The Viva Vine: vol #3, no #5: November / December 1994
A letter to "The Straight Dope" / Cecil Adams

I have heard that McDonald's milk shakes contain seaweed. Can this be true?
--J.M., Arlington Heights, IL

The Answer:
Absolutely. But the real shocker is that every McDonald's hamburger contains chopped-up pieces of -- brace yourself -- dead cow. So let's not get hung up on a little seaweed.

>Every 24 hours, somewhere in the world, 3 new McDonald's restaurants open up.

>Two hundred years ago the average amount of topsoil in the U.S. was 21 inches. Now, only 6 inches remain due to the excess over-cultivation of land necessary to sustain our society's meat centered diet. Of this loss, 85% is due to raising livestock.

> McDonald's has increased its number of foreign stores by over 80% in 6 years.

> McDonald's is the most advertised single brand in the world budgeting $1.4 billion on promotion.

> McDonald's owns some 36 million square feet of store space worldwide (book value $10 billion), the world's largest collector of land parcels.

It takes 3-1/4 acres of land to sustain a person with the average American meat-based diet. A vegan diet requires only 1/6 of an acre. Such excess proportionately contributes to the depletion of fresh water, fossil fuels and topsoil -- vital non-renewable natural resources.

>It is projected that McDonald's will eventually increase its number of foreign restaurants to 42,000 stores -- a near 9-fold increase over the current number today.

>Nearly a third of the Earth's landmass is suffering from desertification, primarily and necessarily due to the production of livestock -- overgrazing of livestock, over-cultivation of land, and deforestation of wilderness areas.

> The first job for 1 out of 15 Americans is at McDonald's

> Antarctica is the only continent free of McDonald's

>"If you step back and look at the data, the optimum amount of red meat you eat should be zero."
-- Walter Willet, M.D., Dir. of the largest study every conducted on colon cancer and diet. (taken from "Our Food Our World," published by the EarthSave Foundation)

>"There are still so many new points of distribution out there--hospitals, sports arenas and roadways."
--Burger King CEO Jim Adamson

>Risk of death from heart attack for a vegan male in the U.S. is 4 per hundred. For the U.S. male with the average American meat centered diet, risk of death by heart attack is 50 per hundred. Heart attack as well as stroke is virtually unheard of in totally-vegetarian societies.

IN SEARCH OF A HITWICH

The October 17 Fortune magazine article from which most of the above McDonald's facts come from repeatedly noted that Mac CEO Mike Quinlan has been at a loss to find the next McDonald's "Hitwich." Hitwich? you ask. The Hitwich in McDonald's-ese is the next *Big Mac* or *Egg McMuffin* which will take Mac profits into the double digits. May we suggest, McDonald's, that you market the veggie burger pictured on the front cover of the June, 1991 edition of Vegetarian Times? That should bring in a good amount from the 12.4 million vegetarians there are in the U.S. alone.

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