PETA Urges American Samoans To Give Up Meat

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Animal rights group says vegan diet easiest way to fight obesity

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, August 19, 2013) – A prominent animal rights group says American Samoans should stop eating meat and become vegetarians or vegans for the sake of their health.

The Australian branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, says recent statistics show that American Samoa has one the fattest populations in the world.

PETA have written to the US Pacific territory's director of public health to donate their help in persuading American Samoans to give up meat.

The letter cites World Health Organisation figures which put estimates of the territory's obesity rate at 94 percent.

Claire Fryer, PETA's campaign director, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat they are offering a vegetarian or vegan starter kit to curb what they describe as an "obesity epidemic."

"Vegan eating is better for human health," she said. "Vegans, on average, are around 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat eaters."

Ms. Fryer says the easiest way to address the issue is to switch to a plant-based diet.

"With vegan options available to suit everyone's taste these days, there's really no excuse not to start going vegan today," she said.

Culturally, meat forms an essential part of village feasts in American Samoa, but Ms. Fryer says there are faux meat alternatives available to meet cultural needs.

"This is the best way to try and save the future for these people," she said.

"According to the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the children and adults who do go vegan reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and obesity."

In May of this year, a US study found some American Samoan babies as young as 15 months are being classified as obese.

Ms. Fryer says it is particularly important for children and adolescents to avoid obesity.

"They're far less likely to return to a healthy weight and very young children can show symptoms of heart disease," she said. "We're genuinely concerned about the health of American Samoans."

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