We’ve stated quite a few times that red meat—like every other animal “product”—isn’t meant for human consumption. Now, a new study has found that people may actually be allergic to it!

According to the study, 1.6 million Americans may be allergic to red meat because of a sugar molecule/complex called alpha-gal, which causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries, potentially leading to early-onset coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease. The study revealed that participants who carried the alpha-gal antibodies also had more plaque in their arteries, which can put people at higher risk of suffering from heart attacks and strokes.

An allergic reaction to red meat involves symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and swelling. This type of allergic reaction isn’t common—most other allergens typically cause symptoms such as hives, coughing or wheezing, and rashes.

This study shows that eating meat isn’t the way to go. The researchers even suggest that people should adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, which entails eating lots of fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly.

Beyond the health benefits of forgoing red meat, here are some other reasons to avoid eating animals:

1. Meat production is a leading cause of land and water pollution.

The meat industry wants to maximize profits, so pigs, cows, and chickens on factory farms are forced to live in cramped, dirty spaces. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that these animals produce about 500 million tons of manure each year in the U.S. The filth and pollution not only make the animals’ lives miserable but also end up in runoff, which pollutes our waterways and soil.

2. Raising animals for food is harmful to the environment in other ways.

Did you know that animal agriculture is a leading source of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane emissions—the top three greenhouse gases?

3. Each vegan saves hundreds of animals from being slaughtered annually.

Factory farming is an ugly business. Animals endure torturous abuse—cows are dehorned, baby chicks are debeaked, and cows are forcibly impregnated on “rape racks”—and lead short, miserable lives before they’re slaughtered. By going vegan, you can help spare almost 200 animals a year torment and death in the meat, egg, and dairy industries.

4. Vegan food is next-level delish!

veggie burger, burger, veggie grill

Being vegan definitely doesn’t mean that you have to eat boring food. Thanks to companies like Field Roast, Follow Your Heart, and Beyond Meat, there are many delicious meatless and dairy-free options. Now, it’s easier than ever to find all sorts of tasty food that doesn’t involve cruelty to animals.

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Supporting animal rights is the one of most compassionate things that you can do. Please keep cruelty off your plate and try vegan!

Check out peta2’s “Guide to Going Vegan” for recipes, tips, and more.