Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

These days, I live in shame.

I know the world is changing and I have to adjust to constantly quivering new rules.

I carefully examine my language before emitting it. (Well, most of the time.)

I have learned the joys of recycling and composting.

And I always order burgers and steaks in a whisper.

Meat, you see, is generally in bad odor these days.

Not only is it bad for the environment, but it's also bad for human innards.

At least, that what science has been telling us for a while.

I wonder, then, how executives at McDonald's, Burger King and America's infinity of steakhouses must feel on hearing of a monstrously controversial new study that's just emerged.

You see, an international group of respected, respectable researchers has just offered that red meat may not be so bad for you.

Four separate studies conducted over three years by scientists in seven countries, published in the well-respected Annals of Internal Medicine, reached a bracing recommendation: 

The panel suggests that adults continue current unprocessed red meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence). Similarly, the panel suggests adults continue current processed meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence).

Current consumption means three to four portions of red meat a week.

Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Tiffany Doherty of Indiana University added this editorial to the research: 

This is sure to be controversial, but it is based on the most comprehensive review of the evidence to date.

So just as fast-food chains are rushing into their gardens to produce plant-based facsimiles of the real thing, along comes a group of scientists to suggest there is no compelling health aspect to avoiding red meat.

The conniptions in the scientific community have been vast.

The New York Times reports that the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and many other august institutions are appalled at this research.

Indeed, nutrition experts at Harvard are so incensed that they've published their own gnashing commentary.


The publication of these studies and the meat guidelines in a major medical journal is unfortunate because following the new guidelines may potentially harm individuals' health, public health, and planetary health. It may also harm the credibility of nutrition science and erode public trust in scientific research. In addition, it may lead to further misuse of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which could ultimately result in further confusion among the general public and health professionals.

This, of course, may be the most important aspect.

What are we ordinary humans supposed to think when we read research that appears entirely to contradict wisdoms that we've come to accept?

We've lived through times when eggs were good for us, then bad for us, then good for us and I'm not really sure where we are with eggs anymore.

We've staggered through learning that fat-free foods can be remarkably full of sugar and, well, is sugar worse for us than fat? It seems so. Or does it?

We've grappled with whether fresh meat is better than processed meat and how much we should permit ourselves of either, as some look askance at our habits.

And dangling above us are the temptations of the food industry, which places burger joints at roughly two-minute intervals along our every journey.

I won't step in between these two groups of scientists, as I don't know how many fists might fly and whose fists are the larger, and therefore more persuasive. 

I do, though, want to dwell on whether this research might affect the wares peddled by the people who put Ronald out to pasture, the people who brought us the twisted King and those who gave us Wendy, Carl's offspring and so many other famous friends.

At what point might they be tempted to reassert strategically that meat is really quite good for us?

At what point might they slow their lurch toward plant-based products -- which are just as full of calories and fat as your regular burgers?

And at what point do we, in a world seemingly devoid of reliable certainties, simply concede that the only thing we can do is be moderate in everything and do what we can to save the Earth?