A pro-lifer friend shared his concern with me this morning, asking if we should oppose bacon along with contraceptives, since bacon has been declared a Class 1 Carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
First of all, the processed meat and cancer connection is nothing new. I’ve heard that since I was a child, that’s why my mom (who’s a pharmacist) never stocked it at home. Bacon, SPAM, hotdogs — especially the bright red ones available in the Philippines — rarely appeared on our dinner table.
What has always concerned me more as an adult and what I think has not been explored enough is the connection between GMO feed, antibiotic use in animals, factory farming, the use of pesticide in plants that end up as animal feed… and cancer.
My friend is concerned that we make a big deal about OCPs being Class 1 Carcinogens, but we proclaim our love for bacon all the time, and therefore we’re being inconsistent and hypocritical. That bacon is now a proven carcinogen (I don’t agree with this 100%) means we can no longer use “the carcinogen argument”. I still don’t think it’s the same thing.
The message given to us by the WHO, by Big Pharma, by pro-choice lobbyists, by supposed philanthropists, is worlds apart from anything we’ve ever said about bacon. First of all they either don’t even acknowledge that OCPs are carcinogens, or they downplay that by telling a woman to do it for her family, her country, and for the man who uses her body. They sell it as a NEED and a COMMON GOOD.
Contraceptive pills and bacon are both LIFESTYLE CHOICES. People can choose to take pills or not. They can also choose to consume bacon or not. We’ve never promoted bacon as a MUST. It’s food, and one that poor people can rarely even afford, if at all. We don’t go around giving away bacon for free or selling it at discounted prices. The Catholic Church doesn’t fund bacon distribution to the poorest countries saying that it will help them, whereas contraceptives have been touted as panacea for poverty and hunger. For much of the world, bacon isn’t even an option. One could even say “bacon is carcinogen” is a first world problem.
Contraceptives, on the other hand, are not only sold so people can purchase and use them freely as they wish, they are MANDATED and PAID FOR BY TAXPAYERS, even those of us who don’t use them and don’t agree that it’s beneficial to do so. When was the last time we lobbied for access to bacon?
And I say all this not just because I love bacon, but because I love people too. I am all for increased awareness of the dangers of processed meat consumption. Educating and informing people about it doesn’t dilute our advocacy against contraception one bit. As far as our family is concerned, we are always trying to increase our consumption of plant-based foods, just because we’ve read and learned enough to know that it’s the healthy way to eat. When it comes to meat I try to purchase grass-fed beef, pastured pork, naturally cured meats (or we cure our own without the use of things like saltpeter) whenever I can. I try to find out as much as I can about our local farmers’ practices so I can discern better what to feed my family.
I’ve only ever seen pro-lifers promote healthy diets, with everything in moderation, and that includes bacon, though we tend to agree that bacon makes everything better! Pills? Not so much. Besides, Bacon Causes Cancer? Sort of. Not Really. Ish.