Although I believe the findings in the WHO report the conclusion of the WHO that eating processed meat, and even eating meat at all, causes cancer this information adds very little to my reasons not to eat meat.
Some of you may recall from a prior post that I chose to eat a plant based diet about the beginning of 2015. So far I’m enjoying this choice, and finding I feel fine, like the food, and don’t feel deprived. I believe that this dietary choice improves my odds of maintaining my health. I also feel good that I’m making a choice that supports my values on environmentalism.
My wife, my son and his girl friend made a date to watch a documentary called Cowspiracy tonight. It’s available on Netflix. Making today an especially auspicious day I learned this morning listening to NPR about the WHO report stating their position that data concludes that eating processed meat (think bacon, pepperoni, sausage, hotdogs, etc) causes colorectal cancer, and that that red meat probably causes cancer. This is based primarily on a report of a comprehensive review of the world literature by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This is an important conclusion because colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
I’ve perused the comments of many friends, acquaintances and others to this report. Most are angrily defiant or defensive. “Everything causes cancer.” “God put animals on earth for us to eat.” … A few years ago I too would likely just buried my head in the sand and ignored this report. Honestly in the large scheme of issues facing the worlds populace cancer caused by eating meat is not high on my list of concerns. Unfortunately other issues related to eating meat are much nearer the top of my list.
The health consequences directly and indirectly related to animal husbandry really concern me. About 1/3 of the ice free land on earth is dedicated to grazing or growing feed for livestock. (per United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization). Dead zones in our oceans are primarily caused by runoff from animal husbandry according to a Scientific American report. Methane production from cattle may be a larger cause of global warming than energy production and use by humans. Personally I find it much easier to eat a vegan diet than it would be to stop driving my car, heating my house and turning on my lights. I may be having a larger positive environmental impact by a personal diet change than I could possibly have from limiting my energy consumption. For me this is a strong incentive to stay on a plant based diet.
I encourage readers to watch the documentary Cowspiracy on Netflix or whatever other source is convenient and leave comments here about how they feel after watching.