The Future of Meat: Health Impact Assessment with Randomized Evidence

Am J Med. 2021 May;134(5):569-575. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2020.11.007. Epub 2020 Dec 11.


Massive animal farming for meat production poses major problems in terms of resource use, environmental impact, and biodiversity. Furthermore, excessive meat consumption has been associated with multiple deleterious health consequences. However, more and better-designed randomized trials are needed to increase the level of evidence on the health impacts of meat. Novel meat alternatives, such as plant- and cell-based meat, are much less impactful to the environment and might replace traditional animal meat in the future, but, despite promising early data, the health consequences of these novel products need further study. This manuscript focuses on the health impacts of meat over 3 main sections: 1) overview of the evidence highlighting the association of meat consumption with health; 2) novel alternatives to meat, including plant-based and cell-based alternatives; and 3) examine the rationale for randomized studies to evaluate the effects of the novel meat alternatives compared with the standard animal meat.

Keywords: Animal meat; Cell-based meat; Environmental impact; Health impact; Plant-based meat; Randomized controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Diet, Vegetarian
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Meat* / adverse effects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic