Is Meat Bad for You? Is Meat Unhealthy?

When our vegetarian ancestors started
eating meat around two million years ago, it wasn’t just because animals taste great, it was pure necessity. Climate change made many of the plants our ancestors
relied on less available and meat bridged that gap. From the discovery of fire at the latest,
meat became a staple of the human diet. But over the last few years eating meat has
increasingly been associated with health risks like: heart disease, certain cancers, and an early death. So how unhealthy is meat, really? In this video we’ll only talk about meat. Dairy products deserve a video of their own. Biologically, we need to eat for three reasons: for energy, to acquire materials to fabricate our cells, and to get special molecules
that our bodies can’t make themselves. The energy and most of the materials come from the
three macronutrients: fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Proteins are the most important resource for
repairing and replenishing our cell structures. The special molecules are a large variety of vitamins
and minerals we need to drive metabolic processes. Meat provides us with most of these things. It contains all essential amino acids
our body needs and a lot of minerals like: iron, zinc and essential vitamins, some of which are
barely found in plants like Vitamin B12. Only one essential nutrient is missing
in most of the meat we consume: vitamin C. It appears in almost all plants
and supports our immune system as well as the development of connective tissues. After a few months without it you’d get scurvy. But meat has another big advantage,
it’s high bioavailability. Some of the nutrients in meat are broken down
faster and available quicker than those from plants. Spinach for example, contains more iron than meat,
but it’s absorbed much slower and the body needs more energy to digest it. Several health benefits have also been
observed in communities that rely solely on meat. The Inuit for example, are able to survive in extreme
climate conditions thanks to a purely meat-based diet. Since they consume the whole animal including
the organs, they get every single nutrient they need including vitamin C. So meat itself is definitely not dangerous for us. But its health effects vary, depending on
how its prepared and what animal it comes from. When talking about meat in the Western world, we generally mean muscle tissues
that have a high nutrient density, but also lack some of the vitamins that
make it possible to survive on meat alone. The most healthy animals to eat are probably fish. Fish contains polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3, which may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases
and support anti-inflammatory immune functions. As part of a balanced diet,
fish can be eaten regularly without worries. Eating fish comes with its own bag of complications though, like overfishing and the destruction of the oceans. We’ll talk about that in another video. A close second is the most popular meat, chicken. It’s regarded as the meat with the fewest health risks. The only negative health effect
of poultry is a bit controversial: fat. It’s high content of saturated fats is associated with a
higher cholesterol level and cardiovascular disease. But this idea has also been criticized
by a large number of scientists arguing high cholesterol levels might be
inherited and not caused by nutrition. So in general, if you want meat and are
concerned about your health, go for chicken. Things start to get problematic with high intakes of
red meats like beef, veal, pork, lamb, horse and goat. A recently published study recommends for
example a maximum of 23 grams of red meat per day which is a very small steak per week. However, large-scale meta-analysis studies have shown that eating 100 grams of red meat every day increases the risk of diabetes by 19%,
of strokes by 11% and of colorectal cancer by 17%. This sounds alarming. But before we panic,
let’s have a look at how these studies were conducted. Because this brings us to the second big problem
when trying to answer the question of whether meat is unhealthy or not. Most studies that linked health risks to
eating red meat were case-control studies. Which means taking a group of people with a disease
and classifying them by their eating habits. The more red meat they consume, the more likely
they were to contract certain diseases. The problem is that it’s very hard
to eliminate other factors. People who eat less meat tend to
live a healthier lifestyle in general. They tend to eat more vegetables and fruit
and are less likely to smoke and drink alcohol. Most studies try to eliminate these factors,
but it’s extremely hard to make definitive statements. Things get worse when
we look at processed meat though. Processing meat means adding certain chemicals by curing, smoking, sorting or fermenting or in other words making it delicious. Bacon, ham, salami, sausages and hot dogs
contain chemicals that are harmful for us like nitrates and nitrites that can damage the DNA
in our digestive system and lead to cancer. The w-h-o reviewed 800 studies over 20 years, and concluded that processed wheat is strongly
linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Each extra 50 grams of processed meat per day
increases your risk of cancer by 18 percent. When it comes to cancer risk, processed meat is now in the same category as plutonium, asbestos and smoking. The w-h-o highlights that it’s research is
only about the question of whether or not something causes cancer and not to what extent. But processed meat may also significantly
increase the chance of suffering from diabetes, strokes and coronary heart diseases. It also makes a difference what sort of life
our meat lived when it was still part of a living being. It’s common to feed large
amounts of antibiotics to livestock in order to prevent diseases
which can spread antibiotic resistance. Combined, a high consumption of
both red and processed meat could increase your chance of
premature death by up to 29%. This means if your chance of dying
is at 3% this year, it’s now 4%. This might not sound like a lot but tiny percentages
have a huge impact on societies of millions. They also seem harmless until they affect you. To blame meat alone for
bad health would be wrong though. There is no evidence that the very essence of meat
has any negative effect beyond it’s high fat content. And even this point is highly contentious. Just like with many other pleasures in life,
sometimes too much of a good thing is harmful. Most public health agencies suggest cutting
meat consumption to 500 grams a week while studies suggest cutting down
processed meat as much as possible. So if you feast on meat no more than once
or twice a week, you should be good. For most people this already means
a drastic change in their diets though, The average American consumes around
almost 1600 grams of meat a week. The average German 1100 grams a week. And many of us needs much much more. If you’re not really sure, make a small note
whenever you eat meat for a week or two. You’ll be surprised how much it really is. So most people watching this video
would benefit from cutting down on meat. Aside from health concerns, there’s still the fact that the meat industry is
one of the largest contributors to climate change and has reached a scale where it’s
impossible to deliver millions of tons of meat and still treat animals with dignity. We’ve already discussed that in detail in another video. All in all, in moderation, meat is not unhealthy
and you don’t need to become vegetarian overnight to have a real impact on your health and the planet. But your lifestyle choices do matter. For yourself and for others. The key is being open to
trying something new once in a while. Maybe you’ll discover your new favourite dish. Until you try you’ll never know what
you’ll enjoy or what you’re capable of. Maybe after watching hours of Kurzgesagt videos, you’ve decided you’d like to learn how to animate. Now you might not know this, but most of our team
actually has a graphic design background. Learning about design principles first before we got
into animation was really key to where we are today. There’s a really great new Skillshare class
on using Adobe Illustrator, The software we use to create artwork
by graphic designer Aaron Draplin and we can personally recommend it. It’s full of great tips to help understand and
simplify a very complicated program. If you want to do more afterwards, we have
three animation courses of our own on Skillshare too. Skillshare offers over 25,000 classes on topics like film and video editing, writing, design and
technology from an array of skilled experts. With the Premium Membership, you can
access all of them for only $10 a month. And as a bonus, the first 1000 Kurzgesagt
viewers to use the link in the description, will get their first two months of Skillshare for free.

