The Viva Vine: vol #4, no #3: May/June 1995

GRAPEVINE

In mid February, The New York Times reported that a panel of experts predicted --at the then-meeting American Association for the Advancement of Science -- that "energy shortages, exhausted land, scarce water and a doubling in population will combine to radically change the American diet by the year 2050, with less meat and dairy products, more grains and beans, and a sparser variety of vegetables."

"VivaVine" consulting editor Henry Spira lost no time taking them one step further with a published letter to the Times editors. It reads as follows:

Dear Editors: According to a panel of experts, dwindling water, land and oil combined with population growth will finally force Americans to adopt a healthy diet. Unfortunately it will take another 50 years to happen.

As advocates of a meatless diet, we ask: Why wait? Meat is a proven killer linked to heart disease, cancer and other debilitating illnesses. Meat production is destroying our environment, using up declining water reserves, polluting our rivers and lakes, and encouraging the destruction of rain forests.

As if that is not enough, the need to maintain the highest levels of cheap meat production has led to the most abusive treatment of animals in the history of this planet. Why wait until what is already clearly a problem reaches crisis proportions? Other than satisfying an addition, meat has no benefits. Let's cut it out or cut it down.
--Henry Spira, Coordinator, Animal Rights International"

In the last issue of "The VivaVine," there was a "Grapevine" query from the editorial staff, regarding the possibility that sugar is processed using animal bones. Thanks go out to new calendar editor Dean Milan for digging up the following information first published in the newsletter of the Pittsburgh Vegetarian Society. In its Nov./Dec., 1993 issue, correspondence, initiated by E. Dyak, was published.

Ms. Dyak reported that her correspondence revealed that two sugar processors -- Topco and Imperial Sugar -- confirmed that sugar is indeed processed with bone charcoal. In a letter, Topco wrote, "Raw sugar contains impurities making it unfit for human consumption as a direct food product. To make it "pure," raw sugar is washed and filtered to remove impurities and color. Tanks filled with bone char attracts and traps the impurities leaving the sugar which is then filtered out, clean and white. Bone is not part of the pure sugar that is packaged, sold and consumed." Imperial Sugar similarly explained their process.

Dear Pamela:
I love "The VivaVine!" The nut milks from from the recipes you published last year are delicious.
-- Tina Yeamans

A doctor from Pennsylvania wrote that he took objection to the term "veg-evangelist." In his words, "Wrong approach. Do it by example and earn respect for the veg philosophy and beliefs."

[Ed. Note: I replied to the doctor, "I hope to be facetious with my play on words, "veg-evangelist." The idea usually gets a laugh and breaks the ice a little. My methods are never shrill -- in fact quite mild mannered. Humor makes my work more effective. I'll do anything that works! including living an exemplary life."
--Pamela]

In a similar vein ... and to paraphrase the thoughts of "VivaVine" editorial consultant Karen Davis, never apologize to a meat eater for your vegetarian way of life. Stand firm and resolute. Do we simply challenge child abusers, for instance, by offering ourselves up as a collective example of non-child abusers? Vegetarianism is more than just a peculiar dietary lifestyle. Being a vegetarian is a political statement. It is a political act.

Dear Pam: I like the new direction of "The VivaVine" (I loved "The Militant Vegan" entry). I've met and have a great respect for all three of your new editorial consultants. (You could not have found anybody better.).
--Charles Patterson (VivaVegie Society member and author of a newly published book chronicling the history of the U.N. with an introduction by Boutros Boutros Ghali; also the author of "Animal Rights")

Cruelty at 30,000 feet
VivaVegie member Alix Fano received letters from four airlines she challenged for including veal on their menus. Her letter focused on the inhumane conditions of so called "milk fed" veal, the routine use of drugs on the animals, and the health benefits of a plant-based diet. She also gave a list of celebrities endorsing Veal Ban Day, the Mother's Day, F.A.R.M. (Bethesda, MD) -sponsored, day of action.

>Northwest Airlines responded with a nondescript form letter.
>Continental acknowledged that she "made several valid points, from a business standpoint as well as from a humanitarian one." They forwarded her comments to their dining services department.
>USAir forwarded her letter similarly, assuring her that her "comments regarding the ethical treatment of animals and the steps taken to produce veal will not be taken lightly," also noting that her comments would prove useful when making decisions about future menu choices."
>American Airlines agreed that the inhumane treatment of any animal species is unacceptable, but after a review found their veal supplier acceptable from an animal welfare standpoint, stating that "veal is a popular choice with our customers and we shall continue to serve it....We do not make judgments about the moral or political correctness of the items we serve."
[Thanks, Alix, for keeping the pressure up!]

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