The VivaVine ~ January/February 1998

Table of Contents

VivaVegie at the Today show
VivaVegie publicizes World Vegetarian Day from outside the Today show

Cross-species flu: Flu viruses--They originate on livestock farms in China; ducks and pigs combine forces to infect humans
by Alan Rice

Wanted: Discouraging Words [About Ranching]
(Anachronistic Cattlemen Ravage Public Lands on Taxpayers' Dime)
by Alex Press

3 shorts by Pamela Rice: Our Veggie Pin-up for the Janaury/February 1998 issue: Joan Zacharias

Letters and commentary from readers
Battery People: Two live like hens, see how it feels
by Pamela Rice

Compiled by Alex Press and Alan Rice Farm Runoff: Eco-criminals rake in $250 million (Pollute your land, get paid to stop)
by Pamela Rice

Books and Publications
Take Heart: Time to ditch those hydrogenated oils; Studies confirm--simply refraining from meat does not guarantee a healthy diet
by Alex Press

Slim Jims, a fuzzy bacterium and nude biotech activists

Foie Gras: A story bursting to be told
by Scott Lustig


Heartfelt thanks to all the people who pledged, or paid up in advance, to sponsor the 1998 edition of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian,"



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ J A N / F E B 1 9 9 8

Flu Viruses: Originate on livestock farms in China
by Alan Rice

The top three causes of death in the United States--heart disease, cancer and stroke--have all been linked to the standard American meat-centered diet. Many people become vegetarians to greatly reduce their chances of succumbing to these illnesses. However, a healthy diet won't protect you from communicable diseases such as influenza. In fact, it is the meat-centered diet that promotes the rapid evolution of deadly new strains.

Southern China is the point of origin for most new strains of influenza virus, according to The Washington Post. This is because of the close proximity of the region's billions of domesticated ducks and its billions of pigs. The domesticated ducks catch the new strains that originate in wild ducks and other waterfowl. The pigs become infected with some duck subtypes. The pigs can also be infected with human strains. The two viruses combine and swap genetic material inside pig lung cells. The resulting virus can then be passed back to any of the many people living nearby.

If the new virus reaches the human population, it will replicate trillions of times as it infects hundreds of millions of people. There is a very good chance it will develop a mutation that can make it deadly.

Cross-species flu:
Ducks and pigs combine forces to infect humans

Even without these rapid mutations, influenza is prevalent, affecting 25 to 50 million Americans each year according to the Los Angeles Times. About 20,000 die from it or its complications, making flu the eleventh leading cause of death. The U.S. work force loses $12 billion in productivity and pays $5 billion in medical expenses. Flu vaccinations are only about 70 percent effective in healthy adults.

All this damage occurs because influenza viruses are constantly mutating within human populations. According to The Boston Globe, the single strands of RNA change enough in one year to make vaccinations an annual affair.

But once in every generation, because of the interaction of poultry, pigs and people, a radically new subtype appears to which no one has been exposed and for which no vaccination has been produced. The deadliest such "antigenic shift" occurred in 1918, when a presumably new type of influenza known as "Spanish flu," which actually originated in Kansas, killed 30 million people worldwide. It attacked the young and strong as well as the old and weak and caused so much fluid to accumulate in the lungs that the victims died by drowning. A similar outbreak today would kill far more than the 2.3 million Americans who died of all causes in 1995.

The 1957 "Asian flu" killed 98,000 people. The 1968 "Hong Kong flu" killed 46,500. That was 30 years ago, and epidemiologists believe another pandemic is due.


T H E V I V A V I N E ~ J A N / F E B 1 9 9 8

Wanted: Discouraging Words [About Ranching]
by Alex Press

Legislation passed late last October by the U.S. House of Representatives was a stark reminder of the power a small group of cattlemen have over huge tracts of land that belong to the American people.

These latter-day cowboys lease some 270 million acres that the federal government offers for cattle grazing--an incredible 35 percent of the landmass of the eleven western states. The rates they pay are well below market value; indeed, they are well below what the government pays simply to administer the grazing program. Estimates of the total amount taxpayers shell out to prop up public-land ranchers range as high as $500 million a year. All this despite the fact that the cattlemen contribute little to the economy--providing less than .06 percent of the West's jobs--while causing untold environmental damage. No fewer than 90 animal species found on federal land are on the endangered or threatened list because of cattle grazing, according to the National Resources Defense Council.

