Meat, from whom should we protect ourselves?

Massimo Cocchi

Ever since I started working in the prestigious Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Bologna, I have been trying to understand and keep abreast with all the trends and fads in the field of nutrition. Back in those days, we were already witnessing the denigration of cholesterol, saturated fats, meat and the like, while vegetarianism and even veganism, the popularity of which is still on the rise, were close to being canonised. Our School never endorsed such extremisms, quite the opposite, as testified by the countless papers we wrote and published on this issue.

The reason for this is that we believe in balance: this is not as obvious as it may seem, for we often tend to forget that only a balanced diet will give us health and energy. Cholesterol and saturated fats are indispensable for our body and recently, many distinguished scientists have strongly denied the “damage” caused by these compounds. Meat of course was always believed to be the greatest villain of all.

What is really surprising is that a leading authority such as the WHO would take such a strong stance on practically everything we eat. Instead of correctly informing, this board would seem to advocate a “witch-hunt” policy, as if this were the best way to attract people’s attention towards their health and wellness.

Some books and papers on the Mediterranean Diet have gone so far as to exclude meat altogether, forgetting perhaps that for many a reason, this diet can no longer coincide with that described in Ancel Keys’ times.
It is difficult to understand what is the true aim of the WHO, and it often seems as if they were screening and protecting somebody or something. The human body has certain requirements, testified by countless investigations and summarized in the food pyramid, and the Mediterranean Diet follows these guidelines.

Without dwelling on the more scientific side of the issue, it is worth remembering that every day we should eat roughly 150 g of food of animal origin in order to ingest the right amount of so-called complete proteins, which are indispensable for our health.

Suffice it to say that the layer of fat under our skin does not contain any cholesterol and that a drastic reduction of saturated fats would affect the composition of cell membranes, with dire consequences on our physical and mental balance.

The problem cannot be solved by demonizing, but by ingesting the right amounts of food, something that nowadays has become quite difficult, seeing that we are living in a society based on excessive consumption. 150 grams of animal product a day, served in a variety of forms, can only bring us health!

I am currently holding a course on human nutrition for the Degree in “Safety and Quality of Animal Production” at the Department of Veterinary Science and Medicine and I am quite aware of what are the essential things I want my students to learn, for the future of food safety is in their hands, and their hands alone.

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