As we see in almost every sector of society, it’s kind of human nature to want it all. We want to go out drinking at night but don’t want a hangover in the morning, so we drink plenty of water before bed. We want to stay up late every weeknight but not be burnt out, so we make sure to get a triple-shot latte in the morning. And we want to enjoy beefy hamburgers and chicken tenders but don’t want any negative effects on our health, so we counteract it by eating plenty of fruits and veggies too. Well, it turns out, many of the shortcuts we take in our attempts to “have our cake and eat it too,” don’t exactly work. You’re bound to get a hangover at some point or another no matter how much water you chug the night before, the repercussions of chronic sleep deprivation will catch up to you eventually no matter how many espresso shots you get in your latte, and according to a new study, the effects of eating meat cannot be counteracted by drinking your weight in kale smoothies. Turns out science just doesn’t work like that.

So, what is this study saying exactly? Is it really impossible to use fruit and veggies to prevent the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and the other risks meat consumption fuels? While it may seem like fruits and veggies and all of the life-lengthening and disease-batting nutrients they provide would be able to counteract any of the negative effects of meat, it turns out that whether you despise fruits and veggies or celebrate them, if you eat meat, your cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality risk remains high. The study tested almost 75,000 Swedish men and women, all of which consumed meat and had varying levels of fruit and veggie consumption. To the researchers’ surprise, the risk for disease and all-cause mortality was “remarkably similar” and consistent throughout the groups. Looks like that pit stop at the cold press juice bar on the way to work can’t beat that hamburger you had last night, after all.

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Essentially the message that this study is relaying is one we suspected all along: healthy eating isn’t always necessarily about eating more vegetables, it’s about eating less meat. According to recent statistics, the average person in the U.S. eats 50-71 pounds of meat per year and the U.S. is second when it comes to countries that eat the most meat per year. With all of the knowledge we have about how meat negatively affects health and how strongly it contributes to epidemics like obesity, cancer, and heart disease, it is imperative that we decrease our meat consumption. Considering the livestock industry is also using vast amounts of our water and land and degrading them along with our air, it is also incredibly important for the planet that people cut down on meat.

Luckily, it has never been an easier (and more delicious) time to eat more plant-based foods! You can enjoy good ol’ fashioned plants and veggies in raw form or transform them into delectable dishes. Grains, nuts, and seeds are all wonderful options. Or you can opt for the plethora of plant-based proteins available on the market today. And the great news is, thanks to evolving technology, these plant-based proteins (and vegan dairy products) are more realistic than ever (if that’s what the kind of thing you’re looking for). Whichever way you choose, it’s never been a better time to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet! This study is simply more proof that meat is becoming an archaic source of protein and the future of food truly is vegan.

Image source: Almost Raw Walnut Burgers