Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
April 18, 2007

Is There Any Safe Meat?

By Mark Sisson
24 Comments

Reader Sheila asked me a great question recently: is there really any safe meat to eat these days?

Beef and pork? Raised in cramped factories and fattened as quickly as possible, the happiness of the animal is nonexistent and the health of the meat is seriously in question. These animals are fed hormones, antibiotics, and an unnatural high-sugar grain diet that reduces beneficial fatty acids in the meat and causes illness in the animal (hence the need for drugs). Red meat and the “other” white meat (come on, it’s red) aren’t exactly the boon of health we low-carbers would like them to be. Sheila wondered about the rumors of dangerous parasites and germs in pork. Because of the modern factory system, pork really doesn’t have any greater health danger than beef. However, just because things like listeria have been reduced since the days of Upton Sinclair, doesn’t make meat healthy.

The sheer production level of meat is so high that it draws greedily on natural resources like oil, water, and land (and it’s a major contributor to rainforest deforestation). It’s no wonder many people are turning to vegetarianism. Either that, or it’s the fact that a typical burger patty is literally a composite of hundreds of cows, and processed meats are made of stripped spinal meat, which is turning so many people off of meat. This always turns my stomach, and although I do espouse responsible meat-eating (more on that in a moment), I’d sooner go hungry than eat a single meal that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of animals. To me, it’s cruel and vulgar, and yet, a burger is the most popular food item in America. Sad.

How about chicken and turkey? Fowl is raised in much the same manner as beef and pork. Modern chicken is far more fatty than the chicken your grandparents ate. You even have to be careful with free-range products. The only thing that “ranges” with many of these free-range products is the degree of accuracy in the term. In some states, the “free range” is still a pen, albeit with some sunlight. My idea of healthy protein is not tens of thousands of chickens crammed into a sunless room smelling of chemicals and covered in filth, and I’m sure it’s not yours either, yet this is the reality.

But fish is healthy, right? Again, it’s not a pretty picture. Our oceans’ fisheries are in jeopardy. In fact, an entire section of California’s coast has been banned because the fish populations are close to being wiped out. This sort of thing is going on in many places. This isn’t fun news, but the facts remain. Our way of life is causing serious problems. Couple overfishing with the gross levels of pollutants in many waterways – particularly southern waters – and fish isn’t necessarily your best bet. Farmed fish is problematic because it can interfere with wild fish habitats, and farmed fish are often overcrowded to the point of cannibalism. And there’s the sea lice infestation to consider.

Sheesh! What about shellfish? My staffers jokingly call shrimp “sea bugs” because they have exoskeletons, much like any ordinary garden insect. Like lobster and crab, they sorta are sea bugs, if you think about it. Here’s the “bad news” about shellfish. I personally avoid shellfish.

This isn’t an apologia for vegetarians. I eat meat. But I have friends, family members and staff who don’t. If you think what I’ve just written is depressing, spend some time on the vegetarian blogs and you’ll see where my pals are coming from. For me, the problem is that our modern meat production system is grossly out of step with sustainability in every sense. This is a radical problem for the environment, for our sense of compassion and our ethical integrity, and human health. It’s that serious.

I believe another serious aspect of this problem is that the human body is designed to be omnivorous – subsisting on a healthy mix of animal flesh, vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruits. I am firmly against the modern diet rich in sugars, refined flours and processed starches. I think occasional whole grains are fine, but based on my background in biology, neither burgers nor burger buns are the road to the blessings of good health. I believe humans are meant to eat some meat – whether fish, fowl or livestock – based upon the facts I have observed in my studies of human evolution. That’s where most of my veg pals and I part ways. For example, I don’t think most types of soy are healthy. But we can disagree while still agreeing that the basic problem – the current system of meat production – has got to change. Period.

What to do?

If you don’t want to “go veg”, whether for reasons of personal preference or scientific convictions (my case), then do all you can to support better practices:

Go organic. Expensive, yes, but I believe this is a non-negotiable. If you buy “free-range”, make sure it’s really free-range.

