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January / February 1999
The VivaVine is a publication of the VivaVegie Society, New York City's premier vegetarian-outreach organization.
COMMENTARY: Loving animals for their own sake
COMMENTARY: A vegetarian acid test the next time you're embroiled in a meaty dispute
PANDORA'S PIGS: Hog glut unleashes a host of ills
GRAPEVINE: VivaVegie changes lives
VEGETARIAN NEWS: Welfare for commercial meat interests abounds
PROJECT FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE FOR VEGETARIANS: Meat Inspection is costly and no guarantee of safety
TOUCHING THE ELUSIVE: Mind meld with the primal and earthy
VIEWS ON NEWS: Zero tolerance for milk
VEGGIE NUGGETS: From our sick humor department
FOR THE HEALTH OF IT: Cancer Beat
VOLUNTEER WITH THE VIVA VEGIE SOCIETY: Pushing the Peanut on for a vegetarian world
VIVA VEGIE SOCIETY NEWS: VivaVegie Wish List
CALENDAR: Vegetarians meet and reach out
January / February 1999
Veggie Valentine: Loving animals for their own sake
By Edmund Klein
It was last Valentine's Day that my cousin arrived from Seattle. I hadn't seen him for more than 20 years, but I knew him right away by the shock of unruly red hair that just now was beginning to gray. I also knew him by his anger. Stuart was already complaining bitterly about life as we walked by store after store decorated with huge hearts and exhortations to love.
By the time we arrived at the restaurant, it had become clear that Stuart viewed life as a battle. "You either win or you lose," he said. He talked about confrontations at work and at home. He wouldn't yield to others in the heavy pedestrian traffic. At the restaurant, he insisted on a big table, although there were only the two of us.
"What's good?" he asked me. I took a deep breath and told him I had been a vegetarian for 14 years and would be ordering a pasta dish but that he should feel free to get whatever he wanted. There were a few seconds of silence, and I felt as if an opposing army were massing troops.
"I love animals," Stuart finally said casually. He waited a couple more seconds and added, "They taste so good." Stuart asked the waiter if he had any bunny rabbits on the menu, or endangered species. He told me that he thought it would be great if before he died he could taste every species on earth. "After all," he said expansively, "if you don't eat animals, what do you do with them?"
"Just love them, I guess," I said. Stuart laughed. "And what does that get you?" he said. I just shrugged.
It was like the time someone asked Louis Armstrong, "Just what is jazz?" If you have to ask, Satchmo is reported to have said, you'll never understand the explanation.
Edmund Klein is a frequent contributor to The VivaVine.
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Meat Fights: Pathetic lot of senseless wrangling
By Pamela Rice
It's fun to watch carnivores fight. Human ones, that is. I look at it this way: When meat interests duel, I bring out the old vegetarian acid test. I ask myself, How would the focus of debate change if we all lived in a vegetarian society? For that matter, if we all adopted a vegetarian diet, wouldn't many problems--not to mention the endless debates about them--simply vanish?
I employed this test when I heard about two amendments placed on the Colorado ballot in last November's election. First, there's Amendment 14, which was spearheaded by cattle ranchers led by a wealthy Denver businessman. Rural citizens and environmental groups also joined the coalition. It aimed to require hog farmers to put covers over their open-air "lagoons." The term lagoon, by the way, is an industry euphemism for the gigantic manure cesspools that typically must be placed beside hog farms. The amendment also proposed to require swine operations with a capacity of 800,000 pounds or more of animal weight to obtain costly permits.
Hog farmers asked from the beginning why they should be singled out. They offered their own proposal, Amendment 13, which would have made unconstitutional any regulation that targeted one breed when it could pertain to all. Surely, the cattle and chicken industries contribute as much environmentally destructive manure as hog farmers. After all, hog farmers compete not only with one another but also with chicken and cattle operators. When their costs go up, their product is less competitive with other animal foods on the market.
The hog farmers lost. Not only did the ranchers' amendment win, but their own amendment--which would have automatically voided the ranchers' regulations--was defeated. Compliance costs will very likely put a few of them out of business. Ho hum.
The tab on the manila folder I'm looking at reads "Industry Infighting." Most of what I file in here pertains to lawsuits and disputes within the meat industry. The news stories within reveal a pathetic lot of senseless wrangling. In a vegetarian world, this file wouldn't exist.
January / February 1999
THE MARKET SATE
Pandora's Pigs: Hog glut unleashes a host of ills
By Pamela Rice
America is experiencing a hog glut, which has caused U.S. pork prices (adjusted for inflation) to free-fall to their lowest levels since the Depression. Several factors explain the situation.
