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Whatever happened to the good old days when the worst things we had to fear on the Fourth of July were traffic jams and wayward fireworks?

According to the Department of Agriculture’s Meat & Poultry Hotline, this year’s top threat is food poisoning by nasty E. coli and salmonella bugs lurking in hamburgers and hot dogs at millions of backyard barbecues. The Hotline’s advice is to grill them longer and hotter. Of course, they don’t bother to mention that the high-temperature grilling that kills the bugs also forms lots of cancer-causing compounds.

Luckily, a bunch of enterprising U.S. food manufacturers and processors have met this challenge head-on by developing a great variety of healthful, delicious, and convenient veggie burgers and soy dogs.

These delicious plant-based foods don’t harbor nasty pathogens or cancer-causing compounds. They don’t even carry cholesterol, saturated fats, drugs or pesticides. And they are waiting for us in the frozen food section of our supermarket.

This Fourth of July offers a great opportunity to declare our independence from the meat industry and to share wholesome veggie burgers and soy dogs with our family and friends.

Hector Bagley

Harvard

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