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"We've promoted a diet that has added excessively to global warming," Popkin said in an interview.
Successfully shifting away from red meat can be as easy as increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet, said Elisabetta Politi of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C.
"I'm not saying everybody should turn into vegetarians," Politi said. "Meat should be a supporting actor on the plate, not the main character."
The National Pork Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association questioned the findings.
Dietitian Ceci Snyder said in a statement for the pork board that the study "attempts to indict all red meat consumption by looking at extremes in meat consumption, as opposed to what most Americans eat."
Lean meat as part of a balanced diet can prevent chronic disease, along with exercise and avoiding smoking, said Shalene McNeill, dietitian for the beef group.
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