VivaVegie broadcast on Voice of America

Following is the transcript for the Voice of America transcript that ran on or around March 21, 2002:

TYPE=English Programs Feature
BYLINE=Adam Phillips
EDITOR=Nancy Smart

INTRO: American supermarkets are stocked with a wide range of food choices that cater to both meat-eaters and vegetarians. The vast majority of Americans eat meat every day. But partisans of a vegetarian lifestyle insist that a meatless diet offers significant health benefits. VOA's Adam Phillips spoke with an advocate on each side of the dietary debate.

TEXT: Pamela Rice is the founder and director of the Vegetarian Center of New York City. It's an advocacy group that hosts events about vegetarianism and distributes a pamphlet she wrote called "101 Reasons Why I'm A Vegetarian." Ms. Rice says she believes that not eating meat leads to better health.


A lot of the most debilitating diseases are from a rich, Western diet which includes a lot of meat and you take a lot of those out of your diet, and you reduce your risk for some of the great killers of the Western World -- heart disease and stroke and certain cancers are also now tied to eating animal foods.

Q: What is it that is bad about meat that causes all these diseases?

A: It's high in saturated fat. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature. And you don't want to put anything like that through your arteries.

TEXT: At the American Meat Institute, a trade group representing the U-S meat and poultry industry, spokeswoman Janet Riley says the vegetarian argument that "meat is harmful to your health" ignores nationally-accepted nutritional guidelines:


"It's important to remember, and dieticians would agree: there are no good foods and no bad foods. There are only bad diets. We all know from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that a balanced diet is important and the dietary guidelines affirm that meat and poultry pay a healthy role in a balanced diet.

I think it is foolhardy to assume that because you are vegetarian, your diet is necessarily healthy, and, if you are a carnivore, your diet is unhealthy. It all depends on how you balance those diets with a variety of foods."

TEXT: Pamela Rice of the Vegetarian Center agrees that not all meatless diets are healthy ones.


"And this is a lesson that I think a lot of people who become vegetarians learn the hard way. They think 'I am going to take animal food out of my diet.' But what do they replace it with? Perhaps a lot of junk food... and things that could be considered vegetarian but are very bad for human health as well. You have to be careful. The best human diet is a whole food diet. Which would mean fresh fruits and vegetables....

One thing I might mention is that seven percent of the American population describes itself as vegetarian. Which means that, literally, millions of people in this country don't eat meat.

Q: What does that tell you? A: That all those people who make food should start catering to vegetarians a lot more than they do.

TEXT: There is disagreement, however, over the future of the American vegetarian movement. But crusading vegetarians may be fighting a losing battle in their efforts to get the rest of America to give up meat. Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute cites U-S Department of Agriculture statistics that indicate the clear dietary trend in the United States is toward eating more meat, not less.


"Total red meat poultry and fish consumption was about 106 kilograms in 2000, and by comparison in 1965, it was only 84 kilograms per person per year... Q: Is that a function of increased wealth or advertising, or what? A: Certainly a society that is wealthier will consume more meat and poultry. There is no doubt about that..

TEXT: The debate over whether a carnivorous or a vegetarian diet is more healthful is certain to continue as the marketing and variety of both sort of products accelerates in the months and years to come.

(OPT) You can learn more about the merits of vegetarian and meat-eating lifestyles on the Internet. Point your browser to w-w-w dot v-i-v-a-v-e-g-i-e dot o-r-g and to w-w-w dot m-e-a-t-a-m-i and take it from there.

(END OPT) I'm Adam Phillips in New York.



VivaVegie Society
P.O. Box 1447
New York, NY 10276