Ever since the cholesterol scare starting with Ancel Keys’ 7 Countries Study in the 1950s, animal products and especially red meat have gotten a lot of flack.
As it turns out, Ancel Keys’ study was flawed, since he omitted a large amount of data that countered his hypothesis, and his study didn’t imply causation in the first place (the difference between two things being related and one causing the other is a very important distinction in science). Yet many people still limit animal products, and some forgo them altogether.
The vegetarian and vegan movement coincided with fear of saturated fat and the increasing brutality of factory farming, leading many people to completely avoid meat, and some to avoid all animal products. More on the real relationship between saturated fat and heart disease can be found in the article How to Lower LDL Naturally.
The main issue with avoiding animal products is that they are the only naturally-occurring sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is important for brain function, regulation of hemoglobin in the blood and supporting proper functioning of the nervous system. Deficiency, as experienced by many vegans, often leads to fatigue, anxiety and depression. As highlighted in the article What does Vitamin B12 Do for the Body, B12 is essential to good health. Moreover, since B12 is the largest and most structurally complex vitamin, it’s production is difficult and it is unclear whether the synthetic versions are as healthy as the B12 found in animal products.
Still more, one of the dangers of avoiding animal products and getting vitamin B12 through fortified foods with synthetic vitamins is that many of these meat substitutes are unhealthy if eaten frequently. Soy in particular is a popular animal product substitute, often fortified with B12, and has been found to cause various health problems when eaten regularly.
Bottom line, make sure you’re getting some animal products in your diet. If you’re adamantly against eating meat, eggs and milk will do the trick, but don’t make the mistake of eating meat substitutes, or worse yet, not getting vitamin B12 at all.