Until states virtually legislated it out of existence, save for the yellow-stained environs of our very own homes, smoking used to be the vice that’d get you death stares from mommies with strollers and self-righteous reformed smokers. I got to think that, in the not-so-distance future, red meat eaters are headed for a similar fate.

Just look at the laundry list of calamities that livestock production helps to cause: global warming, deforestation, air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity. Now comes the latest study, published in today’s Washington Post, that says eating red meat will shave years off your life. The gist:

The study of more than 500,000 middle-aged and elderly Americans found that those who consumed about four ounces of red meat a day (the equivalent of about a small hamburger) were more than 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years they were followed, mostly from heart disease and cancer. Sausage, cold cuts and other processed meats also increased the risk.

Previous research had found a link between red meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, but the new study is the first large examination of the relationship between eating meat and overall risk of death, and is by far the most detailed.

Other than sheer sensuous pleasure, there would seem to be little reason to dig into a 16-ounce porterhouse these days. I mean, if it were just a matter of personal longevity, I could make that Faustian bargain. Would I shave a few years of life—-the doddering, slobbering years perhaps?—-for a few daily slices of fresh-from-the-smoker brisket? Hell yeah, I can pull the trigger on that deal. I’m sorry I just don’t want to live an extra few years if I’m stuck eating turkey and chicken all the time. You can just shoot me now. (Just kidding, Carrie!)

But, christ, all the environmental impacts are hard to swallow. So with the stroke of these keys, I’m vowing to limit my red meat consumption. Frankly, I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but I’ll keep y’all posted on the progress. I think it’ll be difficult as hell to limit my intake to less than four ounces a day.

Photo by VirtualErn