There’s a longstanding myth that in order to get the protein and vitamins necessary to stay healthy, you need to eat meat. But time and time again, research has shown that this claim simply isn’t true. The latest piece of evidence proving the nutritional adequacy of a meat-free diet is the World Cancer Research Fund Network’s Third Expert Report, entitled “Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective.”

This scientific research-backed report confirms yet again that meat is not a necessary part of a healthy human diet, stating, “People who do not consume foods from animal sources can obtain adequate protein from a mixture of pulses (legumes) and cereals (grains).”

Contrary to what the Big Meat industry wants us to believe, the recently published report actually recommends limiting your meat consumption and steering clear of processed meat products. The reason? Well, there is a growing body of persuasive evidence which shows that red meat is probably a cause of colorectal cancer, and processed meat is a definite cause of this disease.

What’s more, many of the preservation methods used to make processed meat — salting, curing, adding chemical preservatives and smoking, just to name a few — have been proven to generate toxic, cancer-causing carcinogens (Yikes! Might want to think twice about that beef jerky).

But that’s not even all. In addition to a heightened risk of cancer, several studies have also linked the consumption of processed meat (or any meat at all) to an increased risk of the following negative health effects: cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke and type 2 diabetes.

So what should you be filling your plate with instead of meat? According to the report, for optimal health, you should strive to “eat a diet high in all types of plant foods, including at least five portions or servings (at least 400 grams or 15 ounces in total) of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and fruit every day.”

By following a plant-based diet, not only will you boost your own health, but you’ll also play a crucial part in helping to save our planet and its precious resources. Specifically, you’ll dramatically lower your carbon footprint, conserve water and help feed the hungry by rerouting crops to people instead of livestock.

To learn more about how going plant-based can make a huge impact, check out the Eat for the Planet book!

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