Differences in points of view often lead to conflict — and the nature of that conflict is usually proportional to the gap in perspective. So, if you like Coke and I like Pepsi, we can probably still get along. But, for vegans, this dynamic can lead to extremely volatile rhetoric. If you like hamburgers and I think they are the product of systematic murder, we aren’t going to be allies. But when a vegan mocks a meat eater for catching a foodborne illness, there are some logical inconsistencies.
Of course, food poisoning can be scary — and if you aren’t concerned, take a look at Consumer Protect’s exposé on food service violations in major U.S. cities. This fear plays a part in helping us determine which foods we eat each day. In fact, when assessing the viability certain diets and dietary restrictions, many individuals consider the risks of foodborne diseases.
Common sense dictates that plant-based food is safer than meat products — right? Is there truth to this claim? And what can you do to avoid getting ill? Let’s look into the issue:
The Scope of the Problem When you contract a disease from consuming contaminated food, it is known as food poisoning. While this can lead to minor problems like temporary vomiting and fever, it can also result in far more serious consequences. A few of the potential complications from foodborne diseases include infections, kidney failure, reactive arthritis, meningitis, and even death.
Obviously, it behooves consumers to be aware and mindful of these dangerous conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 250 foodborne diseases, including e Coli, salmonella, campylobacter, and listeria. As many vegan advocates point out, beef, chicken, pork, fish, eggs, and dairy products can spread these dangerous diseases. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.
Some opponents rightfully state that many other products carry a similar risk for carrying such contaminants — and yes, this includes a wide variety of fruits, veggies, and lentils. Some of the biggest foodborne illness outbreaks of all time — leading to thousands of affected individuals and hundreds of deaths — have included contaminated foods such as peanut butter, cucumbers, spinach, strawberries, and cantaloupes. Indeed, no matter your diet, you can be exposed to foodborne illnesses. However, you can take some preventative measures to keep yourself healthy.
How Vegans Can Avoid Foodborne Illnesses There are several preventative steps you can take when purchasing and preparing food in order to keep yourself healthy. The USDA advocates following four simple steps:
• Clean: Regularly wash your hands, as well as any surfaces that come into contact with food. Also be sure to rinse produce with cold water and salt before consuming it.
• Separate: Store different foods separately. Cross-contaminating produce can make your family more susceptible to foodborne illness.
• Cook: Cook foods to safe temperatures, between 140°F and 160°F.
• Chill: Bacteria thrives at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. Promptly refrigerating or freezing unconsumed food prevents the growth of bacteria and the possibility of foodborne disease.
Advocating for animal- and eco-friendly dietary choices can lead to impassioned rhetoric and disagreements. However, such differences should not color your interpretation of factual information. Vegans are not immune to the dangers of contaminated food. Be aware of the risks of foodborne illnesses and follow the same precautionary steps as any other person.