So wait — are we supposed to eat piles of meat or not?
That’s the question I’m asking myself four weeks into eating a modified version of the paleo diet. Because here we’ve been reading for years that the diet-heart hypothesis was essentially bullshit (take this 2007 article from Men’s Health, for example). Many a paleo eating journey was launched (or at least partially pushed aloft) by that line of research.
Meats ahoy! Right everybody?
But then, well … shit. Along came a recent study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School has been getting a lot of attention for stating that: “a higher intake of red meat was associated with a significantly elevated risk of total, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality.”
(The study also says there’s “a relatively greater risk for processed red meat” as opposed to unprocessed. That’s at least a small comfort for people on the paleo diet, since we’re avoiding processed meats. Or at least I am.)
Anyway. Upshot: A major study says red meat — arguably the best kind of meat — kills humans dead. I’d love to find time to pick the study apart, assuming I’d even know how to find flaws in it.
But until then, I have to admit this Harvard study is making me hesitate to eat quite as much meat. I love fish and nuts, so what the hell. And I used to think the concept of vegan paleo was a bit loopy; now, maybe not as much. (I mean yes, it’s still probably wrong, but … maybe less wrong.)
Meanwhile I’ve just finished a book called How to Think Like a Neandertal, which I’ll review here soon.
The authors write that meat probably accounted for something like 80% of the neanderthal diet. But homo sapiens is not homo neanderthalensis, and we aren’t necessarily built the same way. Fistfuls of delicious meat may not be as wholesome for us as it was for them.
Some hominins get all the luck.
Photo: Roast beef and carrots, a pretty typical meal at my cave.