The First Annual... VIVA VEGIE SOCIETY'S TOP 15 VEGAN-NEWS STORIES OF 2006 (starting with the most recent)

Compiled and edited by Pamela Rice
author, 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian
(Lantern Books, 2005)

In 2006, the meat eaters of the world continued to infect the environment with various poisons, to strain natural resources, to inflict cruelty on innocent sentient beings, and to compromise human health. Meat eaters are now threatening to end life on planet earth as we know it. Meanwhile, they impose their sensibilities on the rest of us, seeing it as unfair when we vegans come forth to complain.

The following stories encapsulate the tyranny of the world's omnivores, whether by means of poisoning our vegetables with e. coli O157:H7, adding undo hydrocarbons to earth's atmosphere via methane-producing livestock, vacuuming the oceans of fish, threatening the world economy with bird flu, draining the world's aquifers, or hoarding government subsidies to externalize the real cost of their addictions.

Vegans can no longer remain silent in the face of the injustice. We stand steadfast in opposition to omnivore habits, and we do so without apology. --Ed.

Table of Contents:

VivaVegie's Top 15 Vegan-News Stories of 2006

  1. Deadly Bacterium Linked to Livestock Infecting Vegetables
  2. Livestock A Major Threat to the Environment
  3. Vegetarian Diet Chews Up Excess Flab
  4. Clogged Arteries Showing Up in Kids
  5. Veggies Improve Brain Power
  6. World's Fish Supply Running Out, Researchers Warn
  7. Bird Flu Outbreak Courts Cost of $2.66 Trillion
  8. Vegan Diet Reverses Diabetes Symptoms, Study Finds
  9. Where Did That Food Come From? Humane Points of Light
  10. Chicken With Arsenic? Is That O.K.?
  11. Health Benefits of Eating Fish Questioned
  12. Study: Tofu, Oatmeal Lower Cholesterol
  13. Study: Veggie Diets Not Being Recommended
  14. Animal Agriculture, Including the Cultivation of Feed Grains, Mining Midwestern Aquifers Dry
  15. USDA Awards $10 Million to Sequence the Swine Genome

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Deadly Bacterium Linked to Livestock Infecting Vegetables

E. coli O157:H7 has been a particular problem. Unlike the usually benign E. coli bacteria that live in warm-blooded animals and humans, the strain produces toxins that destroy the intestinal lining, leading to bloody diarrhea, kidney failure and, sometimes, death. It was first blamed for a food-borne-illness outbreak in the early 1980s, leading some microbiologists to suggest that it arose in industrial livestock, which are force-fed grain and pumped with antibiotics. ... The strain that caused September's spinach outbreak, which killed three and sickened about 200, has been found in cattle feces near a California spinach field and in wild pigs that roamed through it. ... The source of the Taco Bell outbreak has not been found, but the company suspects green onions -- also from California. Fresh tomatoes served in restaurants this fall, believed to have made nearly 200 people sick, carried another [meat-based] bacterium, salmonella.

Full story, Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2006

Ancillary (A): Deadly E. Coli Outbreak Hits 20 States

Produce California's spinach industry is now the financial victim of an outbreak it probably did not cause, and meanwhile, thousands of acres of other produce are still downstream from these lakes of E. coli-ridden cattle manure.

Full story, Associated Press, Sept. 15, 2006

Ancillary (B): Opinion piece

Full story, The New York Times, Sept. 21, 2006


Livestock A Major Threat to the Environment

Which causes more greenhouse gas emissions, rearing cattle or driving cars? Surprise! According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent -- 18 percent -- than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

Full story, Food and Agriculture Organization, press release, Nov. 29, 2006

Vegetarian Diet Chews Up Excess Flab

Researchers have found that people who stuck to a vegetarian diet for at least one year lost more weight than those on a standard low-fat diet. And they shed considerably more excess flab than those who didn't stick with the meatless plan. Additionally, levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol dropped after six months on the vegetarian diet, although they started to rebound when people went back to their normal eating habits a year later, says Lora A. Burke, Ph.D., professor of nursing and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. If you adhere to the vegetarian diet, "you will lose weight and have significant improvements in your heart disease risk profile," she tells WebMD.

