuce.
Notes: One animal source of food did have an extremely high amount of antioxidants: human breast milk.
Source: The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. Nutr J. 2010 Jan 22;9:3.

18.) High levels of PCB (industrial toxin) in fish oil, fish, and eggs (94% of eggs tested).
Source: European Food Safety Authority; Results of the monitoring of non dioxin-like PCBs in food and feed. EFSA Journal 2010; 8(7):1701. [35 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1701.

19.) Harvard studies of 37,698 men and 83,644 women, over 22 and 30 years, respectively, found red meat to increase total mortality rates and cancer mortality rates.
Notes: Results were after controlling for age, weight, alcohol, exercise, smoking, family history, calorie intake, and intake of whole plant foods. Nuts were found to be protective when taken as an alternative protein source.
Source: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality: Results From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies. Arch Intern Med. 2012;0(2012):201122871-9.

20.) Nitrites in processed meat form nitrosamines (carcinogens also found in cigarette smoke) and are associated with the two leading pediatric cancers, brain tumors and childhood leukemia.
Notes: Hot dogs have some of the highest levels. Pregnant women should probably avoid hot dogs.
Source: A meta-analysis of maternal cured meat consumption during pregnancy and the risk of childhood brain tumors. Neuroepidemiology. 2004 Jan-Apr;23(1-2):78-84.
Source:Nitrites, nitrosamines, and cancer. Lancet. 1968 May 18;1(7551):1071-2.

21.) 47% of U.S. retail meat tested is contaminated with staph (Staphylococcus) bacteria. Multidrug resistant strains were common.
Notes: Turkey was the most common with 77% and chicken and pork with 41% and 42%, respectively. A superbug version (methicillin resistant) was also found of MRSA that can jump from pig to human.
Source: Multidrug-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in US Meat and Poultry. Clin Infect Dis. 2011 May;52(10):1227-30.
Source: Infectious disease. From pigs to people: the emergence of a new superbug.

22.) Eating meat just a few times a month greatly increases the chances of abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Notes: Once an abdominal aortic aneurysm begins to tear you have less than a 15% survival rate.
Source: Analysis of risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysm in a cohort of more than 3 million individuals. J Vasc Surg. 2010 Sep;52(3):539-48.

23.) Our liver can only detox about 50% of the heterocyclic amines (carcinogens) formed from cooked chicken. Not the originally thought 99% which other animals can.
Notes: The animal that can detox 99% is the lab rat. Thus, the prior incorrect conclusion.
Source: Biomonitoring of urinary metabolites of 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (phip) following human consumption of cooked chicken. Food Chem. Toxicol., 46(9):3200-3205, 2008.

24.) One of the longest running studies showed meat consumption to increase allergies. This included asthma, bee stings, drug allergies, and hayfever.
Notes: Meat (including fish) consumed by pregnant woman can cause their children to have allergies.
Source: Knutsen SF. Lifestyle and the use of health services. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 May;59(5 Suppl):1171S-1175S.
Source: Maternal meat and fat consumption during pregnancy and suspected atopic eczema in Japanese infants aged 3-4 months: the Osaka Maternal and Child Health Study. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2010 Feb;21(1 Pt 1):38-46. Epub 2009 Jun 23.

25.) Putrescine has been determined to be a carcinogenic. Putrescine is found in food even when not spoiled. Highest level in canned tuna.
Source: Toxicological Effects of Dietary Biogenic Amines. Current Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 6, Number 2, May 2010 , pp. 145-156(12)
Source: Significance of biogenic amines to food safety and human health. Food Research International, Volume 29, Issue 7, October 1996, Pages 675-690.

26.) 100% of human Yersinia enterocolitica outbreak over the last decade was caused by pork.
Notes: Y. enterocolitica usually causes bloody diarrhea and can have very harmful long-term effects if left untreated. Half of American pig herds were found to be infected.
Source: Ranking the disease burden of 14 pathogens in food sources in the United States using attribution data from outbreak investigations and expert elicitation. J. Food Prot. 75, 1278 – 1291 (2012).
Source:Prevalence of pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica strains in pigs in the United States. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71, 7117 – 7121 (2005).

27.) Processed meat is greatly associated with stomach, colon, rectum, pancreatic, lung, prostate, testicular, kidney, and bladder cancer.
Source: Canadian Cancer Registries Epidemiology Research Group. Salt, processed meat and the risk of cancer. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2011 Mar;20(2):132-9.

28.) Even small amounts of meat consumption less than once a week is linked to degenerative arthritis.
Source: Associations between meat consumption and the prevalence of degenerative arthritis and soft tissue disorders in the Adventist health study, California U.S.A. J Nutr Health Aging, 10(1):7-14, 2006.

29.) After breast cancer diagnosis, increase in saturated fat consumption increased mortality from breast cancer by 41%.
Notes: Top 5 saturated fat sources include cheese, pizza, pastries, ice cream, and chicken (notice beef is not in the top 5).
Source: Post-diagnosis dietary factors and survival after invasive breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Jul;128(1):229-36.
Source: National Cancer Institute. 2010. Top Food Sources of Saturated Fat among US Population.

30.) Poultry consumption is associated with an increase in lymphoma (blood cancer).
Source: Consumption of meat and dairy and lymphoma risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Int J Cancer. 2011 Feb 1;128(3):623-34.

31.) Chicken handling significantly increased risk of dying from penile (penis) cancer, thought to be due to exposure to cancer causing viruses in poultry.
Source: Cancer mortality in poultry slaughtering/processing plant workers belonging to a union pension fund. Environ Res. 2010 Aug;110(6):588-94.

