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The Science Behind the Top 10 Claims from What the Health

1. Meat is as dangerous as cigarettes

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Nope. This is a claim that pops up in the news every couple of years, and my response is always the same: Not all meat is created equal – and some meats aren’t even good enough to be considered food.

But when someone lumps all meat together as being bad for you, regardless of quality, you can bet there’s more fear-mongering than science behind the claim.

In What the Health, the documentary’s anti-cheese meat-hating doctor Neil Barnard, M.D. sent researchers into fast food restaurants to test for carcinogens in their products. Surprise! They found carcinogens in every chicken sample they took.

In other news, water is wet.

Fast food chains are notorious for having the worst quality “meat” possible. Chicken McNuggets® contain more than 30 ingredients, including fillers, flavoring, and preservatives. Failing to distinguish between processed versus unprocessed, overcooked versus slow-cooked, and grass-fed versus industrially-raised meat is comparing apples to oranges. This point honestly doesn’t even deserve a rebuttal.

So, when the narrator compares processed meats to cigarettes, I tend to agree with him. Sodium nitrite-cured sausage made from meats raised in crowded, unsanitary conditions are terrible for you. But they are nothing like grass-fed beef raised on sustainable pasture without pesticides and antibiotics.

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