Hot Diggity Dog
Posted on 8 Jul 2012
By: Marilyn Ramos
Another 4th of July holiday is gone which means another Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest (that’s a mouthful…pun intended) is also gone. This year, Nathan’s held its ninety-seventh annual contest. Five-time-defending champion, Joey Chestnut, won again by devouring a record-tying 68 hot dogs (and buns) in ten minutes.
Now, I’m sure most of you have seen video clips or snippets of this nausea inducing contest. People dunking hot dogs and buns into water and shoving them into their mouths as fast as possible. For what? What purpose does this serve? For the right to claim that they ate the most hot dogs in ten minutes? Who would want this distinction? Where is the nobility and prestige in that? I question the mentality of a person who wants that to be their claim to fame.
What’s also nausea inducing is the movement to make gorging your face a sport called Competitive Eating. It makes no sense whatsoever.
The implications of this hot dog eating contest are multi-fold.
First, the toll on the body is shocking. Each Nathan’s dog has 290 calories, 710 milligrams of sodium and 17 grams of fat. In total, stuffing 68 hot dogs and buns into your body means almost enough calories as someone on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet would need in ten days. The long term effects of “competitive eating” have not yet been fully studied since this is a new phenomenon. However, if you deem yourself an ‘athlete” in this new “sport” then the long term effects can’t be good especially when we know that “competitive eating” involves mostly unhealthy foods.
Second, putting veganism and animal rights aside for just a minute, devouring 68 hot dogs in ten minutes is also cruel when you think of the millions of starving people around the world. Heck, forget the world, think of the millions starving right here in the United States (or, at least, those who are “food insecure” as they are now called). Almost 15% of Americans are “food insecure” with 5.5% of those having very low food security. That means, over 15 million Americans don’t have enough food to sustain them on a daily basis. I wonder about the child sitting in front of his/her TV who hasn’t had food that day. I wonder what he/she thinks when they see that much food piled onto a plate. When they see it disappear in ten minutes flat, do they wonder, “Who needs that much food at once?” or “Why can’t I have some?”.
If one were to argue that it is okay to eat animals (not my position) because they are used to feed the masses, then how is it “respectful” to either the animal or the starving child to have ONE person eat 68 hot dogs in ten minutes? Multiply that by the number of contestants, multiply that by how many times these contestants practiced and multiply that by the number of increasing “competitive eating” contests out there. What you get is a lot food being wasted. Food that is not used to sustain you or provide you nutrition but food used simply as a game…a sport. Food that the person barely tastes because it is being inhaled at an alarming rate. Gluttony run amok.
Whenever I see one of these competitive eating contests, I can’t help but feel saddened when I think of the animals sacrificed and the people starving everywhere. To be so glib about devouring that much food in such a short period of time makes me wonder about our priorities. Besides that, how does this one 4th of July gorge fest honor our freedom, our independence or our founding fathers? It doesn’t.
Finally, I wonder if the average person craves a hot dog more after seeing Nathan’s annual hot dog eating contest. I think they probably do. Heck, in just writing this blog I craved a veggie dog even though I haven’t eaten one in over six months. I went food shopping yesterday and bought a pack of veggie dogs and a pack of hot dog buns. But I digress, I think that these competitive eating contests spawn imitators and I can envision these macho guys in their backyards holding their own hot dog eating contests. Not because they are hungry but because they want some silly title they can lay claim to or to show off among their friends. Mature, right?
I think of the cows, pigs and turkeys who suffer so on factory farms. The months they spent confined, abused, exploited, and scared. Their sacrifice a mere blip, a mere shove down a throat. Their pain and suffering a mere stepping stone to a tacky Nathan’s “championship” belt.
In my ideal world, everyone would be vegan. But, I’m a realist and don’t believe that will ever happen so if people are going to eat animals then, at a bare minimum, I would hope that they would be more MINDFUL of the suffering and the sacrifice. Be more MINDFUL of the toll it takes on the animals and on the environment and on people. Of course, if they were more MINDFUL then they probably wouldn’t be eating animals in the first place. Ignorance is bliss but we must all strive to turn that ignorance into education and, hopefully, make this world a better place. A better place for animals. A better place for the hungry. A better place for future generations.
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