There aren’t many good things to report about dietary trends in Scotland but one that does stand out is our decreasing consumption of red and processed meat – albeit by a modest amount.

This is good news for decreasing bowel cancer risk although it would be especially good to see a decrease in processed meat for which there is convincing evidence of an association with the disease. The report this week from the World Cancer Research Fund confirms previous evidence on the link between consumption of  processed meat and risk. This serves as a reminder that we should not be complacent about the Scottish diet. Processed meats including bacon, ham and salami are best avoided.


I am still amazed at meetings where the focus is on health (and cancer), yet bacon rolls are served – is it that caterers have no imagination or hosts ignore evidence? Could we communicate the processed meat messages better – should we refine the #MeatlessMonday messages? One approach that might give us a “taster” for living without processed meat is the New Zealand approach of the meat free week running from 18th to 24th September. Lots of great processed meat recipes to try from New Zealand (including the BeetBurger) or indeed from our recipe selection many of which have been created by Kellie Anderson.


Could you survive a week without meat or if we were following the example of alcohol maybe #MeatlessMarch?

Further good news is that there are even more dietary things we can do to reduce bowel cancer risk including eating more whole grains, limiting alcohol intake, watching your calorie intake … and lots of great recipes to help!


Professor Annie S. Anderson