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This issue is political
I applaud your hard work in publicizing the dreadful activities of the meat industry. It's great to see people raising awareness about what we eat -- surely this issue is a political one that should hit the mainstream.
Turning people veg
Dear Pamela: I got a copy of your "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" in June at the March for the Animals in Washington, D.C. I saw you walking around in your costume. I remember seeing a picture of you a few years ago in that costume, I don't remember where. Anyway, I've often thought I'd like to dedicate my life to turning people (the world) vegetarian and I think your style is great and effective. Do indeed keep up the good fight!
Gina Mai Dean
VivaVegie responds: At the March for the Animals this year (the last march was in 1990), there was a pretty strong vegetarian presence among all the various campaigns advocating for animals (circuses, labs, puppy mills, etc.). Still, many animal people don't seem to want to face the magnitude of the factory farming issue.
VivaVegie promoted its point of view via Joan Zacharias who wore a signboard in the march. Though not deprecating the wonderful work of all of the animal protection groups there, it did raise an important question as to what this movement should stand for. The front side read: "Food Animals: 8 billion per year. Why do we seem to ignore this issue?" and the flip side read: "8 billion farm animals; 95% of animal suffering."
Your term veg-evangelist is the wrong approach. Do it by example and earn respect for the veg philosophy and beliefs.
Allison Park, Pa.
VivaVegie responds: I'm hoping to be facetious with my play on words, "veg-evangelist." Just saying the word usually gets a laugh and breaks the ice a little. My methods of advocacy are never shrill; in fact, they're quite mild-mannered. Humor makes my work easier and more effective. By the way, if we all just advocated by example, I bet we would still have a world with slavery, religious persecution, and chastity belts, just to name a few.
Regarding your "Project for Economic Justice for Vegetarians," I agree. Why should we vegetarian taxpayers be forced to subsidize a welfare system for carnivores? The only point I think you should stress a little more is about the tremendous medical costs and financial drain on Medicare and Medicaid from meat-eating that we have to pay for! Shouldn't vegetarians get a tax deduction? Shouldn't the government provide such a tax deduction as a way to wean people away from unhealthy diets and in the process save the country billions of dollars (not to mention the lives of its citizens)? After all, according to the preamble of the Constitution, the government is supposed to "promote the general welfare"!
Also, the analogy with smokers and the tobacco industry helps put the issue in perspective since now most people would agree that the government should not use tax dollars to promote, encourage and support smoking. Perhaps vegetarians should sue the government in a class-action suit for unfair taxation, or withhold a percentage of their taxes as promoted by the War Resisters League. You can find them on the World Wide Web at: http://www.netaxs.com/~nvweb/wrl/ or at 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY, 10276; (212) 228-0450, fax (212) 228-6193, e-mail: email@example.com
Author, "Animal Rights"
Just hand 'em "101
Hey, Pamela. Great job on the new 1996 edition of "101 Reasons. Now, every time we go to dinner we take copies with us. Someone always asks why, you know... So now we just hand 'em "the "101." Not bad huh. See ya soon, ya cyber-pea.
Veggies should not have to beg
Veggies should not have to beg to get a decent meal, nor should we have to practically recite a recipe to the server!
I feel it is important for restaurants to have at least one entree that needs no alteration to be suitable for vegetarians. I also feel it is important for restaurants to use the word "vegetarian" ON the menu. Most places in my area do neither.
Kim R. Stahler