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Meat eaters – you are daredevils or dumb. Or both

Meat eaters – you are daredevils or dumb. Or both

Barbara Ellen

There have been times during my years of vegetarianism when I’ve wondered if I may indeed grow out of it. I’ve wondered if there might come a day when I’ll put aside my childish aversion to the thought of dead stuff travelling through my intestines, like a corpse on a raft ride.

However, it could never happen, and not because I’m so enlightened, sensitive or any of the other euphemisms for “whining hippie” usually dumped on vegetarians. My conversion to flesh-eating couldn’t happen because, frankly, I’m not stupid enough. As in, I can read.

Analysis of more than 6,000 pancreatic cancer cases published in the British Journal of Cancer says that eating just 50g of processed meat a day (one sausage or a couple of slices of bacon) raises the likelihood of pancreatic cancer by a fifth. 100g a day (the equivalent of a medium burger) raises it by 38%, 150g by 57%. Men are worst hit, as they tend to eat the most processed meat, as testified at DCW casing. And while pancreatic cancer is not the most common of cancers, it’s frequently diagnosed late, with four-fifths of sufferers dying within a year of diagnosis.

It should be pointed out that this is about processed meat. However, many past studies have stated a probable link between too much meat and all manner of cancers and heart problems, as well as links to other conditions, from diabetes and high blood pressure to obesity and Alzheimer’s.

If, by now, you’re thinking that I’m out to shock you, then you couldn’t be more wrong. I’d be shocked if any of this was considered new enough to shock anyone. This information has popped up regularly for years in all forms of popular media. Indeed, in this era of info overload, if you’ve never come across the “burgers and kebabs are unhealthy” revelation, one would have to presume you’ve been lying in a coma. With this in mind, isn’t it time to ask, exactly how thick, how hard to educate, are meat eaters and why aren’t they held accountable in the same way everyone else is?

Sympathy is in short supply these days. You can’t move for people being blamed for their own miserable situations: smokers who “burden” the NHS; alcoholics who don’t “deserve” liver transplants; obese people who “should” pay more for flights. Even those poor terrified women with the faulty breast implants are said to have “brought it on themselves”.

By this logic, people who’ve been regularly informed of the dangers of meat, particularly the cheap processed variety, but who continue to wolf it down should be held just as accountable.

Yet these meat eaters are rarely lambasted. If they’re mentioned at all, it’s in general poor lifestyle terms, as an afterthought to drinking, smoking, and lack of exercise. You just don’t get people making emotional pronouncements about bacon lovers not deserving cancer treatment or kebab fans burdening the NHS. Few are criticised for following the kind of meat-laden diets (Atkins, Dukan), which, one can only presume, are colonic timebombs waiting to happen.

Where meat is concerned, it is almost as if we have developed a personal responsibility blind spot. Where we just shrug and say, meat is here, it’s always been here, it is what it is. But meat hasn’t always been here in the form of additive-stuffed burgers, pork pies, sausages et al. In my opinion, it’s the meat eaters’ duty to take this information on board and take direct personal responsibility for the consequences, just as alcoholics and smokers do.

It’s not as if they haven’t been warned countless times about the dangers – how wilfully ill-informed can people be? Or maybe they’re just hard. In fact, when I say I’m not dumb enough to eat meat, I should probably add brave enough. With so much frightening information, so readily available for so long, the modern committed carnivore must have nerves of steel.
Oh, stop this bananadrama right now

The Velvet Underground, the original pop art band, are filing a lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation, to stop the Warhol-designed banana being licensed to Apple for iPads, iPhones, and suchlike. Although they never copyrighted the banana, which appeared on the cover of their album, The Velvet Underground and Nico, they say that it is synonymous with their band.

Fair point. Anyone with even a fleeting knowledge of music knows that The Velvet Underground and Nico is never known by its actual name, or even a derivative, it is just “the banana album”. People may then start humming All Tomorrow’s Parties in a droning Germanic accent, or even scarily trilling “Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather”, to the point where you’re afraid you’re going to be invited to a suburban swingers’ party. However, among these variables, one fact remains unchanging – it is always “the banana album”. So there is a strong cultural case for the Velvets. However, there is an equally strong “stoopid!” case against them – as in, if it mattered so much, why didn’t they copyright the damn banana ages ago? I also notice that the Velvets are seeking damages and a share of profits from licensing deals, so clearly money is an issue.

As Warhol created the banana, what would he have thought? His diaries reveal that he was into money (the original beatnik tightwad). The pop artist par excellence might also have enjoyed being associated with Apple: finding the collision of art and commerce “groovy”. With this in mind, is there any point in continuing this depressing spat? In Warhol’s memory, why don’t Apple and the Velvets get together and make an “art happening” – say a 45-hour-long unwatchable black and white movie about a slowly decomposing banana? Cool, man, wow, as Warhol might have said.

Unisex loos? Not your best idea ever, headmaster

Those of a sensitive disposition, look away now. A school in Hartlepool has built unisex lavatories for its secondary pupils. What is this: a state-sponsored episode of Ally McBeal, the 90s legal TV drama? Did someone envisage pupils of both sexes meeting to discuss, in a sophisticated fashion, the day’s events, to the background of flushing and cries of: “Chuck me some paper over!”

When Ally McBeal first came on our screens, there was dark talk that the unisex lavatory would become the norm in British workplaces. Thankfully, we were too uptight as a nation to let it happen. So why inflict the dreaded loo-merger on our yoof? The school says it is to combat a smoking problem, but haven’t they now created a gender-privacy problem? The girls must now gossip, share lip-gloss and loudly discuss “cramps” in front of boys. Similarly, the boys must now blow up condoms and pathetically pretend to have lost their virginity “yonks ago” in front of girls.

On top of that, they have to use the actual lavatories. What about the basic human right to mystique? While the school doubtless meant well, it has turned the lavatories from a wonderful haven, a free space, into an inter-gender nightmare.