While proponents assert the recent legislation would raise grazing fees by 36 percent, opponents, citing the Congressional Budget Office, say the figure is actually less than 15 percent. In either case, the ranchers would still pay a pittance (well under $2 a month for a cow and a calf). An amendment to the legislation that would have charged large-scale operations a bit more was rejected by a vote of 212 to 208. In exchange for the slight increase provided by the final version, the bill, sponsored by Agriculture Committee chairman and former cattleman Bob Smith, originally included a "provision granting ranchers effective control of local councils that make grazing policy recommendations," according to the Associated Press. In the final version, that provision and others were cut, though the bill still represented a boon for ranching interests.

The Smith bill was the latest battle in an ongoing campaign by some in Congress to secure the grip ranchers have had on public rangelands since the days of the Wild West land grab, when Native Americans were driven onto reservations and buffalo were hunted nearly to extinction--all to make room for beef-producing cattle. It was similar to a bill sponsored by New Mexico's Pete Domenici that made it through the Senate in 1996. In September 1997, Domenici continued to run interference for public-land ranchers by attempting to bar the Forest Service from reducing grazing in the Southwest, as called for in a preliminary court injunction stemming from an effort to protect threatened species.

Across the nation, ranching foes face a tough struggle. At the state level, environmentalists, sometimes allied with "sportsmen" (i.e., hunters and fishers), are striving to reclaim public lands as cattle-free nature preserves by offering to pay more than the ranchers--not a hard feat to accomplish. State constitutions in the West generally stipulate that public lands be used in a way that maximizes revenue, so in theory the land should be leased to the highest bidder. But governments are fighting hard to protect ranching interests and the cheap rates that they pay.

Ranching opponents won a victory last summer in Arizona when a Superior Court judge ordered the land department and the cattlemen's association to work out a plan for competitive bidding. The cattlemen's association appealed the decision, however, and the land department refused to lease to the plaintiffs, although they had bid two to four times what the ranchers would pay and were certain to leave the land in better condition than they found it. As a state official told a local reporter, "The lands have to be put to the use they are intended--grazing."

Villifying the cows:
Blaming the victims

In decrying the scars left by cattle on the western landscape--vegetation trampled and stripped bare, streams polluted with manure, native animals displaced--some observers have allowed their anger to stray from ranchers to the cattle themselves. The late conservationist Edward Abbey, for example, once vilified cattle as "a pest and a plague." But that's blaming the victim. Though beef cattle have better lives than other animals used by the food industry, 12 percent of them still die on the open range--from disease, hunger, exposure to the elements and predators. And they are subject to the cruelty that always follows when sentient being are reduced to commodities--routinely branded, dehorned, ear-notched and castrated without anesthesia. While the supposedly nature-loving ranchers, on public lands and elsewhere, pursue the unique way of life that they constantly complain outsiders are trying to take away from them, they may bless their good fortune, but the animals most certainly do not. There's welfare for cowboys, but in this profit-driven era, there's none for the cows.


T H E V I V A V I N E ~ J A N / F E B 1 9 9 8

Three shorts by Pamela Rice

ONE: Population, meat eating up: Poor to suffer

The human population is bulging at the seams. Worldwide, there are 80 million new mouths to feed every year. If those new mouths were all vegetarian, there would surely be a lot less concern about food security. But grain shortages are up for discussion more and more as people who previously ate plant foods are now opting for animal foods. In addition, growing affluence, especially in the developing world, is translating into more meat being consumed precisely where populations are growing the fastest.

Rising populations eating more meat? Now, that's a bad combination, especially for the poor of all nations, who will bear the brunt of a world ecologically burning the candle at both ends.

Pressure for excessive amounts of grain to feed livestock will strain already precious water and arable-land supplies--two ultimate constraints on food production.

These were some of the conclusions--minus the mention of vegetarianism--in a survey released in late October examining the global food situation. It attempted to predict what people will be eating and what livestock will be fed up until the year 2020. The study, conducted by the Food Policy Research Institute for consultants at the World Bank, was a reminder that increasing global meat consumption greatly lessens the earth's ability to provide the necessary natural resources for all to be fed.

Humanity produced one "green revolution" this century, which dramatically raised food yields to (many might say) unnatural and dangerous levels of efficiency. Experts agree, however, that there is little reason to believe that another such revolution will come to the rescue, despite the advent of biotechnology.

TWO: Every day seems to bring a new toxic microbe. Meat sellers say, "Nuke 'em!"

There are a lot of pathogens out there in food, especially of late. Some of the worst, we know, originate in animal foods. And they seem to be emerging almost daily! Oh, there's salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, listeria, campylobacter, beef tapeworms, fish parasites and nematodes that cause trichinosis in pork. Yikes. No wonder the meat industry is a little upset these days. It cries out for a fix: "Irradiate the little buggers!"

