15 Types of Meat You Should Avoid Eating

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: March 13, 2024
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Are you confused by the conflicting advice on whether meat is good for you or not? You are not alone – plenty of people are left wondering which types of meat you should avoid eating. On the one hand, meat is a great source of protein and delivers iron, zinc, and B vitamins. In fact, meat can be one of the main sources of vitamin B12 in your diet. On the other hand, some meats are associated with an increased risk of some cancers and diabetes. Also, some meats are high in fat and this can raise blood cholesterol levels which raises the risk of coronary heart disease.

Let’s walk through the 15 types of meat you should avoid eating according to the experts and the ones that you should never consume at all!


Fresh Raw Denver steak Marble beef meat with herbs. Black background. Top view

Current advice is to eat small amounts of beef.

©Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock.com

Beef is red meat obtained from bovines (cows). There is a wide range of cuts including brisket, sirloin, tenderloin, and rump. It can be used to make beef products such as beefburgers and sausages and minced beef is used for dishes like meatloaf and lasagne. The recommended intake is just 3 portions a week or about 12-18 ounces (cooked).


Roasted sliced barbecue pork ribs, focus on sliced meat

Avoid eating large quantities of pork.

©Tatiana Volgutova/Shutterstock.com

Pork is obtained from pigs and is classed as a red meat. Popular cuts include pork chops, pork belly, and pork loin. Raw pork and undercooked pork are unsafe to eat. Cooked pork, however, should be limited to 12-18 (cooked weight) ounces a week.


salami sliced up on piece of wood

There is a high salt content in salami.


Salami is a highly processed meat and health experts advise that we should eat very little, if any, of it. Individual recipes and production processes differ but salami is often made from pork or beef. It has high levels of salt (sodium) and undergoes a process of fermentation and drying.

Undercooked chicken

chicken meat

Undercooked and raw chicken is dangerous.


Chicken is one of the meats that should never be eaten raw or undercooked. The tissue structure is delicate and pathogens can make their way deep into the meat. Eating undercooked and raw chicken can cause food poisoning by dangerous bacteria including Salmonella and Campylobacter.


Modern style traditional braised slow cooked lamb shank in red wine sauce with shallots and carrots offered as top view in a design stewpot

As a versatile red meat, lamb is popular but large quantities should be avoided.


Lamb is also classed as a red meat so you should only eat 12-18 (cooked weight) ounces of it a week. It is obtained from sheep and popular cuts include shoulder, leg, and lamb chops. You can eat lamb rare (undercooked) as long as the outside of the cut is seared.

Canned Corned Beef

Delicious sliced corned beef

Canned corned beef may be tasty but you should avoid eating a lot of it.


The name ‘corned beef’ comes from the rock salt used to preserve the beef and this is why it should be avoided in large quantities. The preserving chemical called sodium nitrate can also be found in corned beef and may cause cancer in humans. The advice is to eat very little if any of it.


Migas. Classic Mexican or Tex-Mex breakfast cuisine. Eggs scrambled with bacon, chorizo, onions, peppers, garlic, potatoes, cheese, fried tortilla chips and fresh salsa.

It may be part of Mexican cuisine but large amounts of chorizo should be avoided.

©Marie Sonmez Photography/Shutterstock.com

Chorizo is made from highly seasoned chopped or ground pork. The Mexican version is made with raw pork but the Spanish chorizo is usually smoked. Whilst it provides protein, B vitamins, and trace minerals, it also has a high saturated fat and sodium content. It is one of the processed meats that you should cut down on to reduce your risk of some cancers.


A plate of bacon overflowing in a skillet

Eating cured bacon can increase the risk of some cancers.


Bacon is pork meat that has been ‘cured’. This means that is has been injected with or soaked in brine or dry cured with salt. Bacon brine contains nitrates or nitrites. When the bacon is cooked at high temperatures these combine with amino acids to form nitrosamines which can increase the risk of some cancers. It is therefore best to avoid eating bacon often.

Foie Gras

Homemade geese. Goose mum leads on the road four small goslings.

Geese are force-fed to produce foie gras.

©Serhii Hrebeniuk/Shutterstock.com

Foie gras is a French delicacy that is actually the whole livers of force-fed ducks and geese. It is banned in many places due to the controversial methods of production. Also, the handmade version carries a high risk of bacterial contamination and should be avoided by pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

Packaged Sliced Luncheon Meats


Cooked luncheon meats are not the healthiest option.


Unfortunately, many processed meats are produced using chemical preservatives. Some of these can cause colorectal cancer and so they are best avoided or at least only eaten rarely.


Reuben Sandwich. Classic traditional American sandwich. Pastrami and corned beef on grilled rye bread, melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, topped with thousand island dressing served french fries.

Highly processed meats like pastrami are not the healthiest choice.

©Marie Sonmez Photography/Shutterstock.com

Pastrami is usually made from beef brisket. It is wet-cured in a brine, highly seasoned, smoked and then steamed. It can be high in sodium and fat and some studies have linked highly processed meat with some cancers.


Food antipasto prosciutto ham, salami, olives and bread sticks. Charcuterie board. Two glasses of white wine or prosecco

Hams are highly processed meats.

©Elena Katkova/iStock via Getty Images

Hams are cured pork meat. The process uses salt to remove moisture from the meat to preserve it – some are wet-cured (with brine) and others are dry-cured. Then the meat is dried and cooked. Different cuisines have special hams such as serrano ham from Spain and prosciutto ham from Italy. These are all classed as highly processed meat and large quantities should be avoided.

Hot Dogs

Three Hot Dogs with Mustard, Ketchup, pickle relish and onions on a wood cutting board

Sausages are high in fat and salt.

©Ben6/ via Getty Images

These are made with wiener or frankfurter sausages. The hot dog sausages typically contain a lot of salt and fat (which are both best avoided) and preservatives such as sodium nitrite. Highly processed meat is associated with some cancers.


Hot Homemade Pepperoni Pizza Ready to Eat

Regular consumption of processed meats is not advised.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Pepperoni is a type of spicy salami made from cured pork and beef seasoned with paprika and chili peppers. There is evidence that regular consumption of processed meat like this is linked to colorectal cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.


Homemade Beer Bratwursts with Onions

Beer bratwurst is a highly processed meat.

©bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images

Bratwurst is a type of German sausage typically made from pork. They are widely sold as ‘brats’ in the US. They are typically high in fat and highly processed so they are also one of the types of meat to avoid eating regularly.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Simon Kadula/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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