P L E A S E W A I T F O R T H E E N T I R E F I L E T O L O A D B E F O R E Y O U C L I C K
HOME / VIVA VINE ARCHIVES

Left: Penelo Pea Pod, X-mas Eve at Rockefeller Center. Right: Penelo Pea Pod, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.




Click here for the pdf file for the (February 2001) issue of The VivaVine: The vegetarian-issues magazine published by The VivaVegie Society.

  If you don't have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it here.


The VivaVine
is a publication of the VivaVegie Society, New York City's premier vegetarian-outreach organization.

February 2001, Vol. 10, No. 1

www.vivavegie.org


Table of Contents:


Viva Vegie News

Y2K matching fund a success

VivaVegie had a matching-fund grant that ended at the end of December. All donations from individuals (not foundations) -- up to a total of $5,000 for the year were double-matched, thanks to David Sielaff of Seattle, Washington. We are happy to announce that we reached the goal in full. Since the previous VivaVine issue, we received one large donation from an anonymous contributor, plus donations of $25 or more from the following people: Stephen R. Kaufman, Josephine Bellaccomo, Mia MacDonald & Martin Rowe, Fred M. Kahn, DDS, Maureen Cauthen, Albert F. Gordon, Lisa Hartmann, Stella Padnos, Kate Garrison, Joseph Connelly (of VegNews), Athena Angelus, Jeffrey Hodes, Manny Goldman, Catherine O. Burland, Naomi Weinshenker, Rachel Friend, and Lindarose Perosi. All donations have already been tripled!

Volunteers contribute the greatest gift of all

There are many ways to make a difference if spreading knowledge about the virtues of vegetarianism is your calling. Special thanks to the following people who helped the VivaVegie Society since the last issue of the VivaVine: Kate Garrison, Murray Schechter, Rob Dolecki, Goeff Watland, Evelyn Gilbert, Seth Asher, Jean Thaler, Tom Thompson, Mitchell Stern and James Langergaard.

VivaVegie wants you!

Do something on the low-commitment side.

Get the "101 Reasons" stocked at your neighborhood store.

VivaVegie will give you a stack of sample "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" to give to a retail establishment, free of charge, to test how they sell. Engage the owner/manager and keep in touch with him or her. After a period of time, ask whether he or she wants to order more. Essentially, do all the things that a sales rep would do to service the account. Ultimately, VivaVegie wants to get regular orders. An order blank is on the 15th page of each copy of the "101 Reasons."

VVS sandwich boards

Take your passion to the streets. It's easy. Now you can obtain brilliant, full-color 11á x 17á replicas of the famous VivaVegie sandwich boards for only $30 (add $7.00 for postage); this includes a starter kit of 20 copies of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian." Send orders to our P.O. box.

VivaVegie wish list

Calendar

Click here for programs at the Veggie Center, including a seminar, a lecture series, "Wrap Žn' Rap," "Sunday Soirees" and an open house. Please call to confirm details. Events are in Manhattan unless otherwise noted.

M O R E N Y C (+)-A R E A R E S O U R C E S

  • The Accent on Wellness Natural Hygiene support group meets every Monday at 7:30 P.M. at the Hygeia Center, 18 East 23rd Street. A $3 donation is suggested. A raw potluck is held the first Saturday of each month at 6:00 P.M. 212-253-2262, PlanetHealth@aol.com.
  • NYC Vegetarians have monthly dinners at local restaurants. Call 718-805-4260 (Sunday to Thursday, before 10:00 P.M.), lesjudd@aol.com.
  • Iron Vegans' Raw Food Connection holds a potluck the second Saturday of each month in Queens. 718-263-7160.
  • Brooklyn Raw holds a potluck the last Friday of each month, 7:30 P.M., at Eco Books, 192 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn. Support groups are held the first and third Wednesdays of the month. 718-499-6984.
  • The Central Jersey Vegetarian Group holds meetings and dinners. An international potluck dinner will take place in March. 908-281-6388.
  • The Boston Vegetarian Society hosts monthly dinners, speakers, and cooking classes. Also, don't forget the annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival on Sat., Oct. 13. 617-424-8846, www.Bostonveg.org.

    Jean Thaler fans expressed their gratitude in June when they celebrated the woman who gave six and a half years to organizing vegetarian events in New York City. Her award was a red apple on a stand with the inscription "In loving tribute: Jean Thaler, founder and president of Big Apple Vegetarians."

    Veggie Center moves its office

    New Home: More square feet and a 5-year lease

    There are lots of plusses about our move to East 28th Street (off-hours entrance on 27th Street) and really only one negative--we lost our 212 phone number. So when you call to confirm your next visit to the Vegetarian Center, please be advised that despite our 646 area code, we are still in Manhattan!

    It's a small sacrifice for more space, a quieter space, a space that is ours for five years--the length of our lease. Our current 200 square feet gives us plenty of room to carry on with all that we have offered in the past-- our programs, a meeting space/office/research room, and an archive.

    And there's more:




    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    Vegetarian center programs

    All events are at 121 East 27th Street, Suite 704. Where appropriate, participants may bring dinner with them. Information: 646-424-9595.

    By appointment: Getting started with your new veggie diet
    What do you eat, now that you've decided to go vegetarian? Free.

    Lecture series (6:30 P.M.)

    Thurs., Feb. 22 and Mar. 22: Government giveaways to the meat industry: A primer (Pamela Rice)
    An introduction to the dozens of tax breaks and subsidies the government hands over to the meat industry. Suggested donation: $3.

