Swap meat: Trade out your burger for a healthier option to reduce your cancer risk

A veggie burger rests on a table with a green and white striped tablecloth. The burger contains a veggie patty, tomatoes and greens sandwiched between a burger bun with sesame seeds. The background is green.

June 5th is National Veggie Burger Day! It’s a great reminder to get creative in the kitchen to swap out red and processed meat.

Your diet can have a big impact on your general health and well-being, as well as your cancer risk. That’s why we’re sharing information on eating a plant-based diet to reduce your risk of cancer—and how you can put that knowledge into action for better health outcomes.

Why avoid red and processed meats?

Studies show a strong link between colorectal cancer and diets high in red and processed meats. Red meats include beef, pork and lamb and processed meats include bacon, hot dogs and deli meats.

If you eat red meat, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends limiting the amount you eat to no more than 18 ounces/week, or about the size of two softballs. You should avoid processed meats altogether, as regularly eating even small amounts can increase your colorectal cancer risk.

What are some healthy alternatives?

To get the protein and nutrient content you need, try eating fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products instead. Research also shows that diets high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains are linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

If you’re craving a burger, check the frozen aisle in your grocery store for plant-based imitation burgers that mimic the taste and texture of meat (think Beyond or Impossible burgers) or opt for veggie patties made from beans or vegetables. If you’re a hot dog lover, veggie dogs exist, too!

Veggie burger recipes:

Have you ever tried making your own veggie burgers? Get creative in the kitchen this summer with one of these recipes!

Non-red meat burger recipes:

Not ready to give up meat but want to be health-conscious? Try some of these options instead!

While it’s okay to eat some red meat, you don’t want to overdo it—so explore new options at your next barbecue. You may find some new, healthier favorites! For more ways to reduce your risk of cancer, visit preventcancer.org/ways.