Meat has gotten a terrible rap, and it’s unfortunate that not enough good information about why meat is necessary exists. For the past 50+ years, we have been fed information suggesting that animal proteins and fats from meat and eggs are bad for us. We’ve been told we will live longer if we avoid them. That kind of information – put out over and over again – has become so embedded into our brains that we don’t question whether it is true or not.
I’m here to tell you; it’s not.
There are a lot of reasons why eating meat is beneficial. Here are the top three.
- We need protein! Our genes are made of protein so for the body to replace cells that get invariably depleted or damaged, it needs protein so it can make more DNA. As well, enzymes are protein. Many of our cells have enzyme receptors on them and to turn a process on in a cell, an enzyme (or protein) has to bind to that receptor. Think of a key needed to turn the engine of your car on. The fact that our ancestors – those cave people – ate meat is, in fact, a large reason why our bodies were able to grow and develop. The amino acids we get from meat are the building blocks needed for the brain to function normally.
- We need the fat! Fat is another thing that has gotten an unfortunately bad rap. The essential fatty acids (“essential” meaning the body can’t produce them; you have to eat them) found in meat are necessary for almost all of the chemical reactions in your body. And our cell walls – which are the gatekeepers for the body, keeping certain substances in and harmful ones out – are made of fat. Eating it contributes to the cell wall’s strength. But perhaps most importantly, fat helps our brain function by making sure that the nerve pathways are insulated, and don’t interfere with each other.
- We need the vitamins! Vegetables are quite nutrient dense. No one will argue and eating a lot of them is certainly beneficial. But meats – organ meat, beef, fish, and shellfish – are nutrient dense as well. They provide the body with many key vitamins from B to iron to zinc, and two very important fat-soluble vitamins (A and D) that many are deficient in. These vitamins play a key role in many areas of human health from promoting healthy immune function and fertility to regulating calcium metabolism and reducing inflammation. And they are in concentrated amounts and found almost exclusively in animal foods.
Next time you hear someone tell you that you will die early from eating meat remember not to believe everything you hear. There are too many factors that can affect that statement and we should question them – like the source of the meat (grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic) because that matters. We should question what we pair the meat with (breads and sugar-laden condiments vs. fresh vegetables). That matters as well.
What we don’t need to question is whether we should be eating meat. That question can be left out to pasture – with the cows.