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The Skinny on our Growing Girth

Written by PETA | August 26, 2009 / CC

As the high cost of health care was debated this week in the nation that was once the most powerful on Earth and is now just the fattest, two announcements were made. Time showed a slab of meat on its cover and declared, “The real cost of cheap food” (meat, in particular) costs Americans big-time when it comes to our health. And KFC–whose suppliers have been caught on camera breaking chickens’ legs and wings and scalding the birds to death in order to produce “cheap” chicken–came out with a new “sandwich” that substitutes fried chicken parts for bread and is stuffed with artery-clogging and waistline-expanding bacon and cheese. Why would KFC executives decide to do that? For the same reason that there is a Whopper and a Fifth Third Burger: Because they know that people want unhealthy foods almost as much as they want health care.

Also this week, the fat hit the pan over PETA’s pro-vegetarian billboard in Jacksonville, Florida, which read, “Save the Whales. Cut the Blubber. Go Vegetarian,” and led to the PETA website where people could download our free “Vegetarian Starter Kit” as well as take the “30-Day Veg Pledge.” There wasn’t a peep about the advertisements for meals that spell death to one million animals per hour and that contribute to our nation’s ever-expanding waistlines. There were no angry phone calls and blog messages about the audacity of the purveyors of the chicken and cheese that is turning humans into blubbery masses, or…”whales.”

America’s obesity epidemic calls for tough love à la Dr. Phil and America’s Biggest Loser, not more coddling and mock shock over a billboard pointing out that the majority of fat people need to have some discipline and remember that being fat means being a bad role model to our children, many of whom are now so fat themselves that “teeter-totter” has come to describe their wobbly gait. Only three percent of the population has a medical condition that genuinely prevents them from losing weight. The rest of the obese people hiding behind them are obese because they shovel in food and haven’t a clue (or don’t want to have a clue) about a healthy diet. They haven’t listened to or perhaps haven’t heard the polite admonitions from health experts (real ones) urging them to eat their fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and beans. So America is getting fatter, largely because we don’t realize that killing animals and squeezing the cheese out of them, perhaps especially the cheese, is slowly killing us too.

A study published last year in the journal Obesity found that if current trends continue, nearly 90 percent of adults will be overweight or obese by the year 2030 and the number of overweight children will double. This is a serious health crisis: Research has shown that higher body mass index is associated with a greater risk of premature death from all causes. For example, according to the American Heart Association, obesity contributes to heart disease, America’s number one killer. What’s more, one out of every six health-care dollars will be spent on costs related to our growing girth.

Going meat-free can make a huge difference. Studies show that vegetarians are, on average, 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters and that a vegetarian diet reduces our risk of heart disease by 40 percent and adds seven or more years to our lifespan. A study published in The American Journal of Medicine found that people who eat a low-fat vegan diet (no meat, no eggs and no dairy foods) lose about a pound per week–even without exercising or counting calories.

PETA’s billboard was fueled by a healthy respect for all the animals who are raised cruelly and killed in painful ways as well as for our own species’s potential to be kind and healthy. I read the communiqués from fat people who said “thank you” and from those who told us where we can go. To all the people considering gastric bypass or tummy-tuck surgery or who tried a low-carb diet and only got constipation and bad breath in return, I say, just try it: Choose the oatmeal with Silk soy milk instead of bacon and milk; the bean instead of the beef burrito; and the mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers instead of the meat balls. All animals would thank you for it if they could, and I’m betting that you will feel better, both inside and out.

Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk

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  • Alyse says:

    As a person who is obese but actively changing I do agree 100 with this article. I have recently begun cutting out meat from my diet starting with all red meat and any fast food meat. I feel so much better already! Too bad my family thinks its funny to make fun of me for it. But their teasing only pushes me harder to prove them wrong!

  • Dr. Carole Edmonds says:

    I am in total agreement with what you say. If every person would take responsibility for his own life we wouldn’t be in this health care mess. I can’t believe the delusional attitude people have about their health problems… like claiming that it is genetic. They really don’t appreciate it when I tell them that health problems are 70 lifestyle. I became vegetarian 13 years ago and then vegan 3 months ago. I can’t believe how much better I feel taking the total vegan plunge. I think now many of my issues were food allergies. I have more energy and my blood sugar has stabilized. I work to not be a diabetic. If I did not live it I probably not believe it. I am getting the word out to everyone who will listen. I feel like a walking testimonial…Go vegan.

  • Star808 says:

    Now WHY did I see a billboard in Jacksonville Fl from ChikFillA Saying SAVE THE WHALES EAT MORE CHICKEN With a fat woman on both sides of it . Ok so PETA cant put a Billboard up that could actually save lives but a chicken slaughtering Company can put up a billboard that causes clogged arteries and heart Diseases We Americans really need to pull our heads out of our A..

