Eating Meat: Just As Bad As Smoking Cigarettes?

Eating Meat: Just As Bad As Smoking Cigarettes?

New evidence shows that processed meat increases risk of cancer.

There have been controversies pertaining to the meat industry for as long as most of us can remember. The never-ending debates between vegans and carnivores have become a standard part of the world we live in. Generally, we all have our side of what we conclude to be true. But what does one do when a prestigious and respected group such as the World Health Organization comes out with new research that could affect the entire population? Do we just ignore it because it may not be in line with the very beliefs that we hold to be true?

It's time to stop being stubborn and listen to the facts. We need to evaluate what actions we are implementing and food we are consuming as an entire nation. The World Health Organization has recently come out with a statement in which they proclaimed, "Bacon, ham, and sausage rank alongside cigarettes as major cause of cancer."

As a society we continuously roll our eyes at sentiments such as this because "everything gives you cancer!" It is as if we begin to believe this incredibly arduous disease is a made up tale that no one can come in contact with. I hate to break the news, but we are not immortal, and cancer does in fact exist. If we link up the statistics of all the hazards we face to the amount of people that suffer from cancer in the world, we can easily see that maybe these risks we continuously hear about do in fact make sense. It has been estimated that more than one in three people (thirty three percent) will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. This multitude of the population suffers from cancer because it is a disease that has a copious amount of factors in play.

"Does this mean that my chance of getting cancer is the same if I eat meat and if I smoke?" It depends on the kind of meat you're eating.

The World Health Organization has come to find that they had enough evidence to place processed meats as a group one carcinogen. Processed meat has been found to be linked to causation of bowel cancer.

"What is processed meat exactly?" Processed meat included meats that go through a preservation process that could include smoking, salting or the adding of certain chemicals.

Examples include; hot dogs, ham, and salami. Ever hear people express that they won't eat hot dogs because they "don't know what is even in them"? This is exactly why.

The World Health Organization has placed red meat in group two A, which is under the category as being "probably carcinogenic to humans." As stated by the International Agency of Research on Cancer, red meat has been found to having casual links to prostate and pancreatic cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the amount of deaths in 2015 from rectum and colon cancer are projected to be a staggering 49,700. The IARC has stated that for every 1.8 ounce portion of processed meats one eats daily, their risk of these cancers increases by 18 percent. See the image below from USA Today for portion size reference.

"So is eating meat really as bad as smoking?" Not necessarily.

While processed meat has been placed in the same category as tobacco use in terms of carcinogenic to humans, this category more so evaluates the strength of the scientific evidence, rather than the level of risk, the WHO explains.

Even though eating processed and red meats may not necessarily be as great a cause of cancer as smoking is, it should still raise a red flag for us to look at our habits and what we are putting into our bodies. Cancer is a serious disease that takes over 14 million lives each year (See here for a chilling visual), and every precaution should be evaluated.

(There are many studies showing nutritional benefits of red meats, and this article in no way expressing to cease all consumption.)

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10 Beginner's Tips For Going Gluten-Free Like A Champ

Living a gluten-free lifestyle is easier than you think.

Whether it's due to a diet fad or various health-related concerns, the shift to eating gluten-free has become commonplace. A couple of months ago, I found myself climbing into the same boat as all the other gluten-free dieters to help with my own health conditions. I already had experience cutting out dairy from my food repertoire, but banishing gluten is its own journey.

If you find yourself cutting out the grainy villain, it can seem overwhelming.Thankfully, there are a lot of accessible options out there. So, take a deep breath and check out these tips from someone who's been there.

1. Get to know your grocery store or market.

Publix has an entire aisle dedicated to (mostly) gluten-free foods. Unfortunately, even that glorious aisle isn't a one-stop shop. If you prefer to do your searching digitally, you can make a shopping list on their website and it will tell you where to find your products in-store. No matter where you shop, learn where your products are to curtail any market meltdowns.

2. Figure out if cross-contact matters for you.

Cross-contact happens when an item is gluten-free, but is handled or prepared with the same equipment used on gluten-containing foods. The reason behind your diet change is going to determine if you need to be mindful of this or not. It may seem overboard for some, but even super small amounts of gluten can cause harm to those with celiac disease and allergies.


