It’s a little frightening that a diet containing animal products can be considered “plant-based”. But that’s what Katherine Livingstone from the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University in Melbourne contends in a recent article in The Conversation.

Is this a form of doublespeak that might cause those in the livestock sector to rub their hands in glee at the prospect of confusing consumers?

Another concern is that some of the health evidence presented by Livingstone seems extremely selective. For example, she suggests that consumption of unprocessed red meat is not linked to heart disease or diabetes. There is strong evidence to the contrary.

The findings of a study by Pan et al., using data from two longitudinal studies involving 121,342 participants over a 26-year period, were published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012.

The researchers, from Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, German Institute of Human Nutrition and elsewhere, reported that each daily increase of 85 grams (three ounces) of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 16 per cent increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. For processed meat, the figure was 21 per cent.

A related study by Pan et al., using data from three longitudinal studies dealing with diabetes risk among 204,157 participants over periods ranging from 14 to 28 years, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011.

The researchers reported that daily consumption of 100 grams of unprocessed red meat increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 19 per cent. Processed meat was even worse, with a daily 50 gram serve increasing the risk by 51 per cent.

These are just two examples of damning health evidence against consumption of processed and unprocessed meat and other animal products. (Processed meat includes meat that is cured, smoked, salted or treated with nitrates or nitrites. Examples include ham, bacon and smallgoods.)

With the community’s health at stake, along with the plight of billions of animals and the environment on which we all depend, a supposedly reputable website like The Conversation needs to be more accurate and thorough than it appears to be in informing the community about the relevant issues.


Paul Mahony


Livingstone, K., “Why you should eat a plant-based diet, but that doesn’t mean being a vegetarian”, 13 July 2017,

Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, Schulze MB, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hu FB. Red Meat Consumption and MortalityResults From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(7):555-563. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287,

Bakalar, N., “Risks: More Red Meat, More Mortality”, The New York Times, 12 March, 2012,

Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, Schulze MB, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB, Red meat consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis, Am J Clin Nutr

Shaw, J., A diabetes link to meat, Harvard Magazine, Jan-Feb 2012,

Dwyer, M., Red meat linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 10 Aug 2011,


zi3000, “Vegetarian skewers”, Shutterstock