Feeling Patriotic this Fourth of July? Choose Veggie Dogs at Holiday BBQs! It’s Your Civic Duty to Go Vegan, America!

We Americans celebrate lots of things on July 4: Independence – whatever it might mean for each of us. Family. Friends. Summer. And whether our celebrations are large or small, they generally involve hot dogs. Few things are more “American” than the cylindrical tube of by-products stuff inside a bun and covered with mustard and relish.

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans eat 155 million hot dogs each July 4: that’s enough to stretch from L.A. to D.C. more than five times. And the iconic Coney Island hot-dog eating contest celebrates its 98th year this Thursday, with 12 men and women competing in hopes of winning the title of hot dog eating champion. These are but two examples of our love affair with a cylindrical tube of by-products known as hot dogs.

This article is an invitation to all Americans to reconsider your Fourth of July menu. Here are four reasons to celebrate your independence from a diet that promotes environmental devastation, disease, and animal suffering.

  1. You love America. July 4 is a day not only to celebrate our good fortune to be American, but also to consider our individual responsibility for America’s well-being. As confusing as it was before I began to educate myself, I now understand that the very best way I can care for my country, truly, is to refrain from eating animal products. Plant-based eating uses far less water, far less energy, far less land, and far fewer crops (most of the corn and soy grown in the US is used to feed animals, not to feed people). According to the EPA, the comparative impact of methane, released by cows and other ruminants (as well as by landfills, swampland, etc.), is over 20 times greater than carbon dioxide in its impact on global warming. Mind you, I used to love burgers as much as the next person. But the truth is that animal agriculture is destroying America — our air, our water, our topsoil, our biodiversity. And as the leading cause of global warming, it is destroying entire communities, and costing human lives. (Think of the devastation caused by Irene, Lee, and Sandy.) We can continue our membership in The Flat Earth Society (thank you for that one, Mr. President), or we can acknowledge what science now knows to be true and change our behavior in response.
  2. You love animals. If you do, I invite you to consider that the hot dogs and hamburgers you eat on July 4 are made from pigs — some of the most exceptional individuals I’ve ever known — and cows — gentle, kind, and sensitive animals. To consider that just as your dog and cat greet each new day with anticipation, pigs and cows do, too, if given the chance. To consider that any ten pigs are as individual as any ten dogs, or any ten humans. At Catskill Animal Sanctuary, for instance, Franklin is high strung and moody, Nadine is sweet and serene, and Amelia is a goofy, in-your-face imp. I’m sure it will surprise you that many pigs love to swim. As I wrote in my new book, Animal Camp, all hearts yearn to sing. I don’t think this to be true. I know it to be true. Even if you differ with me on this one — if you believe, for instance, that cows, pigs, and chickens were put here for us to eat — at least acknowledge that you’re eating someone, not something. And acknowledge that the animals suffer mightily for your choice. At least give me that. And then perhaps qualify your “I love animals” statement, saying instead either “I love dogs and cats” or “I love animals, but right now, I’m okay with eating them, too.”
  3. While you may not be a health nut, you probably don’t want to eat animals. Many doctors acknowledge that eating animal products is unhealthy. The facts are compelling: vegetarians are less likely to develop many forms of cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. They’re less likely to have chronic conditions like allergies and acne. Yet as bad as the consumption of animal products is for us, eating highly processed meat is one of the worst dietary choices we can make. After reviewing 7,000 clinical studies of the links between diet and cancer, The World Cancer Research Fund concluded that processed meats (hamburgers, hot dogs, meat in frozen dinners, sandwich meats, bacon, etc.) are dangerous for human consumption, citing numerous studies including one that noted a 67 percent increase of pancreatic cancer among those who regularly ate processed meat.
  4. Veggie dogs TASTE BETTER. Well, not all of them. Some are disgusting. But others taste better than the most delicious Ball Park Frank I ever ate. For instance, Field Roast, my favorite veggie dog company, “believes ‘real’ is better than fake.” The Field Roast Frankfurter has a wheat base, with other ingredients like garlic, paprika, onions, sea salt, and celery seed. They are available at Whole Foods and many other food stores. Tofurky dogs are another delicious option. Use their “find a store” link, or pick them up at your nearby Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

I’m not an angry person. I’m not a militant animal rights activist. I’m an American who loves my country, loves animals, and who knows that a plant-based diet is not only better for the Earth and the animals… it’s better for me, too. I’m hoping that on this special day, my words might resonate with those who would ordinarily dismiss them. I’m hoping that when I check the comments below this article that mixed in with the predictable knee-jerk comments will be some from folks who say, “Ok, Kathy. I hear ya. I’m serving veggie dogs this July 4.”

Now that would be something to celebrate.

Kathy and her message of “kindness to all” has been featured in the New York Times and Veg News magazine, as well as on Good Morning America (CBS) and NBC Nightly News. Kathy is a blogger on farm animal issues for the Huffington Post and the author of the critically and commercially successful Where the Blind Horse Sings. Kathy is a frequent speaker to audiences of all ages and social strata, from the urbane green crowd at The Seed Experience in NYC to students in schools across the Northeast. Kathy lives on the grounds of Catskill Animal Sanctuary with her dog Chumley and her cats Fat Boy and Mouse.




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