100 thoughts on “Is Meat Bad for You? Is Meat Unhealthy?”

  1. Here are our sources: It is very fascinating to see that the both extremes, vegans and people on meat heavy diets hate this video. Usually we are attacked more from one direction – in this cases both ends of the spectrums are really upset. Anything relating to nutrition is very controversial unfortunately. Someone on twitter posted this: There is research showing strong links between dietary choices and social identity:

    So if you want to, you can find sources telling you that every kind of diet is bad for you. We tried very hard not to do that and get a real understanding what the health effects of meat are. We also did not have a particular bias, we have vegetarians, flexitarians and meat eaters in the team. And in general, since our first meat video many of us have reduced their meat consumption or at least try to. Others in the team have not changed at all and don't plan to. We don't have an overarching agenda here, one way or the other. There is a video about milk in the making right now and we also just started a video about veganism. Look forward to more diet related videos next year.

  2. Don't think you did your homework on the Inuit. Sure they thrive on a diet of just meat but they die nasty deaths from a lifetime of accumulated crap in their vascular systems. Like our ancient ancestors they just have more babies so the race continues while individuals die off from the diet. Pop! Woops! There goes Gramps! Hey Granny you're on your own now. Granny … Pop!

  3. If a person asked you what meat you want and the person would say yours would be scary? it depends if a cow is seeing it kkkk

  4. Minuto 1:34

    Está mal traducido al español. Es "algunas de las cuales apenas se encuentran en plantas, como la vitamina B12".

  5. Посмотрел на грустные морды коровок и свиней, которые практически обездвиженны в загонах, хоть это и мультяшные представление реальности, стало очень грустно, но мясо люблю (

  6. So what did we learn kids. We learned that when it comes to eating it's best to portion out your diet to prevent yourself from getting sick.

    Pretty much means "Too much of a good thing could be bad."

  7. This video really touches on the better and much more scrutinised recent literature and studies centered around meat. Where it falls short pehaps is talking about the differences in results of what happens on a meat-only diet like the carnivore diet versus a mixed diet (plants and meat in combination). We often look at the benefits of plants only (AKA vegan) but our PC culture allows no capacity for the other, and has rather bestowed stigma and shame to the carnivore community.

  8. Implying what anyone tells me would ever make me stop eating processed meat. Life isn't worth living longer if processed meat isn't in it.

