By Katherine Mangu-Ward
So apparently a bunch of vegans—with absolutely no ulterior motives at all—recently discovered that hot dogs give you gut cancer and decided that the only responsible thing to do was to file a class action lawsuit at the height of hot dog season against the owners of Nathan's, Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, and Hebrew National.
The publicity for the suit compares hot dogs to cigarettes, demanding similar labeling requirements in order to save Americans from their ignorance of the mustard-coated menace!
The group is called The Cancer Project, and while I'm sure the folks over there are genuinely anti-cancer—they probably wear bracelets and everything!—the group's (short) history suggests that the primary concern is animal rights activism.
Susan Thatcher of Irvine, California, playing the role of Man on the Street in the Los Angeles Times yesterday, had this to say:
"Vegans complaining about hot dogs is like the Amish complaining about gas prices."
While it's pretty uncontroversial that folks existing on high hot dog diets are generally less healthy, scapegoating hot dogs in particular isn't well supported:
An American Institute for Cancer Research report cited in the lawsuit notes that one 50-gram serving of processed meat—about the amount in one hot dog—consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer 21% on average....
But a 2004 analysis by Harvard University researchers of pooled data from 14 studies in North America and Europe did not find a similar link between various red and processed meats and cancer. But they did find that higher consumption of poultry and fish may be associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Coming from the other end of time, space, and the political spectrum, the ad above was published by the American Meat Institute in 1947.