Modern-day medical research demonstrates a clear and consistent link between meat consumption and virtually all Western diseases - cancer, heart disease and diabetes, to name just a few.
Could sausage possibly be an exception?
Sausage company Hilldale Farm thought so - and it recently completed a six-week research study putting its hypothesis to the test.
HF CEO Sean Cumberland explained that he and several of the company's market researchers and other research scientists had long theorized that sausage might represent a notable exception to the generally toxic quality of animal flesh.
"Sausage is special," noted Cumberland. "We'd always sensed that intuitively - I mean, just look at it! But we wanted to verify scientifically whether that special quality would play out health-wise as well."
He explained, "We weren't sure whether it was the high sodium content, or the fact that in most of our sausage products, the pig flesh is tempered by large amounts of fat and corn syrup, but we really believed that sausage was different from the ordinary meat. So we decided to find out."
Inspired by the award-winning documentary Vegucated, which tracks the progress of three hardcore meat- and dairy-eaters who volunteer to go vegan for six weeks, HF posted an ad on Craig's List, seeking long-time vegans who were willing to double, triple or, ideally, even quadruple their sausage consumption for six weeks - and have their health and medical condition tracked throughout the process.
"It took some talking," admitted Cumberland, "because these people didn't want to take any money from a corporation that profits from people's consumption of animal products. And we respected their feelings about that. But finally we were able to talk them into doing it for free."
The results of the study were astounding, even to the most HF's most vehement sausage-proponents.
HF Marketing Manager Melanie Cohen reported, "The vegans who doubled or even tripled their sausage intake suffered no negative health consequences whatsoever! In fact, one of them even got over a cold during his six weeks in the study."
Unable to keep the ear-to-ear grin off her face, she added, "We in marketing have been dreaming of this day!"
Intriguing as the research results were, Cumberland admitted that the study was not without its limitations. For one, the study could not effectively assess the health consequences resulting when vegans quadruple their sausage intake, as none of the six vegans in the recent study were willing to go quite that far for sausage. In addition, as this study focused on non-animal-eaters, Cumberland stated that HF's next research project will aim to determine whether an increase in sausage intake will have any detrimental impact on people who actually ingest some sausage.