Meat & Livestock News

Scientists Question the Validity of Meat-Reduction Advocacy


  • Dr Alice Stanton’s study in Nature critiques the flawed metrics of influential reports promoting reduced red meat consumption, highlighting data quality and nutritional value misjudgments.
  • The research underscores the nutritional importance of animal-source foods, which are rich in essential amino acids and micronutrients often lacking in plant-based diets.
  • Despite recognized errors, influential dietary guidelines remain unchanged, raising concerns about the impact on global food policies and public health nutrition.

A new study published in the prestigious journal Nature on February 5th has sparked a debate over the scientific basis behind current pushes to cut down red meat consumption for the sake of both human health and the environment.

Dr. Alice Stanton from the Royal College of Surgeons led the research, pinpointing significant flaws in the metrics used by influential reports, notably the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2019 Risk Factors Study and the EAT-Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health Diet.

The crux of Stanton’s argument lies in the quality of data and calculation methods these reports employ. She points out a critical oversight: the underappreciation of animal-source foods’ nutritional value. Unlike plant-based foods, animal products are rich in essential amino acids and micronutrients like iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin D3, which are crucial for human health but often missing from our diets.

The study further criticises the reliance on global health estimates rather than primary data to support significant reductions in animal-source food consumption. This approach, according to Stanton, introduces substantial gaps and inaccuracies in the dietary recommendations that these reports advocate.

Despite acknowledgements from the authors of the GBD and EAT-Lancet reports about these issues and the potential risks of micronutrient deficiencies their recommendations could pose, no corrections have been made to their publications.

Consequently, these reports continue to influence food policy and dietary guidelines globally, including those from the World Wildlife Fund and the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023.

Dr. Stanton’s conclusion is a call to action for more rigorous, transparent, and evidence-based approaches in nutritional science, especially when it influences global dietary guidelines and food policies. The study underscores the need for a balanced view on nutrition that considers the essential role of animal-source foods in a healthy diet.