    Seminar (6:30 P.M.)

    Tues., Mar. 6: Workshop for wanna-be vegetarian-issue journalists
    Learn about the inverted pyramid, copy style, the importance of proper grammar, and the who, what, where, and why of covering our issues. Suggested donation: $3. Rap 'n' Wrap (6:30 P.M.)

    Tues., Feb. 13 & Mar. 13: A time for vegetarians to shoot the breeze and sort things out from our own perspective
    Why should livestock operators be allowed to administer nontherapeutic antibiotics to their animals? Why is tobacco settlement money going to cattle ranchers in Tennessee? Where can I get a vegan meal in Timbuktu? Suggested donation: $3.

    SUNDAY SOIREES at VivaVegie's Veggie Center


    VivaVegie's Vegetarian Center of NYC 121 East 27th Street, Suite 704, in Manhattan Office hours: 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., M - F (Always call ahead to confirm.) OFF-HOURS ENTRANCE: 121 East 27th Street | 646-424-9595 Sometimes in a moment of excitement people say things like: "I would like to volunteer for VivaVegie!" Unfortunately, statements like these are not always sincere. So when Geoff Watland said he would call every number in our vegan guide to confirm and update the pamphlet's information, we at VivaVegie headquarters were a bit skeptical. But lo and behold, this is exactly what he did. Kudos, Geoff!


    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    Grapevine

    Stunned by VVS Web site

    VivaVegie.org came up when I did a word search on the Internet. I was stunned by all I discovered at your site alone. Consequently, I've just become a vegan.

    Susan Howe
    Bisbee, Arizona

    Long live our scaly, furry, and fine-feathered friends!

    Bravo! You just helped me educate some of my meat-eating friends. I will soon be purchasing multiple copies of your "101 Reasons" as well as back issues of your VivaVine to share with friends and the kids at my summer camp who are considering becoming vegetarian. Long live our scaly, furry, and fine-feathered friends!

    Susan Jeffreys
    Huntington, Pennsylvania

    Options dismal at cafeteria

    After reading "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," I have decided to become a vegetarian (again). My goal has been to be healthy and thinner (I have been between 30 and 50 pounds overweight over the past 4 years). I am glad to be reminded of all the reasons meat is horrible! I did not know about factory farming before. By the way, today I have not eaten any meat, but it was difficult because at work 75 percent of the food in our cafeteria is meat-based. I was going to order soup, but all they had was turkey soup and clam chowder. It's going to be a challenge. I wonder if you could suggest any really good vegetarian eating guides/books? Thanks for any help.

    Ellen
    Chesapeake, Virginia

    Editor's note: A couple of great books for the stage you are in are Becoming Vegetarian and Becoming Vegan, both published by Book Publishing Company. The first can be read at the Veggie Center, and both can be obtained by calling 888-260-8458.

    If you feed them, they will come

    We held our first vegetarian awareness meeting on October 1 (World Vegetarian Day) at our neighborhood library in Johnstown, New York. Fifteen people came! We served tofu-ricotta stuffed shells with almond "Parmesan cheese" and mock-chicken (gluten) potpies, with hummus and salad on the side. We talked about all the reasons to be vegetarian--health, environment,and the animals. We showed pro-vegetarian videos and offered literature for people to take away with them. We talked recipes, of course! We now have a motto: "If you feed them, they will come!" We're not always sure the people leave with the whole package of ideas we want them to take, but perhaps we've planted a few seeds.

    Rosemary Benedict
    The Ful-Mont Veg Group
    Johnstown, New York





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    Cyanide Eco-Suicide: Rainforests of the sea undone

    Coral reefs first appeared about 225 million years ago. In fact, some in the world today may have been in existence for as long as 2.5 million years.

    BY PAMELA RICE

    Coral reefs are resplendent concentrations of biological diversity accounting for more than 25 percent of the known marine fish species, despite their taking up only one-quarter of 1 percent of the ocean. According to Marjorie Reaka-Kudla, a prominent scientist, anywhere between 1 and 9 million species inhabit the world's coral reefs. Yet no more than about 4,000 species of fish and 800 species of reef-building coral have been even cataloged.

    Determining the extent of marine destruction due to human activity is especially difficult for the simple reason that the damage is done out of sight below water. Biologists have tried to evaluate the health of most of the world's reefs, but the studies are admittedly sketchy. The damage is largely unknown. Theories have been put forth about the rate of extinction on the reefs today. Some experts tell us that if the decimation continues over the next four decades, over a million species could be gone forever.

    A comprehensive assessment of the ecosystem destruction of the world's coral reefs was done in 1998. Though there were many participants in the study, the World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management were the primary researchers. The resulting report concluded that 58 percent of the world's reefs are potentially threatened by human activity, of which overfishing is just one part. Reefs are also destroyed by the dumping of human sewage, by the buildup of coastal areas (reefs are literally paved over), by shipping lanes, by mining (reefs are ground to make cement), by consumer demand for seafood (mostly in Europe and North America) and aquarium fish, and by natural causes such as climatic changes. In addition, nutrient runoff from fertilizers and manure quickly pollute the waters that are reefs' life blood. Sediment runoff from coastal development also can block sunlight, essential for coral reef growth.

