Researchers from Cambridge University’s Institute of Public Health used responses to questions about meat-eating in the 2000-2001 British National Diet and Nutrition Survey to work out how disease patterns might change if consumption dropped. They found that:
If British men consumed 53g of red and processed meat daily – rather than the current average 91g – then the incidence of bowel cancer would drop by 12 per cent, Type 2 diabetes by 12 per cent and coronary heart disease by 10 per cent.
If British women (who eat less meat generally) consumed 30g of red or processed meat a day – rather than the average 54g – then incidences of bowel cancer, diabetes and heart disease would fall by 8 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.
The researchers have also calculated that a 50 per cent cut in meat-eating would reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 3 per cent, arguing that “dietary recommendations should no longer be based on direct health effects alone”.
The goal of the research was to assess “potential co-benefits to health and the environment from reduced [consumption of] red and processed meat… a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions… high intakes of these food increase the risks of several leading chronic diseases.”