A thick, juicy sirloin steak. Sizzling burgers on the grill. A finely sliced roast beef sandwich topped with barbecue sauce. However you choose to eat it, beef can be absolutely delicious.
Not only does beef taste great, but it is also a nutritional powerhouse. It’s packed with protein, B vitamins, iron, and other vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal human health.
So, fire up the grill, right?
Not so fast. Here are 7 reasons why you might want to think twice about eating beef, no matter how good it tastes in the moment.
1. Beef has changed since you were a kid
Back in the 1950s, farmers discovered that feeding small amounts of antibiotics to their cattle helped the cows grow up to 3% larger. Heavier cows meant more beef and bigger profits.
Not surprisingly, antibiotic usage in beef cattle exploded during the decades since this discovery. Not only that, but antibiotics traditionally used for humans have also begun to be applied to cows. While this has allowed the cows to grow larger, it has also nurtured bacteria within the cattle that is resistant to antibiotics used by humans.
Eating beef exposes you to drug-resistant bacteria while simultaneously increasing your immunity to antibiotics. In short, today’s beef can make you sick and make it more difficult to treat this sickness.
2. Eating beef weakens your immune system
If eating beef and other red meat is unhealthy for humans, then why can carnivores survive on a meat-only diet? New research has found that a sugar, called Neu5Gc, found within red meat, also naturally occurs within carnivorous animals but not within humans.
When you eat red meat, your body reacts to Neu5Gc as if it were a harmful bacteria. As your body begins to “fight” this foreign type of sugar, inflammation builds and your immune system weakens, leaving you more susceptible to other threatening bacteria, viruses, and disease.
3. Eating beef also increases your risk of cancer
For years there has been speculation that eating red meat, such as beef, can lead to cancer, and recently this suspicion has been proven true. When beef is processed for enhanced flavour or increased shelf-life (think back to that roast beef sandwich), it becomes deadly.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) puts processed beef in the same cancer-risk category as smoking and exposure to asbestos!
What about unprocessed beef, like steak? Well, this type of beef is only considered, “probably carcinogenic.”
4. It can lead to Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is a disease that prevents the pancreas from producing enough insulin to deal with sugar as it enters the bloodstream. Once you develop the disease, it is permanent in most cases, and can be deadly if not continually monitored and treated.
This disease is commonly associated with obesity, but has also been linked to consuming too much beef and other red meats.
One group of meta-researchers studied nearly 150,000 individuals over the course of 20 years or more and found that increased red meat consumption ballooned the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 48%!
5. Raising beef is really, really bad for the environment
If you’re not concerned about the negative health impact beef will have on your body, then consider how eating a burger hurts the environment. In general, meat requires a lot more physical resources to grow and harvest that other plant-based foods, but beef may be the biggest culprit.
Pound for pound, beef uses 10 times more resources than raising chicken or turkey. Focus in on the water required to produce beef and the numbers are even more staggering. Producing just one pound of beef requires over 1,800 gallons of water, whereas producing a loaf of bread requires only 240 gallons.
The more beef you eat, the greater your ecological footprint, hence the rising popularity of “Meatless Mondays” amongst those looking to contribute to environmental sustainability.
6. Buying beef will spike your grocery bill
Cutting meat from your diet can save you $750 per year, and the savings will be even greater if you eat a lot of beef.
The price of beef is at a record high, having increased by 20% over the past year. While sky-rocketing beef prices are expected to slow this year, an increase of another 5-6% is still expected.
As long as demand for beef remains strong, prices will continue to climb. So, if you’re a cost-conscious consumer, it may be time to think twice about your next beef purchase.
7. Eating beef can make you fat
If you eat a lot of meat, then you may want to pay close attention to your waistline. Recent research found that shifting towards a vegetarian or vegan diet is the most effective way to maintain a healthy weight. One study found that overweight individuals who cut meat from their diet lost an average of 16.5 pounds in just 6 months.
But, does beef cause more weight-gain then other meats?
Depending on the cut of beef you choose, YES. For example, steak contains 30% more calories and nearly double the fat content than an equivalent size of chicken breast.
Featured photo credit: Mmm… Grilled steak for the win/jeffreyw via flickr.com