U.S. farmers pumped out a record herd in 1998, 10 percent more hogs than the year before. This is just the most recent chapter in a story that dates back several decades. The multitudinous crush of hog supply is due in large part to government-subsidized innovations in genetics and pharmaceuticals that have allowed hogs to survive intensive mass confinement.
Historic supplies have industry on dole, put nations at odds
We mustn't forget that as supply has been growing, so has demand, which in turn has fueled supply. It is no secret that the entire world has been partaking in more animal-based foods as grocery-store prices have gone down. With the Asian economic crisis, however, the pork boom shifted to reverse, just as the supply spigot was operating at full tilt. Result? A massive glut of meat with nowhere to go.
The situation is catastrophic--that is, if you're a hog farmer trying to make a profit on the year's investment. Or, even worse, if you've recently plunged hundreds of thousands of dollars into the latest in prison-like hog-confinement facilities. You'll need to make installment payments with revenues that you don't have.
The retort out of any self-respecting vegetarian should be, "Why should I care? They bought into factory farming--hey, it serves them right." But the situation has wider ramifications.
Unfortunately, when hog farmers suffer, often so do the rest of us. One has only to read press release after press release out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture announcing multimillion-dollar government purchases of high-fat, unhealthful pork products--which end up on the plates of defenseless schoolkids, prisoners and homeless people--to see the damage caused by the hog glut. The government makes such purchases to prop up the industry by shoring up hog prices.
Subsidies to pork farmers, which both the United States and the European Union have liberally dished out, have led to discord between international trading partners. Low-farm-subsidy nations, such as Argentina, are already complaining bitterly that the U.S. and EU handouts serve only to ensure future gluts and therefore more depressed prices.
International rancor intensifies when nations tend to bend previously agreed-upon trade rules in order to dump hog products onto one another. The United States is accusing Canada of this right now and is fighting back with blockades based on technicalities. The governor of South Dakota effectively barred Canadian hogs, as well as cattle and grain, from entering his state by requiring paperwork certifying that the goods are free of illegal animal drugs and plant diseases. Farmers have joined in the fight with demonstrations, including one in North Dakota, where roads were blocked with piles of grain. Canada promises to take the dispute to world and North American trade bodies.
In the meantime, corporate consolidation in the industry is accelerating as low prices act to shake out the little guys. Ultimately, the consolidation bodes ill for small rural towns. From the hogs' point of view, life is cruel no matter who confines them.
January / February 1999
Veg converts: VVS changes lives
Thanks to the fruit guy
To the man wearing a fruit hat and handing out copies of The VivaVine at the 1997 Greenwich Village Halloween Parade: Thank you. That newsletter gave me the push I needed to stop eating meat for good. You helped me change my life.Nicole LaGorga
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Her husband's listening
Loved your Web site. I'm a vegetarian. My husband is not. I made him sit down and read your "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," and it had a greater effect than my nagging has in the past 19 years.Barbara Parrilli
Chestnut Ridge, New York
Picture the cows
I've been able to give up everything but milk and eggs. I just read most of your "101 Reasons," and I know I want to stop eating those too. It's difficult to order in a restaurant, but from now on, I'll just picture chickens and cows in some of the conditions you describe.Sharon Pipe
I just picked up a copy of a Vancouver publication that reprinted your "101 Reasons." This is valuable information, especially when one is confronted by know-it-all meat eaters like my dad in England. I need valid reasons when putting forward my side of the argument. The article is brilliant.Nigel Pease
Vancouver, British Columbia
Lone Star vegan
I want to thank VivaVegie for helping me realize the wisdom of going vegan and helping me spread the good news to others. I've already converted two and maybe three people to veganism just by sending them the Web address for your "101 Reasons."Allan Freer
Society needs to see that normal, intelligent people choose to be vegetarians. I have been one for 25 years and am so healthy I reek of it. We are not frail, pocket-protector-wearing extremists but sharp people who care about the world we are a part of, including our fellow animals. Your Web site lifts my spirit and inspires me to live life as I know it must be lived: consciously and with principle. It is so much more fun that way.Ross
January / February 1999
Welfare for commercial meat interests abounds
By Alex Press
The endless bailout
Tax and Spend: Big bucks for meat mongers
In the world of meat production, everybody wants a handout, and politicians seem happy to oblige. Following are just a few recent examples of how tax dollars are funneled into industries that wreak havoc on the environment and people's health while perpetrating cruelty against animals on a scale that defies the imagination.
BEEF BONANZA. In December Vice President Gore announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would buy up to $20 million in beef "to help improve prices." This purchase is on top of nearly $159 million the USDA spent on beef in fiscal year 1998.
FISHY MANEUVERS. Ted Stevens, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, slipped $50 million in aid for Alaskan fisheries and $95 million for fish-factory ships into the 1999 omnibus budget bill, according to New York City's Village Voice.
