There has been considerable emotive and public health debate over the last two decades on the relative importance of meat in the diet of modern humans. Early dismissive arguments have more recently been revisited and challenged as a result of the continual progress and review of nutritional science. The early focus on fat as the predominant cause of western style diseases of affluence led, naïvely, to meat being blamed for diet related problems. More recently, the focus on the diets of our ancestors has effectively reversed this thinking and lean red meat has been rediscovered as a mainstay of human diet evolution. The serious health concerns resulting from the epidemic rise in CHD, obesity, diabetes and cancers require more carefully guided public health advice, based on a holistic approach to diet and lifestyle.

Lean meat can be seen as the ultimate natural functional food. Eaten in moderate quantities as part of a meal along with sufficient plant foods, it provides a valuable, arguably essential nutrient-dense supplement to the diet with beneficial effects for health, both in the short and long term. As a key ingredient of modern processed pre-prepared meals, meat, when added as a quality ingredient, can enhance the nutritional benefits of the food product and make a significant, positive contribution to our health. It would be naïve to ignore this potential.

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