For more general inquiries related to the harm of “animal proteins”, the short answer is that there is nothing particularly problematic about them. Far more harmful proteins exist in plants, as dangerous proteins are part of the evolutionary strategy of plants to prevent from being eaten. With animals, their defense against being eaten occurs while they are alive, leaving a safe product once those defenses are overwhelemed. In practical terms, however, eaters of red meat tend to eat things WITH their red meat that cause problems or eat red meat in a form that is unhealthy.
Now as far as red meat or meat in general causing health problems, there really is no evidence indicating that to be the case and plenty of evidence — and logical deduction — indicating that it should be healthy. There are lots of studies that came to that conclusion, but they are so poorly done as to be worse than worthless. The particular study currently being bandied about was based off of surveys that participants filled out to get data and determine patterns in various food consumption and behaviors. I pay a LOT of attention to what I eat, but I cannot tell you what I ate a week ago, or two weeks ago. Yet the participants in this study were asked to recall, over periods of YEARS, how much meat they had eaten. It’s an incredibly inaccurate way of getting information. Any conclusion based on data that poorly obtained is no conclusion at all.
That being said, there are associative issues with meat consumption that people miss. First, hamburgers. While ground beef is not necessarily problematic, most beef (65%) is sold via retail stores and of that, most of that (60%) is consumed in hamburger form. So you have people eating “meat”, yes, but it’s wrapped in two pieces of wheat, providing a shot of allergernic gluten and 45g of carbs. Then, of course, the patty is slathered in who-knows-what sauce, and consumed with a soda or a side of fries dipped in who-knows-what ketchup. Add in the further problems of most cows being fed corn (which is high in omega-6 fatty acids) and you have altered the natural fat content of beef from one high in omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) to one that is high in omega-6 (pro-inflammatory). And of course when people eat something that SHOULD be healthy, like a steak, you have the same problem: they eat it with a potato on the side, covered in who-knows-what, dip the steak in sugary steak sauce, and start the meal with a roll and end it with dessert.
All of these “problems” can be avoided by 1) not eating garbage alongside meat, 2) eating grass-fed and free range meat when possible, or 3) barring that, get lean cuts of meat so the diet of the animal doesn’t impact you so much.
And, finally, keep in mind that if red meat were unhealthy, you would not be here today and neither would the rest of us. The megafauna on the north american continent didn’t drop dead of their own accord; they were hunted and eaten into tasty, tasty extinction.
As for further reading on what foods you actually should avoid, check out Kurt Harris’ Paleo Diet 2.0, where he talks about the triple threat of 1) gluten, 2) excess omega-6 fatty acids, specifically lineoleic acid, and 3) excess fructose.
Anything by Robb Wolf, including his book, The Paleo Diet Solution is also a good choice. I’ll leave this here for now, but might very come back and add to it. Then again, the people promoting this nonsense aren’t putting up a very good fight. You think they would try harder. Perhaps lack of protein has made them weak.
- USDA beef consumption data: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ldp/Oct05/ldpm13502/ldpm13502.pdf↵