Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath: Blood lust sustains us - why red meat rules

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Some say it is killing us — but who wants to live without it?
Red meat is real food. It's amazing, it's delicious, it's the best. Photo / Getty
Red meat is real food. It's amazing, it's delicious, it's the best. Photo / Getty

Red meat is good for you.

Red meat is real food. It's amazing, it's delicious, it's the best. More flavour than vegetables. Heartier than fish or chicken. Cooler than fruit and nuts. Less lame than grains and way better looking than fungus.

When I get served a meal without red meat, I feel deflated ... even depressed. Most Kiwis are the same. We were born with the blood lust. When you have a taste for the kill, greens are only good as a side.

But we are told red meat is killing us. Doubling our chances of bowel cancer. This creates a catch-22. No one wants bowel cancer but equally we don't want a life less meaty.

The UN recommends no more than 500g of red meat a week. That's less than a third of a steak a day. A pathetic three lamb chops. One sausage per 24 hours. No lover of red meat can live like that. It's unrealistic.

Health advocates put the problem in simple terms. They ask: Is red meat worth dying for? Are you willing to roll the dice over some mince? I don't think it's that black and white.

As much as it's killing us, red meat is also keeping us alive. Red meat is an amazing source of protein, it's loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and various other nutrients that can have hugely positive effects on our health.

No matter how bad people say it is, it's also really good.

Factor in the emotional strain of eating less of the stuff and things start to turn in meat's favour.

For me, a life without red meat would be like turning my diet from HD to standard def. Salads and veges every day would shut me down emotionally.

People tell me they get used to vegetable-rich diets. With meat gone, other flavours get a chance to come through. Subtle flavours.

By which they mean you settle for less. Like moving from Auckland to Gore. You eventually get used to it but that doesn't make it exciting.

Periodically, my partner attempts to reign in my monstrous meat consumption. I respect her intentions. She cares. Every time she sees me eat a T-bone and chips with a five kransky entree she imagines what it's doing to my bowel. I get that.

No one wants bowel cancer but equally we don't want a life less meaty.

But she doesn't understand how much I love eating meat. How happy it makes me.

It's primal. It's a reward for a hard day's work. My high meat diet defines me as a human. It soothes and empowers me.

I'm not suggesting a 100 per cent red meat diet. I've tried that.

As a teenager I spent my first year away from my home doing all the things I wasn't allowed to as a child. I drank every night, slept in until 2pm and ate only red meat for 6 months.

Eventually I noticed strange spots all over my thighs and my gums started bleeding. They were swollen and soft. My teeth became loose in their sockets. I had severe joint pain, shortness of breath and a cut didn't heal for three weeks.

I went to the doctor and told him about my all-meat diet. He said if he didn't know better he would say I had scurvy.

He put me on a high vitamin C routine and before too long I was back to normal. My all-meat diet was simply too much of a good thing.

Since then I have kept veges in the mix. Even if it's just chips. Annoyingly you have to balance the good of meat with the boring of greens.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath is a breakfast radio host on Radio Hauraki, and a television producer, writer and director. He made a name for himself with Back of The Y Masterpiece Television, Balls of Steel UK and the feature film The Devil Dared Me To. Matt was guitarist and singer for the band Deja Voodoo which released two top twenty albums. He is currently a producer on Best Bits, a cricket commentator for The Alternative Commentary Collective, and the director of Vinewood Motion Graphics. Matt is a father of two living in Auckland City.

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