    Many interests each take just a little

    The world's coral reefs tend to predominate in underdeveloped regions of the world where the poorest people live. Though fishermen from rich countries cause a substantial portion of reef destruction, simply because they have the means to harvest the ocean on a larger scale, a lot of reef exploitation is done by burgeoning populations in the developing world just to feed the locals. Coral reefs are the source of about one-quarter of all the fish harvested in the third world, providing food for a billion people in Asia alone.

    But reef species can just as easily be overexploited by local fishermen to fulfill demand from foreign countries. This often happens when one kind of fish suddenly becomes popular halfway around the globe. At times like this, such target varieties provide quick cash; never mind that as the exploiters rush to pluck the fish, reef by reef over many ecosystems, species are driven to extinction.

    Clams and sea urchins in the Philippines followed this disastrous scenario, as have some large predator reef fish such as grouper*, which have become locally extinct in many places to supply the ever-popular live-fish trade generated out of China. And when a particular species becomes the rage on the plates of far-off countries, even extremely remote reefs can be affected by the slash and burn of target-species sweeps. Though such destruction is difficult to document reliably, it can safely be said that thanks to this enviro-economic reality, nearly every reef on earth is at least somewhat defiled.

    Eating into the capital with cyanide

    There can be big money in coral-reef cuisine. In Hong Kong, for instance, certain business occasions demand a show of wealth, and nothing will do short of serving fillets of reef fish cut from selected specimens pulled ceremoniously from a live-fish tank at $300 per plate. The suppliers of such consumptive plunder tend to do whatever is necessary to make such ostentatious scenes happen, whatever the risks. If certain methods of harvesting fish are illegal, or if harvesting a particular species is off limits, adherence to the rules for responsible fishing may become all the more rare.

    Cyanide fishing in particular is illegal in all Indo-Pacific countries -- but sadly only in name. The rewards of corruption and weak enforcement are simply too large.

    Cyanide fishing is a quick though not always easy or safe way to get highly prized fish to those $300-per-fillet plates. First, a diver dissolves a concentrated tablet of the poison into a plastic squirt bottle filled with sea water. Then, as he attempts to stun his prey, full immobilization tends not to take place until after the fish has had a chance to burrow back into the reef; the diver has to extract his catch using destructive tools. Tests have shown that cyanide kills coral. It's effect on fish is, of course, indiscriminately deadly.

    Damage to the reefs, it has been found, comes in the cumulative effect of many divers. But when live reef "food fish" are a $1-billion-per-year business, as it was before the East Asian economic crisis, cyanide fishing easily becomes an integral part of a lucrative business transaction.

    Reference

    Dirk Bryant et al., Reefs at Risk, World Resources Institute, International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, World Conservation Monitoring Centre, United Nations Environment Programme, 1998. (Available at the Veggie Center.)

    *Grouper, it bears noting, tends to be tame around humans, so is easily killed with spear guns. Today, predator fish, which are essential to reef ecosystems, are becoming a rarity thanks to ravenous human demand.

    Coral reefs are the source of about one-quarter of all the fish harvested in the third world, providing food for a billion people in Asia alone.





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Soy polloi: Joe Sixpack now opting for mock meats


    Vegetarian News

    Federal prisoners can have it their way: Vegetarian

    In terms of timing, the recent inauguration of a federally implemented pro-vegetarian rule could not have been more appropriate. On the day that much of the plant-onlyŮeating world celebrates as World Vegetarian Day, October 1, the nation's 98 federal prisons began a sweeping policy of offering meat-less meals to inmates for lunch and dinner. The new program ushers in such entrees as soyburgers and fried eggplant as options for the 126,000 federally convicted felons incarcerated nationwide, according to an October Associated Press story.

    The policy comes on the heels of numerous lawsuits inmates have brought over the years concerning dietary requirements, most of which pertained to adherence to religious dictates. A recent court case involved a man who sued for vegan meals at the penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The prison was ordered in May to give him soymilk, but the rest of his food could contain dairy products. Officially, the new policy comes not in response to any particular lawsuit, but simply as an answer to the changing dietary habits of the general population.

    Power outage kills 300,000 farmed fish in Arkansas

    We've heard of so-called catastrophic mortalities in reference to intensively confined turkeys caught in a heat wave, or caged hens in a tornado, or feedlot cattle in a snowstorm. We don't generally think of tens of thousands of farmed fish perishing similarly en masse.

    Factory farming is a horrible pact with the devil, whatever the species. For the animals, confinement is both prison and life support at the same time. And so it was for 300,000 catfish on an Arkansas fish farm last summer. A power failure caused paddlewheels that aerate the water with vital oxygen to stop, according to an article in Feedstuffs, an industry publication, in August. In two hours most of the fish were dead. Many others died from the physical stress in the days that followed.

    The economic loss to the farmer came to $250,000.



    AHA inching to our side, but consumers seem to be on the right track already

    Good news all around is in the offing. Between the American Heart Association and general consumer habits, a vegetarian revolution could be quietly percolating. Clues that a new era is dawning started in early October with the unveiling of revised dietary guidelines by the AHA. The new recommendations emphasize the positive -- more whole plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Deemphasized is the nebulous strategy of tracking percentages of fat and cholesterol. The guidelines advise people to shift whole categories of food choices, the result being that a lot of dietary sins are solved all at once. We vegetarians, of course, have been saying this for years!

