The Social Role of Meat: should we listen to science or is bar chatter enough?

Meat as food for sapiens has long been a divisive topic. Especially in bars or similar places.

In fact, objections to this issue arise and develop among people who deal with it ideologically in bars and cafes or, at best, in their living rooms.


While today we can count on a greater availability of meat protein thanks to the intensive farming, we are also seeing objections from those who claim that meat causes cancer, that it is responsible for methane emissions, that too much water is used to produce it, or that livestock farming leads to an unbalanced use of the land… right up to the most challenging and sensitive criticism that points the finger at the fact that it is unbearable to kill animals for food when we have a vast plant world to feed us.


To seriously discuss topics such as nutrition, environment, ethics, economics, individual culture, etc., we should rely on scientific observations. Unfortunately the experts do not communicate as frequently as the fakes producers.

It is necessary to rely on scientific expertise, avoiding indulging in individual answers that can be influenced by occasional sources and are often biased with misleading and unreliable suggestions.


However, it is also necessary to create a comprehensive, yet clear and accessible narrative for those who are not scientists or experts.


The following is our summary from various recent research we have gathered.


The prerequisite for a healthy diet is that the food is indeed healthy, and meat is not only healthy, but contains nutrients that are crucial for cognitive development.

There is a part of science that defines meat as cancerous, but this part at best has weak arguments.

On the other hand, the part of science that supports the importance of the evolutionary role of meat, has carried out complex research from which it is clear that the use of meat allowed humans to develop larger brains thanks to the nutrients it contains. In addition to this, meat requires less time to digest than vegetables.

Today (2024), meat consumption, with its specific nutrients which are unavailable or less digestible in plant-based foods, is helping to compensate for most of the nutritional deficiencies worldwide, not only in low-income countries, but also and especially in high-income countries, with widespread iron deficiencies resulting from an unbalanced diet.


The Global Burden of Disease 2019 study, published in the Lancet, indicates that any amount of red meat is detrimental to health. Dr Alice Stanton, Professor of Cardiovascular Pharmacology at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Director of Human Health at Devenish Nutrition, explained why that study should be withdrawn, for at least two interrelated reasons: it is a very influential paper because it forms the basis for global food policies and yet its findings are not supported by evidence.


The food provided to us by farmed animals is not the only positive factor for us sapiens: there is also an environmental role of livestock and the ethical and economic impacts that result. To speak of farmed animals as ’emission generators’ appears to experts in the field as an obviously suggestive and instrumental argument.


Speaking of red meat, for example, it should be noted that ruminants have the unique ability to recycle ‘crop waste’ (nutrient-poor and otherwise indigestible) into one of the most important and healthiest foods for humans: meat.


Being able to choose one’s diet is still a privilege, and those who try to impose the elimination of meat and those who talk of ‘less meat, but better’ probably do not realise that they are submitting an elitist solution, excluding large sections of the population who could not afford the increased costs that such choices would entail.

Instead, the current farming organisation is basically geared towards eliminating the division of people into classes by concentrating on good quality at low cost.


We refer in this regard to the study recalled by Adegbola Adesogan of the University of Florida and director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab that looked at school children in Kenya who thrived on meat added to their diet fact tested precisely to highlight that the nutrients contained in meat are essential for the proper cognitive development of children.


The evidence gathered through numerous applications of testing methods in human nutrition should find more opportunities for dissemination to the consumer public to whom they provide arguments derived from science, but formulated so that they are understandable, and doing so with educational actions also aimed at the media and politicians.



M.A.C. supports and shares the intentions of the Global Food Justice Alliance which upholds the right of all people to choose nutrient-rich foods such as meat, milk and eggs, which are fundamental to nutritious, environmentally sustainable, equitable food systems that sustain both human life and the planet.

The Dublin declaration

Scientists around the world should sign the Dublin Scientists’ Declaration which urges the inclusion of foods of animal origin on the basis of their positive contribution to human nutrition and environmental sustainability.

Source: Animal Frontiers


To download the pdf of the Dublin Declaration of Scientists use this link:


The editorial staff of M.A.C.