PETA picking wrong bone with meat tax

Science shows vegetarian diet doesn’t lessen cancer risk

Amelia Naismith BLACK PRESS

Last week, when I learned PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was once again out and about and in the media pushing for a tax on meat as a means to sway people to adopt a more vegetarian or vegan diet, I must admit, my mind skipped straight to indignant.

Firstly, the idea that people who choose to consume meat should be financially punished is insulting.

Secondly, a meat tax, in a time when some of the country’s most longstanding areas of employment and economic stability are under attack could be damaging to many sectors.

Unfortunately, there is a risk this contemptible idea could take hold — as the NDP Carbon Tax did.

One of PETA’s many main points in their argument is the link between meat consumption and cancer, and how vegetarians or vegans should not be left have to shoulder the financial burden of those choosing death by meat.

For what the group lacks in well-rounded arguments it more than made up for in obnoxious behaviour.

According to the PETA website, the organization would like to see an excise (sin) tax to help subsidize the hidden health costs the meat industry burdens to society, “But although meat consumption is a health hazard and meat production is a leading source of environmental degradation, the meat industry has gotten off easy.”

So far it looks likes PETA’s main bone to pick is with the United States, but if it were to somehow be implemented, Canada, the northern neighbor could be next.

The website goes on to say numerous studies have linked the consumption of animal flesh to cancer.

“By discouraging meat consumption, this tax could help prevent future climate change and related natural disasters. Revenue from the tax could be used to fund educational programs about the many benefits of reducing meat consumption,” the pushy organization continued.

According to the Cancer Council, the World Health Organization has classified processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen. Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, has been classified as a “probable” cause of cancer. However, these classifications do not indicate the risk of a person getting cancer, rather how certain they are to cause cancer.

But flip it over and there is a whole other side to the story. The British Journal of Cancer says the possibility of fruits and vegetables helping reduce the risk of cancer has been studied for over30 years with no solid results to fully support the claim. “For other common cancers, including colorectal, breast and prostate cancer, epidemiological studies suggest little or no association between total fruit and vegetable consumption and risk.”

And then there are those who may not be able to financially support a solely vegetarian or vegan diet. Fresh produce is expensive and has to be purchased more often than meat. With today’s economy, financial stress is a serious and growing trouble in more and more households.

According to Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of General Oncology and Behavioral Science, and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson, University of Texas, chronic stress makes a person’s body more hospitable to cancer.

Amelia Naismith is the reporter for The Pipestone Flyer newspaper and writes a regular column for Black Press.

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