LIVESTOCK LIFE RAFT. In November, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman announced a $200 million livestock assistance program to compensate producers for 1998 losses due to droughts and other natural disasters.
PORKY'S REVENGE. Responding to an appeal from the National Pork Producers Council, the USDA said in November it would buy as much as $50 million in pork "to help improve prices"--on top of the $85 million in pork it bought in fiscal 1998.
TUNA HELPER. In October the USDA announced it would purchase 1,250 tons of albacore tuna, at a cost of $4 million. Oregon senator Ron Wyden described the move as "a good start."
Meat players star in corporate welfare saga
Given the tender feelings of government officials toward animal agriculture, it seemed apt that meat producers headlined Time magazine's four-part series on corporate welfare in November.
Part one included a piece on Nebraska Beef, a meatpacking company that received as much as $31.5 million in subsidies from the Nebraska Quality Jobs Board, a state agency created in 1995. The "quality" slaughterhouse jobs offered by Nebraska Beef, it turned out, start at $8 an hour and are so "grueling," as Time put it, that the company "goes through employees the way it does carcasses."
Part four was devoted to Seaboard, a conglomerate that received at least $150 million in economic incentives from federal, state and local governments from 1990 to 1997. While citizens paid for the subsidies as well as for the "homelessness, increased crime, dwindling property values and...overall decline in the quality of life" caused by Seaboard's nightmarish hog facilities, the value of stock held by the company's principal owners, a Boston family, increased from $125 million to $425 million.
Veg specter haunted ballot initiatives
Hog Odor Headache: Take it to the courthouse
An Ohio ballot initiative that would have reinstated a long-standing ban on dove hunting was defeated by a campaign portraying the ban's supporters as closet vegetarians. One commercial produced by "Ohioans for Wildlife Conservation" melodramatically declared, "Out-of-state extremists want to close down our cattle, chicken and hog farms, and close down your right to eat meat."
Hunters may have played on similar fears to win in Minnesota and Utah, where state constitutions were amended to protect their activities, and in Alaska, where a proposed ban on wolf snares was rejected. However, California initiatives that placed some restrictions on trapping and banned trade in horses for food were successful. Cockfighting was abolished in Missouri and Arizona. Hog-farming North Carolina senator Lauch Faircloth lost. And anti-factory farming initiatives won in Colorado (see page 2) and South Dakota.
Food industry victims: The latest body count
In 1998 the number of animal victims of the food industry continued to climb. According to figures compiled by the Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM) from USDA sources, the death toll was expected to reach 9.4 billion in 1998, an increase of 1.6 percent over 1997. The '98 figure includes 8.47 billion "broiler" chickens, 446 million chickens of the "laying" strain, 300 million turkeys, 119 million pigs, 41 million cattle, 23 million ducks and 5 million sheep. These numbers incorporate the more than 900 million animals believed to have died before they reached the slaughterhouse but not animals of the sea, who are counted by the ton rather than individually.
Iowa court allows suits against hog farms
In an important setback for hog farmers, the Iowa supreme court ruled in September that hog operations in designated agricultural areas are not immune to lawsuits from their neighbors. Previously, Iowa law had made it difficult for citizens to seek legal redress for such "nuisances" as odor emanating from the facilities. The court found that the immunity granted by a 1982 law sacrificed the property rights of potential plaintiffs "for the economic advantages of a few."
Report finds livestock pollution controls lacking
State-level responses to the pollution onslaught of factory farms remain uniformly ineffective, according to a joint report issued in November by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Water Network.
The report, noting that "the storage pools on factory farms are often stinking manure lakes the size of several football fields, containing millions of gallons of liquefied manure," recommends banning such open-air "lagoons" as well as the spraying of manure and urine into the air. More broadly, it advises a moratorium on federal Clean Water Act permits for new and expanding factory farms until existing facilities "have effective permits in place and standards are upgraded."
Other recommendations that ought to be considered no-brainers include ensuring that citizens have a voice in decisions involving the siting of factory farms in their communities, preventing manure runoff from land, regulating the "dry litter" produced by chicken facilities in the same manner as the liquid manure produced by other facilities and holding corporations responsible for disposal and cleanup costs instead of allowing them to pawn off such costs on their contractors.
Fishing: Bad news all around
Piscine Plunder: Fishing till there's nothing left
WORLDWIDE WARNING. In November the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization enlisted 81 countries and the European Community in a voluntary agreement to "better manage" their fisheries. The agreement called for limiting and progressively reducing fishing capacity when it reaches levels that "undermin[e] achievement of long term sustainability."