32.) 14% of retail eggs contain viruses of the leukosis/sarcoma group.
Notes: These viruses are one of the most potent cancer causing viruses in chicken. Virus exposure to humans seems to increased the risk of dying from several different cancers.
Source: Detection of exogenous and endogenous avian leukosis virus in commercial chicken eggs using reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction assay. Avian Pathology (1999) 28, 385±392
Source: Cancer mortality in poultry slaughtering/processing plant workers belonging to a union pension fund. Environ Res. 2010 Aug;110(6):588-94.

33.) Besides cancer, poultry workers suffer more from a range of diseases (e.g. thyroid conditions, schizophrenia, autoimmune neurological disorders, peritonitis, and disease of the kidneys).
Source: Mortality in the Baltimore union poultry cohort: non-malignant diseases. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2010 Jun;83(5):543-52.

34.) Cured meat seems to increase the chance of getting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Notes: COPD is generally defined as lung diseases (e.g. emphysema). As of 2012, COPD is the third most common killer in the United States.
Source: Consumption of cured meats and prospective risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):1002-8.

35.) Increased meat consumption increases the risk of developing cataracts.
Source: Diet, vegetarianism, and cataract risk. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 May;93(5):1128-35.

36.) Bacteria-eating viruses (bacteriophages) have been approved as meat additives.
Source: Bacteria-eating virus approved as food additive. FDA Consum. 2007 Jan-Feb; 41(1):20-2.

37.) Meat contaminated with fecal food-poisoning bacteria (e.g. salmonella) can legally be sold.
Source: Public knowledge and beliefs about diarrheal disease. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2011 Jan; 8(1):165-7.

38.) Meat, fish, cheese, and general animal protein intake have been associated with an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Source: Animal protein intake and risk of inflammatory bowel disease: The E3N prospective study. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Oct; 105(10):2195-201.

39.) One of the largest studies ever links meat consumption with increased overall death, death by cancer, and death by cardiovascular disease.
Notes: Study followed 500,000 people over 10 years.
Source: Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch Intern Med. 2009 March 23; 169(6): 562–571.

40.) High intake of meat, dairy, and butter have been shown to promote skin wrinkling.
Notes: For those curious, prunes, apples, and tea (especially green) appeared to be the most protective and reduced wrinkling and scaling the most.
Source: Skin wrinkling: can food make a difference? J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Feb;20(1):71-80.

41.) Abdominal fat has been linked to meat, egg, and milk consumption. Poultry seems to be the worst offender.
Source: Will all Americans become overweight or obese? Estimating the progression and cost of the US obesity epidemic. Obesity (Silver Spring), 16(10):2323-2330, 2008.

42.) Heterocyclic Amines (normally only found in cooked meat) have also been found in cheese and eggs.
Source: Formation and biochemistry of carcinogenic heterocyclic aromatic amines in cooked meats. Toxicol Lett. 2007 Feb 5;168(3):219-27. Epub 2006 Nov 16.

43.) Kidney failure is linked to meat.
Notes: Meat consumption was shown to cause human proteins to be urinated out (microalbuminuria). Something that should never happen.
Source: Associations of diet with albuminuria and kidney function decline. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 May; 5(5):836-43.

44.) New, lower target cholesterol levels are not obtainable when meat is consumed.
Source: High marks for below-average cholesterol. For the best protection against clogged arteries and heart disease, average cholesterol no longer makes the grade–lower is better. Harv Heart Lett. 2006 Feb;16(6):4-5.

45.) Iron found in meat passes through the digestive system without regulation.
Notes: Iron is a pro-oxidant, which can cause oxidative stress and DNA damage. Too much iron can cause colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, infection, and inflammatory conditions. Body has no means to get rid of excess iron through a regulatory system.
Source: Mechanisms of heme iron absorption: current questions and controversies. World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Jul 14; 14(26):4101-10.

46.) Animal foods (including turkey) shown to decrease tryptophan in the brain.
Notes: Tryptophan rich animal foods like turkey will increase the tryptophan levels in the blood, but this in turns decreases it in the brain. Plant based foods high in tryptophan, when compared to other amino acids, and carbohydrates (like seeds) work best to elevate mood and tryptophan in the brain.
Source: Protein-source tryptophan as an efficacious treatment for social anxiety disorder: a pilot study. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Sep;85(9):928-32.

47.) Propionate. Meat has no fiber to support healthy bacteria in our guts. That means our bacteria cannot produce propionate which is used to regulate cholesterol and either help us feel satisfied or possibly regulate generation of new fat cells.
Source: Propionate. Anti-obesity and satiety enhancing factor? Appetite. 2011 Apr;56(2):511-5.

48.) Refined grains, eggs, and poultry shown to cause prostate enlargement the most.
Source: Food groups and risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urology. 2006 Jan;67(1):73-9.

49.) Even when meat consumption is reduced to only fish and eggs, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) remained relatively the same.
Notes: IGF-1 has been shown to promote cancer growth.
Source: The associations of diet with serum insulin-like growth factor I and its main binding proteins in 292 women meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Nov;11(11):1441-8.

50.) Arsenic, lead, mercury, lead, cadmium, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and veterinary drugs have been found contaminating animal products.
Source: Chemical safety of meat and meat products. Meat Sci. 2010 Sep;86(1):38-48.

Next: 51-100 Scientific Reasons to NOT Eat Meat