BEEF! It’s what’s for dinner? Part I
Oprah Winfrey caused quite an up roar when she swore off beef after having the Mad Cowboy Howard Lyman on her show back in April of 1996. Lyman discussed everything from Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad cow disease or BSE) to the hundred thousand cattle who are slaughtered every year in the United States (A figure that has gone up considerably since then). The Texas cattle rancher’s association then sued Winfrey and Lyman on the basis that their bottom line would take a major hit after her un-endorsement of their industry. The ranchers lost and Winfrey proudly asserted that “Free Speech Rocks” after the verdict.
Free speech still rocks and I will throughly be exercising that right as I discuss some topics concerning food and more specifically meat in this blog. There are many health issues including diabetes, hypertension, obesity and even cancer that can be greatly reduced or even cured with the switch to a plant based diet. The latter of those of course can not be cured in the later stages of the disease but can almost be entirely avoided when meat is no longer consumed.
I wanted to preface this post with the story about Winfrey as I feel it is still very much applicable to the point I will be making about vegetarianism/ veganism. While the naysayers will undoubtably congregate and spew what they spew best know that it is not my intention to convert but to educate and all forms of criticism and opinion are welcome.
Winfrey was most worked up about the prospect of Mad cow disease spreading throughout the United States and the practice of feeding cattle dead cattle. A practice that has since been banned as it was seen as the leading cause of the disease being spread in the United Kingdom.
In humans Mad cow is known as a new variation on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and in 1993 was responsible for the deaths of more than 150 people and 180,000 cattle. CBS News Still it wasn’t until 1996 when the “Food and Drug Administration announced that in order to prevent an outbreak of BSE in the United States, the agency would “expedite” new rules prohibiting the use of certain animal proteins in cattle feed. Again it was even later “August 4, 1997, almost a year and a half after the FDA promised a speedy response to the threat of mad cow, new animal feed restrictions took effect” Fast Food Nation
Slaughterhouses and rendering plants had scrap meat in excess and for them feeding cattle the dead carcasses of other cows was cost efficient. However, it wasn’t just the carcasses of other cows being recycled as food but also those of sheep, goats, deer, mink, elk, cats and dogs. The new regulations that were halfheartedly put into effect by the FDA soon required rendering plants to provide documentation proving that their cattle had not been fed any of the banned feeds. This was only successful after McDonald’s had pledged to not purchase meat from rendering plants without the appropriate certification.
What the FDA had tried to accomplish for years McDonald’s accomplished in a matter of weeks. I will have more on the diabolical industry that is Fast Food at a later date but in the mean time click on the link below to appreciate the weight of meat consumption.
What does BSE do to a human brain? Mad cow is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the brain and spinal cord to deteriorate into a spongy constancy making the brain look similar to swiss cheese. BSE has a long incubation period and can go unnoticed in someone who is infected for as long as ten years.
Whether or not there is an impending Mad cow epidemic awaiting us it is important to consider those who are meant to have your best interests at heart and whether or not those who make food safety regulations actually do. As recently as April of 2012 a dairy cow in California tested positive for BSE. Once believed that it was only transferable between cows when infected tissue was consumed it’s now speculated that the disease can spontaneously appear.