    Later in November, the AHA surprised a lot of people with the bold recommendation that soy be a part of one's diet, not just more often but every day! The reasoning, aside from the copious nutrients that this noble bean contains: Eating protein from soy crowds out calories that unhealthful meats would provide. Finally, consumers seem to be on the right track when it comes to phasing out meat now, at least a little bit. They're already eating more soy. When 2,000 grocery shoppers were polled recently by the marketing firm HealthFocus, 22 percent said they purchase meat substitutes. In 1992, the same survey showed only 7 percent of shoppers to be so inclined.

    Salmonella tech-fix: Cure may be worse than disease

    "Competitive exclusion" is not exactly a household term. But in laboratories dedicated to outwitting salmonella contamination, it's all the rage. It refers to a strategy that makes sense in theory but remains controversial in the field.

    When you attempt to eradicate bacteria such as salmonella with antibiotics, the strongest strains tend to survive, leaving you with antibiotic- resistant superbugs -- exactly what you want to avoid.

    Enter "competitive exclusion," which occurs when harmless bacteria are brought into the picture. In a salmonella-prone environment, such as a modern factory henhouse, the idea works in practice when chicks are doused with benign bacteria that act to crowd out the ones that make people sick. The unwanted strains have less chance of gaining a foothold.

    Obituary: Theodore Monod, renowned French naturalist and lifelong vegetarian advocate

    Th»odore Monod (1902Ů2000), the renowned French naturalist, didn't have much use for "progress." As a witness to the advent of the modern automobile, he wanted nothing to do with it. He'd rather travel by camel in the desert, where most of his study was done.

    And long before the rest of us had the slightest consciousness of it, he was warning the world about pollution. But more than any other cause, he advocated vegetarianism. According to an obituary in The Economist, Monod believed that animals had to be respected, and that if there was to be a true religion, it would be one that protected the earth, and its adherents would necessarily be vegetarian.

    The idea is already being employed in Brazil and Japan. The Food and Drug Administration in the United States, however, says, "Not so fast!" It remains cautious, to the intense dismay of a U.S. chicken industry hell-bent on getting several products that use the technology approved. The FDA fears that some of the introduced bacteria that are considered benign could be antibiotic-resistant. We at The VivaVine will be watching to see whether the industry holds sway in its quest to gain access to a tool that could hammer it -- and the rest of us -- later.

    Americans of every stripe down on battery cages

    Jamming hens into battery cages is not acceptable to over 85 percent of respondents surveyed in a recent Zogby America poll. Of those against the widespread farm practice, nearly 70 percent said that it was "totally unacceptable." Very few characterized such intensive practices as "totally acceptable."

    No matter the categories in which respondents placed themselves -- Democrat, Republican, or independent; white, African American, or Hispanic; highly educated or not -- they were largely appalled by the use of battery cages, according to the poll.

    Resistance is futile, or is it?

    Oops! The critics were right, admits the Food and Drug Administration. But now Pandora's box is going to be tough to close up again.

    Five years ago, opponents to FDA approval of fluoroquinolones for use on livestock said that if bacterial resistance developed, it could cause the drug's curative properties for humans to be jeopardized. Human use of fluoroquinolones is generally a last-ditch effort in combating gastrointestinal illnesses such as campy-lobacteriosis, a food poisoning most commonly contracted by eating chicken. In the short time that fluoroquinolones were allowed on livestock, the drug's noneffective rate in humans went from 1 percent to 17 percent, according to the Baltimore Sun, quoting FDA statistics in an early December article. Antibiotic resistance to fluoroquinolones in humans occurs as the result of low-level exposure to the drug, something that happens when people -- again -- eat chicken.

    To the relief of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Medical Association, the FDA officially banned fluoroquinolones for use in animals on November 30. But the main company that makes the drug, Bayer Corp., is going to fight what appears to be an all-out battle to reverse the ruling.

    Fluoroquinolones, unlike other antibiotics used on chickens, are not used routinely to boost growth rates. They are used more sparingly, for the actual treatment of disease. Still, the drug cannot cost-effectively be given on a chicken-by-chicken basis. If one animal is treated, a whole shedful (about 20,000 at a time) will be, since the drug is administered via communal water supplies.

    The FDA targeted fluoroquinolones, specifically, because it was able to find a definable link between the degeneration of the antibiotic's effectiveness in humans and the use of the drug on the farm. The ban, the first of its kind, is considered a test case for future bans on other livestock antibiotics.

    Feed makers not complying with remains ban

    Although the United States has never had a documented case of mad cow disease, in 1997 the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of feed for cows, sheep, or goats that contained the protein remains of cows, sheep, goats, deer, or elk. The measure came in response to research that linked such substances with the dreaded bovine disorder and new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Victims of nvCJD, it is believed, contract the disease by eating meat from cattle with mad cow disease. (See the story here.)

    In mid-January, the FDA announced that a large percentage of U.S. renderers and feed mills are not complying with the ban in all of its particulars, according to the Associated Press.

    Genetic engineering, cloning, and egg whites that fight cancer

    Does it seems that every time you turn around there's a new way science can exploit animals to fix human problems? This time, it's the genetic engineering of chickens to lay eggs that carry proteins needed for drugs--some that are designed to fight cancer in humans. To pass the traits along perfectly, the chickens are to be cloned.

    All of this is part of a planned project announced in early December by the same people who created the first cloned sheep, Dolly. Collaborating with a biotech company in the United States, the Roslin Institute said that it plans to have the disease-fighting eggs off the assembly line before the year is out. According to an Associated Press story, the institute has genetically engineered both sheep and cows to produce medicine in their milk--to make drugs out of eggs would be much more cost-efficient.





