Healthy swaps key to reducing red meat intake during the COVID-19 pandemic

With some meat processing plants in the U.S. closing due to outbreaks of COVID-19, consumers are facing beef and pork shortages and rising prices. But if people opt to eat less red meat as a result, it could be good for their health, according to nutrition expert Lilian Cheung.

Frequently eating red meat raises the risk of some types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, which is an even greater problem than usual during the pandemic, said Cheung, lecturer and director of health promotion and communication in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a May 18, 2020 CNN article.

“With Covid-19, the underlying conditions of heart disease and diabetes increase the risk,” she said. “You become much more vulnerable and increase the risk of dying and complications.”

For those making changes to their diets, Cheung advised swapping red meat for other sources of protein including fish, poultry, and legumes. People may want to take an iron supplement to meet their nutritional needs, she said, and strict vegetarians and vegans may also want to take a vitamin B12 supplement.

Read the CNN article: Worried about beef shortages and price spikes? Here’s what happens if you eat less meat