May 06, 2023

Cancer vs. PETA


I have a horrible history of arguing with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) advocates, like the big Foie Gras debate in Central Park where the PETA volunteer almost clobbered me with her clipboard.

I now have another beef to pick with PETA. (Would you ever know that when I was diagnosed with cancer I had already been vegetarian for 14 years, vegan for seven? I do love cows and geese, it’s just these wactivists are absurd!)

According to the blog Disruptive Women in Healthcare, PETA is sending letters to the CEOs of major hospitals urging them to reduce their carbon footprint by eliminating meat as an option to patients, visitors and employees. I like the response of Glenna Crooks, the blogger who posted the story. She argued that transitions to meat free diets take time for our bodies and schedules to adjust to, and there is a learning curve for educating oneself about proper vegetarian nutrition.

I agree with Glenna. During and after a hospital stay is not the right time to throw another wrench into a patient’s already complex and life altering care plan. Hell, if some of us in cancer treatment or after surgery can manage to swallow a bite of boiled chicken or sip beef bullion, it is cause for a celebration not a PETA demonstration.

Hospitals should try to reduce their carbon footprint, but they should look to The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as an example of how to do so through adopting energy efficiency standards.

Are you, were you, or would you ever be vegetarian or vegan? Do you think it is a good idea for hospitals to impose that dietary choice upon patients? What food worked best for you during cancer or other illnesses and could you have gotten by without a bowl of chicken soup?

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

  1. Jen Says:
    May 6th, 2009 at 7:59 PM

    It is so easy for us to look at only one aspect of an issue-when what we should be doing-what I’m constantly striving to learn, is to think about the deeper layers of how to make the world better. This is such a great example of how a “quick fix” can sometimes cause even greater problems. Thanks to you and to Glenna for continuing the conversation of hospital reform and keeping us informed!

  2. Ed Says:
    May 6th, 2009 at 9:46 PM

    I have consciously moved toward a diet that is more focused on whole foods, but cannot and would not consider myself vegetarian. I think that hospitals might do well to improve their dietary offerings in the same way, but that there is little chance that they will be “allowed” to completely eliminate meat by their attending physicians and nutritionists - whose first responsibility is to the patient’s recovery (and not to some carbon footprint idea from PETA).

    Chicken broth with rice or noodles was a staple for me during chemotherapy - warm, protein-rich, lots of hydrating water and soluble fats.

  3. Becca Says:
    May 7th, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    No way should hospitals limit what they give people to eat. I felt such such tremendous relief when my mom ate after chemo & surgery. I loved the nurse who knew to give her just an itty-bit of food - chocolate pudding - but if it had been been chicken noodle soup, I’d have been thrilled. Being in the hospital (not to mention hideously nauseated) really sucks. If meat is what is nourishing & good for you or what appeals to you, that’s what you should be given to eat. I totally agree, Kairol: There are SO many other important and worthy battles for PETA to fight in the carbon footprint arena.

  4. Cathy Bueti Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 12:34 PM

    Great topic Kairol. I think it should be up to the patient to decide not the hospital. I am not vegetarian or vegan although over the past few years I have not eaten as much meat and now only eat turkey or chicken occasionally. When I was going through cancer treatment there wasn’t much that tasted good thanks to the wonderful metallic taste in my mouth courtesy of chemo drugs, so I often ate grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, chicken soup, mostly comfort foods that tasted good to me. So for some if that means meat that should be a choice.

  5. Sarah Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    PETA creeps me out. I love animals too but, PETA goes the extreme.
    They put up a poltical cartoon on their website after that plane went down in the Hudson River; it read: “Attention Passingers, the captain has turned on “The No Compassion Sign” and it has an imagne of geese being crushed by the plane’s eingine. Ok, the the freakin’ birds can see the big ass plane in front of them, the capitain can’t see the damn birds! I blame the birds.

    I need to eat meat to keep my ferility intact because I’m at risk for early menopause. Life is too short to worry about what we’re eating ALL THE TIME! If I was a CEO of one these hospitals I would have been responded: “Seriously? Um, no!” I’m not going vegan because A: I’m from an Irish family, B: Its delicious, and C: Leave me alone! If I want to eat beef, bacon, fish, chicken I’m gonna. Humans have been eating meat since Homo Habilis and we’re not going to stop now. Everyone leave everybody alone ok? Alight, Peace,

Leave a Comment