Vegan slams cancer walk sausage sizzle

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A Queenstowner is sizzling with rage that a cancer charity-organised walk gave away cancer-causing sausages at the finish line.

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ attracted about 450 people to its inaugural Pink Star Walk fundraiser in Queenstown last Sunday.

Bridget Murphy, who’s a vegan, says sausages are “the worst possible meat you could eat”, and points out the foundation’s own website posts a warning about processed meat.

“When the announcer said, ‘go for your walk, ladies, and come back and have a sausage’, I just burst out laughing in front of my whole group.

“I said, ‘surely he’s joking’.

“It just horrified me that they had a stage there to educate people, and they just didn’t do their job.”

But Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s research & communications manager Adele Gautier bites back at Murphy’s criticisms.

Gautier says sausages can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet – as the bowel cancer risk is associated with how much processed meat you consume on a daily basis.

“It’s a fine idea to have an occasional sausage sizzle – we don’t see a problem,” Gautier says.

Murphy says when she spoke to the foundation’s representative at the event, in Queenstown Gardens, she was “nothing but defensive”.

“She said, ‘well, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says you can have a little bit of processed food, and I said, ‘what, so we can get a little bit of cancer?’

“It’s absolute rubbish. You might as well give everyone a cigarette to go with their sausage.

“I feel it’s so bad for you, and none of us are waking up to it, and unless we do, we are going to be sick and diseased, and our healthcare system just cannot keep up.”

Murphy accepts that sausage sizzles and BBQs are a Kiwi tradition.

“Just because it’s something we’ve always done doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it.”

She denies she’s being a bit extreme – “so is cancer extreme”.

However she does commend the organisers for also handing out apples at the finish line.

Gautier says: “The facts are, yes, the WHO does say that processed meat can cause bowel cancer, and that risk is to do with how much you eat on a daily basis.

“Obviously, most of us aren’t doing sausage sizzles every day. We recommend a balanced diet.”

Managing weight is paramount, she says, as obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer.

“We also recognise that as part of a balanced diet, a treat food is a part of that, and that’s how we see a sausage sizzle.

Gautier also notes that participants were offered apples and gluten-free chips, too.

“If, say, you were going to eat an apple and a sausage, it feels like balance to me.”

Murphy says she had no problem with The Hits radio station representative who ran the sizzle.

“Once I pointed it out he was like, ‘you know what, I had never even connected those dots’.”

Gautier, meanwhile, is delighted with the success of Queenstown’s first Pink Star Walk.

scoop@scene.co.nz