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    Mad Humans: BSE making people go berserk

    BY GLEN BOISSEAU BECKER

    In December, feature stories in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek sounded some dramatic notes. Fears. Frenzy. Panic spreading throughout Europe. No, it wasn't a precarious stock market or a threat of nuclear war. It was mad cow disease, which has been causing a drop in beef sales throughout the continent.

    To be sure, many have tried to counter with a message that Beef Is Still Good For You. Ten years ago, Britain's minister of agriculture was televised feeding a hamburger to his little daughter, displaying his confidence that here was a safe food. In the words of The Wall Street Journal: "That proved dead wrong."

    In England, the bovine ailment -- unimagined a generation ago -- has taken the lives of an estimated 80 people. And though official figures are much lower, it may have claimed as many as 900,000 cows, according to CNN.com (some 4,300,000 were destroyed in an effort to contain the epidemic). Portugal and Switzerland have reported hundreds of cases. In France, an estimated 100 tainted beef carcasses were found last year, setting off the latest outcry. And individual cases in places like Belgium and Holland suggest that no matter how energetically European nations are putting each other on the "banned beef" list, this modern plague may be no respecter of national boundaries.

    What exactly is mad cow disease? By now, everyone in America has heard of it, and no one seems to understand it. No wonder, when a number of aspects continue to baffle the leading scientists.

    We also see some complacency. After all, a tiny percentage of meat eaters have fallen victim -- so far.

    What we may fail to picture is almost too grim to describe: a slow, painful, degenerative ailment that eats away at the brain, turning it into a spongy mush and causing incapacity, dementia, and death. To think of a single human victim is appalling, not to mention the suffering that other species endure.

    "Mad cow" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and related diseases are presumed to be spread by the ingestion of tainted meat, byproducts like gelatin, blood, or bone meal, and even animal droppings used as fertilizer; hence the mounting concern when ground-up cattle parts are mixed with livestock feed and fed to other cattle -- a notorious practice that tougher U.S. laws have not succeeded in fully eliminating. Ironically, it remains legal to feed cattle parts to chicken and certain other farm animals, and later to feed their carcasses back to cattle, regardless of the risks.

    Further complicating the picture, the cause of mad cow disease -- a recently discovered "renegade protein" called an infectious prion -- cannot be readily destroyed by washing or heating or even burning. And though mad cow disease, as such, has yet to be seen in the United States, researchers and farmers are concerned to observe how easily forms of the disease seem to migrate across distance, and from one species to another. Recent outbreaks have affected sheep in New England and elk in Saskatchewan.

    Most alarming, the human equivalent of mad cow disease -- properly called new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease -- incubates so slowly that no one can even guess the extent of the problem with certainty. The incubation period can take up to 25 years. Conceivably, some experts speculate, there could be half a million related human fatalities in England by 2030.

    We do know that the new disease, unlike standard Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, attacks both young and old. The stories hit close to home for those who have been eating beef from France -- or Spain and Germany, where the first bovine cases were spotted recently, causing meat prices to plummet and anxieties to soar.

    With uncharacteristic hyperbole, the front page of The New York Times reported: "Europeans are not letting beef pass their lips. They are even inspecting their cosmetics and candy to see if they are made from a base of beef gelatin." That sounds like a good idea to us.





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    Veggie Nuggets

    Wormy bear of a bellyache

    The meat from two Alaskan bears caused five people to get sick within ten days in August, according to the Los Angeles Times. The new cases caused the yearly number of people so afflicted nationwide to double. The meat in both cases carried trichinella larvae. Freezing normally kills this kind of worm, but Alaskan trichinella has evolved to survive Arctic cold. Up to 90 percent of bears in some parts of Alaska are believed to be infected, according to the LA Times article.

    The number of people sickened by bear meat is probably much greater than is reported, since flu-like symptoms tend to show up weeks or months after the eating takes place.

    Revelers have a ball at Montana testicle festival

    Just a few miles from Missoula, in Clinton, Montana, 5,000 pounds of deep-fried bull testicles, or "Rocky Mountain oysters," were scarfed down by 15,000 adventurous eaters in late September, according to the Great Falls Tribune. The occasion? The Rock Creek Lodge's annual testicle festival, and the effect of the gonads on people seems to be intoxicating.

    By the end of the week, 23 drunk-driving arrests had been made, a motorcycle crashed, and an SUV rolled over, leaving six people injured and one in a coma. Various rape, obstruction, and disturbance arrests were also made, and entertainment included coed naked pool and wet T-shirt contests. We have to wonder how many partiers would be left if people knew that the morsels they were sampling are the by-product of castration.

    Five a day? Pay me!

    Last year, Dole Food Co. embarked on an interesting survey. It wanted to know what would make kids eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the minimum recommended for good health. It decided to ask the kids. Students at the elementary grade level were asked to answer the following question: "If you were President Clinton, how would you get kids across the country to eat Ž5 A Day'?" The best answers were e-mailed to the president.

    The most frequently mentioned idea revealed a bit of a problem, if it is to be taken seriously: Pay us to eat fruits and vegetables! VivaVegie might suggest a different tack: Dis-tribute "101 Reasons" to every schoolkid. That should give a big boost to fruits and veggies--not to mention beans and grains.

