The Mix

The hell with politics and heart attacks: how about bigger slabs of meat for the 4th of July?

What's more patriotic than good old American beef -- hot dogs, hamburgers and big juicy steaks.
It's the Friday before the 4th of July weekend and the political world is abuzz with the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. For many, O'Connor was the lynchpin of a more or less sane Supreme Court that teetered, but rarely fell over into right-wing insanity (except of course for that fateful decision in the 2000 election).

But still it is a holiday, and politics aside, the tradition of the weekend calls for fireworks and cookouts, often with slabs of meat lathered with barbecue sauce. This is, of course the American way. What's more patriotic than good old American beef -- hot dogs, hamburgers and big juicy steaks.

Yes, we will be celebrating our independence from colonial England, but one thing we still have in common with the Brits is major meat eating.

According to writer Steve Jelbert, there is a new craze of bigger meat consumption motivated by  a "big slab of meat" cookbook officially titled The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, that has achieved cult-like popularity and created a new breed of hardcore carnivores in England.

Jelbert's pop psych hypothesis goes like this: "Men of a certain age are struggling to find a role in their difficult middle years. Shorn of their traditional hunter-gatherer role and unwittingly feminised by partners who earn more than them (hello love!), we -- I mean, they -- seek reassurance." 

Well, that is discouraging, and a good way to kill oneself. For whatever the reason, the guys are chowing down the big stuff at new levels and perhaps forgetting that the only source of bad cholesterol, a crucial factor in narrowing arteries that lead to heart attacks, comes from animals. 

I checked to see how the heart attack rate was in England, noting of course that coronary heart disease is preventable. According to the data, approximately 275,000 people in the UK have a heart attack every year, resulting in more than 110,000 deaths. But the real shocker is that in the U.S.  more than 70 million have some form of cardiovascular disease, and in 2002 a little short of one million people (927,448) died from heart attacks.

People, it is not too late to put some vegetables on your skewers and declare independence from those slabs of meat.
Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.
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