Why Cancer-Causing Meat Should Be Off the School Lunch Menu

Posted on by PETA Australia

In late 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed what Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and others have been saying for a long time: that eating bacon, hot dogs, ham and other processed meats can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.

The WHO findings put processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as cigarettes and asbestos and also noted that red meat, including beef, pork, veal, and lamb, is likely carcinogenic.

Cigarette Smoking

All parents want their children to be healthy. When sending them off to school, parents place a tremendous trust in others to keep them safe and protect them from danger.  That’s why PETA is urging school administrators to take heed of the risks to young people by dropping processed meats from school lunches.

“Few parents would toss their kids a lighter and a pack of cigarettes, and they don’t want schools tossing their kids ‘cancer sticks’ in the form of salami sandwiches or bacon cheeseburgers, either. Children who eat vegan meals receive all the protein, vitamins and fibre they need and have many advantages over their meat-eating peers.”


– PETA Campaigns Director Jason Baker

According to the WHO, up to 40 percent of all types of cancer are preventable, and the American Cancer Society reports that one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States can be attributed to nutritional factors. The Dietitians Association of Australia states that “it is possible to obtain all the nutrients required for good health on a vegan diet”.

In addition to a lower risk of developing cancer, children who grow up eating plant-based meals will also benefit from a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease and other maladies as adults.

With Australia’s childhood obesity rates rapidly increasing, it makes sense that we should provide our children with healthy, plant-based meals which are lower in fat and have been shown to result in a lower body mass index.

Keeping meat off the school menu would also help farmed animals who suffer every day in severely crowded transport trucks, ammonia-filled factory farms and terrifying blood-filled abattoirs. Children, who are naturally empathetic to animals, would be horrified to learn where their school meat – processed or otherwise – comes from.

To see the letter PETA sent to schools in Devonport, Tasmania, click here.


Inspired to prepare plant-based meals for your children at home? Our vegetarian/vegan starter kit contains helpful tips on nutrition, including information specific to childhood and parenting.