Every few months we get a new study that says eating red meat is linked with heart failure, cancer and other chronic diseases. Whileall of these studies have one major flaw in that they can only find relationships and not establish whether one thing actually causes the other, there is another flaw in their design. They do not distinguish between processed and unprocessed meats.
Now, if you’ve read The Philosophy of Food you’ll know that food quality is is nutrition Rule Number 1 and that anything that does not address food quality is going to be a distorted message.
Recently a study came out that tried to look at the quality issue and found that eating unprocessed red meat was NOT associated with heart failure while eating processed meats was.
This is a big step in the right direction though more needs to be looked at. Unprocessed meat here still includes minced meat so consumption of things like hamburgers from fast food outlets might still be thought of as unprocessed meats. A better study would also look at pasture raised sources of meat like grass-fed beef.
Unprocessed meat was defined as pork, beef/veal and minced meat while processed meats were sausages, cold cuts (ham/salami), blood pudding/sausages and liver pate.
So these observational studies are still weak sources of evidence but they do allow us to generate theories and then test them.
To all those who subscribe to the low cab, high fat approach (which I think can be useful in certain circumstances), please take heed that food quality matters, it is Rule Number 1.