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The WHO doesn’t want us to bite off more than we can chew!

In the wake of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) damning report on processed meats, such as bacon and sausages, our columnist defends meat-lovers – even though she is a vegan

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) when it comes to contracting cancer, there’s a list of hazards as long as my arm; i.e. smoking, indulging in the demon drink, some forms of oral contraceptives, outdoor pollution and going anywhere near asbestos being just a few of them.   

  However, last week, consuming processed meat, for example, chowing down on your traditional and ceremonial Irish rasher, sausage and pudding brekkie of a Sunday morning or heading out for your cheeky Friday night, after-the-pub-hot dog, batter burger, kebab or chicken nuggets have all now been added to what I would call their hysterical apocalyptic list of ‘carcinogenic’ items as being a ‘potential’ cancer risk, leading to lots of confusion and knee-jerk reactions from a lot of people. Not me! 

  You see,  I’d like to draw readers’ attention to the word ‘potential’ here, meaning ‘possible’ ‘probable,’ or ‘prospective,’ and say that despite this warning, I still went out and bought hubby’s favourite smoked bacon rashers, grilled them to a crisp,  just as he likes and popped them on his crusty bread rolls along with lettuce and tomato and generously slathered on his ‘must have’ cholesterol hiking butter and preservative-laden red sauce to make him his beloved BLT work lunch.  And yes, I do love this man, and no I am not trying to shorten his life. I just don’t buy into scare-mongering of any kind and firmly believe that a little bit of what you fancy in measurable proportions will do you no harm – and I do mean measurable proportions here. Hubby doesn’t eat this type of lunch every day!  It’s a once a week treat.

  Also,  I make this comment, not as a doctor and not as a nutritionist because I’m neither and I am sure health professionals will probably disagree with me, and that is their right – they are the experts here, not me.

  However, folks, I make this comment as someone who believes there are far, far worse things in the world that can potentially kill us – things like the stress that accompanies the release of such reports would be just one example or the panic due to the possible job losses suffered as a direct result of the financial fallout being another…you get my drift, so I believe, like most decent and sensible Roscommon people that I have more important things to do with my life than pay too much attention to the torrent of negativity these latest findings have raised.

  However, being vegan myself; I haven’t consumed any animal products, as in, no meat, fish, poultry or dairy etc., since my teens because I’m committed to animal welfare and want to save all animals, believing and understanding that they are sentient beings; meaning in my opinion, animals feel hurt, fear, pain, sadness, happiness, love and joy etc., just like we humans do. In short, I love animals and believe their lives matter… end of.

  But that’s just me and when the WHO issued its latest hazardous warning, I didn’t smugly smile to myself and wag my sickly, bony, calcium deficient finger in a gleeful ‘na, na, na, na, na’ cackle. Instead, like others, I shared the link on my Facebook page and advised people to read it and make up their own minds as I do with any other newsworthy item I happen across.

  I also asked myself if these boffins were the same nerds who appear totally confused as to how much red wine is good/bad for us to consume.

  However, when I cook for hubby or we have visitors round, or when my meat loving granddaughter comes to stay, I don’t turn into a weird, posturing, tree--hugging, boring brittle-boned dictator, insisting on a flesh free environment…not in the slightest. In fact I provide for everyone’s diet and tastes and make a meat-free…and no, not taste-free, but a yummy, alternative pour moi. And for the record I do not agree with how certain animal rights organisations/groups spread their message, which can often be quite aggressive, so I tend to march to the beat of my own drum, which is once again, for me, animals, and their welfare matter, and I feel an uncontrollable compassion towards them and believe in educating people in so much that if they ask me for information I give it to them…but only if asked.

  I believe that when someone has evidence and facts, it is only then, as adults, that they are fully equipped to make their own, unbiased, impartial and informed decisions.  That said, I will stress that choosing a vegan lifestyle is not easy – nooooo, not by any stretch of the imagination folks.  In fact, it can often prove stressful as some restaurateurs (not all) tend to hate people like me and panic when I walk into their establishment and enquire as to their vegan option…normally a plate of diced sweet potato (which I detest) or a plate of stir fried onions and peppers, which is not really a choice now, is it? It’s more of a punishment and evidence of their unimaginative fayre du jour. 

  When I enquire if the proffered, limp stirfry has been cooked separately or doused in the same fat as, say, the rare, blood-dripping burgers, the audible sigh of impatience from the waiting staff makes me worry if, when the monotonous offering does return, freshly fried in vegan friendly oil, it may well also contain the chef’s odd sneezer or three. Hence, due to this lack of choice and understanding,  we don’t eat out too often; nor are we usually asked round to worried friends’ houses due to the host/hostess’s panicked enquiries of “Jesus, what do you feed a woman who eats nothing?”

  Look, folks, you continue to eat and enjoy your food. Life is too short to stop looking forward to that plate of cabbage, mash and bacon smothered in thick gravy. Besides, despite my refusal to eat anything with a face or that once had a pulse, or consume dairy products, I do know fresh, unprocessed meat is full of important dietary requirements like iron, various vitamins and proteins, but I would just state the bleedin’ obvious here and say that modified, shrink-wrapped, salt, preservative and nitrate laden processed products of any kind, including meat, cannot be very healthy for anyone to consume or depend upon as their staple daily diet, now can they? But, again, check this out with your doctor and make your own choices.

  I would however advise that if you are going to cook and consume meat, do as I do when carnivores arrive at my door and visit your local organic butcher and shop local and support local Roscommon farmers.

  You see by doing this you’re helping to sustain local enterprise and keep funds in our county, and God knows we need it badly. Shopping local also means we get to make a connection and form a relationship with our local suppliers who’ve abstained from poisoning their produce with additives and preservatives because they don’t need to as the food comes fresh from their nearby farms and fields.

  So I suppose it’s up to you, the consumer, to decide. Do you want to sustain local enterprise, support local farmers/butchers/food suppliers/markets/jobs, i.e. humanbeings who are your neighbours and buy your meat and veg locally or do you want to support multinational conglomerates who peddle GMO laden pulp as suitable, sustainable and now, questionably healthy food?  Again, the choice is yours.

  For this happy cow however, it always has and always will be that as long as there is breath in my body, I’ll only consume  plant-based foods, including veggies, fruit, grains, beans, seeds and nuts…or is that just that I am nuts? Bon appetite.

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