What about food irradiation, though? So far, consumers are, for the most part, cool to the idea. Sure, it zaps those bugs mentioned above to microbe oblivion. But what do the opponents say?

The organization Food & Water has been a vociferous critic of the process. Michael Colby of the group explains that citizens and especially plant workers might be placed in danger by the need for the industry to transport radioactive materials. "We're not talking about needing one or two [new food-irradiation] plants," he says. "We're talking about hundreds of nuclear plants.... When you propose irradiating the meat supply, you're saying it's OK to have filthy cattle yards...because, at the end of the line, you're going to zap the meat with the equivalent of 3 million chest X-rays. Meat shouldn't be contaminated with fecal matter, whether you irradiate it or not."

THREE: Inductee to pathogen hall of fame: You get sick from it by touching raw chicken

On October 19, the food editor of The New York Times, Marian Burros, made the front page. She took many by surprise with the subject at hand. Yet another food pathogen to worry about, she declared. Of course, we'd heard of this one previously, but until now we didn't have the Times to run down the stats for us. The pathogen, Campylobacter jejuni, was never much mentioned before this story. But ever since, it has been proudly listed alongside the great ones of our time in every article about foodborne contamination. This one, in fact, has already earned its salt. It is linked to a debilitating, even deadly, illness called Guillain-Barré syndrome--a disease that causes nerve damage--and is fast becoming resistant to antibiotics because of the overuse of a certain class of them, namely, fluoroquinolones. You come in contact with campylobacter by touching raw chicken. (What can't you get by touching raw chicken?) The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 30 percent to 70 percent of chickens are infected with the campylobacter bacteria. Oh, and apparently there are 8 million cases of the less serious infection, campylobacteriosis, per year, and the bug is suspected of causing 200 to 800 deaths annually. We might ask the the bacteria how the sudden fame has changed its life.


T H E V I V A V I N E ~ J A N / F E B 1 9 9 8

The Grapevine

"Scottish (expletive)" goes veg

I am a 36-year-old Scotsman living in Germany. For the last five or so weeks, I've stopped eating red meat, pork and fish. I've still had the odd bit of chicken, but that kind of indulgence will be hard to continue since my reading of your "101 Reasons."

I am a professional guitarist and singer, and, unfortunately, part of this lifestyle is eating late into the night in restaurants. In the past, I've awoken to find my hands feeling stiff and swollen--something I would just put down to a rigorous performance the night before. But something's changed. Since I've stopped eating meat, my hands feel light and dexterous in the mornings, and my speed on the guitar has increased slightly. (I play a jig at a tempo of 184 beats per minute; and where before it was a struggle, now it's a breeze.)

I've not drunk alcohol in eight years, and I've not smoked in over five, so the morning grogginess was no hangover--this I've known. For many years, I've blamed the "lifestyle." But now I feel pretty sure it was the meat!

I have to admit, I'm struggling with this transition to vegetarianism. Today I stood in the supermarket at the meat section, and I was not sure if I wanted to throw up or smash the glass and gorge! I left meat-free, with another victory under my belt.

Your work has deeply inspired me to continue on this path, albeit not an easy one for me. Nevertheless, I'm a stubborn Scottish (expletive) and I will use many of your reasons to inform others the best I can.

John Morrell
Via E-mail

Penelo Pea Pod tells CBS to give peas a chance

In the early hours of November 1, I turned on CBS Radio and heard a tape of your mascot Penelo Pea Pod speaking to a reporter at the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. She was spreading the message of the VivaVegie Society and talking about "giving peas a chance."

The segment was followed by a report on the New York City Marathon and the oldest entry, 90, who said he ate "mostly vegetables."

A good night for our side!

Charles Patterson
New York, NY

More biosecurity facts

I was pleased to read your article on biosecurity ("Biosecurity Down on the Factory Farm," November/December 1997). I came across a page in a Web site sponsored by a company that sells disinfectants to factory farmers (http://www.antecint.com/pou_prog.htm). It offers additional facts on the subject. First, it claims that disease costs at least 7 to 10 percent of the value of the poultry industry. It suggests adding disinfectant (one it sells) to the drinking water of diseased birds. This same product can also be used in mist or fog form to douse the birds themselves.

Jean Thaler
Big Apple Vegetarians
Brooklyn, NY


T H E V I V A V I N E ~ J A N / F E B 1 9 9 8

Battery People: Two live like hens, see how it feels

Rob Thompson, an Ottawa, Ontario, video artist, knows that the common egg-laying hen is one of the most tortured creatures human animalson the planet. He decided he wants others to know it, too.

