five cuts of red meat on a board against a black wood background

The Real Deal about Red Meat

The Real Deal on Red Meat


Red meat is a favourite in Australia, all of our classic Aussie dishes have red meat: the sausage sanga, the meat pie and lamb chops on the barbecue. But red meat is more than just our classics, it includes the likes of kangaroo, goat, rabbit and other game meats. Red meat is a very common inclusion to any lunch or dinner spread (and the occasional rasher bacon or fat sausage for breakfast!) and is high in many of the important nutrients you get from animal products: protein, B12 vitamin, iron and zinc. In this, red meat is a very nutritional addition to your balanced diet. But then you read headlines like this: 


 It’s a bit daunting, right? But don’t fear, we’re not selling you a cyanide pill wrapped in a salty, flavourful packaging. The truth is, you can eat red meat and be happy and healthy: when you’re aware of what and how you’re putting it into your body.   

Quality Meat

The first obvious thing to consider when eating red meat is the quality of the meat you’re having. Unprocessed, organic meat with an absence of growth hormones is the cleanest and, thus, healthiest meat you can eat. Many studies have been done throughout the decades, which found that processed meat was associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. There was no similar correlation for unprocessed meat. In fact, many of the studies hadn’t taken into account the difference between unprocessed meat and processed meat when performing their studies 1. 

  Processed meat is considered any meat that has been altered to change its form. Processed meat reportedly has nitrate compounds like N-nitroso which is a chemical used to preserve the colour and improve flavour, and studies indicated it can increase the risk of bowel and stomach cancer 2.

 Other similar chemicals like Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be found in processed meat and can be dangerous if eaten in huge amounts. Aside from chemical intervention, processed red meat reportedly has slightly more sodium, fat and calories than unprocessed meat (per serving) 3, which makes unprocessed meats a better choice simply in terms of health.

Standard of Meat

Aside from unprocessed vs processed red meat is the standard of meat. Grass-fed meat, like beef and lamb, contain more of the health-boosting nutrients like omega-3 which is naturally occurring in their food. We receive those nutrients when we eat grass-fed meat. This is a very important part of our diet which fights heart and brain diseases, reduces inflammation and improve mental disorders like ADHD, depression and anxiety 4.


Compared to grain-fed or standardised meat, organic grass-fed meat is free from harmful synthesised chemicals which can interfere with the natural balance of our own chemicals and antibodies. Just like feeding an animal as clean a product as possible (grass for cows, rather than grain), we owe it to our bodies to give it the highest nutrients and care it deserves. Not to mention, grass-fed unprocessed meat just tastes better. 

 Let us look a little deeper. Organic vs inorganic, grass-fed vs grain-fed, processed vs unprocessed, what else? 

Meat the Fats

Lean meat or high-fat meat? 

Fat, just like every other naturally-occurring feature of meat, has its time and place. Fat stores important nutrients like omega-3, vitamin K, D and E. Also, if you follow carb-low diets like keto or celiac, high-fat meats can help to replace the energy most would get from carbs with fat 5. High-fat meat cuts like rib-eye steaks and skirt are a great way to get omega-3, but can increase risk of diabetes and heart disease because of high fat content. Lean meats (look for red meats which are described as ‘lean’ in their product description, or cuts of meat that naturally have less fat: shoulder cuts,  tenderloins, sirloin or rump cuts.) are a better choice for your nightly meal.  

So you’ve decided to eat grass-fed organic unprocessed meats like lamb chops, preservative-free sausages, lean beef mince and pork cutlets. Problem solved, right?  

 Not quite. You don’t have to banish red meat from the table completely, but mindfulness of your diet expands beyond the type of meat you’re eating, but how often and how much. 

Health is in the palm of your hand

Have you heard this before? You should eat a meat portion the size of your palm. It sounds like a funny old wives tale, like putting microwaved half onions in your socks when you’re ill, but honestly– it’s a great guide. 

Back when we were hunter-gatherers, an animal carcass or two would be shared with a whole tribe. No one ate more than their required share, to ensure everyone got fed. Naturally, this meant the portions were smaller and supplemented by other food-stuffs.  We’re not in the stone age any longer, and there’s enough food on our shelves to feed you and your tribe five times over. It’s nice to live in a world where we don’t have to chase cows through an open field to try to get a yummy steak for dinner, but one thing that hasn’t changed is our biology. We still don’t need to eat so much meat, and our gut and heart health relies on a balanced diet.  


 Alongside your palm-sized beef rissole, you should eat some grains (wholeweat bread, pasta or rice), vegetables (broccoli, spinach or sweet potato), dairy (unprocessed cheese like cheddar or goats cheese) – all of the food groups you can see on the food pyramid. Having a balanced plate means you can feel satisfied and full without risking your health.  

 I know all of this talk about food is making you itchy to get your hands on a delicious pork chop (maybe with some apple sauce? YUM), so let’s recap and I can let you loose (remember our butchers are available in store to help sate your meat craving). 

So, what's the bottom line?

No, red meat is not likely to kill you or give you a horrible disease. As with all kinds of foods, including dairy, lollies and alcohol, moderation is best. 

If you are eating a modulated diet, like celiac or paleo, it is best to speak with a doctor or dietician about what your body needs to thrive. If you have, or at risk of, diabetes or heart disease, awareness will be your best friend in navigating a healthy diet. 

 If you’re just looking to be more healthy in the new year (Happy New Year!) then it’s a great time to learn some new recipes you can introduce to your dinner rotation, such as this beef stir-fry.  

Check out some other recipes on our website, or come in store, to see how red meat can be involved in your diet! 

 Stir Fry recipe with rump steak