In this commentary we respond to articles by Lescinsky et al. and Stanaway et al. published in Nature Medicine, 28 (2022). Both articles adopted meta-analysis approaches to evaluate the evidence on the respective associations of red meat and vegetable consumption and the risks of several major health outcomes. While we agree that unprocessed red meats and vegetable consumption form part of a healthy diet, in line with national dietary guidelines, we think other factors need to be considered before policy recommendations are made.