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Big Meat Check: How Much You Can Eat and How to Make It Healthy

The hunger for meat in Germany is high. Each resident eats a good 60 pounds a year, according to the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE). About 750 million animals are slaughtered each year. Although the number of meat consumption has been decreasing for years, but only in the single-digit range. However, statistically, every citizen in their lives eats about 1,100 animals, including mostly chickens, but also almost 50 pigs and four cattle, as calculated by the 2018 FEDERAL Meat Atlas.

Meat causes a lot of CO2, but it brings out the best protein

Meat is undoubtedly one of the main foods. However, it is overlooked that the consumption of meat for climate balance is devastating: through animal production the carnivore weighs 1800 pounds CO2 The atmosphere annually, warming the climate disaster, with vegetarians only reaching about half.

Plus: nutritionally-physiologically, meat offers a lot of positives. "Meat is definitely a high-quality food because it primarily provides us with protein in particularly good bioavailability," says Antje Gahl, a spokeswoman for the German Diet Society (DGE).

Animal protein, i.e. from meat and dairy products, can be so well utilized by our bodies, because amino acids are composed very much like human proteins. Usually, all the necessary amino acids contained in animal protein are in sufficient quantity, while plant foods often do not have the full spectrum of these amino acids. From animal protein, the body can thus form a protein very quickly and appropriately – for example, for muscles.

Also Read: Germany, Your Meat – From Stall To Plate: Where Does Our Meat Come From?

In addition, meat is characterized by other valuable ingredients:

  • well accessible iron,

  • Selenium and

  • zinc

– All minerals and trace elements necessary for blood formation, body defense, cell health, fertility and more. There is also a unique high content of B vitamins, including some vitamin B12, which is found in sufficient quantities only in animal foods such as meat, eggs, milk and dairy products.

Nutrients obtained by proper cooking

To keep these nutrients as good as possible in preparation, an expert advises steaming and slowing down the roast, preferably with low fat. Some B vitamins are sensitive to heat, such as Vitamins B1, B2 and B6 – Vitamin B12 slightly less.

The way meat and meat products are prepared decides how many vitamins are destroyed and how unwanted pollutants are produced. Therefore, everyone should be aware of high temperatures such as grilling or the duration of heating. The longer and hotter we cook, the more pollutants are created or parts of valuable B vitamins are destroyed.

Also Read: Sustainable Living: What Are We Hiding? – Our diet has huge environmental and climate impacts – we can do that

Still, grills are especially popular. An important tip from a barbecue expert: "Rest the marinade before you put the meat on the grill." Otherwise, it drips into acorns, burns and produces, among other things, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. PAHs are thought to increase cancer risk.

Properly prepared, the meat is healthy. But is it also an irreplaceable food? "No," says the ecotrophologist. In addition to vitamin B12, which is also present in milk and dairy products, any of these nutrients can be obtained from plant foods – though not in ideal composition and quality, as is the case with meat.

The "disadvantages" of meat: cholesterol, purine and arachidonic acid

However, meat is also considered a major supplier of cholesterol. In high amounts, cholesterol is a risk factor for arteriosclerosis, and therefore a heart attack and stroke. It exists not only in the visible fat in the meat, but also in pieces with low fat. 100 grams of lean meat gives about 50 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 grams. 300 milligrams per day is the maximum limit for cholesterol intake per day for healthy people, i.e. without disturbing lipid metabolism.

In addition, meat, especially the inside, contains purine, a gout-supporting uric acid. As the third negative, natural ingredient in meat, arachidonic acid plays a role. The body forms inflammatory substances from this fatty acid. Dietary suggestions for diseases with an inflammatory nature, such as rheumatism, are therefore always meat-free or severely reduced meat.

"Most of the dietary cholesterol and purines come from meat and meat products like sausages and ham, and the inside has a lot going on," she says. However, cholesterol is an irreplaceable substance in the body because it performs important tasks in the development of cells and nerves. "But our body also produces cholesterol, so it's not dependent on food intake," she continues. Those who still eat lots of meat and sausages quickly absorb high levels of cholesterol.

Red meat vs. white meat

However, meat is not the same meat. When it comes to health, the difference is between red and white meat. Red meat, i.e. beef, pork, lamb, sheep and goats, is considered particularly unhealthy because it is said to trigger disease.

"Those who eat a lot of red meat, especially processed red meat, are at greater risk of colorectal cancer, as many studies point out, consumption of white meat (poultry) is based on the current state of knowledge, has nothing to do with cancer," says a graduate ecotrophologist. However, in general, the quality, quantity and preparation of meat are key to contributing to a healthy diet.

The pig is leaner, the chicken fatty than imagined

But it also plays an important role, from which animal meat comes. What is pork, the most popular meat in Germany and other types of meat consumed in Germany?


Depending on the amount of fat, pork produces between 100 and 250 kilocalories per 100 grams, 70 milligrams of cholesterol. In addition, it contains high levels of vitamins B1 and B6.

