Health Advice



Take a bite out of climate change -- and improve your health

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

In the U.S., 32 million cattle are "processed" annually, and Americans chow down around 50 billion burgers a year. Research indicates that beef production produces up to eight times more emissions than chicken production does -- and both have a lot larger carbon footprint than plant-based proteins like soy or legumes. A whopping 6 1/2 pounds of greenhouse gases are released to produce just one quarter-pounder burger.

That harms the planet. Then, it's your turn. When you eat beef, the trimethylamine N-oxide changes your gut bacteria, fueling inflammation and damaging your cardiovascular, immune (cancer-fighting) and neurologic systems.

Researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research decided to figure out just how climate-friendly it would be to replace beef with a biotech-created, fermented microbial protein (from fungi) that had beef's taste and texture. It turns out that reducing your beef consumption by just 20% reduces deforestation and CO2 emissions significantly. And if you ditch all red and processed meats completely -- my recommendation -- well, the planet and your health are much better protected!

In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration recognized a microbial protein meat alternative, mycoprotein, to be generally safe (Google "mycoprotein" for sources). An estimated 5 billion servings have been dished up globally. But there's an even smarter set of choices -- veggie burgers (made with unprocessed veggies) and a plant-based diet with no red or processed meats at all. The good news: As you make climate-friendly choices, you'll likely take in fewer calories and have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. A win-win.



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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