So, is it okay…or isn’t it?
Let me start off with the caveat that one person’s pleasure is another person’s poison. I don’t mean that in terms of what they enjoy, but in what their body can tolerate and use well. No food is immune to this rule–no matter what the science says. My own body cannot function (physically) without some red meat. A friend suffers fibromyalgia when they have any red meat.
But if your body could take it or leave it, then the science says that EXTREMELY SMALL portions of meat are okay. When I say “extremely small”, I mean literally less than 10% of the food you ingest in order to reduce risk of cancer and overall mortality (although mortality is more heavily tied to red meat). Even chair of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health, Dr. Walter Willett (long a defender of red meat) had to come out and make some statements that contradicted his earlier stance on red meat after some research came to light. I like that he acknowledges the potential flaws in the research and things that need further consideration (such as pasture-raised beef); but this is not the only research that exists on the tie between meat and overall health.
The bottom line is this: if you’re going to eat meat, it’s wise to SIGNIFICANTLY reduce your portions, and vary the types of animal protein you ingest (beef, chicken, fish, etc.). You might even consider “Meatless Mondays“–where you don’t eat any meat one day each week. It’s not an impossible challenge: simply change the amount of the items on your dinner plate–more veggies (and whole grains, if you eat them) and less meat. Nothing to change but the portion sizes.
The upside is that by reducing the portions of meat that you eat, you’ll be slashing your food bill. You might even find that buying “the good stuff” (organic, animal welfare certified, entirely grassfed animals) would be affordable because it may (or may not) cost more money, but you’re eating a lot less of it.