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I read Jim Rix's November 20 post, "What is the cause of Heart Disease," and the comments readers made on it. To the whole discussion about avoiding meat and dairy products for reasons of health, I would add that there are other reasons, as well, to forgo mass-produced meat products.
There was an article in the Fresno Bee on December 9 (the first of a 3-part series and available online) that detailed the health hazards associated with the marketing of beef in this country. I had already gotten the big picture by seeing Robert Kenner's 2008 film, Food, Inc. However, the article in the Bee focuses on the health hazards of processed meat. The huge and quasi-monopolistic production and marketing of food products in this country is yet another example of the age-old habit of greed easily overtaking business enterprise.
It can be summed up as follows: You create a supply curve that intersects with the demand curve (which you constantly attempt to massage upward) at the point at which nearly everyone can afford the product—meat). You do this by making it convenient to use (hamburgers and other processed foods) and setting a low price. You can set a low price (to prop up demand) only by having high-speed meat processing plants that are inhumane to the employees as well as to the animals thrown into the production process.
It should surprise no one that there will be fecal matter with coliform bacteria on the carcasses. When there is an outbreak of coliform infection, the food industry then blames it on the consumer for not cooking the product well enough. If you cook fecal matter well enough you won't get sick, and our processing will make it taste good!
And then there is the whole issue of the sickening cruelty to which the animals that pass through these places are subjected. Infection with coliform bacteria can have immediate and deadly consequences (unlike arteriolsclerosis, which is also deadly, but not so immediate and painful). Should we then attempt to be frugal and careful—buy cheap meat, but always cook it well and order it well-done at restaurants and fast-food establishments? My answer to that is NO! I find these business practices so outrageous that I personally refuse to purchase and use products from these businesses. So, in addition to the strong reasons Jim advances for a vegan dietary approach I would add moral concerns.
The Bee followed that up with two more articles on two subsequent consecutive days. The last of the three articles attempted to set forth the meat industry's position on the issues, but it also described their efforts to counteract the bad publicity that the big meat industry has gotten. The second of the two articles also set forth in explicit detail the ill health suffered by cattle raised on corn in feed lots. The meat industry goes to great lengths to suppress criticism. Remember the slander suit they filed against Oprah Winfrey in Texas? It went all the way to trial. Oprah prevailed, but I have no idea what she had to spend on attorney's fees.
By the way, my gardeners brought me home-made tamales today (a Mexican Christmas custom) and they were entirely vegan and delicious. They told me that their whole family has been following a vegan diet for the last two years and that the impetus for this was not health concerns, but moral ones (the mistreatment of animals).
I had observed that they seemed far healthier in appearance than they were a few years ago. They had one child who was seriously overweight; she has lost weight and looks far healthier.
They also brought me packages of vegan "chicken" patties and vegan "shrimp" which they purchase at a vegan food store in San Jose. I'm looking forward to trying them.
Copyright © 2012 by William Silveira