    Study reveals pizza is loaded with grease

    According to a September story posted to the Meating Place Web site, a study done last fall officially revealed that pizza -- the regular kind -- is loaded with grease. (Duh.) In fact, patting the top of your pizza with a paper towel before you eat it can save you up to 14 percent of the fat, about 17 percent of the saturated fat, and up to 17 percent of the cholesterol. Now, would you like a paper towel with those extra toppings, ma'am, or do you just want to go vegan?



    Video screenings

    Call 646-424-9595 to schedule an opportunity for your group, or just yourself, to watch videos at the Veggie Center. Sample titles:

    (OTHER TITLES ALSO AVAILABLE.)





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    Subsidies Update

    Tobacco settlement money slated for cattlemen and fish farmers

    The meat-eating world can have some twisted logic at times -- as witness some of the places one state is thinking of putting its tobacco settlement money. Everyone knows that recovering the costs associated with the treatment of smoking-related illnesses was the reasoning behind all the lawsuits states brought against the tobacco companies. But now that the spoils of victory are here, some of the booty is ending up in places that should have vegetarians scratching their heads.

    In the case of Tennessee, the scramble is on for almost $5 billion over the next 25 years. In general, the state has already decided that pro-health programs should get a lot of it, but oddly, only half. The other half has been earmarked for agriculture--the idea being that various agricultural interests were hurt by tobacco's downsizing. Named as possible benefactors in the agriculture category, according to a December 12 story in the Knoxville News-Sentinel: cattle and aquaculture interests. Perhaps word has not reached Tennessee of the health risks of beef and fish.

    Alaska: Where reindeer and caribou play

    Hey, if you were a reindeer in Alaska and a bunch of guys were trying to round you up to sell your meat and make aphrodisiacs and tonics out of your antlers, you might run off with the caribou, too! In fact, about 3,000 reindeer across western Alaska have done just that over the past decade, according to state officials, and now herders are asking the federal government for disaster relief money. They'll probably get it: approximately $100,000 this year, according to a January 5 story posted to the CNN Web site--this after the herders have already received $300,000 over the past 2 years.

    Reindeer defection has been on the rise as herds of caribou have increased and encroached on reindeer rangeland. Caribou numbers rose to about 400,000 in 1990 from 75,000 in 1976. When reindeer mix with their wild caribou cousins, it's good-bye to the domesticated life; and since the animals are physically indistinguishable from each other, ranchers are unable to retrieve their stock.

    Sneak preview into new ag secretary

    With the new Bush administration, the country has a new agriculture secretary. According to the Washington Post in December, the new head of the 100,000-employee, $72 billion bureaucracy, Ann Veneman, served on the board of Calgene, the biotech company that developed the so-called Flavr Savr tomato -- one of the first "Frankenfoods," which at one time boasted a shelf life of 14 days. As a lawyer, she represented various agriculture clients, including Dole Foods. Perhaps to her credit, her roots are less from the entrenched feed-grain/livestock sector and more of the newfangled California variety. She grew up on a peach farm in the San Joaquin Valley. Ms. Veneman, we'll be watching your every move; you can count on it.





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    For the Health of It

    Meat-eating mothers, more dioxin in milk

    Numerous studies have confirmed that any presence of dioxin floating around in the human body tends to be linked to the consumption of animal-based foods. Now we have even more evidence of the connection, this time out of Japan. A study, which monitored the breast milk taken from 487 women across Japan from 1997 to 1998, found that dioxin levels in human milk are higher the more meat a woman has in her diet. The study was conducted by the Japanese government, according to the newspaper Asahi, as the Associated Press reported late in December. According to the AP report, "Dioxin levels rose with the frequency with which women consumed ham, cow milk, dried sardines and eel, the survey said."

    Busted: Antibiotic use on the farm much higher than the livestock industry reports

    In nothing short of a bombshell early this year, the Union of Concerned Scientists blew away the livestock industry's estimated numbers on antibiotic use on the farm. In a January 8 press release, the group declared that 70 percent of total antibiotic production is fed to chickens, pigs, and cows for nontherapeutic purposes like growth promotion. The group's assessment -- a total of about 25 million pounds -- amounts to 40 percent more than the the livestock industry estimates for all uses. Furthermore, the UCS asserts that this use accounts for 8 times as many antibiotics as human medicine.

    "The meat industry's share of the antibiotic-resistance problem has been ignored for too long," said Dr. Margaret Mellon, Director of the Food and Environment Program at UCS and coauthor of the new report. "Antibiotics are a precious resource and should be used in animals only when necessary."

    Overuse of antibiotics is currently a pressing public problem, and although overuse of antimicrobials in humans is the largest contributor to drug resistance, antibiotic use on the farm has been setting off alarm bells. The widespread practice can substantially reduce the ef-ficacy of the lifesaving drugs in humans.

    Obesity percentages rise, yet again

    It seems that every time we look away, even for a minute, the percentage of people considered overweight or obese continues to rise. The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a whopping 61 percent of adults are considered overweight, with more than a quarter considered obese. It's time to bring out the high-fiber fruits and veggies to trim down the masses. That or bring on the clowns.


    Pulp Kitchen: Books and cooks at the Veggie Center

    VivaVegie's Vegetarian Center is a treasure trove of resource material. In a previous issue we gave a run-down of our file folder subjects for researchers. For the generalist, the following are just a few of the books that are also located on the premises.

