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#SmugVegetarians and bacon fans process their feelings over meat cancer warnings

Bacon might be one the most popular food items in social media, from its very own Facebook page with over 6 million likes to memes and recipes purporting that you really can make anything better if you add bacon to it. If you plan to speak ill of bacon, hot dogs, or other processed meat, you should generally prepare yourself to be greeted by a virtual army of angry fans.

However, the reaction to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent report that “eating processed meat such as sausages and ham causes cancer…” was a mixture of sadness, panic, and joy. Fans turned to social media declaring that even cancer couldn’t stop their love for meat; non-fans seemingly delighted in and celebrated the possibility that other people might get cancer but not them.

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In addition to processed meats being linked to cancer, the report notes that red meat may also be carcinogenic, placing nearly every type of meat product that people who love meat love, in the same category as smoking and asbestos. While the news understandably upset meat eaters who have likely spent their entire lives consuming large amounts of meat deemed dangerous in the report, vegetarians took to social media with hashtags such as #smugvegetarian to say, “I told you so,” and smokers got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to wag their fingers at people who might now be considered unhealthier than themselves.

The North American Meat Industry, among those upset about the recent WHO study, called the report, “dramatic and alarmist overreach,” while taking to social media themselves to respond. Janet Riley, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at North American Meat also issued a statement via the meatnewsnetwork YouTube channel basically stating, you should keep eating meat because if you pay attention to the list of cancer-causing agents, “living on this planet is a hazard.”

Which side are you on? And does it really matter?