Full story, WebMD, Nov. 15, 2006

Clogged Arteries Showing Up in Kids

Children with heart disease risk factors -- obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol -- already show indications of fatty build-up in their arteries that could cause heart attacks when they're adults, Canadian researchers report. ... Dr. Sanaz Piran, an internal medicine resident at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., along with her colleagues, reviewed data on 3,630 children, ages 5 to 18, who took part in 26 studies in Australia, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States. Those studies used noninvasive methods to measure arterial blood flow and the thickness of artery walls in children with and without heart disease risk factors.

Full story, HealthDay, Nov. 12, 2006

[NOTE: Plaque build-up in the arteries is inexorably linked to high-saturated-fat meat diets.]

Veggies Improve Brain Power

What's put in your mouth could go straight to your head. Another reason to eat your veggies: New research suggests that vegetables may improve mental health, keeping brains young and sharp. ... It is well-known that people who eat more vegetables generally are more active and more health-conscious. Embracing good eating habits, including consumption of more fresh veggies, can often delay or prevent the top three killers in the nation: heart disease, cancer and stroke. ... Now we also know that the same foods that are good for your heart could also improve brainpower.

Full story, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 11, 2006

World's Fish Supply Running Out, Researchers Warn

An international group of ecologists and economists warned yesterday that the world will run out of seafood by 2048 if steep declines in marine species continue at current rates, based on a four-year study of catch data and the effects of fisheries collapses. The paper, published in the journal Science, concludes that overfishing, pollution and other environmental factors are wiping out important species around the globe, hampering the ocean's ability to produce seafood, filter nutrients and resist the spread of disease.

Full story, Washington Post, Nov. 3, 2006


Bird Flu Outbreak Courts Cost of $2.66 Trillion

A severe bird flu pandemic among humans could cost the global economy up to $2 trillion, the World Bank said today, sharply raising earlier estimates. The comments came as a senior World Health Organization official said the threat from the H5N1 avian flu virus was just as real today as it was six months ago, even if the headlines were not as scary. ... Jim Adams, vice-president for East Asia and the Pacific and head of the Bank's avian flu task force, said a severe pandemic could cost more than three per cent of the global economy's gross national product. ... "We estimate this could cost certainly over $1 trillion and perhaps as high as $2 trillion in a worst-case scenario. So the threat, the economic threat, remains real and substantial," he said at the annual IMF-World Bank meetings in Singapore.

Full story, Reuters, Sept. 17, 2006

Ancillary: Bird flu pandemic would spark global downturn--report

Full story, Reuters, Feb. 16, 2006

[NOTE: No strains of influenza (yearly or pandemic forms) would exist in a world without animal agriculture.]


Vegan Diet Reverses Diabetes Symptoms, Study Finds

People who ate a low-fat vegan diet, cutting out all meat and dairy, lowered their blood sugar more and lost more weight than people on a standard American Diabetes Association diet, researchers said on Thursday. ... They lowered their cholesterol more and ended up with better kidney function, according to the report published in Diabetes Care, a journal published by the American Diabetes Association.

Full story, Reuters, Jul. 2006


Where Did That Food Come From? Humane Points of Light

This month Whole Foods announced that it would no longer sell live lobsters, saying that keeping them in crammed tanks for long periods doesn't demonstrate a proper concern for animal welfare. The Chicago City Council recently outlawed the sale of foie gras to protest the force-feeding of the ducks and geese that yield it. California passed a similar law, which doesn't take effect until 2012, and other states and cities are considering such measures. ... All of these developments dovetail with a heightened awareness in these food-obsessed times of what we eat: where it came from, what it was fed, how it was penned, how it perished. If the success of best sellers like "Fast Food Nation" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and stores like Whole Foods is any indication, more Americans are spending more time mulling the nutritional, environmental and, yes, ethical implications of their diets.

Full story, The New York Times, June 25, 2006


Chicken With Arsenic? Is That O.K.?

ARSENIC may be called the king of poisons, but it is everywhere.... [I]t is deliberately being added to chicken in this country, with many scientists saying it is unnecessary. Until recently there was a very high chance that if you ate chicken some arsenic would be present because it has been a government-approved additive in poultry feed for decades. It is used to kill parasites and to promote growth. ... Soils are contaminated with arsenical pesticides from chicken manure; chicken litter containing arsenic is fed to other animals ... Human exposure to it has been compounded because the consumption of chicken has exploded. In 1960, each American ate 28 pounds of chicken a year. For 2005, the figure is estimated at about 87 pounds per person.

