Local vegans agree with world health organization on

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio’s Green Restaurant in the Pearl Brewery Complex will make no changes to its menu choices after the World Health Organization released the results of its study on cancer and meats.

The vegetarian restaurant uses no processed or red meats in its offerings, something WHO specifically focused on in its report.

The report recommends new classifications of processed meat as a carcinogen and red meats as “probably”

carcinogenic. The move comes after a comprehensive look at cancer research worldwide by scientists.

WHO came to the conclusion that as little as 50 grams of processed meat a day, which amounts to about two slices of ham, can increase the risk of cancers by 18 percent. In the same recommendations, it said red meat is a probable cancer causing agent as well.

Meat industry groups strongly disagree with the decision to reclassify their products, saying the report was biased and misleading. The North American Meat Institute released a statement, saying WHO “tortured the data to ensure a specific outcome.”

Local vegans say they have suspected the WHO conclusion for many years. Phoebe Smith regularly eats at Green and has gone meatless for about five years.

“I mean, sometimes when people are making pizza at their home and I wonder, ‘Should I pick it off, what should I do?'” she said, standing by the decision.

Another regular customer, Amy Phipps, is not a full scale vegetarian, but she is considering it now.

“Don’t eat it. I’m not anti-red meat, but I just don’t seem to feel as good as when I don’t eat it,” she said.

Penny Gonzalez is new to the idea, but her daughter is encouraging her. She’s optimistic since in the process of eliminating meat, she is losing weight.

“No steak for me,” she laughed.

Even with the recommendations hitting the headlines on media and online site, the lines at restaurants that support the beef industry did not appear to be affected. Burger Boy on North St. Mary’s Street proudly serves Angus beef burgers and always earns taste awards. Its customers showed no signs of abstaining from the classic bacon cheeseburger meal.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said the scientists at the WHO were split on their decision to make an explicit link between red meat and cancer. The group is standing by its product, noting that it’s what people do and eat that affects their cancer risk as much as what they eat.

“To improve all aspects of your health, eat a balanced diet, which includes lean meats like beef, maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and, please don’t smoke,” said Shalene McNeill, an executive director at the association.

As well, some doctors say broiled meats do not pose the same carcinogenic properties of grilled or charred meats. They say how you cook it is just as important as what it is.

Still, WHO recommendations come after studying 800 pieces of research, and while its scientists may have differing opinions on what exactly is the problem, the reclassification is sure to be a focal point on all cancer risk assessments in the future.

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