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Red Meat on Human Diet

Updated on July 1, 2016

Red Meat

An Analysis on: The Role of Red Meat in an Athlete’s Diet

Many crucial macronutrients and micronutrients that are imperative to proper human bodily function come from red meats. Athletes are typically at risk for under-consumption of these vital nutrients, and vegetarians/vegans are even more at risk. With an ever-growing population restricting their meat intake due to recent links between high-fat diets and decreased health, the resulting nutrient deficits being experienced are of great concern. Susan M. Kleiner, Ph.D., R.D set out to explain the importance of these nutrients, and how to make sure they are present in more strict diets.

In the typical western diet, various meats are the main sources of protein, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. There is no “super meat” that would encompass all of these nutrients equally; we need to consume various types of meat to ensure adequate nutrition. With the increasing popularity of plant based diets, learning to incorporate beans, legumes, and various other plants with smaller amounts of meat is a serious matter.


When comparing meat and plant protein quality, it was found that soy beans are the only plants with an equal protein content to meat. Adding various beans and legumes are always a great idea, but if meat is to be cut, soy beans are an optimal addition to the diet. When taking in protein in plant form, there is a 10% decrease in digestibility, so one would want to consume 110% of their daily protein needs.

Vitamins and their Role in Meat

B vitamins are not an issue with switching to a plant based diet, with the exception of B12. If one is to only consume plant products, a B12 supplement is needed.

Zinc is a bit tricky when switching reducing or eliminating meat from a diet. Zinc found in meats is regarded to have a larger bioavailability, making them easy for the body to retain the nutrient. A lot of vegetable products have nutrients that can inhibit zinc absorption, which is why zinc found in vegetables is noted as less bioavailable. One can get an overall net intake of necessary zinc from a plant based diet, however, typically people do not consume enough without meat.

Iron deficiency is common among people who exclude meat or do not eat very much of it. A study was done and compared the effects of having iron from a meat source versus an iron supplement; the results showed that the meat source was much more beneficial.

Choosing to Eat Meat

I found the overall message of this article to be extremely important, as well as true, based on what we have learned in this course so far. I have heard so many reasons for eliminating meat from one’s diet, from moral/ethical reasons to the thought that meat will rot in their intestines. If more people took the time to read about different ways to solve these issues, such as buying meat that has been allowed to live in a free range environment or learning how food is actually digested, a lot of the problems surrounding meat would dissipate. I have a strong aversion to eating meat that is from an animal who wasn’t treated respectfully, so I understand that side very well. Lately, there has been an increase in supply of meat that has been treated fairly, so this was a way to avoid deleting meat from my diet. For some people, that isn’t ethical enough, which is fine. There are ways to get all the nutrients required for proper body function through a plant based diet; one would just need to put in extensive time and planning to make it work. If someone is willing to put in the effort, a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is a healthy option.


Kleiner, S. (2014). SSE #58: The Role of Red Meat in an Athlete's Diet. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from's-diet


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