Using creativity and a touch of media savvy, he educated many about what today's egg-laying hens are forced to endure. In a gallery exhibit produced by Thompson this fall, Pam Meldrum, 27, and Eric Wolf, 24, were each paid $2,500 after successfully tolerating a weeklong stint in conditions fit for neither man nor beast but similar to those that egg producers force upon their battery-caged hens. Confined in a cage just one meter by two meters, not high enough to stand up in, the cooped-up pair lived on vegetable mush in an uncomfortably cool room. Tight quarters allowed little space between them. Peaceful slumbers were next to impossible.

The entire ordeal was captured on videotape by Thompson, who plans to produce a documentary to be released this spring.

Unlike four men who went for a similar challenge in England in 1993, these Canadians were afforded several key amenities. This time a draperied flushing toilet was allowed, giving a crucial modicum of civility to the situation. The Canadians were also given permission to wear socks.

By contrast, the Englishmen were forced to stay barefoot, to defecate through the wire-cage floor and to listen to a constant cacophony of desperate human cries. They lasted only 18 hours.

Commercially produced hens get no relief from standing on wire mesh. Their waste falls down below and is often not cleaned away until the entire henhouse is evacuated at slaughter time. In addition, the hens must live with the incessant noise of their sisters crying out in anguish.

The exhibit drew a good deal of Canadian media attention but was mostly ignored in the United States.


T H E V I V A V I N E ~ J A N / F E B 1 9 9 8

Vegetarian News

Fish vs. veggies: You decide

A study presented at the annual American Heart Association conference in November offered the media a chance to tout the supposed health benefits of fish. In the study, researchers compared two groups of ethnically identical East African Bantu people: one that lives near a lake and eats a fish-heavy diet and another composed of farmers who are "mainly" vegetarians, according to an AHA press release. The fish eaters were found to have lower levels of "one heart-imperiling fat," lipoprotein (a). Both groups ate very-low-fat diets by Western standards--a mere 7 percent of calories for the fish eaters, 12 percent for the "vegetarians." (The average American diet is 34 percent fat.) Cardiovascular disease is almost nonexistent in both African populations.

Time, in its coverage, said that the study, though not definitive, "suggests that having that extra piece of red snapper can't hurt, and might even help." Ironically, in the same issue (November 24), under the headline "Hold the Poisson," the weekly cautioned that "pregnant women should go easy on the fish course." Why? "Because a study suggests that too much methylmercury, which most people get by eating fish, can have a negative and subtle impact on a child's intellectual functioning."

Fish extinct? Cast your net somewhere else

It's no longer news that the growing demand for fish is driving many species perilously close to commercial extinction. But New York Times food writer Molly O'Neill isn't worried. In an October story, she enthused, "Even as the country's beloved cod and flounder, bluefin tuna and native swordfish have become scarce, tons of fresh, mild-tasting white-fleshed fish from far-flung seas are softening the pain of the dwindling supplies." And the price is right because "ports from Chile to Thailand are...staffed by...low-cost laborers." In 1996 imports were valued at $6.7 billion, versus $3.6 billion for locally plundered seafood.

A new way to kill turkeys

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the "Patents" column in the New York Times featured "new ways to go about raising and slaughtering turkeys."

One innovation circumvents the stubborn refusal of turkeys to keep producing eggs when their maternal instincts are continually frustrated. The Times outlined the problem: "Turkey hens like to lay a clutch of eggs and then sit on them until they hatch. But a turkey farmer takes the eggs away and hatches them elsewhere so that the hen will keep laying more eggs. Often these hens, unhappy over the absence of their future progeny, go 'broody.' " When that happens, the hens secrete high levels of a hormone that short-circuits ovulation.

However, an enterprising professor of reproductive physiology at the University of Minnesota uncovered this biological process and came up with a chemical solution. Now the hens will have to keep laying eggs--no matter how distressed they are to see them taken away!

Another innovation, developed by New Jersey-based BOC Gases, will help ease the transition of those hens into turkey soup when they really, finally, stop producing eggs. The technique is death by asphyxiation--sending the birds through a chamber filled with carbon dioxide and argon but little oxygen, thereby suffocating them "after one to two minutes," according to the Times. This is advantageous to the industry because it allows workers to more easily hang the birds upside down for throat-slitting and bleeding, since they've already been killed.

In the current slaughter process, the birds are hung and dragged through electrified water, which, contrary to the Times, in no way lessens the pain they feel when their throats are slit. It merely immobilizes them and facilitates the bleed-out, according to Karen Davis, the president of United Poultry Concerns, an organization that promotes the compassionate treatment of domestic fowl.

