Oh goodness gracious.
By now you’ve likely seen a news segment, been sent an article, or heard from a third party, about a report released by the World Health Organization, on Monday, October 26th, 2015, concerning the positive correlation between a small amount of meat consumption and cancer.
Of course, this type of report invites media attention, which in turn invites both a celebration for some, and a scowl from others.
In no way, shape, or form, does the news that WHO has reported a list of carcinogens, including processed, cured, and indicating red meat, as culprits, even cause me to bat an eye.
As exciting as it is that these findings are being spread through media channels, the responses I am hearing are also not a surprise to me.
In the midst of those celebrating the attention this report is being given, are the furrowed brows, scrutiny and rebuttals.
I have heard a mix of defensive responses, always a bit comically frustrating to me, ranging from “Well everything causes cancer these days, so whatever” to… “I love bacon. You only live once!” to… “Well, I only eat chicken, because they are mean and dumb” to… “Did you see everything else on that list that supposedly causes cancer? ha!” (FYI: See full list here). As if any of these statements make such a finding less valid.
It seems to me, a cop out to say, “Well everything causes cancer these days… so why bother?” In my mind that’s like saying… “Well we all will die one day, so lets be reckless at every given opportunity. Cigarettes for all!”
In truth, no one said you couldn’t eat red meat.
Or bacon. Or sausage.
Or your ham and mustard sandwich.
Or told you that you absolutely could not have that cigarette.
For those of us who say we’ve eaten our share of hot dogs and are still around to share the story today, that is all fine and dandy also. Congrats. This report is not saying that there are ticking bombs inside this food.
The truth is, one cigarette, or hot dog, isn’t going to be our death sentence. (Well unless you choke on it and die in an unexpected twist). That doesn’t make it a great choice for us either (or the animal).
In my lifetime, I have known plenty a reckless individual. And while they may have “survived” a good many years in the wake of their decisions, either a pain derived from lifestyle forced them to change, or their health deteriorated due to internal and external stressors— and thus their quality of life. And that was that.
What this report states is that we are slowly poisoning the body, and we are doing so in a multitude of ways. And it’s not just meat consumption.
The body doesn’t just aim to survive, but rather to thrive.
The body is a brilliant and beautiful design of systems, all functioning together as one incredible organism.
Seeking confrontation has never been in my nature. Probably not so ironically, my unique lifestyle and holistic approach to living, and practicing nutrition, is controversially “unique” and therefore, often invites scrutiny, and confrontation on its very own.
As a nutritionist, I have learned long ago, that if an individual is not legitimately seeking my input, or has already formulated a close-minded opinion about food and diet, I have little to no interest in jumping in to prove this individual wrong. Food is a personal topic. It is a source of comfort and familiarity. To challenge one’s dietary lifestyle, unless open to learning, is the equivalent to insulting someone’s lack of education, upbringing, parenting approach, or their sweet grandmother. It’s also like hitting your head against a bolted door.
And expecting it to open.
If I were to close my eyes, and forget my normal proper and polite demeanor, I would say that burning the already decaying flesh of any animal over a flame, for consumption, is like trying to recharge a corroded battery, and then expect the toy car to run. There is nothing life generating about deteriorating flesh. Add to that the layers of processing, curing, etc. and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disease.
In fact, as this food is digested, and sluggishly moves about the long and winding digestive tract, a whopping 25 feet long, with no fibrous material to aid in its elimination, it irritates and inflames the intestines.
The meat industry will forever defend its case, as will the soda industry, etc., stating that there will always be a place for meat, dairy, and sugar in the diet. Just the same as any non-animal related product, with their refined and processed goods, will state that it is not them… it is the lack of exercise and movement. It’s obesity. It’s genetics. It’s laziness. It’s lack of balance, moderation, and portion control. And above all… it’s all YOUR fault. Not theirs.
While there is nothing life enhancing about meat, cured, processed, or not, our best bet is always reaching for food that is has a more impressive resume than say… just “protein.”
(Like for instance, an avocado which is also a stellar source of vitamins A, C, K, Folate, and minerals magnesium, potassium, copper and fiber).
Something that is not man-made, or slaughtered, or refined and processed. Also known as: fruits, greens, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
This translates to food that goes bad, that bruises, that expires, that breaks down, and doesn’t last a decade on your shelf.
Life is not about the cop-out response that life is short, so indulge away.
At least, it was never supposed to be that way.
So while we all parade around vindicating hot dogs and ham, lets also see what other areas we can make improvements in our diets. Starting with a tall order of greens and veggies to go along with that determined look on our face not to give up that dang bacon burger, or bad boy nachos.
Although, not only could it improve your health in doing so, but also be better for our environment, and improve the conditions of these animals, being raised for that microwaveable breakfast sandwich. (Which, by the way… I believe is also a detriment to our health, because vibrating the molecules of our food at such a high frequency that it heats up in minutes, is disturbing to say the least).
In each and every diet, be it vegan, vegetarian, paleo, “gluten-free,” or whatever… we can always all benefit from consuming less meat, and processed, man-made foods, and eating more food from the earth.
Check out these great documentaries to learn more about the real moral to this story: about meat and cancer, our environment, and the treatment of animals in the food industry.