Full story, The New York Times, Apr. 5, 2006


Health Benefits of Eating Fish Questioned

A review of 89 studies published online by the British Medical Journal showed no strong evidence that omega-3 fats reduced deaths from cardiovascular disease. But Dr Mike Knapton, of the British Heart Foundation, said more research is needed before people change their eating habits. This systematic review of numerous studies concludes that there is no clear evidence either way," he added. "Whatever amount of oily fish you consume, the impact on your risk of heart disease is negligible compared to the benefits of quitting smoking, doing regular exercise and eating a diet low in saturated fats," Knapton added.

Full story, Reuters, Mar. 24, 2006


Earlier, Associated Press took on this story, Jan. 24, 2006

[NOTE: Omega-3s are abundant in wild fish; a vegan can eat ground flax seeds daily to get the same results.]

Study: Tofu, Oatmeal Lower Cholesterol

Maybe your doctor should write up a grocery list to help lower your cholesterol, suggests a small study that showed a rigid diet seemed as effective as cholesterol-lowering pills. ... The study, published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was funded in part by almond promoters and a major food company. ... Study co-author David Jenkins, Canadian research chair in metabolism and nutrition at Toronto, and Dr. Cyril Kendall, also of the University of Toronto, studied 55 middle-aged men and women who had high cholesterol and were at risk for heart disease.

Full story, Associated Press, Mar. 14, 2006


Study: Veggie Diets Not Being Recommended

A University of North Carolina scientist says cardiologists fail to recommend diets to some heart patients in the mistaken belief patients won't comply. A pilot survey of cardiologists revealed most [cardiologists] know about the life-saving potential of a low-fat vegetarian diet for heart patients, but don't recommend it despite studies showing patients transition fairly easily to a low-fat diet that contains no animal products. The survey conducted by North Carolina researchers suggests most cardiologists recommend standard omnivorous low-fat diets that have not proven effective for treating or preventing heart disease. "Patients hospitalized with life-threatening cardiac conditions should be advised by their doctor they could head off another heart attack by switching to a low-fat vegetarian diet," said report co-author Amy Joy Lanou, an assistant professor of health and wellness at UNC.

Full story, United Press International, Feb. 21, 2006

Animal Agriculture, Including the Cultivation of Feed Grains, Is Mining Midwestern Aquifers Dry

There was a time when clean, sweet water bubbled up from wells in Hull. But like other Iowan towns, Hull's shallow aquifers left its water supply vulnerable to contamination. Pesticides and fertilizer leaked from local farms, raising sulphate levels in the well water and wreaking havoc on newcomers' digestive systems. Ten years ago, Hull capped its wells and turned to its neighbors for clean water. Now a boom in cattle and pig operations has stretched that supply to the limits. Without a new source of clean water, the town's future prosperity is doubtful. ... Hull may be a harbinger of a drier future on the northern Plains. The town is one of many in the area whose groundwater has been contaminated by farm chemicals. Hull is one of 15 towns and five rural water systems ... that have hitched their futures to the Lewis and Clark Rural Water System (LCRWS), a big new pipeline, which in theory will pump 45 million gallons a day from the Missouri river to about 200,000 people thinly spread out across South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. ... But is the answer really to lay new pipes? Natural-resource experts point out that cheap subsidized water has spurred people (and farmers in particular) to overuse it. Tom Power, an economist at the University of Montana, says projects like the LCRWS are "nuts. The last thing you want is federal subsidies for the consumption of resources, especially given the [water] scarcity we face across the West."

Full story, The Economist print edition, Feb. 9, 2006


USDA Awards $10 Million to Sequence the Swine Genome

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced Friday that USDA is awarding $10 million to the University of Illinois to obtain a draft sequence of the swine genome. ... The two-year project is expected to lead to the development of new DNA-based tools to identify and select genetically superior pigs that resist disease, yield larger litters and produce leaner cuts of meat. ... Additional funding to sequence the pig genome was provided by the National Pork Board, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa State University, North Carolina Pork Council and North Carolina State University.

Full story, MeatingPlace.com, Jan. 16, 2006


Pamela Rice is the head of the VivaVegie Society, a New York City-based vegetarian advocacy organization, and the author of a new book, 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian, which is based on her popular pamphlet by the same name. She also founded and heads the Vegetarian Center of NYC.


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