Lo and behold, when I typed red meat into google, this was the first thing to come up:
The attack on red meat has reached a new pitch in the last year or two. Why? I think there are a lot of reasons:
- It’s good politics: being against red meat is fashionable.
- Psychology: so many of the nannies and scolds in society hate to see other people enjoying themselves even if it’s about what they eat.
- Follow the money: university grant money is doled out by those who wish to see their worldview justified and enforced.
- There is perhaps a bit of truth mixed in with the corrupted studies: processed meat v fresh red meat.
This Harvard study from last year caused the latest hubbub:
If you read the study without putting on your thinking cap, then it looks impressive: large cohort, some stats, conclusion. But what the study doesn’t tell us, because it cannot, is what else were these tens of thousands of people doing? Exercise? What kind of meat? What kind of lifestyles?
This type of study ignores dozens, hundreds, thousands of other factors because it has to in order to make any conclusions. Essentially, they’ve taken two cohorts of people who have answered questionnaires based on memory and then try to extrapolate from them. Talk about flawed. These cohorts were not asked to answer questionnaires about red meat. The academics simply took this data that they had and ran with it.
The only way that one could have a definitive study on the effects of any diet would be to take multiple cohorts who are broadly the same (age, health, sex, race, etc.) and feed the cohorts different diets across several decades. Of course, such a study would be impossible.
So instead, what we get are studies like the above.
What happens then? Journalists pick up on the press release and regurgitate it like it were a Papal Bull. There’s no critical thinking or thinking at all. Well done Fourth Estate. Why? Laziness? Lack of intelligence? Confirmation bias? Simple corruption?
Don’t believe me? Look what happens when another study casts doubt on the Harvard study and that red meat is the bogey man who’s going to get you:
The usual suspects are wheeled out by the media to attack the new study. Big surprise, it’s the same people who wrote the flawed study from Harvard to begin with! What’s interesting is that they completely ignore the study that casts doubt on the dangers of red meat and the flawed nature of their study. Instead, they simply regurgitate the same talking points:
There is no conclusive proof that red meat is unhealthy in my humble opinion. Harvard and other universities would be better served researching the health effects of various additives, chemicals, preservatives and industrial processes. The fact that they don’t is telling.
You can do what you want dear reader. Do your own research. Read widely. Me? I’m sticking with steak!