Pig is calorically surprisingly low, but delivers more cholesterol than, for example, beef. "Take the less abundant parts," advises Antje Gahl, "but because of the vitamin B1 and B6 content, zinc and iron, pork can contribute to a healthy diet."

Pork is popular for its fine taste and can be used in many ways, prepared quickly, and is especially suitable as baked (Schnitzel) or baked with crispy crust.


In terms of calorie content, beef is comparable to pork, depending on fat, yielding about 150 to 200 kilocalories per 100 grams and 50 milligrams of cholesterol. It rates high levels of Vitamin B12, zinc and iron.

The strong taste of beef is especially appreciated by many butchers. However, because of its long fibers, mouse meat meat needs to be specially prepared, except for the fillet pieces that require a longer cooking time.


White, soft meat and nutty flavor are the characteristics of chicken, duck, turkey and goose. Due to its layer of fat under the skin, poultry meat provides relatively high calories, about 270 kilocalories per 100 grams. Whoever chooses a skinless steak receives only about 160 kilocalories. The fat content is about 25 grams per 100 grams of poultry.

In addition, poultry meat is especially rich in protein, so it provides a lot of energy. Zinc, potassium and B vitamins make poultry meat particularly healthy.

But beware, the crispy skin of chicken and duck still contains a lot of purines, so it can increase your risk of gout. This is especially true for those who already have elevated purines, warns an expert. For healthy poultry in this context, however harmless.

But: "Poultry meat contains significantly more cholesterol than commonly thought, about 90 milligrams per 100 grams," she adds. Although chicken is low in fat, it does not mean that it is low in cholesterol, as is often assumed.


Gentle, dark meat with its strong taste is not one of the favorite varieties of Germans. However, it contains many B vitamins as well as iron and has a high content of valuable proteins. Unsurprisingly, lamb carries on average more calories than pork, just under 200 kilocalories per 100 grams of fresh meat, as well as 70 milligrams of cholesterol and lots of saturated (adverse) fatty acids.

In the case of lamb, particular attention should be paid to the composition of fatty acids with many saturated fatty acids. Lamb, like chicken, is not fundamentally unproblematic in terms of fat – as is often assumed.


The situation with game meat is different. However, venison, peppers, venison and wild boar are rarely on the table in Germany, although the meat is actually very low in fat, rich in protein and rich in vitamins B1 and B2, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium – and so healthy. Depending on the variety, it supplies only 100 to 160 kilocalories per 100 grams of fresh produce, while below ten grams of fat, about 60 milligrams of cholesterol and barely enough purine.

However, wild game should always be enjoyed well, as it may contain parasites, as warned by the Federal Bureau of Risk Assessment (BfR). Game exposure can still be high, depending on the region. "In wild boar, even today, isolated values ​​are measured that exceed the marketing limit of 600 Beckels per kilogram by more than ten times," reports the BfS Federal Office for Radiation Protection.


Horse meat is also controversial, though it is very healthy with a high content of minerals, vitamins and protein, but low in fat (about two grams per 100 grams of meat) and low in cholesterol. Here are more psychological reasons why the flesh of popular sports animals is frowned upon, quite the opposite of France, where it is the desire for delicacy.

You can eat so much meat

Meat, then, is pretty healthy, "no one in principle has to give up meat because it's a valuable part of our diet," says the expert. However, it depends on the quantity, which means: less is more.

The DGE recommends that people who eat meat consume no more than 300 to 600 grams of meat and meat products per week. This applies to adults. Therefore, conveniently, eat lean meat for a few days, then eat meat. A serving of meat can weigh from 100 to 150 grams, a slice of sausage meat, depending on the variety from 15 to 25 grams.

"Meat makes sense in a complete diet because it can cover the need for many important nutrients through one food. These small amounts are sufficient for this. It is best to choose mostly plant foods and supplement them with animal foods," emphasizes Antje Gahl.

Of course, not everyone has to eat meat. Those who prefer to eat vegetarian foods can be supplied with these nutrients through a targeted selection of various vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and dairy products.

Organic meat or meat from conventional farming

Consuming meat in moderation is therefore quite healthy. It is not necessary to weigh one type of meat in relation to another. Diversity and your own taste, tastes and, not least, religion are important, emphasizes an ecotrophologist. The ecobalance of farming and animal welfare are also playing a role for more and more people, with key antibiotics, but also with pollution of manure and thus nitrates in groundwater.

Even fewer antibiotics can be used for organic livestock than for conventional livestock, where it has also been reduced recently. It is different with liquid manure, whether organic or oily, each animal produces just as much.

Best tip: Eat less animal foods and more plant foods. This way less resources are used, the environment is less burdensome, CO2Emissions would be significantly reduced. Particularly in meat production, much climate gas is produced that is even more harmful to the climate than CO2.

Half of meat consumption

But as mentioned above, Germany, with 60 kilograms of meat per capita per year, is far from the moderate DGE recommendations that account for most of half of this amount. Therefore, healthy meat consumption should be slightly higher than about 30 pounds a year – for the benefit of health, animals and the environment.