Why Animal Products Harm – Meat

Why meat and dairy harm


You don’t need to eat meat. In fact, cutting meat out of your diet can do you a lot of good because humans are not true carnivores and meat-eating has a wide range of detrimental health effects. The more meat you eat, the more serious the consequences can be.


  • Eating meat increases your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s because meat contains harmful saturated fats, animal protein and haem iron.
  • Avoiding meat altogether can lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure and it may even reverse heart disease.
  • Meat consumption increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 74 per cent.
  • Meat contains several cancer-causing compounds. Some of them are in meat naturally, some of them form during cooking, processing or digestion.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) classified processed meat as carcinogenic (causing cancer) and red meat as probably carcinogenic.
  • Meat consumption may increase the risk of bowel, stomach, lung, kidney, bladder, pancreatic, thyroid, breast and prostate cancer.
  • People who eat meat daily, particularly red and organ meats, are at high risk of gout – a painful joint condition.
  • People who eat meat daily are much more likely to be obese than people who don’t.
  • Eating meat contributes to weight gain as much as eating sugar.
  • Meat protein produces acid in the body which makes the kidneys work extra hard.
  • Eating too much meat and too little calcium may undermine your bone health.
  • Meat – poultry in particular – is the main source of bacteria causing food poisoning.
  • Mass use of antibiotics at animal farms is driving the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria – many of them can cause life-threatening disease in people, not treatable by any medicines.
  • Animal farming is responsible for huge amounts of greenhouse gases and environmental pollution. Plant foods are much more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Keep reading for detailed information and references.

Meat processing

Red, white and processed meat

Generally, the meat from mammals such as cows and calves, sheep, lamb and pigs is considered red, while chicken, turkey and rabbit meat is considered white.

Animal fat

Blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease and stroke

There is much evidence linking heart disease and stroke to high consumption of meat and fats and a lack of fruits and vegetables.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is linked to meat consumption and going meat-free can greatly reduce your risk.


There are many harmful components in meat that may cause cancer over time. Some people are more susceptible, but in general the more meat you eat, the bigger the risk.

inflamed big toe joint


Gout is a painful condition which affects the joints and it has characteristic flare-ups called gout attacks. High meat consumption is one of the main causes of gout.



Obesity levels are rising and the UK ranks among the worst in Europe. Meat consumption has a lot to do with it.

bone and kidney health

Bone and kidney health

Meat is a rich source of protein and if you eat a lot of it, it can be a problem for your kidneys and bones.

Chicken meat

Food Poisoning

The vast majority of cases of food poisoning are caused by meat, chicken, eggs, fish or dairy. If plant foods are to blame, it is usually because they are contaminated by animal faeces.

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

The overuse of antibiotics on livestock and fish farms is one of the main drivers of the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Farmed Animals and the Environment

Meat-eating has a dramatic impact on the environment.

Minced meat

UK meat consumption

UK meat consumption is falling, but we need to do better for our health and the planet.

Why meat and dairy harm

Meat the Truth report

Viva! Health reveals the ground-breaking scientific evidence that meat offers no health benefits and is linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other diseases.

How to change your diet

Cutting meat out of your diet is not just a healthy choice, it’s also an ethical and sustainable one. If you’re used to meals based around meat, the idea of going meat-free may be daunting but we’re here to help make it super easy! Try vegan!

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All about meat

Find all the above and more in Viva!’s hard-hitting scientific report Meat the Truth.

“This report reveals what the meat industry doesn’t tell you. Find out what substances in chicken, beef, pork and lamb are linked to our biggest killers – heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It will leave you in no doubt about the harm meat does and explains why going meat-free is one of the best things you can do if you want to lead a long and healthy life.”

– Dr Michael Greger, physician and international speaker on nutrition, food safety and public health and author of How Not to Die.

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