  9. Hey lets talk in a British accent. That will make you take this blokes dumb advice. Eat meat 2 times a week hahahahaha. More like 2 times a day. Vegetables are not a great source of vitamins or minerals. They are hard to digest to boot. And even if you don't believe that so many vitamins are fat souble. Aka found in fat. Vitamin A and K2. You need meat for b12. L carntine an amino acid that allows fat to be metabolized into energy is high in red meat… especially beef. I mean people have no idea of nutrition. Vitamin A in carrot is a preform of retinol. Oh and bonus. Omega 3 dha is not found in nature other then algae and who wants to eat that? You'll need alot as well and its expensive. But sure eat this nutrient dense meat only twice a week, eat harder to digest vegetables ( im not against them but they are inferior to meat) and to fill up eat a bunch of non essential vitamins/mineral lacking carbs.

  10. I’m gonna be real with you chief Jesus himself could come down and say to me red meat will kill you in large quantities and I will already be on my second burger laughin at him

  11. How about crustacean meat? Everyone loves crab and lobster! I prefer crab legs without butter… I’m really picky like that

  12. Now make a video on how bad vegetables are so we can't eat anything.
    I call BS on all of this….
    Today I read about vegetables that you should only eat once in a while because they contain too much of a certain vitamin or mineral and I also learned that pregnant women shouldn't eat seafood at all.
    So what can you eat, I'll tell you a secret you can eat whatever you want because all of these studies are made or commissioned by companies producing food.

    Example: A company that sells chicken meat produces a study that shows that chicken is the best….
    A company that sells veggies produces a study that meat is the most unhealthy thing on earth….
    So just eat drink and be happy because we all die in the end anyway.

  13. I care about the planet and climate change, but I cannot give up meat. Burgers and ribs taste sooo good! We can still reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically with encouraging people to commute more on public transport, unplugging electricity-using devices and appliances in their homes at night, and replacing older less environmentally friendly buildings with greener infrastructure, and replacing our power sources with green energy

  14. I don't agree that suffering free meat is impossible; you just have to pay more. We need better government regulations! Some farmers will even tell you that free range costs them less because the livestock eat wild vegetation and/or insects.

  15. You actually wouldn't get scurvy by eating only meat. When you don't take in carbohydrates your need for vitamin c goes down to almost nothing. In this case the trace amounts of vitamin c in cooked meat will be enough to not get scurvy. If you ate nothing but raw meat however you would have more than enough vitamin c coarsing through your veins.

  16. As an instructor who teaches a college biology course covering this topic, and who has followed the emerging scientific literature in this area for a decade plus, I think this video is in many cases well-informed and elegantly articulated. Unfortunately, this complex subject doesn't necessarily lend itself well to "nutshell" analysis. Large-scale studies and meta-analyses of already-published research are pretty clear in their emergent conclusions about the associations between predominantly whole foods plant based eating and the incidences of Alzheimers', type 2 diabetes, various cancers, cardiovascular disease, as well as "all-cause mortality" in general: the higher percentage of plants you eat, the better off you are, on all the above fronts. While the video brings up some of the negative consequences of a high saturated fat, high cholesterol diet that meat-eating provides (especially processed meats), it still diminishes the relative significance and importance of their negative consequences. If and when Kurzgesagt makes another video in 5-10 years on this subject, I bet you $20 it's going to come out a lot more strongly for the human health benefits of plant-based eating over meat consumption, because the data is largely already established on the subject. Like the harmful effects of cigarette smoking, it just takes time for the implications of the research results to filter through the gauntlet of half-baked criticism and into the public's consciousness and actions.

  17. I think that this video would be more truthful if there was talked about pros & cons of removing the meat completely from the diet.

  18. good thing i hate the taste of meat and can really only stand chicken nuggets or hamburgers (sometimes) lol where's my meat taste hate gang

  19. Farm raised catfish isn't as harmful to the environment as most other fishes. It also lacks the mercury content of ocean fish. And unlike chicken it lacks the fat that causes heart disease. It's also usually the cheapest fish available in the grocery. The only problem is its strong fishy taste makes it hard to work in to a meal. Nothing really goes good with catfish.

  20. from where are you thanking your facts??
    "if you want meat and are worry about your health GO FOR CHICKEN" ???
    chickens are full with antibiotics and pills to make them healthy though the fact that they raised in very poor conditions.
    if you want want to be healthy DON'T EAT MEAT – not because meat is bad for you, is because the way we rise and make meat today is BAD for us.
    until at least lab grown meat will be cheap and in massive scale.

  21. Dude, I've been eating red meat by tons a day and done my regular med check and everything is fine. Also, you say that people who eat less meat "seem" to live healthier lives but you mention that people who live in the far North have all the nutrients one needs and they eat meat only.

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