Putting the problem in somewhat starker terms, the World Wildlife Fund estimated that "the world's fishing nations need to reduce the size of their fishing fleets by two-thirds."
In addition, a WWF report in August said that every year 29 million tons of fish, seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals are killed and discarded into the sea as incidental or unwanted bycatch. That's compared with 80 million to 84 million tons of actual seafood drawn from the oceans.
COLLAPSING COD. In the latest news of overfishing, a scientific panel that surveys groundfish announced in December that New England's second-leading cod fishing ground had collapsed, according to The Boston Globe. The panel's findings "made it clear that delays in tough action have brought the Gulf of Maine cod near ruin," the Globe reported, adding that "the collapse...completes the decimation of a fish species once so bountiful that Cape Cod was named for it."
SCRAPING THE BOTTOM. In August, the Globe reported on the devastation wrought by the practice of "dragging," in which long metal chains scrape the ocean floor, sweeping everything in their path into giant nets. The "ruthless efficiency" of the fishing technique, the Globe asserted, "goes a long way toward explaining why fish populations off New England's shore have plummeted."
The problem is that dragging strips away the delicate plants and animals that provide a key source of food for species such as flounder and cod, leaving behind the equivalent of tree stumps after a forest has been cleared, as one oceanographer put it. Although regulations in the past five years have reduced the draggers' activities, they have attempted to compensate with newer, even more damaging equipment.
Report slams factory farms of the sea
While fishermen busily deplete the world's waterways, so-called fish farms work their own brand of eco-destruction. In fact, it takes 2.8 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce one pound of farmed salmon, according to the Environmental Defense Fund's Rebecca Goldburg, one of the authors of a Science magazine article on fish farms published in October. Additionally, shrimp and salmon farms "discharge untreated effluents laden with polluting nutrients, pesticides, and other chemicals directly into ecologically fragile coastal waters," Goldburg said. About a third of the salmon and half of the shrimp consumed in the United States now come from these aquatic confined-animal operations. "Most consumers are not aware of the ecological costs of their shrimp cocktails and salmon steaks, and producers do not pay these costs," Goldburg said.
Antibiotics in animal ag on the rise?
Is the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture increasing? That's what an August article in Feedstuffs, "the weekly newspaper for agribusiness," seemed to suggest. Although the article did not mention antibiotics by name, it noted that sales of non-nutritional "feed additives," including "those used to control or prevent disease, enhance growth or improve feed efficiency," went up about 15 percent in 1997 to approximately $620 million. Antibiotics are routinely added to livestock feed for all those purposes. Their use in agriculture has been linked to the rise of drug-resistant strains of bacteria that potentially endanger human health.
According to the Animal Health Institute, the trade association cited in the article, overall sales of animal health products went up 9 percent in 1997.
British meat inspectors threatened with violence
British slaughterhouse inspectors face a barrage of hostility from staff and owners, according to a survey covered by the BBC in November. More than half of the respondents reported incidents of violence or intimidation, including verbal abuse, property damage, threats with weapons, sexual and racial harassment and actual injuries. A union spokesman explained that inspectors incur the wrath of slaughterhouse personnel by slowing down production lines and thereby reducing profits.
Angry farmers withhold cows from slaughter
It is a fact often ignored by dairy consumers that retirement for milk cows means a trip to the slaughterhouse. However, in a strange turnabout, the National Farmers Organization, an Iowa-based advocacy group, called on members to stop shipping their "cull" (i.e., nonproductive) cows to slaughter. Was the motive a sudden twinge of compassion? No, the group was protesting "completely unprofitable and unjust prices," as its president told the Associated Press in October. According to the group's livestock manager, cull cows account for 15 percent to 20 percent of the 120,000 to 130,000 head of cattle slaughtered for meat each day.
Meat flacks bemoan popularity of salads
"The bad news is salads appear to have become a menu mainstay," Meat Marketing & Technology, a trade publication, proclaimed in August. The remark was in reference to a survey of menus by the National Restaurant Association indicating that from 1992 to 1997, the number of menus offering main-dish salads increased from 77 percent to 82 percent. But every cloud has a silver lining, and for MMT it was that "more than half of all main-dish salad offerings on menus last year...included beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fin fish or shellfish."
Some of the largest meat recalls of 1998
Though nothing matched the 25-million-pound E. coli beef fiasco of 1997, meat recalls like those below signaled the dangers lurking in carnivores' kitchens. (Suspected bugs are in parentheses.)
