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Tuesday 28 June 2022

B+L marshalls evidence for red meat pushback

30th November 2020 By Staff Reporter | | @foodtickernz

Beef + Lamb is pushing back against health and sustainability concerns around red meat production and consumption, marshalling evidence in support of what it calls the sensible consumption of red meat.

In a new report, The Role of Red Meat in Healthy and Sustainable New Zealand Diets, the association provided a “New Zealand-centric, peer-reviewed summary of the evidence” around NZ food production and the role red meat plays in the diets of Kiwis.

The goal, according to B+L, was to “help inform and bring balance to discourse” on the increasingly controversial topic “that has too often become binary and, at times, unconstructive in its attempt to charter a pragmatic path forward.” 

In considering food production, the report recognised that climate change could and would put “significant pressure” on the food system, which meant the system needed to become adaptable and sustainable, but said that didn’t mean it had to be a system without meat.

“It is often believed meat-inclusive diets require more energy, land and water resources than a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Climate and Land highlighted how resilient, sustainable and low-GHG emission systems, similar to New Zealand’s pastoral systems, can play a role in minimising the impacts of global warming and adjust to changing climates.”

It delved into research into the different health benefits of red meat which illustrated the protein source as being a “unique package of essential nutrients”, and was “among the richest sources of zinc.”

It also pushed back on claims made by other associations that had linked red meat and chronic diseases, and said the causal effects were “debated in the scientific community”, and more information was needed to back up the different lots of research.   

“This is because identifying a single food as a cause of a disease or illness is very difficult to prove and disentangle from other dietary and lifestyle factors that may be involved. Therefore, the current body of evidence supports the recommendation of moderate amounts of lean red meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle.

Just last month the Heart Foundation put out new recommendations, which advised Kiwis to consume less red meat and chicken to avoid increased risks of heart disease and stroke.

The organisation said New Zealanders should eat less than 350g of unprocessed meat a week, and replacing red meat with other plant-based protein options was a healthier option for the heart.



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