  • Matt Greenwood says:

    What a great Article Billboard! Well done to the everfantastic Ingrid E. Newkirk! You are such an inspiration to us all you are my Hero! xxxx

  • Kateline Zullich says:

    This is a great article! Very well written.

  • Jenny says:

    Ingrid Newkirk you are my hero! I respect you so much and I wish I could meet you!

  • Adrienne says:

    I 100 completely agree with you I saw your spot on the news as well. Being an obese person who is currently in the process of reaching a healthy weight I can’t agree more that it is completely a lifestyle change and choice that is the responsibility of the individual. This country does nothing but complain and search for a “cure” for obesity. It annoys me that it’s called a disease because that does nothing but foster a culture of perceived helplessness as if being obese is something that just “happens” to you. Although I am not a vegetarian I respect your work and beliefs and have significantly cut down on my meat consumption because logically over indulging in that is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. We most certainly need a kick in our proverbial and every expanding asses for our sake and the generations to come.

  • sue says:

    Im 40 years old. I have been a vegetarian since I was 16. I am healthy I have heath care but honestly I have never had to use it. Dental yes braces wisdom teeth removed a few stiches from sporting accidents. But Healthy I am and Im Loving it!If you have to go fast food do Wendy’s Plain Baked Potato and salad YUM!

  • Magda K. says:

    I really enjoyed your discussion on CNN. I would have never logged onto your website and ordered a starter kit. I’ve read a study that proves obesity decreases intelligence. I wouldn’t waste my breath arguing with them

  • Joanna says:

    Even in these lean times I see a line of cars waiting to pick up breakfast a McD’s every morning. You’d think with everybody cutting back people would discover oatmeal is a perfectly good breakfast and MUCH cheaper than anything served in a fast food drive thru.

  • todd says:

    We need to get the insurance companies to charge by the pound

  • Pamela Ernest says:

    A high fat diet also contributes to alzheimers. Having taken care of the elderly for 15 years Alzheimers is a horrible slow death.

  • T. Carlos ?Green says:

    I really thank you!!! I have been a vegetarians for about 2 months now and I feel so so good. I thank God for you and your web sites. Please keep up the good work that you are doing.

  • Adrienne says:

    When the lady was talking to ingrid on CNN the author of “fat? so!” she said that PETA is about hate speach. Well noone tells the “truth” campaign that they are spewing out hate to the people who smoke. So its very funny to me that the billboard is such an issue.

  • Barbara Rabun says:

    Attn Ingrid E Newkirk Thank you for your talk on CNN and thank you for your PETA Billboard on Obesity. We need these billboards EVERYWHERE. We need communities to start a community farm growing fruits and veggies everywhere!! Keep the Billboards coming and focus on people who continue to go every into FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS! What about the CHEMICALSPRESERVATIVES in our FOODS PROMOTE BAKING BREAD AT HOME!! Something! Please understand I am not perfect but if everyone tried to change their lifestyle by being more aware of what they put into their bodies then the results could be huge. Caffeine makes you hungry so you eat more sugar and it continues from there. I am not a vegetarian so many of my friends are. I exercise very regularly and watch what I eat and eat according to my Nat.Dr.’s recommendations. We need more Dr.s helping us out. A Dr. down in Pensacola or Panama City was recently Fired for telling his employees to only bring fruit and nuts to work meetings because Obesity was America’s No. 1 Disease this was in the paper week of 817. Just a little less food for thought.

  • Massiell says:

    The bottom line folks is meat cardiovascular disease+ diabetes+ high cholesterol+ obesity+ osteoporosis+ Alzheimer’s+ asthma+ male impotence which leads to a shorter life span than vegansvegetarians. If you want to feel good be more energized have a stronger immune system then don’t eat meat. You will definitely not regret it. I’m 24 years old and I’ve been a vegan for 9 years. I honestly couldn’t be happier. I’m a vegan for life. Killing an animal is just wrong and even worst is knowing that meat is not necessary in order for the human race to keep existing.

  • Ruthie says:

    It’s interesting how Americans think. If they only knew that by being Vegetarian they could save hundreds of dollars on their groceries. Meat is the most expensive item in the store. Veggies and grains even veggiemeat is far cheaper than meat. I work for a grocery chain so I know first hand. I save my money my health and helpless animals by being Vegetarian.

  • Emilee says:

    I wish that everyone would become vegan because they loved animals but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Even if you don’t love animals you should at least love yourself enough to change your diet. Why would anyone want to suffer from heart disease or diabetes when you don’t have to? Your life won’t suck if you become a vegan. You can still get icecream made out of soy milk or coconut milk. You can get cheese made out of rice milk or soy milk. You can even find soy bacon that is by the way super yummy. Prove that you love yourself by becoming a vegan. I am positive you will feel and look so much better.

  • Joe Thill says:

    Great article. Great bilboard too! Ordered my Veg. Kit and Became a vegetarian last week and haven’t looked back. Thanks for all you do!