- Nearly 2 million pounds beef, pork and poultry from Zartic Inc. (salmonella), 10/8
- Nearly 1.7 million pounds franks, hot dogs and assorted lunch meats from Dixie Packers (listeria), 11/4
- 601,000 pounds frozen ground beef patties from Glenmark Industries (E. coli), 11/20
- 556,226 pounds ground beef from IBP (E. coli), 11/5
- More than 500,000 pounds pork-and-chicken dressing mix from Savoie's (salmonella), 9/22
- 359,000 pounds ground beef from Colorado Boxed Beef (E. coli), 11/24
- 282,128 pounds ground beef from IBP (E. coli), 4/14
- 172,000 pounds ground beef from Costco (E. coli), 6/29
January / February 1999
PROJECT FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE FOR VEGETARIANS
Meat Inspection: Costly, no guarantee of safety
By Glen Boisseau Becker
Part four of a series
Since the publication of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair in 1905, the U.S. government has been in the business of inspecting meat. Of course, no vegetarian wishes food poisoning on the meat-eating public. Still, the question remains, why should vegetarians be asked to pay for meat inspection with their hard-earned tax dollars?
In October Congress appropriated $617.5 million for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, the agency that oversees meat inspection. Thus, for the sixth year, the legislature defeated a Clinton-administration proposal to make meatpackers pay their own way with user fees that would cover the full cost of inspections by government agents ($573 million, on top of $86 million in existing user fees).
Prior to the vote, the meat industry lobbied to convince congressmen that the user-fee system would jeopardize the inspectors' objectivity. U.S. agriculture secretary Dan Glickman disagreed. "As long as the inspectors work for the United States of America," he said, "I don't think that's going to drop confidence."
In theory, the public pays for the inspections one way or the other. Unfortunately, since the money now comes from taxes and not user fees, vegetarians are compelled to share the cost.
HACCP: Have a cup of coffee and pray
In January 1998, the government introduced a program called HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) designed to prevent contamination in meat-processing plants. The idea is to encourage the individual meat processor to improve sanitation and reduce the levels of harmful bacteria. Any company that handles food either has implemented the rule already or is scheduled to do so by January 2000. HACCP calls for each company to identify the places in its plant where pathogens can get a foothold. Visual inspection of carcasses is to be supplemented by microbial testing.
Inspectors, who have dubbed the plan "Have A Cup of Coffee and Pray," have complained that it relies too heavily on self-monitoring by companies whose main concerns are making money and avoiding governmental interference. And despite the increased self-monitoring, so far HACCP isn't reducing the tax burden on citizens. All told, the government now spends about $1 billion on food safety per year, according to Reuters. Despite this expenditure, an estimated 33 million illnesses and 9,000 deaths each year are caused by tainted food--most of it of animal origin.
Even vegetarian food is at risk
Unfortunately, being a vegetarian does not guarantee a person immunity from foodborne disease, although the Food and Drug Administration has identified human and animal waste as its primary source. For example, in 1996 the deadly E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria caused at least 61 food-poisoning cases in three states. One victim was a 3-year-old girl who, after 14 weeks of hospitalization and several operations, sustained permanent loss of vision. Federal and state authorities traced the problem to a lettuce barn in Hollister, California, where feces from cattle grazing outside could have easily come in contact with the greens through the soil, the water supply or even the wind.
The meat industry should be accountable
The meat industry is largely insulated from foodborne-illness lawsuits because the onus is on the consumer to kill pathogens with cooking. Also, according to Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.), there is usually no way to trace a pathogen to its origin, although this may be changing as high-tech trace-back methods are perfected and become more widespread. For now, the cost of food contamination is paid for at public expense--huge government programs, sick days and even deaths. If the meat industry were made to be more accountable, the costs of contaminated meat would be transferred to the industry and in turn to its consumers, where it belongs.
To those who are truly committed to the dream of a peaceable world (and who know that eating flesh is unhealthful under any circumstances), the idea of spending a dime on the trace of meat in a bowl of soup is out of the question. That our taxes are being spent trying to oversee the unwholesome business of the slaughterhouse is patently unjust, not to say repulsive.
January / February 1999
TOUCHING THE ELUSIVE
Wild Turkeys: Mind meld with the primal and earthy
By Pamela RiceIllumination in the Flatwoods
Written and illustrated by Joe Hutto | The Lyons Press
288 pages | $16.95, paper
Illumination in the Flatwoods is a story about a flock of wild turkeys and a man who immersed himself into their society. By having several dozen newly hatched poults imprint upon him one by one, he became the brood's adopted "mother." The book is his intimate daily chronicle of the birds' development over the course of a year, told in easy-reading detail. If you don't count the man-made enclosure that served to protect the turkeys when they were young and, of course, Joe Hutto (the author) himself, the animals were carefully segregated from the human world during the first part of the chronicle. Later, one of the turkeys remained Hutto's backyard companion after the rest had wandered off and integrated into the woods.
