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Meat groups from England, Scotland and Wales are joining forces in a bid to promote the health benefits of red meat as part of a £2 million initiative.

The aim of the scheme – promoted by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) Meat Promotion Wales and Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – is to ‘collectively raise consumer awareness of red meat’s positive messages’.

The campaign comes as more and more people are starting to actively reduce meat for a host of reasons – including environmental and health benefits. According to a survey released earlier this week, 28 percent of Brits now identify themselves as ‘meat reducers’.

Social media

According to AHDB: “This is the first time the three organizations – which each have their own health and education programmes – have delivered a united GB-wide programme of health activity behind beef, lamb and pork.

“The 2018/19 programme of shared activity, involving QMS and HCC, kicked off [last] month and will see a greater focus on proactive campaigns aimed at providing consumers with balanced and evidence-led advice on the role that meat can play in a healthy, balanced diet.

“There will be a strong focus on social media and press activity targeted at engaging younger consumers in recognition of the growing interest in health.”

‘Pseudo-science’

“There is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that red meat is packed with nutrients such as zinc, B vitamins and potassium,” said Christine Watts, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at AHDB.

“Despite this, consumers are often duped by pseudo-science or ill-informed and sensationalist reporting encouraging them to cut down on their meat consumption or cut it out altogether. This can be highly dangerous, especially for certain groups who are deficient in vital nutrients such as iron.

“This industry has a great story to tell, not just in terms of nutrition, but in terms of sustainability and environmental harmony. This reinvigorated programme will help to get these messages to consumers enabling them to make an informed and balanced choice.”

Increased risk of cancer

According to a number of medical authorities, red meat poses some health risks. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer in April this year said a diet high in red meat increases risk for colon cancer in women.

According to medical collective Physician’s Committee (PCRM): “Researchers compared cancer incidence rates for dietary patterns centered on red meat, fish, poultry, or no meat in 32,147 women. Those who consumed red meat were more likely to develop distal colon cancer than those who consumed no red meat. The authors note that higher intakes of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals associated with meat-free diets may protect against cancer.”

The PCRM adds: “The World Health Organization has determined that dietary factors account for at least 30 percent of all cancers in Western countries and up to 20 percent in developing countries. When cancer researchers started to search for links between diet and cancer, one of the most noticeable findings was that people who avoided meat were much less likely to develop the disease.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.