In the lose-lose game of health risks, consumption of meat is on par with tobacco use

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Tobacco kills, it is out there in the open. Whether Americans care or not, it is each individual's prerogative.

The fact is that smoking cigarettes and using other forms of tobacco is scientifically proven to cause diseases that can be fatal. Dr. Neal Barnard, author of Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes, was featured in PETA’s Animal Times Magazine. When asked the question: Which is worse for your health, smoking or eating meat? He responded: “both a pack of cigarettes and a package of meat should carry warning labels.”

The three biggest killers in America are heart disease, cancer and stroke. All three are linked to excessive animal product consumption. The disease that kills almost as many Americans as everything else combined can be not just prevented, but reversed, with a low fat plant-based diet, as documented by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

Kathy Freston, author of Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World has dedicated a large portion of her life to educate the masses about the benefits of a vegan diet for years. Freston writes: “When I think about the effect of animal products on human health, I’m reminded of how quickly we’ve done a national about face on tobacco, and I look forward to the day when the Times magazine has a similar apology from someone who promoted animal products — because the evidence is in and it continues to grow: Animal products kill a lot more Americans than tobacco does.”

Similar to discoveries of the tobacco industry, new studies regarding animal products come out often that warn Americans about the dangers of eating too many animal products. Just like tobacco people who are addicted to meat and dairy, even when it puts their health at risk, still continue to consume.

“We know meat and dairy are bad for us, but we see these industries dumping tons of money into a marketing campaign [got milk?] to reverse this quantifiable data,” student at the University of Central Florida, Michael Altfield said.

Some might argue that the difference between meat consumption and tobacco use is that there is no safe quantity of tobacco use. On the other hand, moderate amounts of animal products may be less likely believed to result in disease -- at least for a healthy person.

“Generally, I ask them if they're eating organic, grass-fed, free-ranged, hormone-free meat,” Altfield said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, unless you're in the country, they're not. In that case, there is no safe quantity of factory-farmed meat."

Freston also compares the tobacco industry's failed attempts to downplay the dangers of smoking to the efforts of today's pro-factory farming interests to keep consumers in the dark about the environmental destruction and health risks of meat production and consumption. Both of the industries strategic promotional tactics can be viewed as similar. In other words, there is scientific evidence that the risks associated with cigarette smoking are the same as consuming meat and dairy products: death, addiction, cancer, stroke and heart disease.

Elyssa Schwartz
Florida Throughout her life, Elyssa has always been environmentally conscious. She is a strong believer that any contribution, small or large, can ultimately make an impact. That’s why after reading Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin’s “Skinny Bitch” in 2010, she immediately decided to adopt a plant-based diet. The book went into detail about how a vegan lifestyle is healthier for our planet. Additionally, the repeated reference to meat as decomposing, rotting animal carcasses was also a deal breaker among many others. A journalism major at the University of Central Florida, Elyssa writes for the Central Florida Future. Her first taste of promoting veg was a weekly column titled “Veggin’ Out.”

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