The story is as beautiful as it is delightful--beautiful because the reader enters the earthy and picturesque world of these glorious creatures. Delightful because the book is nothing less than a love story. This love is not doting and controlling, but utterly respectful, with a lot of compassion, admiration and parental protection added in. Just as when Farmer Hoggett "lowered" himself to sing and dance his "sheep" pig back to health in the movie Babe, we are lifted to a higher plane by Hutto's portrayal of love for his birds. The author is clearly enraptured in the presence of his illustrious turkeys, who reveal surprising intelligence and complex social interactions. Promotional copy from the publisher says it perfectly with the rhetorical aside: "Who imprinted on whom?"
Author enraptured by their grandeur, abilities and complex systems of interaction
There are flaws in the book, which I will leave to my friend Karen Davis (see below), but they pale against the pluses. One last thought: People refrain from eating animal foods for many reasons. Often it's the ethical ones that have the most power. After reading Illumination in the Flatwoods, vegetarians motivated by health reasons alone may incorporate the more enduring animal reasons for maintaining their vegetarian lifestyle. Notwithstanding the perplexing actions of the author described below, readers of this book should be ready to never eat turkeys again!
Comments from one of our editorial consultants
I consider Illumination in the Flatwoods, by Joe Hutto, an almost perfect book except when the author feels obligated to appeal to hunters with "watch out for this or that trait if you want to bag a turkey." This, after warm, sensitive, loving interactions with and observations about the turkeys he incubated and raised. Clearly he (or the publisher) wanted to bag as large an audience as possible.
At one point, Hutto is sitting with one of his turkeys and makes a point of eating a turkey sandwich and feeding some of it to the "wild" turkey at his side. Also, he uncritically denigrates the so-called domestic turkey as well as chickens.
The book is uneven but unsurpassable in its genuine observations and the love the author has and communicates for the birds.
--Karen Davis, Ph.D.
President, United Poultry Concerns
January / February 1999
VIEWS ON NEWS
By Alex Press
Zero tolerance for milk
Humans are a peculiar animal. Not only do many people drink milk past infancy, they drink the milk of another species, most often an 800-pound ruminant. In both respects, humans are unique among mammals.
Granted, certain ethnic groups have a genetic ability to digest cows' milk. This may have helped survival in earlier times, though we now know that bovine mammary secretions are unnecessary and can even be detrimental to good health.
It is estimated that more than half the world's people--particularly Asians, Africans and native Americans--are "lactose intolerant," unable to digest the sugar in dairy. For them milk means nausea, bloating, cramps and diarrhea. Yet rather than questioning the dogma that everybody should drink lots and lots of milk, Western doctors tend to look upon lactose intolerance as a medical condition in need of a cure. Americans can often be seen popping pills to keep their bodies from revolting as yet another glass of milk goes down the hatch.
Cows' milk causes other problems. In September the New England Journal of Medicine published a study of 65 young children (11 to 72 months old) with chronic constipation involving anal fissures and consequent pain during defecation. When the children were switched from cows' milk to soy milk, 44 of them got better. These children are not suffering from lactose intolerance but from an allergy to an undetermined substance.
The July issue of Clinical and Experimental Allergy noted that milk-allergic children may also suffer from respiratory ailments such as asthma, hay fever and wheezing. Some also develop eczema.
January / February 1999
By Alan Rice
Bureau of obfuscation
In an Orwellian move, the USDA changed the name of the Animal Damage Control program to Wildlife Services. Each year the agency poisons, traps and shoots approximately 100,000 wild animals such as coyotes, feral hogs and mountain lions to protect ranchers' livestock. Since the program's budget is $10 million, and since the native predators kill about the same value in sheep and cattle, we recommend a direct welfare payment to the ranchers and new jobs for the 300 federal workers.
Joe Camel's cousin
McDonald's has again enlisted "a trusted friend to kids worldwide" to indoctrinate new users. Its clownivore Ronald appears in three full-length animated videos, available for $3.95 each with any purchase, while supplies last. Hurry out and get Scared Silly, which "reinforces friendship." A real friend tells the truth, so we'd keep the movie title but show the kiddies where hamburgers really come from.
See fish and sea food
You wouldn't expect lobsters in a tank in Boston to live long, unless they were at the New England Aquarium. But look for them on the menu there, not on display. In response to protests at the inconsistency of serving fish, a spokeswoman for the aquarium told the Associated Press, "We don't serve our exhibits. We want to foster an appreciation for the aquatic world. Eating seafood can be a part of that."
Fortunately, a Maryland 13-year-old survived an unprecedented series of transplants. He is recovering with his third new liver, pancreas, small intestine and stomach. Unfortunately, his first solid food in years was reported by Reuters to be chicken and fries from Burger King. Perhaps he is testing his new organs and also getting a jump on extending the record with a replacement heart.