McDonald's offers veggie burger...in India

Anyone looking for a vegetarian option at the world's largest purveyor of animal flesh need travel no farther than the Indian subcontinent. In a press release, McDonald's boasts of how it "worked with its local Indian partners to adapt the menu to meet local tastes and needs." This meant offering "a specially developed vegetable burger, vegetable nuggets and locally flavored dipping sauces like chili and masala," although it also meant replacing chopped-up cows with chopped-up lambs for the "Maharaja Mac"--not exactly an improvement from an ethical standpoint.

The Indian restaurants separate and color code the vegetarian and nonvegetarian options on menu boards and prepare the two kinds of food in separate areas, with veg and nonveg crews wearing different uniforms--"to assure...the wholesomeness of both products."

McDonald's, which operates 22,000 restaurants in 106 countries, opened its first Indian outlet in 1996 and plans to have twenty by the end of 1998. It has no plans to offer a vegetarian option in the United States.

Drug-resistant bacteria strikes Vermont farm family

A strain of salmonella that is resistant to a host of antibiotics struck in Vermont last year, killing more than a dozen cows and sickening nine members of a farm family. A cover story in U.S. News & World Report last November described the family's troubles and the growing menace of the offending pathogen, Salmonella DT 104, which first emerged in the United States in 1985 and, by last spring, accounted for 10 percent of all salmonella cultures sent to the Centers for Disease Control.

At present the only drug that the bug is not resistant to is a class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. But, increasingly, these have been used to treat animals, which has raised the fear that eventually the fluoroquinolones, too, will be rendered ineffective. The Food and Drug Administration is now considering whether to allow the use of fluoroquinolones in cattle, having already approved their use in poultry, in 1995, for treating E. coli.

Tainted ham sickens 746 churchgoers

Up to 81 million Americans suffer foodborne illnesses each year (70 percent of them are caused directly by animal products), but only a few cases make the headlines. A particularly dramatic outbreak involved 746 attendees at a church dinner in southern Maryland who were plagued by salmonella poisoning in November after eating stuffed hams. One person died.

Mad-cow shows up in Belgium, Luxembourg

In December the United States restricted imports of cattle, sheep and some livestock products from 21 European nations. The move was in reaction to the discovery of mad-cow disease in a slaughtered cow in Luxembourg--a little more than a month after Belgium had joined the list of affected countries. At press time, a spokesman for Luxembourg's Agriculture Ministry had told Reuters he could not comment on whether the meat from the cow might have entered the human food chain.

In Belgium the test results on an afflicted cow came back after the animal had been ground up into animal feed and exported to Poland and the Netherlands. In the aftermath of this embarrassment, Belgium authorities declared that all future animals suspected of suffering from a nervous disease would be slaughtered and incinerated.

Oyster men foul waters with their own waste

An outbreak of stomach illness that sickened at least 179 oyster eaters in several southern states last winter was attributed to the poor bathroom habits of Louisiana oyster fishermen after an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control. According to the Associated Press, the CDC found that instead of disposing of their on-ship sewage at marina facilities, as they're supposed to, some of the oyster men just dumped it overboard. Louisiana has since set aside money to build more sewage stations.

Although most of the victims had eaten the oysters raw, the virus that caused the sickness isn't always killed by ordinary cooking methods.

Cancer or contaminants: a catch-22 for carnivores

To avoid suffering a foodborne illness, the carnivores among us must be careful to cook all their animal foods thoroughly. That's the message we've all been hearing incessantly in the past few years. The problem is, cooking meat thoroughly tends to increase its carcinogenic properties. According to a Reuters report last year, researchers at the National Cancer Institute "found that individuals who preferred well-done, barbecued beef faced triple the risk of stomach and esophageal cancers [of] those who favored rare and medium-rare broiled or fried meats."

French butchers: "Don't compare us to murderers"

Talk about sensitive. You'd think people who make their living cutting up animal corpses would have pretty thick skins. But repeated media use of the word butcher to describe various mass murderers of human animals inspired a protest from a French trade organization, according to the Associated Press. In a statement released last November, the butchers argued that use of the word in such contexts "systematically wounds an innocent profession" with a "welcoming image and nourishing function" whose "role evokes peace and brotherhood." Suggested alternatives for butcher and butchery included cruel, barbaric, ferocious, savage, carnage, killing and massacre. Which, come to think of it, describe a butcher.

