In view of the direct contact between food residues and metabolites and the large bowel mucosa, it might be expected that food consumption patterns would affect the risk of colorectal carcinogenesis. Many lines of evidence support the adenoma-carcinoma sequence as the major mechanism of colorectal carcinogenesis. The present study aimed to investigate the role of foods of animal origin such as meat, dairy products and eggs in the early stages of colorectal carcinogenesis. Eleven case-control and two cohort studies on colorectal polyps and meat, dairy products and eggs were identified. A quantitative review of these studies and a meta-analysis were carried out. The combined odds ratios suggest a positive association between the risk of colorectal polyps and beef consumption and a negative association with fish or combined poultry/fish consumption. An increase in the ratio of the consumption of red meat to consumption of fish/chicken was associated with an increase in the colorectal polyp risk. Neither dairy product nor egg consumption had a substantial effect on the development of colorectal polyps. These results suggest that dietary factors associated with polyp development may be not the same as those associated with cancer.