Heuser Health


Eating Like a Vulture – Why You Should Refrain From Mystery Meats

By: Lauren Berryman

We, as human beings, are omnivores, meaning we eat plants and animals. However, some people choose to eliminate meat from their diets for health reasons or ethical concerns. Nevertheless, since we are at the top of the animal kingdom, we should eat like it. That means refraining from mystery meats.

Here at Heuser Health, we believe nutrition is a vital component to one’s overall health. Nurse Peggy Heuser (MSN, APRN) makes the analogy to her patients that since we are humans we should stop eating like vultures. Vultures will eat anything in sight – snouts, hooves, tongues, intestines, and so on. And, many of these parts are found in mystery meats, like hot dogs, sausages and bologna. 1

Many consumers are unaware of the exact ingredients found in these foods because of how the companies market them. Many times, these organs and trimmings are labelled under the vague categories “byproducts” and “variety meats.” 2 Now that is a bunch of bologna!

However, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “the raw meat materials used for precooked-cooked products are lower-grade muscle trimmings, fatty tissues, head meat, animal feet, animal skin, blood, liver and other edible slaughter by-products” that are emulsified. 3

These animal parts are ground up and flavored to appeal to our taste buds, making them high in sodium, fat, corn syrup and calories. 4 Additionally, the casings surrounding hot dogs, sausages and bologna are made from gastrointestinal tracts of animals. 5 That fact is hard to stomach.

Dr. William Kormos, the editor in chief of Harvard Men’s Health Watch wrote, “processed meats (salted, smoked, or cured) are associated with a higher risk [of disease].” 6 They are associated with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers.

Still, many choose to eat processed meats because we live in a fast-paced society and crave convenience. However, convenience can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.

You do not necessarily have to eliminate meat from your diet as it is an excellent source of protein and nutrients. Rather, try eating chicken breast instead of chicken nuggets or pork tenderloin instead of bacon. With less fat and fewer calories, skinless lean meat is the better choice.

So, if you do eat meat, stick with the breasts, thighs and tenderloins, and leave the scraps for the vultures.



  1. Green, Dennis. “Photo Series Reveals the Creepy Truth in ‘Mystery Meat’.” Mashable, Mashable, 10 Aug. 2014, mashable.com/2014/08/10/mystery-meat-photo-series/.
  2. Petsko, Emily. “What Is Bologna Made Of?” Mental Floss, 24 Oct. 2018, mentalfloss.com/article/560697/what-is-bologna-made-of.
  3. Blevins, Melissa. “What Are Hot Dogs Really Made of?” Business Insider, Business Insider, 15 July 2017, www.businessinsider.com/what-are-hot-dogs-really-made-of-2014-7.
  4. Santos, Sarah Kaye. “The 15 Healthiest (and Unhealthiest) Meats You Can Eat.” Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 6 Dec. 2018, www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/healthiest-unhealthiest-meats-eat.html/.
  5. “Glad You Asked: What Is Bologna Made of, and How Did It Get Its Name?” Journal Times, 12 Jan. 2008, journaltimes.com/news/local/glad-you-asked-what-is-bologna-made-of-and-how/article_b6c40fab-b294-592f-a4f2-ebdeb79aa528.html.
  6. Newman, Tim. “Are We Supposed to Be Vegetarian?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 15 Nov. 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320047.php.