This can be tricky. Foods that carry a gluten-free label must meet FDA requirements, but the label is voluntary. That means foods that don't have the label may still be safe for you to eat. To make sure, you need to check the ingredients list for gluten-containing grains and their derivatives. Even if it passed the ingredients test, cross-contact is still possible unless otherwise noted.

4. Beware of common items that seem harmless, but are secret gluten ninjas.

Foods that are naturally gluten-free can become double-agents due to fillers, flavorings, or processes. Don't worry, this list has got your back.

5. Get all the recipes because if you weren't cooking before, you will be now.

Cooking your own meals gives you peace of mind and saves you money. Pinterest is a treasure trove of recipes for all kinds of dietary needs.

6. Gluten-free pasta and gluten-free bread is my life-saver.

Seriously, my mom's spaghetti is my ultimate comfort food and there's no way I'm giving up one-pot pasta meals or sandwiches. There's a pretty wide range of gluten-free pastas and breads available, so decide which ones favor your wallet and taste buds best. My favorite so far is Udi's frozen bread and Barilla's pasta.

7. Re-learn how to eat out.

One of the biggest struggles with eating gluten-free is figuring out what you can enjoy at restaurants. My best advice - research ahead of time (if you can) and don't be bashful about asking questions. Many eateries now offer gluten-free or allergen-friendly menus and are happy to accommodate you.

8. Find your go to snacks.

Some of your favorite snack foods may not be safe anymore, but it's just an opportunity to expand your second breakfast/elevenses/afternoon tea game. My favorite so far is gluten-free fig bars. It helps take a little bit of the pressure off of trying to decide what to eat.

9. Consider starting a food journal.

Food journals help you track down how gluten affects you, the amount you can tolerate, and determine if a gluten-free diet is helping or not.

10. Follow gluten-free lifestyle gurus on social media.

There are people who are collecting gold-mines of information and you can keep them right in your pocket. Their posts can give you new ideas and point you in the right direction for products and local restaurants. They're real-life superheros.

With some creativity, some constructive failures, and some patience, you will figure out what works best for you. While changing my diet certainly hasn't magically cured anything for me, it has given me the guidelines I needed to choose healthier food. Your body will thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Gardie Design & Social Media Marketing

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The Starbucks Arrest Is Here To Teach Us How To Use Our White Privilege

We all have to do our part in speaking up if we want to fight racism.

Starbucks has been known for making equality one of the company’s core values, like in 2015 when they came up with the “Race Together” campaign where baristas would write the phrase on customer’s cups in order to encourage conversation on race, so it came as an even bigger shock when just this past month two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks while waiting for their friend.

The men had not ordered anything while they waited, and this prompted the store manager to ask them to leave, which the men refused to do. The manager then called the police and had the men arrested and taken out of the store in handcuffs.

When I first saw Melissa DePino’s video of the arrest, I was furious, but upon rewatching, I saw a glimmer of hope. In DePino’s video, you can see Andrew Yaffe, the friend that the men were waiting for, asking the police why they were called, and if the reason was that they were two black men. Yaffe’s decision to confront the police about the arrest and call them out for their racism is crucial because it serves as an example for what other white people should do if they are faced with a similar situation.

Yaffe used his white privilege for good by demanding that the officers tell him why no one else was kicked out of the Starbucks for not ordering and by calling their actions discriminatory. Since he is white, it was clear that he would not be arrested for talking back to those police officers, so he seized the opportunity and attempted to have his friends freed.

DePino stated in the caption for her video that the other white people in the Starbucks were also wondering why they had never been told to leave a Starbucks for doing the same thing as those men. It is important for as many white people as possible to use their privilege to speak up when they see injustice because they are the ones that are given power in our society. Unfortunately, white people typically only listen to other white people, so they have a better chance of getting through to someone that is racist and stopping them from being discriminatory.

Even though the two men were still arrested despite the efforts of the other customers, the CEO of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, has also taken steps to use his privilege to prevent the same situation from happening again. On May 29 Starbucks will close its 8,000 company-owned stores and provide racial bias training for about 175,000 workers. Johnson stated that “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we're committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities."

Starbucks is setting an example for other companies to make racial equality a priority and I think that is commendable. The public demanded action from Starbucks when the video came out of the men being arrested and the CEO heard their comments and took action quickly.

We should not be too prideful to take criticism in regards to race relations because there is room for improvement for all of us.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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