Is That Hot Dog Really Worth Dying For?

How much would you pay for a hot dog? A few dollars, maybe? According to the World Health Organization, it could cost you much more than that.

Nearly five years ago, the WHO released a report revealing that eating processed meats — namely, bacon, ham and hot dogs — causes colon cancer and that red meat — including beef, pork and lamb — is probably carcinogenic, too. The report made headlines around the globe, warning people that colon and rectal cancers can cause abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhea and even death.

At the time, some meat-eaters shrugged off the news, refusing to change their eating habits and even insisting that they’d rather die than stop eating meat. Are you one of them? If not, March — National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month — would be the perfect time to make a healthy change. Meat simply isn’t worth dying for — not for pigs, cows, chickens or humans.

While it’s no secret that PETA promotes vegan eating for ethical and environmental reasons, we also care about human health and don’t want anyone to suffer and die from a largely preventable disease like colorectal cancer, which is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men and women combined.

Fight Colorectal Cancer, a patient-empowerment and advocacy organization, predicts that there will be nearly 148,000 new cases of colorectal cancer in 2020, and the American Cancer Society estimates that 53,200 people will die from it this year alone. If we all opted for vegan foods rather than animal flesh, milk and eggs, we would see these figures drop dramatically.

The World Cancer Research Fund issued a 10-point plan to help people reduce their risk of cancer by as much as 40%, mainly by not eating bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats, because there’s “no level of intake” that doesn’t raise one’s cancer risk. Instead, the WCRF advises people to eat whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes and other wholesome vegan foods.

Other studies have corroborated this advice. A 2019 study of nearly 500,000 people found that those who ate meat four or more times per week had a 20% greater risk of colorectal cancer than those who ate meat less than twice a week — and that the risk rose 19% for every daily 25-gram serving of processed meat (about the size of a slice of ham) and 18% for each 50-gram serving of red meat (equivalent to a thick piece of roast beef), But it also found that high-fiber foods, such as whole-grain bread and breakfast cereals, are associated with a lower risk of colon cancer.

A New York University study involving 3,000 volunteers found that eating beans, lentils and peas was associated with a 32% lower risk of obesity-related cancers, including colorectal cancer. And researchers from the University of Ghent have found that women who eat soy-based foods instead of dairy-based are 44% less likely to suffer from colon cancer, while men who eat soy foods are 40% less likely to develop it.

The list of studies goes on and on, but they all indicate the same thing: Animal-based foods contribute to cancer and other illnesses, while vegan foods can prevent — and sometimes even reverse — life-threatening diseases.

Why not take some steps to prevent the disease? A simple way to start is by saying no to hot dogs and other animal-derived foods and instead opting for wholesome vegan choices like Beyond or Gardein Italian sausages. That’s a much more effective way to commemorate colorectal cancer month than by running marathons or wearing ribbons.