Steak and Cigarettes - Vegetarian Times

Steak and Cigarettes

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July 4, 2007

If ever I needed proof that going veg has gone mainstream, I got it a couple of weeks ago while listening to “All Things Considered” on NPR. Two congresspeople were talking about their views on immigration and one, Rep. Peter Roskam (R) from Illinois compared trying to fix the immigration situation to trying to help a heart patient who “smokes 3 packs of cigarettes a day and has been eating rib-eyes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Whoa, I thought. A Republican politician from the Midwest (Illinois, no less, a big cattle-slaughtering state) lumping red meat with cigarettes as a health hazard on national radio. That’s…huge. Oh, sure, there have been lots of stories in other media outlets about vegetarians and the growing number of vegans, but they’re often quoting—and preaching to—the choir. I don’t think you can accuse Rep. Roskam of that. His statement may have been off-the-cuff, but it’s a sign that times are changing.

More people than ever are aware that you don’t need red meat (or any meat) to be healthy—and that it can actually harm your health. Everyone I know, from my 11-year-old godson to my 80-year-old neighbor, is well-informed and genuinely concerned about how animals are treated on factory farms. I could go on and on citing examples of how vegetarian values are seeping into Americans’ collective consciousness. But I’d rather hear your examples.  This is my first blog entry, and the one thing I want to avoid is for it to be all about ME. So, click on the comments button below and start sharing your insights, too!

— Mary Margaret Chappell, food editor