Whether you’re looking to cut down on meat or go meat-free all together, making adjustments to your diet isn’t always easy. The popularity of vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are on the rise and there are seemingly more conflicting opinions on the health benefits of meat than ever before. With that in mind we spoke to Accredited Practicing Dietician Nicole Dynan to answer your most pressing questions on what happens when we cut down on meat.
How much meat does the average person need?
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend up to 455g lean red meat each week and recommend limiting processed meat like salami and ham. A serve of meat is approx. 65g cooked, or 100g raw, or about the size of your palm.
For most adults, the guidelines suggest 2.5-3 serves from the lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans food group each day, with an emphasis on variety. Although meat can be good for our health, on average, Australians tend to eat more red meat than recommended.
Meat forms one of our core food groups and is very nutritious. Red meat is rich in protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. I recommend choosing lean meats like beef, lamb, and chicken, as these are the least processed and the richest in nutrients. Trimming the fat off a cut of meat before cooking can also help decrease the level of saturated fat consumed.
What happens if you eat too much meat? Is it bad for you?
Research indicates that eating too much red meat is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Therefore, to gain its nutritious benefits, it’s recommended to aim for the guidelines and consume less than 500g of red meat per week, as well as limiting processed meats (including ham, bacon, sausages, salami, chorizo etc).