Don't Eat Meat, Don't Smoke, Don't Do This, Don't Do That, It's for Your Own Good and That of the Planet

RECEIVED Tue., March 16, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Last week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Julie L. Gerberding warned America that obesity is catching up to tobacco as the leading cause of death in America. Obesity is a precursor to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. At the current rate, the annual obesity death toll is expected to surpass 500,000 deaths annually, rivaling cancer deaths.
   Thus, it seems only fitting that the Great American Meatout observance should surpass the Great American Smokeout in the number of local events and media coverage. Indeed, the current Meatout Web site ( lists nearly a thousand educational events in 50 states and 20 other countries.
   At each event, volunteers are asking their neighbors to kick the meat habit on March 20 (first day of spring) and explore a plant-based diet. Ten cities are hosting hundreds of billboards and bus cards carrying the Meatout message. Thirty governors and mayors are issuing special proclamations encouraging their citizens to explore a wholesome diet of whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruits.
   The times they're a changing. Are state lawsuits to recover Medicaid costs from meat companies next?
Calvin Hennison
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