The correct answer to this question depends on who is asked; the meat eater or the vegan. I believe we function best by eating both animals and plants and the answer can be yes or no depending on how you look at it.
Our ancestors eat meat as early before we were even born. Humans are omnivores. Our digestion system are equipped to make full use of meat. Meat contain nutrients such as B12, B3, B6, iron, zinc, selenium, omega 3 all come from meat. Meat contains high quality protein.
Studies show some link between eating red meat and cancer, but most of them seem to be observational which may be unreliable. There are no proven health benefits to avoiding meat. Meat consumption has been blamed for chronic diseases and many people are convinced that plant based foods are enough or better. However, vegetarians are getting sick as well, so is it really the meat.
Over the years meat consumption and demand have increased but with the increase came very dangerous production and meat preparation techniques that has increased humans risks for many chronic diseases. These dangerous techniques included the introduction of antibiotics and chemicals in the animals making it unsafe for human consumption and unhealthy practices for farming making them sick. The Food Inc. video shows various techniques on how is achieved.
Singh, Sabate and Frazer (2003) conducted several studies that examined if low meat consumption increased the life expectancy in humans. Results indicated that individuals who consumed less meat lived longer in 4 studies, two studies were insignificant. The study article concluded that further investigation needs to be done to determine if meat intake contributes to fatal diseases and more research need to be done on specific plant foods consumption and their role in human longevity. The only thing about the study is that the authors didn’t mention what kind of meat was consumed. I believe that would have made a difference in this study.
Human diet should be in moderation, not too much meat and not too much plants, but a balance of both. I believe that organic meat is important in the human diet. If the meat is not organic then I would say no, it is not essential to the diet. It is the same chemical, antibiotic laden meat is what is increasing individuals’ health risks for chronic diseases.
So in summary organic meat is essential to the diet because of the many health benefits; of course the preparation plays a role as well. If the meat is not organic, full of antibiotics and not prepared correctly, my answer would be no meat is not essential. However the meat is organic, properly prepared and cooked then yes meat is essential to the healthy adult diet, as long as there is no delayed allergies it can be consumed.
Seven reasons not to avoid meet (2016) Retrieved from https://authoritynutrition.com/7-evidence-based-health-reasons-to-eat-meat
Singh, P., Sabate, J., & Frazer, G. (2003). Does meat consumption increase the life expectancy in humans? American Journal Clinical Nursing, 526s-32s
Why all humans need to eat meat (2016). Retrieved from https://breakingmuscle.com/fuel/why-all-humans-need-to-eat-meat-for-health