Emu ranchers sue Honda for libel

Another group showing an unexpected degree of sensitivity lately is emu ranchers, who sued American Honda Motors in late October for a series of commercial they said defamed them and caused significant monetary losses. The lawsuit is the second under a 1995 Texas law that makes it an offense to falsely disparage a perishable food. (The first case, brought by cattle ranchers against ex-rancher Howard Lyman and Oprah Winfrey for comments he made about mad-cow disease on her show, was scheduled for trial in early January.)

In the ads, a man named Joe "bounces from one dubious career opportunity to another," as The New York Times put it. The end of the line for him is an emu ranch, where a veteran rancher, missing teeth, advises, "Emu, Joe, it's the pork of the future."

A lawyer representing the ranchers told the Times that emu prices had already fallen from $20,000 to $30,000 a bird in the early 1990s to about $1,000, and since the commercials they've dropped to $30 or less.

How to tenderize beef: Try dynamite

In November the Houston Chronicle reported on the Hydrodyne process, which "involves putting plastic-wrapped meat in a sealed water-filled tank and setting off an explosion that's the equivalent [of] four ounces of dynamite."

The purpose? To tenderize the meat in a jiffy, eliminating the need for the standard two weeks of aging in a cooler. According to the Chronicle, the explosives are "the latest in a series of ideas ranging from...chemicals and enzymes, electrical charges and needling, to just pounding... steaks with a special hammer at the edge of a plate."

The new technique was developed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's meat-science laboratory (yes, there is such a thing) in Beltsville, Maryland, which worked on it for five years. Hydrodyne, a San Juan, Puerto Rico-based company "used a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help pay for a prototype that it installed last fall in a pilot plant in Virginia."

Chicken virus jumps to boy

A virulent strain of avian influenza, described by a leading virologist as "chicken Ebola," killed a commercial flock of 4,500 birds in a small Chinese village late in March 1997. Later it was determined that the virus had been passed on to a 3-year-old boy, who died from it. This became the first case in history of a pure bird-virus infecting a human being. The fear now is that the infection can be spread from human to human. At press time, there were reports of panic sweeping through southern China, and deep concern was spreading throughout the world. According to the Los Angeles Times, in a mid-December report, shopkeepers in Hong Kong were citing 40 percent drops in poultry sales.

Pig polluter posts record earnings

Smithfield Foods, the meatpacking giant that was fined a record-breaking $12.6 million last August for despoiling the Pagan River in Virginia with hog waste, is now posting record second-quarter earnings, according to Dow Jones. In November the judge who imposed the fine ruled--"reluctantly," in her words--that the money must go to the U.S. Treasury instead of being directed toward restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, including the Pagan. "Simply depositing civil penalties into the vast reaches of the United States Treasury does not seem to be the most effective way of combating environmental problems caused by a specific polluter," she wrote. Smithfield, meanwhile, plans to appeal the fine.

Vegetarian News is compiled by Alex Press and Alan Rice.


T H E V I V A V I N E ~ J A N / F E B 1 9 9 8

Farm Runoff: Eco-criminals rake in $250 million (Pollute your land, get paid to stop)
by Pamela Rice

Imagine a place where landowners dump deadly pollutants onto their own property, pollutants that poison waters both nearby as well as far away downstream. Imagine that in such a place these polluters are not even forced to stop their polluting when found out.

Imagine that in seeking to remedy the situation the government of this realm makes it a policy to rent the defiled lands from the polluters at public expense to create buffer zones to protect the waterways.

Imagine no more. This scenario exists today, right here in our own USA. Witness: the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)--a now multifaceted policy originally cooked up by the federal government in the mid-'80s to slow production after a series of bumper crops depressed farm prices. It paid farmers to idle acreage deemed environmentally sensitive, giving the scheme a greenish tinge. The plan soon deteriorated into a giant giveaway to farmers on lands often far from threatened.

Today a new twist on the program creates buffer zones between farms and waterways, protecting the latter from manure, pesticide and fertilizer runoff. On October 20, the federal government, along with the state of Maryland, proclaimed that a joint program between them would rent contaminated land from polluting chicken farmers near the Chesapeake Bay to create buffer zones of grasses or forest--the farmer can choose which. And where the chicken farmers have dug drainage ditches to allow urine and feces to empty into the bay, wetland areas acting as giant sponges will be restored at public expense.

Instead of coming after the farmers with handcuffs and threats of fines for environmental desecration, our government, in its infinite wisdom, will essentially hand over to these eco-criminals as much as $250 million, total, for the cleanup. Incidentally, no chicken farmer is forced into the buffer-zone arrangement, a program that has been hailed as a model for other states to follow.