January / February 1999
FOR THE HEALTH OF IT
By Alex Press
By now it should be clear that cancer risk goes down as people eat more plant-based foods and less meat. But each new study gives the media a chance to rehash the story and restate the obvious. Following are some of the latest developments.
An assessment of major reports on diet and cancer, published in The British Medical Journal in December, found up to 80 percent of bowel, prostate and breast cancer may be prevented through diet. "Vegetables and fruit are almost invariably protective for the major cancers," the authors wrote. Processed meats got the thumbs-down.
In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in November, researchers reported an association between the risk of breast cancer and a preference for well-done red meats. The study involved a survey of 273 women who were diagnosed with the disease between 1992 and 1994 and 657 women who weren't.
A second study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in November surveyed data from 59 countries and found that "prostate cancer mortality is positively associated with...total fat...and animal products (specifically milk, meat, and poultry)." Conversely, "cereals, soybeans, other nuts and oilseeds, and fish were negatively associated with prostate cancer mortality." The researchers were uncertain whether fish was actually beneficial, because among the countries examined, high fish intake and high soy intake go hand in hand. Still, soy products were found to be "significantly protective...with an effect...at least four times as large as any other dietary factor."
In an October cover story, Newsweek noted that "Americans die of breast, colon and prostate cancer at five to 30 times the rate of people in many parts of the world." A pair of photographs contrasted a "low-risk dinner," containing beans, tofu, cruciferous vegetables, grape juice and fruit, with a "high-risk dinner" containing charred meat, french fries, butter, soda and cheesecake. Fish was the only animal-based food to be placed in the "low-risk dinner" picture.
However, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in October found an association between intake of all meats--including poultry and fish--and colon cancer among the more than 34,000 California Seventh Day Adventists participating in an ongoing 20-year study. The conclusion: "The strongest risk factor among the food variables...was found for total meat intake." Risk declined with consumption of legumes.
January / February 1999
VOLUNTEER WITH THE VIVA VEGIE SOCIETY
Pushing the Peanut On: For a vegetarian world
Interest in vegetarianism is growing by leaps and bounds. VivaVegie has been swamped with requests for information and other services. Volunteers are becoming more important to our operations every day. And as always, we want to grow and become more visible. Remember: Your gift of time is the most valuable gift of all.
"This guy from The New York Times asked me what I'd like my epitaph to be. I said, 'He pushed the peanut forward.' I try to move things on a little."
--Henry Spira, 1927-1998
The VivaVegie Society had its first volunteers' open house in November. We plan to schedule many more (see Calendar, page 16). Some mighty fine folks have already helped enormously with filing, data input and other vital tasks. Big thank-yous go out (in alphabetical order) to Norbert Banholzer, Dee Bennett, Anne Borel, Zenia Fernandez, Michelle Fornof, Jean Thaler, Julie Tuesday and Margarita Velez.
Volunteering is a great way to learn marketable skills. Following is a list of volunteer directorships that need to be filled.
Ad Space Sales: Do you frequent a lot of health-food stores and vegetarian restaurants? You'd be perfect for selling display-ad space in The VivaVine.
Photo editing: Do you have a Macintosh computer with a CD-ROM drive? Do you have Internet access? You'd be perfect for the task of selecting images for The VivaVine.
Publicity: Are you good with details and follow-up? The VivaVegie Society needs a responsible person to publicize its events. We hope to develop this department into a full-fledged public-relations/news bureau as part of the Vegetarian Center of New York City. Internet access is a big plus.
Law/accounting: VivaVegie has been paying out vital operating funds for law and accounting. We would greatly appreciate it if these professional services could be obtained on a pro bono basis.
Distribution: Every issue of The VivaVine must be distributed by volunteers to health-food stores and vegetarian restaurants. VivaVegie needs a director of distribution, as this function is currently being accomplished--virtually single-handedly--by one of the principals of the group. If a directorship is too much for you to take on, please consider distribution to your local vegetarian establishments.
Adopting a retail outlet for the "101": Our "mighty convincer," the "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," is carried by only about a dozen stores. Each setup needs to be looked after on a regular basis. Stores need to be kept supplied, and displays need to stay visible and intact. Let's work together to get the "101" out to more stores!
Grant writing and support: The VivaVegie Society is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization. Foundations are out there that would like to support our work. They need to be found and approached. This is easier said than done. A dedicated volunteer could make all the difference.
VivaVine production & editorial: Would you like to be in charge of a particular section of our journal, The VivaVine, such as the calendar or our health page? Would you like to keep our reference files organized and up-to-date? Give us a call.
