How much meat should we be eating if we want to live until 100?

People are living longer in certain areas of the world - here's how much meat they typically eat in a month

Vegetables grilling on a BBQ
(Image credit: Getty)

If you are looking to give yourself the best chance at living until 100, then you should try the Blue Zones diet. Studies on the Blue Zones identify the areas of the world where people consistently live past 100 and meat consumption plays a key role in this.

The Blue Zones study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle identifies the following areas of the world as the places where people live the longest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece and Loma Linda, California. The research shows that people living in these areas live off a mostly plant-based diet, with small amounts of meat, eggs and dairy supplementing staples of whole grains, vegetables, pulses, legumes and fish, always in smaller portions than the standard Western diet.

Science has previously said  people with high levels of omega 3 fatty acids in their blood live for an average of 2.2 years more than people with low levels of omega 3. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are beneficial for our heart health and act as an anti-inflammatory, and can be found in oily fish, nuts and the best fish oil supplements. It’s also found in high-quality cuts of red meat, so that’s not to say your favourite cut is off the menu – but red meat, and especially processed red meat, is thought to be a carcinogenic life-shortener. So, the big question is: Just how much meat can we eat before it starts to get bad for us? 

Dan Buettner, the author of the much-touted longevity study on Blue Zones, is taking to Tiktok to explain why eating less meat equals a longer life. He begins the video by saying that people in the Blue Zones only ate portions of meat the size of a deck of cards. And – crucially – he revealed that they eat meat no more than five times a month.

@danbuettner

♬ original sound - Dan Buettner

The video received over 33 thousand likes showing that people supported what Buettner had to say with one user commenting “I’m trying to get my parents to go vegetarian”.

The longevity expert said that the centenarians he studied never ate processed meat. He says they certainly wouldn’t be eating, “Bacon for breakfast, and a bologna sandwich for lunch, and then a pork chop for dinner.” 

He adds that the World Health Organisation classed processed meat as a carcinogenic, the same category that tobacco falls under. Another study which he pulled into the Tiktok was a recent one carried out by the University of Michigan, which found that eating a single hot dog could take 36 minutes off your life expectancy.

It’s understandable that cutting out all meat from your diet won’t be easy for some, so here are five easy food swaps to simply reduce your meat consumption. 

  •  Tempeh: a plant-based protein made from fermented soy beans  
  •  Beans and lentils: a great source of protein and fiber to add to various dishes such as a curry or veggie chilli 
  •  Mushrooms: these are low in fat and can create a meaty texture 
  •  Seitan: a meat substitute made from hydrated gluten 
  • Veggie burgers/sausages: most supermarkets now sell the meat alternatives of food items like this but just be careful to read the labels as these can often be high in saturated fats as well.

Another way to make this more fun is by trying out some meat-free recipes. Check out some of the best vegan cookbooks here. Two of the authors of Speedy BOSH!, one of our favourite books in the list above, also shared with us their top tips for easy, healthy, mood-boosting vegan meals like the one below. 

Jessica Downey
Jessica Downey

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. She is a keen runner and is currently sweating her way through a 10k training plan. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen - which she loves sharing with others on her healthy living-inspired Instagram account, @jessrunshere. Despite her love for nutritious cooking, she stands by the saying ‘everything in moderation’ and is eagerly conquering the London food and drink scene!