Impotence Caused By
Eating Says Animal
Rights Group


REGINA (CP) -- An animal rights group is aiming below the belt with a public relations campaign to persuade men to stop eating meat.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, says eating meat can cause impotence and the U.S.-based organization is launching a light-hearted billboard campaign to warn all hot-blooded Canadian men of the danger.
But doctors say while there is some truth in PETA's claim, it's only part of the story. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association called it ludicrous. The first two billboards will go up this week in Regina and Calgary. They'll be on view later in cities across the country.
The boards carry a photo of a bikini-clad beauty hoisting a long, limp string of link sausages.
The caption reads: "I threw a party but the cattlemen couldn't come. Eating meat can cause impotence."
Given the choice between a T-bone steak and a tofu salad, it's not hard to guess what most Canuck males would choose.
But Bruce Friedrich of PETA, which boasts 600,000 members worldwide, said he's confident macho meat lovers will become "Romaine Romeos" once they realize their manhood is threatened. "In the short-term, meat makes people fat and lethargic," he said. "In the long-term, it makes them impotent and gives them heart attacks."
Friedrich said a high-fat diet clogs arteries. That means less blood flow to all organs, including the penis, which requires good blood flow to achieve an erection. "The evidence is absolutely conclusive," Friedrich said, noting that 25 per cent of men over age 60 are impotent. "Men can be better in bed without popping pills by getting turned on to vegetarianism."
He urges cattlemen "to rustle up veggie burgers in the kitchen for a whopper in the bedroom." Friedrich said his group thought a humorous approach to the subject would be most successful.
But some people definitely aren't amused.
The Canadian Cattlemen's Association, which represents beef producers, dismissed PETA's claims as "ludicrous."
It issued a terse statement calling the campaign a "tasteless publicity stunt" and urged reporters to ignore it.
Still, PETA has some medical research to back its claims and many doctors agree with at least some of what the group says.
Dr. Richard Casey, a urologist at Male Health Centres in Oakville, Ont., said it's clear that a high-fat diet leads to hardening of the arteries. That, in turn, causes heart disease and many other physical problems, including impotence. "What the PETA people are saying is probably true for a number of health concerns," Casey said. "If you have a healthier diet that's lower in fat, then probably your risk of heart disease and your risk of erectile dysfunction will be reduced."
However, Casey points out that many other factors play a role in impotence such as state of mind, smoking, alcohol, physical condition and diabetes.
He also noted that a low-fat diet could include eating lean meat.
Friedrich expects the campaign to be a much bigger success in Canada than it was south of the border, where billboard companies in 12 states refused to run it. Some found the ads tasteless while others didn't want to offend the cattle industry.
The anti-impotence campaign follows on the heels of another billboard campaign last spring, titled Jesus was a Vegetarian, that encouraged Christians to give up meat.