    Blast fishers paraded through the town

    by Pamela Rice

    It's not nice to blast coral-reef fish with make-shift bombs. It's illegal, too, in Komodo National Park (an Indonesian marine sanctuary). And if you get caught doing it here, you could be publicly shamed. Just ask 24 fishermen--including 11 teenage boys -- who were apprehended by park authorities in November. For their crime, 10 of them were paraded past the locals, stripped to the waist while walking on their haunches with their hands behind their heads repeating the words "Saya melakukan," which means "I use bombs," according to a November 7 story by the Environmental News Network, which was posted to the CNN.com Web site.

    As is common in the area, these fishermen had used fertilizer and kerosene to fuel underwater explosions to kill fish, willy-nilly. "Hookah" compressor hoses are later used to vacuum up the broken bodies of the catch. As punishment, two of the culprits publicly had to carry the compressor hoses the fishermen were caught with. The gear, according to the ENN story, would later be used as evidence against them in court.

    Although local authorities excelled in public shaming this time, they generally lack consistency in enforcing the rules. "Blast fishing," according to the ENN story, is common, but this November arrest was the first that took place in the Komodo area in 2000. In fact, when explosions are observed by police, it's easy for bombers to throw the gear that could be used as incriminating evidence overboard.

    In this case, two dozen fishermen in three dilapidated boats were apprehended after a dramatic chase. A fourth boat was able to escape.





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    Sea Beat

    Fast-growing fish; holes in protective law

    Genetically altering fish to grow at a much faster rate than normal may seem like a timely gift to an increasingly ravenous world, as well as a shining light in the distance for many of those concerned about world hunger--not to mention those fish farmers interested in growing more fish on less feed. But many scientists warn that the new technology could just as easily touch off a cascade of environmental disasters, particularly if the GE fish escape from their pens. And legal experts are warning that there are gaping holes in the law that could otherwise protect the environment, thanks to a Reagan administration determination that an antiquated regulatory infrastructure was adequate to oversee this wildly new technology.

    According to a January 2 story in the Los Angeles Times, it falls, in one particular case, to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate a gene-altered fish, because the fish's extra hormone is considered a drug. In addition, according to the LA Times article, the FDA is required by law to protect companies' trade secrets, shutting out the public during the agency's approval processes. The article did note that in May President Clinton ordered federal regulators to probe for such holes in the law. The review was to be completed by the end of January.

    Disturbing finding may benefit anglers

    Take a lake, any lake, in the United States. It probably has fish living in it. But did it always? Probably not. In fact, only 1 in 20 lakes in the western United States originally contained species of fish. Of course, today U.S. lakes are teeming with fish. They got that way with 100 years of stocking programs to benefit sport fishermen.

    Now, the U.S. government is intent on restoring lake ecosystems to their pristine past. Sadly, a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington has shown that even after the nonnative fish are removed, the lakes do not recover. Sport fishermen see the study as a vindication of their view that the fish should remain to support their dubious pastime.

    New study finds 82 slow-growing, slow-reproducing fish species at risk

    Yet another dire warning has come out about fish. In November, a study revealed that 82 species and subspecies of fish -- an exceptionally large number -- are at risk of extinction. Many of them swim off the coasts of North America. Habitat destruction and pollution have played a part in the fishes' collective demise, but fishing is the primary cause for reduced numbers of stocks, according to a November 3 story in the San Francisco Chronicle. The story also noted that the species that have been identified as threatened share common characteristics: They all tend to be slow to grow, slow to reach sexual maturity, and slow to reproduce. Scientists conclude from the findings that an extensive marine refuge system is desperately needed, although in the case of some species, the damage may never be reversible.

    The study was conducted by the American Fisheries Society and was published in the November issue of Fisheries magazine. A PDF file of the study is available at http://fisheries.org/fisheries/fishery.shtml.





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    VEGETARIAN ROOTS
    Jacksonian Veg: Couldn't stomach pork & whisky

    BY KAREN IACOBBO

    If you have ever been asked whether you are getting enough protein, calcium, or B12, or if anyone has ever made a sour face as you munched on your seitan stew or Tofurkey--consider what vegetarians of the past put up with as a minority in meat-eating America.

    Yesterday -- that is, in the Jacksonion era of 1830--per-capita meat consumption was approximately half a pound per day. That meat, often pork, was accompanied by thick, fatty gravy, potatoes cooked in lard, and later grease-laden pastries made from white flour. The meat was often washed down with whiskey, which one observer of the nation's eating habits contended was the only thing that could cut through the grease.

    Those who could afford to dine out found a buffet of assorted animal flesh that today could horrify even a hunter -- if he was the least bit conservation minded. Lamb, deer, rabbit, grouse, pigeon, squirrel, squid, fish, and lobster, as well as pig, turkey, cow, and other animal remains, were on the menu at the poshest restaurants. While some nonvegetarian physicians preached that ailing patients had been eating too much, it was common for doctors to recommend that the sick eat meat and drink liquor to stimulate the body back to health. Complaints of dyspepsia - with such symptoms as stomach upset, gas, constipation, and diarrhea -- were rampant in the nation.

    It was in this climate that the American vegetarian movement was born (not officially until 1850, but unofficially with the advent of lectures by Sylvester Graham). Not surprisingly, reaction to vegetarianism and vegetarians was mixed. Those meat eaters seeking relief from their health woes, and escape from the horrific drugs and other treatments administered by the regular physicians of the day, either rejected the food of the flesh-pots or reduced their intake. In general, it seems friends and relatives would carefully scrutinize the new vegetarian -- seeking signs of emaciation and impending death. The "vegetable diet" (usually lacto-ovo, although vegans and even fruitarians were present in America) was also believed to emasculate the male. It was claimed by nonvegetarians, in cluding physicians, that meat was needed in the body to build strength. For example, the idea was: Eat pork and gain sinewy muscles like the pig's.

