The theory that meat and in particular processed meats can contribute to heart disease and cancer has been banted around for some time but a couple of days ago it actually made the front page of the Times here in the UK. This was because the World Health Organisation had announced that processed meats are carcinogenic. This caused quite a stir with the much loved processed meats in Italy plummeting in sales.
Chris Kresser takes a mainly pro meat stance which is not surprising given he is a Paleo pusher. The trouble with his argument is that he correctly states that you cannot say categorically that meat is the cause of cancer. He rightly states that meat eaters on the whole tend to be more likely to smoke, more likely to eat meat in a flour bun etc etc, and therefore sifting out meat as a major cause is riddled with problems. My counter argument is that although we cannot say with 100% confidence that meat is a cause, we also cannot say that meat is certainly not the cause. What we can say is that plenty of populations live very long and healthy lives pursuing a fairly meatless existence, eating mainly veggies and fruits. We can therefore be confident that avoiding meat can lead to longevity especially if your particular meatless existence takes note of the potential weakness of a meat free diet. Despite the healthy association many vegetarians have an awful diet, consuming lots of pasta, sugar and various white flour products. If you are mindful of having a healthful diet as well as avoiding red meat populations show that longevity can result.
Dr Mercola has an interesting article about a research project that links meat consumption with the production of Trimethylamine N Oxide (TMAO) which slows the breakdown of Cholesterol. The project showed a link between increased TMAO and the development of fatty streaks in the arteries. You can read the article here.
You are left with a choice therefore, take a chance and eat meat and find out in 20 or 30 years time whether Chris is right or avoid meat and eat like the Okinawians and be pretty sure that you are assisting your bodies desire to live to its maximum.
Association does not mean causality but neither does it disprove causality.