January / February 1999
VIVA VEGIE SOCIETY NEWS
VivaVegie Wish List: Help us spread the word
VVS sandwich boards
Take your passion to the street. It's easy. Now you can obtain brilliant, full-color 11" x 17" replicas of the famous VivaVegie sandwich boards for only $30, which includes a starter kit of 20 copies of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian." Send checks to the VivaVegie Society in care of the post-office address on page 4.
Vegan help line
Where do I get my protein? How do I make a tofu scrambler? What, exactly, is spirulina? No question is too basic. Just call the VivaVegie vegan help line at (212) 229-1506 (business hours only) or send your question to email@example.com.
VivaVegie wish list
- Two-year subscription to
- Feedstuffs magazine, $277
- Press run, Spanish edition of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," $250
- Press run, VVS's "Easy Guide to Veganism" (see below), $400
- VivaVegie Web site, $1,000/year
- Double the circulation of The VivaVine to 5,000 copies per issue, $2,500/year
- One year's office rent (pledges only, partial acceptable), $5,000
Our guide to veganism
Now available free from VivaVegie: "The Easy Guide to Veganism." This valuable leaflet includes a dietary-transition plan, a directory of veg and veg-friendly restaurants and health-food stores in New York City, and lists of Web sites, cookbooks and places to take cooking classes. To receive the leaflet, send an SASE to our post-office box (see page 4), indicating your interest in the vegan guide.
Thank you for the help
Thank you, Hangawi restaurant, Norbert Banholzer and Kay Vanlaanen, for your generous tax-deductible donations to the VivaVegie Society.
January / February 1999
Thursday, January 14
- Big Apple Vegetarians presents a panel on genetic engineering, with a catered dinner from Trinidad Roti, 7 p.m., at 22 W. 34th Street, 5th floor, in NYC. Information: (212) 715-8642.
Saturday, January 16
- Vegan potluck dinner presented by EarthSave Hudson Valley, in Pleasantville, NY. Speaker to be announced. Information: (914) 472-7392.
Saturday, January 23
- Cooking class on stews, soups and casseroles, 3:30-6:30 p.m., at Integral Yoga, 227 W. 13th Street, NYC, $42. Information: (212) 929-0586.
Sunday, January 24
- Roll up your sleeves and pitch in at VivaVegie's monthly volunteers' day, 3-7 p.m., in lower Manhattan. Information: (212) 871-9304.
- VegOut vegan potluck, 5 p.m., at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, One Little West 12th Street, NYC. Information: (212) 802-8655.
Tuesday, January 26
- Animal rights night at Wetlands. This month: a discussion of vivisection, 7 p.m., at 161 Hudson Street, NYC. Information: (212) 966-4225.
Sunday, January 31 and Sunday, February 7
- Hands-on course on vegetarian cooking techniques, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School, 48 W. 21st Street, 2nd floor, $240 (for both days). Information: (212) 645-5170.
Saturday, February 13
- Cooking class on dairy-free desserts, 3:30-6:30 p.m., at Integral Yoga (see January 23).
Sunday, February 14
- VegOut Valentine's Day brunch, 12:30 p.m., at the Vegetarian Dim Sum House, 24 Pell Street, NYC. Information: (212) 802-8655.
Tuesday, February 16
- Chinese New Year's Eve dinner with Sierra Club Vegetarian Outings, 6:30 p.m., at the Vegetarian Dim Sum House, 24 Pell Street, NYC. Information: (718) 789-3386.
Sunday, February 21
- VivaVegie volunteers' day (see January 24).
To receive periodic calendar updates or to add an event, contact Alex Press.
BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS
January / February, 1999
A PUBLICATION OF:
VivaVegie Society, Inc.
ISSUE: VOL.. 8, NO. 1
January / February 1999
P.O. Box 1447
New York, NY 10276
(212) 242-0011 (Vegetarian Center)
(212) 871-9304 (hot line)
- Publisher: Pamela Rice
- Editor: Alex Press
- Reference editor: Alan Rice
- Advertising: Pamela Rice
- Contributing writer: Edmund Klein, Glen Boisseau Becker
- Contributing artist: Juan Torcoletti
- Gaggle of veg-evangelists: Bobbie Flowers, Dean Milan, Rochelle Goldman, Lenny Morgenstern, Jean Thaler
- Karen Davis: United Poultry Concerns
- Richard Schwartz: author, Judaism and Vegetarianism
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
- Craig Filipacchi and Nadine Miral of Earthbase
To become a member of the VivaVegie Society for one year, send $15 to the above address. Membership entitles you to a membership card, five issues of The VivaVine, a copy of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" and VivaVegie's "Easy Guide to Veganism."