T H E V I V A V I N E ~ J A N / F E B 1 9 9 8

Books and Publications

A food chain gone haywire

According to investigative journalist Nicols Fox, "more than 99 percent of chickens are found by the USDA to be contaminated with generic E. coli bacteria, indicating fecal contamination; and one E.coli O157 infected cow can contaminate 16 tons of hamburger." This is only one juicy pronouncement made in Fox's recent book, Spoiled: The Dangerous Truth About a Food Chain Gone Haywire (BasicBooks, $25/cloth). Here, she covers every known meat pathogen. No vegetarian activist should be without her powerful ammunition.

The vegetarian movers and shakers

In Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating (McBooks Press, $14.95), Erik Marcus provides a comprehensive, concise and up-to-date overview of the health-, environmental- and animal-related reasons for switching to an all-plant diet. Focusing on the work of vegetarian movers and shakers such as heart disease-reverser Dean Ornish, M.D., China study chief T. Colin Campbell, Farm Sanctuary founders Gene and Lorri Bauston and antiranching activist Lynn Jacobs (see below), he offers a series of compelling and informative stories in easy-to-digest chapters. Good reading for veg and nonveg alike.

Fighting to save our public lands

Waste of the West, by Lynn Jacobs, is a labor of love, an exhaustive study of the ecological destruction visited upon public lands in the western states by heavily subsidized cattle ranchers. Richly illustrated with photos, charts and maps, West is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in learning more about this underexamined issue. (See "Wanted: Discouraging Words [About Ranching]," this issue) To order, send $28 to Lynn Jacobs, P.O. Box 5784, Tucson, AZ 85703.

Chronicle of a hog war

In 1995 thousands of Missourians, most of them your average meat-eating types, took it upon themselves to overturn their own state's corrupt welcome mat to corporate hog factories. They formed a grassroots coalition of farmers, environmentalists, animal-protection advocates, consumers and businesses to expose the wily subterfuge of the likes of Murphy Farms, Tyson and Premium Standard, turning back a tide of economic and environmental devastation that was fast on its way. A 24-page chronicle of their fight, entitled "Hog Wars," is available for $5. Send your order to: Missouri Rural Crisis Center, 710 Rangeline St., Columbia, MO 65201.


T H E V I V A V I N E ~ J A N / F E B 1 9 9 8

Take Heart: Time to ditch those hydrogenated oils

By Alex Press

November brought several studies that cast doubt on the accepted wisdom concerning dietary fat. One of them, in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), placed 444 men with high cholesterol levels on diets with fat content ranging from 30 percent to 18 percent. As reported in Reuters, all the diets reduced the levels of LDL cholesterol (the harmful kind), but after a year, researchers found, cutting fat below 26 percent didn't offer any added benefit. In fact, the lower-fat diets tended to decrease HDL cholesterol (the beneficial kind) while increasing the levels of triglycerides, another indicator of heart risk.

A 14-year study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, involving more than 80,000 female nurses, opened another line of attack against the principle that less fat is always better. The study, which recorded 939 heart attacks, found that women with the highest fat intake (46 percent) were no more subject to cardiac arrest than those with the lowest fat intake (29 percent).

Studies confirm: Simply refraining from meat does not guarantee a healthy diet

What clearly did affect the risk of heart attack was the kind of fat consumed, and with the nurses' study, a new villain took its place alongside the saturated fat found mostly in animal products--namely, the trans unsaturated fat in hydrogenated vegetable oils such as those used in margarine, shortening and many processed foods.

Like the researchers involved in the JAMA study, the nurses'-study authors worried that lower-fat diets can reduce HDL cholesterol while boosting triglyceride levels. The problem arises, one of the nurses'-study authors told Jane Brody in The New York Times, when people replace fats with sugar and refined starches--e.g., white-flour breads and pastas--primarily if they are overweight and inactive. However, Dean Ornish, M.D., famous for the low-fat vegetarian diet he has used to reverse heart disease in his patients, told Brody that the improvements in cardiovascular health took place even with lower HDL and higher triglycerides.

The new thinking on fat is controversial. As Brody pointed out, the American Cancer Society now advocates a diet that is only 20 percent fat, because of the link between high-fat diets and cancers of the colon, rectum, prostate and endometrium.

If vegetarians can draw any lessons from the latest findings, it is that simply refraining from animal products does not guarantee a healthy diet. Although countless studies have shown that cutting out saturated fat-laden meat and dairy is a step in the right direction, the perils of junk-food carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats remain.


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Heady stuff

Slim Jim, the ubiquitous salted-beef snack begins as 60-pound frozen blocks of sliced meat labeled "beef head meat." --The New York Times Magazine

USDA unveils fuzzy bacterium

Wash your hands before you work in the kitchen; keep raw meat away from raw vegetables; cook animal foods thoroughly to designated temperatures to kill dangerous bacteria.

