Limit red meat and avoid processed meat

Limit red meat and avoid processed meat graphicEat no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb. Eat little, if any, processed meat.

Red meat is a good source of nutrients so can form part of a healthy, balanced diet, but we don’t need to eat it every day.

Aim to eat no more than about 3 portions a week, which is around 350–500g cooked weight (or 525–750g raw weight) a week. If you do eat red meat, cutting down can help protect against bowel cancer.

We recommend eating very little, if any, processed meat because strong evidence shows that it can be high in fat and salt, and eating it is a cause of bowel cancer. If you eat meat, it’s best to choose unprocessed meat.

> Learn more about the links between red meat, processed meat and cancer

Tips on eating less red and processed meat

Follow these 3 tips to help cut your consumption of red and processed meat and, thereby, reduce your risk of cancer.

1. Eat smaller portions

Eating smaller portions (about the size of a deck of cards) means that you can have red meat more often and still have no more than 350–500g a week.

Make red meat go further by adding some beans, chickpeas, lentils or mushrooms to bulk up stews, chillies and pasta sauces. This can also lower the calories in your meals and counts towards your 5 A DAY.

2. Easy swaps

Swap beef mince for turkey or Quorn mince. Even if you only swap half, you’ll cut calories and it’s just as filling. Boost the flavour with onion, garlic, herbs and spices.

Or, use alternatives to ham in your sandwiches. Try chicken, hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna (in spring water), low-fat houmous or cream cheese. Add rocket or spring onions to lift the flavour.

> Browse our healthy recipes for ideas

3. Have meat-free days

Keep some days red meat-free by exploring alternatives.

> What should I eat instead? Our cookbooks have the answer