Schmitt: Beef, a healthy option on the dinner plate

Columnist Dawson Schmitt encourages consumers to eat a healthy balance of beef.

Dawson Schmitt

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers became increasingly health-conscious to avoid becoming sick. Getting adequate hours of sleep, staying active and eating a balanced diet became a focus amid a time of isolation for many. 

Despite the constant demonization of animal agriculture, meat continues to offer nutrients crucial to the human diet. 

When many are looking to boost their immune system, zinc is the primary nutrient that helps your immune system and metabolism function. But what is the best way to obtain zinc in the diet? Meat ranks number one

That’s right. Red meat is an excellent source of protein that provides adequate levels of the nutrient, with beef ranking second behind lamb. Vitamins B6 and B12 (only found in animal meat) are also found in a savory steak. 

Animal tissues contain heme iron, an essential mineral in the diet that aids in transporting oxygen throughout the blood by hemoglobin. The body also absorbs heme iron faster than non-heme iron found in plants, making it more readily available for nutrient digestion. 

Several health sites, such as WebMD, promote plant-based diets when discussing healthy eating, yet they don’t deny that a diet without meat may require supplements. This column does not bash veganism, but it merely proves that meat consumption should not be demonized when it is natural for humans. 

However, the health overlord redeems itself since it admits that red meat is not necessarily unhealthy but is best when eaten in moderation, which is true. Every food eaten in the right proportions offers benefits to the diet. While I promote eating beef, that is not the only thing a person should eat if they value their health. 

There is no denying that over-consuming red meat can lead to higher risks of heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes, so it is essential to consume the proper proportions. However, people should still eat beef to obtain vital nutrients or indulge in a tasty steak fresh off the grill. 

For years, agriculture has received significant criticism for its effects on the environment. Agriculture accounts for 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Even if everyone in the United States went vegan, GHG emissions would only decrease by 2.6 percent, according to a 2017 study. Is it worth taking away a vital protein and nutrient source to eliminate an industry that contributes one of the smallest amounts of greenhouse gases? Moreover, livestock and plants create a sustainable food system in tandem as many ranchers raise cattle on land unsuitable for growing crops. 

There are more benefits to eating beef and other meats than what is listed above. The bottom line is, eating beef still allows for a healthy lifestyle, and consuming animal protein is nothing someone should be castigated for eating. 

I encourage all who can to eat beef, as it provides for a healthy body and a healthy planet.