How Meat Processing Is Bad For Your Child And For All Of Us?


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Are you planning to embrace plant-based diet. You have made a right choice. However, the first step is letting go of animal products, especially meat. If you are planning to explain this to your child, here are some facts regarding processed meat which will make you root for your decision.

What is meant by processed meat?

Processed meats represent a diverse array of products that have undergone additional treatment from the fresh meat form to the point of consumption. Some of these processing/treatments might include curing with other ingredients added, addition of salt or other flavor or preservative mixtures, etc. Also, these products often represent combined meat sources.

Food products categorized as processed meat include:

  • Sausages, hot dogs, salami
  • Ham, cured bacon
  • Salted and cured meat, corned beef
  • Smoked meat
  • Dried meat, beef jerky
  • Canned meat

On the other hand, meat that has been frozen or undergone mechanical processing like cutting and slicing is still considered unprocessed.

Processed meat invites heart diseases and diabetes

Processed meat is high in saturated cholesterol which can clog your arteries giving rise to heart problems in later life. These also contain additives, such as nitrite and sodium, which may also contribute to increased blood pressure and vascular stiffness. Furthermore, they been shown to impair glucose tolerance and reduce insulin secretion. These irregularities in glucose metabolism and insulin levels directly lead to increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is associated with a twofold to threefold increased risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular disease outcomes.

Processed meat is linked with cancer

Many studies provide convincing evidence of an association only for colorectal cancer, although the evidence is strongly suggestive for oesophageal and lung cancers.

Processed meat contains human carcinogens. It is the main dietary source of nitrosamines.   Nitrosamines are mainly formed when processed meat products are exposed to high heat (above 266°F or 130°C), such as when frying bacon or grilling sausages. Studies in animals indicate that nitrosamines may play a major role in the formation of bowel cancer.

Another study conducted on 35000 women, showed that women who consumed meat were most likely to develop breast cancer than those who don’t. 

Processed meat may contain harmful bacteria 

Both strains of Enterococcus faecalis and E. faecium have been implicated in the spoilage of pasteurized canned hams. E. faecium can also survive cooking. These bacteria can cause gastroenteritis and even severe form of food poisoning.

Processed meats contain Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Meat smoking is one of the oldest preservation methods, often used in combination with salting or drying. -It leads to the formation of various potentially harmful substances. These include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Numerous studies in animals have shown that some PAHs can cause cancer.

Meat is highest contributor towards global warming and climate change 

Slaughterhouses and meat factories have more carbon emissions and greenhouse effect. Globally, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined. According to the United Nations, a global shift towards a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.

Meat processing requires enormous water use

It takes an enormous amount of water to grow crops for animals to eat, clean filthy factory farms, and give animals water to drink. The world is on the brink of water shortage and by going vegan one person can contribute towards water conservation. Based on a global average of water consumption, it takes about 460 gallons of water to produce just one quarter pound beef hamburger. 

Animal rearing require more land use

Animal industries require more land to rear the animals and to grow crops to feed them. It takes almost 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant-based diet than it does to feed a meat-eater since the crops are consumed directly instead of being used to feed animals. 

Animal husbandry causes water pollution 

Animals raised for food are far more in number and produce more excrement. Without proper sewage-treatment plants, these waste products are just dumped into landfill or nearby rivers and lakes causing water pollution.

At the end of the day, you should avoid processed foods and start thinking about adopting a plant-based lifestyle. You and your children will live a long, healthy life which will benefit your family and our environment.


Diabetes Care 2020 Feb; 43(2): 265-271.

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