Is Red Meat the New Cigarette?

We all know that a few slices of free-range turkey breast are healthier than a juicy flame-grilled burger. But we tend to minimize red meat’s risks in our head, because, as Vincent Vega notes, “Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.”

But the LA Times has set out to harsh our mellow with an article that rounds up the hazards of eating red meat. Sure, everyone knows about red meat and cardiovascular disease, but did you know it’s implicated in breast cancer, colorectal cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s? Well, now you do. Enjoy that steak!

Still, there are scientists who are working toward beef that is safer to eat. Like smokeless cigarettes and near beer, red meat that doesn’t lead to unconscionably high hospital bills may eventually be within our grasp. Selective breeding and grass-feeding seem to raise the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids in beef, lessening the risk of heart disease.

There are steps you can take as well. If you don’t burn the shit out of your burgers or steaks over charcoal, you can avoid some of the nastier cancer-causing compounds that form when you expose red meat to high cooking temperatures. Choosing fresh meat over cured can keep you safer as well. And, of course, the LA Times article trumpets eating red meat in moderation as a compromise between pure vegetarianism and an all-bacon diet.

Still, the piece makes you wonder if this is the beginning of a tide of anti-red-meat ink. PETA notwithstanding, the zeitgeist of the last few years has been very meat-centric: Bacon blogs and books like The Shameless Carnivore: A Manifesto for Meat Lovers have had us craving the red stuff, consequences be damned. But with the ongoing financial crisis and a Democrat about to move into the White House, maybe the LA Times is telling us the moment is ripe to re-examine our meaty ways.

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