Red Meat Will Kill You

Sizzlin' steaks and hot dogs shorten lives, according to an extensive study of Americans

Like most proud carnivores out there, I once revered bacon. Eggs, burgers, ice cream—I was of the opinion that everything gets better when you add those succulent strips culled from our porcine friends. Then, on a recent wilderness outing for Trail Chef, where we tested a new technique for cooking camp bacon n' eggs (more on that later), I OD'd. Bacon saturated to the core, I drifted from one carne-induced hallucination to the next, wondering how I let the Devil's Meat take over my brain.

Luckily, I recovered, and I'm off the hard stuff. It couldn't have come sooner: A massive study of over 500,000 Americans has proven a long-held belief—namely, that excessive consumption of red and processed meats can actually shorten your life.

Scientists at the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health discovered that those in the survey who ate the most red meat had an increased mortality risk of 20-40 percent. Extrapolated to the whole population, doctors think over one million lives could be extended just by cutting back on red and processed meats.

If you love a good hunk o' flesh, though, they're not even suggesting you switch to Brussel sprouts—they just want Americans to cut back. Here's a few suggestions from the docs involved:

To prevent premature deaths related to red and processed meats, Dr. Popkin suggested in an interview that people should eat a hamburger only once or twice a week instead of every day, a small steak once a week instead of every other day, and a hot dog every month and a half instead of once a week.

As tough as it's going to be to give up my three-hamburgers-a-day habit, I'm certainly going to have to consider it now. Yeeesh.

(Looking for healthy camp recipes? Look no further than Trail Chef. And all you red-meat fans should weigh in on the comments section below—tell us how you bring your red meat into the backcountry.)

—Ted Alvarez

Paying a Price For Loving Red Meat (NY Times)

Bacon Cheese Pizza Burger Image Credit: Dustin Schirer on This is Why You're Fat