Try to find local producers. This supports smaller farms, who often raise meat sustainably and in accordance with organic protocols but can’t afford the hoops of being officially labeled organic. This requires significant digging and a lot of phone calls, but this is your earth and your body, so I really don’t think it’s such a big deal.

Eat less. This is a huge one that I never see anyone talking about. I am a big fan of “low carb” eating. I think sugar is no better than a toxin. But that doesn’t mean anyone needs to eat massive steaks. Humans are designed to eat some flesh, but fish and eggs are certainly sufficient, and more importantly, you only need 1-3 ounces at a time. Unless you’re an athlete in training, the need for anything more than a small handful of flesh is exaggerated. We’re used to eating huge servings of meat, but then, we’re used to eating huge servings of everything.

Write some letters. It’s easy.

So, Sheila, in answer to your question, I don’t believe there’s really any one type of meat that is superior to any otherthe way meat is currently produced. Produced sustainably, organically, with the animals’ health in mind, chicken is a great source of protein. And grass-fed, “happy” cows provide meat rich in good fats. And wild fish from safe, cold-water regions like Alaska contains Omega-3’s and very low levels of contaminants. Pigs not raised in cruel, cramped gestation crates provide lean protein. Personally, I eat mostly fish and fowl. But for every type of flesh we can consume, there’s a healthier, saner alternative. I don’t recommend one type of meat over the other, because ultimately, it’s the whole system that’s gotta go. I recommend rethinking the entire “meat paradigm”, and shifting your habits to support a better way of life. In a few short years, we’ll all have to anyway.

Most Popular Posts

Sponsor note:

This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

[tags] vegetarian, vegan, chicken, beef, grass-fed, pork, fish, shellfish, seafood, low-carb, protein, sustainable, environment, omega-3’s, good fat, organic, gestation crate, factory farming, free-range, eggs [/tags]

TAGS:  big agra, big moo

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

24 Comments on "Is There Any Safe Meat?"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
trackback

[…] Protein is vital to building and supporting tissues, from your cells to your nerves to your bones and muscles. But not all protein is created alike. I recently wrote about the issues with meat consumption (no, I’m not a vegetarian). I recommend grass-fed organic animal protein whenever possible. Grass-fed animal protein is higher in beneficial fatty acids and vitamins and is simply cleaner and leaner and more humane. I also favor wild fish as an essential protein source at least twice a week. […]

trackback

[…] Sara your editor here. Did you know Mark and the Bees have written over 450 posts here at Mark’s Daily Apple? (Wow, we talk a lot! And let’s not even get started on all the fuming.) It’s time to rank the best of the batch. Here are the top 25 posts, based upon RSS feed popularity, links, and traffic analytics. Also, my personal bias. […]

trackback

[…] Is There Any Safe Meat? […]

trackback

[…] lean…cruel? It’s up to you and your personal level of comfort. I recently wrote about the trouble with meat of all kinds. Everyone has to find their own fit when it comes to clean, lean, cruelty-free protein sources, but […]

trackback

[…] Food Nation and let’s just say it does not paint a pretty picture of how meat is produced. The Daily Apple has a great post on the safety of meat. Whether it’s beef, pork, poultry or even fish, all meats have gone through questionable […]

trackback

[…] Is there any safe meat? […]

Paul Ahart
Paul Ahart
8 years 5 months ago
I’m coming late to this discussion of meat, but have a few comments. Living in a semi-rural area, my wife and I have discovered venison, something that can be taken advantage of by others in a similar situation. Not everyone wants to be a hunter, but many know hunters, who I’m sure would gladly donate some of their bounty to non-hunting friends for a trial run. Venison is a dark red, extremely lean meat, that, when handled and prepared properly, is tender, non-gamey, and very nutritious. Deer are not, by any stretch of the imagination, “endangered” in the US; indeed,… Read more »
yacob yisrael
yacob yisrael
8 years 2 months ago

i agree with you 100 percent my wife is pregenant and when my son is born we were goin to be vegetarians is that a good idea to not give my new born meat when he can eat it

