Nowadays, it seems that many are becoming more and more focused on eating a plant-based diet and leaving out animal products. But indulging in a daily burger or steak can’t be that bad for you, right? Especially since those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet can be at risk for missing out on these nutrients. Unfortunately for meat lovers, a new study has found a link between how much meat a person eats and an increased risk of premature death.
According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate more red meat, processed meat, or simply got more animal protein than plant-based protein in their diet had a higher chance of dying from a chronic disease. The new research looked at data from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, an ongoing study that’s tracking risk factors for cardiovascular disease among middle-aged men from eastern Finland—a population that ranks among the highest rates of heart disease in Europe. The study population was made up of 2,641 Finnish men who were between the ages of 42 and 60 when the study began between 1984 and 1989.
Researchers followed up with the men after 20 years—1,225 of them had died. Those who ate seven ounces or more of red or processed meat daily—or got the majority of their protein from meat—had a 23 percent higher risk of premature death, reports ScienceDaily. However, not all animal protein was linked to the mortality risk: men who got their protein via eggs, fish, or dairy avoided the risk; of course, men who ate more plant protein than meat tended to outlive meat eaters. This isn’t the first strike against red or processed meat: Red or processed meat can increase your chances of getting this disease, too.
While this study can only reveal a link between meat consumption and early death, most research is pretty clear that eating more plant protein and cutting back on red and processed meat will be easier on your heart and your waistline. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends limiting yourself to no more than three servings (3 oz/serving) of red meat per week. You might want to try getting your protein from these healthy plant-based foods instead.