I usually write about essential spiritual and philosophical topics. Today i divert to inform you of an important new study on the effects of meat eating on health. Most readers of this blog are already vegetarians. But this new study is significant as it is the first to provide strong empiric evidence of the effects of meat eating on human life span. Red meat has been found to be a major cause of premature death.
The results of a study of 500,000 middle-aged and older Americans found that those who consumed about four ounces of red meat a day (the equivalent of about a small hamburger) were more than 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years they were followed, mostly from heart disease and cancer but other diseases as well.
Previous research had found a link between red meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, but the new study is the first large examination of the relationship between eating meat and overall risk of death.
Among women, those who ate the most red meat were 36 percent more likely to die for any reason, 20 percent more likely to die of cancer and 50 percent more likely to die of heart disease. Men who ate the most meat were 31 percent more likely to die for any reason, 22 percent more likely to die of cancer and 27 percent more likely to die of heart disease.
"The bottom line is we found an association between red meat and processed meat and an increased risk of mortality," said Rashmi Sinha of the National Cancer Institute, who led the study published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
"The uniqueness of this study is its size and length of follow-up," said Barry M. Popkin, a professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. "This is a slam-dunk to say that, 'Yes, indeed, if people want to be healthy and live longer, consume less red and processed meat.' "
The American Meat Institute dismissed the findings in a statement saying that "meat products are part of a healthy, balanced diet, and studies show they actually provide a sense of satisfaction and fullness that can help with weight control. Proper body weight contributes to good health overall."
That's a pretty lame rebuttal of a scientific study which proved that the 71,000 persons who died in the course of the study were the heaviest red meat eaters in a group of half a million.
In addition to health benefits, reducing red meat in the human diet would greatly reduce water shortages, global pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and cut energy consumption. Eliminating red meat would effectively reduce the murder rate of millions and millions of cows and bulls by 100%, thus greatly improving the collective karma of all human beings on this planet.
But don't expect that to happen anytime soon. When asked what he would like to eat the first time he boarded Air Force One, the presidential airplane, Mr. Obama asked for a cheeseburger with fries.
More effective than any scientific study to change people's eating habits would be massive distribution of Krishna prasadam. That was Srila Prabhupada's prescription for the world. It was also his secret weapon for creating devotees out of red meat melechas. If a study was done, and the devotees were honest, it would be seen that none of them had a higher taste for chanting the holy names, but all of them had a taste for delicious prasadam.