Lisa
Lisa
8 years 2 months ago
I hope you are aware of the wasting disease that is sweeping through the wild deer, as well as moose and elk, in North America. This can cause the CJD in humans and does not seem like a very pleasant way to die. Perhaps that is why the limit is so high? If you get any of the brain or spinal cord tissue in the meat, you can contract this horrible disease. It sometimes has an incubation period of up to 40 years, so you won’t know that you have it. And there is no cure. The best bet is… Read more »
Paul Ahart
Paul Ahart
2 years 9 months ago
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been found in deer and elk in some locations in North America. Probably spread by game-farmed deer and elk escaping into the wild. CWD is found in nervous tissue like brain and spinal cord, and also in bone marrow. When a deer or elk is shot and dressed, it’s best to de-bone the carcass and not cook and consume anything containing nervous system tissue. The meat is completely safe, even from an infected individual. All that said, there have been NO known instances of CWD spread to humans. CWD is NOT the same as creutzfeldt-jakob… Read more »
Justin
Justin
7 years 2 months ago

I personally eat Kelley-Clarke Wild Alaskan Canned Pink Salmon (linked here: http://www.icicleseafoods.com/locations/kcs/blacktop/ni_pink.asp

Does anyone have any experience with this brand? The site says wild caught and practically devoid of mercury/other contaminants due to the fish’s short life. I have it every day as part of my big salad and would like to know others thoughts.

Paul Ahart
Paul Ahart
7 years 2 months ago
To Lisa (July 18, 2008): Regarding chronic wasting disease: This came about through the commercial raising of elk and deer on animal “game farms,” where many animals are forced into small enclosed areas. Not as bad as factory farms for domestic livestock, but still many more animals in a small area than would be found in the wild. CWD spread to wild populations of deer and elk from these game farms (ain’t industrial farming great?) and now threatens deer and elk in some parts of North America. Living on an island in Puget Sound, hunting small coastal blacktail deer, mostly… Read more »
liz
liz
7 years 1 month ago

I know this is old, but a fun trick re: burgers, is to make a veggie burger and use it as the bun to hold all your veggies.

tracy
tracy
7 years 1 month ago

Hey Liz, that was a new one for me, so many thanks! Gads I feel dumb I never thought of it. lol

trackback

[…] discussed the problems with hamburger meat before. I will not eat a meal that includes parts of literally hundreds of dead beasts. I think […]

Daily Cash
6 years 4 days ago

Interesting article about why beef is not to healthy to eat especially in large quantities

Downloads
5 years 11 months ago

Good tips provided on how to reduce stress

Computers
5 years 11 months ago

Useful advice and tips given for staying fit

Jeff
5 years 10 months ago

Food in general from local producers tastes better.

Jeff
5 years 10 months ago

Food in general from local producers tastes better. Grass-fed beef is also superior to corn fed beef because of the omega fat ratios.

trackback
5 years 5 months ago

[…] discussed the problems with hamburger meat before. I will not eat a meal that includes parts of literally hundreds of dead beasts. I think […]

Jamal
Jamal
2 years 11 months ago

Excellent info for anyone who cares about healt.

Rick
Rick
2 years 9 months ago
Thanks you for adding the bit about small portions of meat are all that are necessary for good health- I don’t think that’s discussed hardly at all. I’ve been following a Rosedale approach and eating only 70gms of protein a day. It’s easy to get by just eating a can of sardines and a few eggs every day, added to plenty of nuts and leafy green vegetables. I wonder though, would Grok have been able to control himself and only eat 1-3oz at a time or would he more likely have hunted every few days, pigged out for a day… Read more »
martin
martin
2 years 3 months ago

Since we are discussing meat products, does anyone know that red meat may contain several important parasites capable of causing diabetes and quite possibly some forms of cancer in humans!!

wpDiscuz