In a speech billed as a ‘meat fight-back’ at the Oxford Farming Conference, Alice Stanton, professor of cardiovascular pharmacology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, said that nutrient levels in plants foods have dropped because farmers trying to meet demand for cheap food, have focused on large volume and uniform appearance rather than nutrient content – so fruit and veg look good on the shelves.
This road is probably not a smart one for the meat industry go down. If you think the way we grow vegetables has changed a lot in the last 50 years, just take a look at what selective breeding and intensive farming methods have done to animals! Consider, for example, what the average broiler chicken looks like in 2020 compared to 50 years ago! In the 1970s, chickens were considered a lean option to fatty red meat. In 2010, Professor Michael Crawford and colleagues from London Metropolitan University found that chickens contained more fat than protein – far from being a healthy option, they have become a junk food!
Fish are affected too – Stanton says the omega-3 fat content of farmed salmon, for example, has fallen by 50 per cent. Meat does contain vitamins and minerals, but many of them are only there because animal feed contains supplements – such as iodine and vitamin B12 for example.
This is yet another feeble attempt at saving a failing industry, but people are not buying it. Meat sales are falling as people realise you don’t need to eat meat to be healthy. In fact it increases the risk of all major diseases – obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. The environmental reasons for going vegan are becoming ever stronger as we begin to feel the devastating effects of climate change.
All major health bodies agree that we should be eating more fruit and veg and less meat and that meat is not an essential part of the diet. A well-planned vegan diet is appropriate for all say the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – the United States’ largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals representing over 100,000 practitioners.
If any of these scare stories worry you, ask yourself which seems more likely: the meat industry is worried about the health of vegans or, the rising number of vegans will bring losses to the meat industry?
Find out more about the detrimental health effects of meat here.