    If the alleged risk of death or emasculation did not frighten the potential vegetarian away from rejecting flesh foods, the fear of losing the mind might. Strange as it might seem today, vegetarians of yesteryear were observed by concerned meat eaters , who would vigilantly watch for signs of insanity. This kind of insanity -- that is, the belief that a lack of meat in the diet caused lunacy -- was even argued by a physician in a leading medical journal of the day. Yet despite this, a substantial number of iron-willed and strong-hearted Americans chose to go vegetarian -- enough, at least, to have created a movement that survived to our own era.

    Those who were able to withstand the onslaught of concerns of the nonvegetarians, and the all-too-typical ridicule that accompanied the concern, were people interested in much more than just their stomachs. Evidence shows that vegetarians who stayed vegetarian, then as now, were those who rejected meat eating for ethical reasons, including religion and animal rights, and not just because of health.

    Karen Iacobbo is a writer and expert in vegetarian history. She can be reached c/o American Lyceum, 409 Pine Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903. E-mail her at jwiacobbo@aol.com.





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    Mad Humans: BSE making people go berserk

    BY GLEN BOISSEAU BECKER

    In December, feature stories in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek sounded some dramatic notes. Fears. Frenzy. Panic spreading throughout Europe. No, it wasn't a precarious stock market or a threat of nuclear war. It was mad cow disease, which has been causing a drop in beef sales throughout the continent.

    To be sure, many have tried to counter with a message that Beef Is Still Good For You. Ten years ago, Britain's minister of agriculture was televised feeding a hamburger to his little daughter, displaying his confidence that here was a safe food. In the words of The Wall Street Journal: "That proved dead wrong."

    In England, the bovine ailment -- unimagined a generation ago -- has taken the lives of an estimated 80 people. And though official figures are much lower, it may have claimed as many as 900,000 cows, according to CNN.com (some 4,300,000 were destroyed in an effort to contain the epidemic). Portugal and Switzerland have reported hundreds of cases. In France, an estimated 100 tainted beef carcasses were found last year, setting off the latest outcry. And individual cases in places like Belgium and Holland suggest that no matter how energetically European nations are putting each other on the "banned beef" list, this modern plague may be no respecter of national boundaries.

    What exactly is mad cow disease? By now, everyone in America has heard of it, and no one seems to understand it. No wonder, when a number of aspects continue to baffle the leading scientists.

    We also see some complacency. After all, a tiny percentage of meat eaters have fallen victim -- so far.

    What we may fail to picture is almost too grim to describe: a slow, painful, degenerative ailment that eats away at the brain, turning it into a spongy mush and causing incapacity, dementia, and death. To think of a single human victim is appalling, not to mention the suffering that other species endure.

    "Mad cow" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and related diseases are presumed to be spread by the ingestion of tainted meat, byproducts like gelatin, blood, or bone meal, and even animal droppings used as fertilizer; hence the mounting concern when ground-up cattle parts are mixed with livestock feed and fed to other cattle -- a notorious practice that tougher U.S. laws have not succeeded in fully eliminating. Ironically, it remains legal to feed cattle parts to chicken and certain other farm animals, and later to feed their carcasses back to cattle, regardless of the risks.

    Further complicating the picture, the cause of mad cow disease -- a recently discovered "renegade protein" called an infectious prion -- cannot be readily destroyed by washing or heating or even burning. And though mad cow disease, as such, has yet to be seen in the United States, researchers and farmers are concerned to observe how easily forms of the disease seem to migrate across distance, and from one species to another. Recent outbreaks have affected sheep in New England and elk in Saskatchewan.

    Most alarming, the human equivalent of mad cow disease -- properly called new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease -- incubates so slowly that no one can even guess the extent of the problem with certainty. The incubation period can take up to 25 years. Conceivably, some experts speculate, there could be half a million related human fatalities in England by 2030.

    We do know that the new disease, unlike standard Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, attacks both young and old. The stories hit close to home for those who have been eating beef from France -- or Spain and Germany, where the first bovine cases were spotted recently, causing meat prices to plummet and anxieties to soar.

    With uncharacteristic hyperbole, the front page of The New York Times reported: "Europeans are not letting beef pass their lips. They are even inspecting their cosmetics and candy to see if they are made from a base of beef gelatin." That sounds like a good idea to us.





    BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS


    Masthead

    a publication of
    VivaVegie Society, Inc.
    Vol. 10, No. 1
    February 2001


    VivaVegie Society
    P.O. Box 1447 /
    New York, NY 10276
    646-424-9595 (vegetarian center)
    212-871-9304 (hot line)
    E-mail: pamela@vivavegie.org

    Publisher: Pamela Rice
    Editor: Alan Rice
    Copy editor: Glen Boisseau Becker
    Contributors: Glen Boisseau Becker, Karen Iacobbo
    Webmaster: Marian Cole
    Calendar editor: Evelyn Gilbert
    Gaggle of veg-evangelists: Kate Garrison, Joan Zacharias, Danielle Dunbar, Laura Dauphine, Judea Johnson, Jean Thaler, Murray Schechter, and Rob Dolecki
    Editorial consultants: Special thanks to: