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Hi there everyone, my name’s Helen and I’m a smug vegetarian.

For years I’ve been taking stick for eschewing roast chooks, averting my eyes from perfectly pink-centred chunks of rib-eye and, toughest of all, passing up gravy-soaked bangers and mash – my mouth’s watering even as I type that.

But finally, my kind and I have the chance to rub our hands together and say we told you so. Ha. 

The processed meat industry is absolute bullshit.

This has been made painfully clear by a string of stories involving everything from mystery meat in spaghetti ‘bolo-neighs’ to high levels of heart disease from eating it.

I have no problem with eating animals per se, if they’re humanely reared and killed, but there’s no denying mass meat production is a nasty business.

It begins with horrifying levels of cruelty on factory farms (don’t get me started on allegations of baby chicks being mashed alive) and continues through a lengthy processing chain where so much mincing, mixing and chemical-adding is done that by the time it’s on a plate, no one knows what the heck it is (painkiller-contaminated horse? Romanian donkey?).

And as if that wasn’t off-putting enough, last week new research by the BMC Medicine journal was released that linked processed meat with heart disease, cancer and early death.

The stats showed the overall risk of dying from any cause is 44 per cent greater for those who consume 160g of processed meat or more a day – around two sausages and a slice of bacon.

High levels of consumption increased the risk of death from heart disease by 72 per cent and cancer by 11 per cent.Surely there’s a blindingly obvious answer here.

Let’s scale down a bit. If farmers weren’t under such pressure to produce huge quantities of meat, they could afford less monstrous farming processes.

There would be no need to stuff their products with chemical preservatives.

We could all enjoy the occasional piece of nutritious, fresh, locally farmed meat and be a lot healthier for it. But until then I’m leaving well alone.

Agree or disagree? Should we bother with processed meat?

Bank customers screwed over

Another week, another banking botch-up. Many NatWest customers were left without access to their cash last week, less than a year after IT problems left them unable to move money or pay bills for days.

At the time of writing, RBS (which owns NatWest) were not offering any form of compensation to customers who had been affected.

Unsurprising, sure, especially since the number of those affected is so large, but still unacceptable. How badly do you have to have been inconvenienced by a bank before you get more than a public statement by way of an apology? 

When people can’t access their cash, they incur fines, get embarrassed at shop tills, can’t buy food for their families, or can’t afford transport home. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So come on RBS, are you really sorry about your customers having to put life on hold for a day? Then put your money where you mouth is to show it. 


Photo: Getty,


Opinion: New research links processed meat to cancer and heart disease, so why are we still eating it?
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