Expect to hear more of this kind of advice from the government via a slimy-looking cartoon character called "Fight Bac"--short for bacteria. Bac was unveiled ceremoniously on October 24 by USDA secretary Dan Glickman, who announced it was his hope that the mascot would become just as well-known as Smokey the Bear.

Perhaps Bac can put a dent in the some 9,000 U.S. deaths per year that the USDA links to food poisoning. With some $35 billion in lost work and medical costs attributed to foodborne illnesses, according to a Reuters story which came out the day of the unveiling, the campaign can't hurt. A spokesman for Farm Animal Reform Movement, of Bethesda, Maryland, however, offered a jaded response to the program: "Are rubber gloves, forceps and sterilizing alcohol the kitchen implements of the future?"

USDA secretary gets bean'd

"When I was in Rome, I gave a speech on the importance of biotechnology. Afterwards, during my press conference, protesters threw genetically modified soybeans at me, took off all their clothes and had things written on their bodies like 'the naked truth' and 'no gene bean.' At least, that's what my staff who looked tell me." --Dan Glickman, USDA secretary


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VivaVegie publicizes World Vegetarian Day from outside the Today show

If you watch the Today show, you know the scene. Just before the NBC news program breaks for a commercial, cameras pan across a crowd of mostly tourists holding signs saying things like "Hi Kiddies. Having a great time in the Big Apple." On October 1, Penelo Pea Pod (Dean Milan) and a VivaVegie veg-evangelist (Pamela Rice) were on hand to take part in this ritual at Rockefeller Center in New York City in order to publicize World Vegetarian Day. They endured several very early hours crammed up against a couple of midwestern housewives. It was worth it, though. The veggie duo did make it to the airwaves, though only to the local news. But, this being New York City, that's still quite a market.


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A story bursting to be known

by Scott Lustig

Go into any fine restaurant today and you're likely to find dishes made with foie gras. For those unfamiliar with this French contribution to the world, foie gras is the fattened livers of geese and ducks. It is considered a delicacy.

People are drawn to the item because of its extremely rich and fatty taste. But behind the atmosphere of refinement in which foie gras is consumed lies a world of horrid animal cruelty. To make foie gras, ducks and geese are force-fed massive volumes of food--an amount comparable to 28 pounds of spaghetti a day fed to a human. The animals are fed through large mechanized metal tubes stuffed down their throats. In some cases, the ducks' stomachs simply burst. According to Compassion in World Farming, rubber bands are often put around the birds' necks to stop them from vomiting. Add to this the indignity of feed lubricated with goose fat, a kind of forced cannibalism. Worldwide, approximately 10,000 tons are produced from 35 million birds each year.

In 1991 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent an investigator to the Commonwealth foie gras plant, located in New York States's Catskills region. The investigator witnessed workers shoving metal tubes down to the ducks' stomachs and force-feeding them large volumes of cornmeal. Many ducks were found with extensive liver damage, foot infections, plumage contamination, kidney necrosis and severe spleen and gallbladder damage. "Once they are familiar with the loud noise of the pump and the pain it represents, all the ducks in the pen turn away from the one being force-fed and push against the sides of the pen, trying helplessly to escape," PETA reported. Workers were seen callously carrying the ducks by their necks. The employees acknowledged that birds often died from the force-feeding. Still, the birds were fed three times a day until their livers weighed between one and two pounds each, nearly seven times more than the weight of an ordinary duck's liver. The ducks were then slaughtered and their livers removed and packaged.

Laws should not allow this "delicacy" to exist

Legal protection for ducks and geese is nil. Except for select livestock (birds not included), in certain limited situations, the federal Animal Welfare Act does not cover animals raised for food. The Humane Slaughter Act, which requires animals to be rendered unconscious before being slaughtered, does not apply to birds. In the words of Ward Stone, an associate wildlife pathologist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, "If this kind of thing was happening to dogs, it would be stopped immediately."

Until recently, sales of the French delicacy in the United States were limited, due to the fact that the federal government prohibits the importation of raw liver. Sales have skyrocketed, however, since domestic production of foie gras began in the early 1980s. It was companies such as Commonwealth in New York and D'Artaganan in New Jersey that introduced fresh foie gras to the American menu--fueling a ravenous demand for French cuisine in general. In addition, packaging of foie gras in vacuum-sealed tins, along with an upsurge in demand for pâté foods, has promoted sales.

Indeed, foie gras is becoming ubiquitous. In November Ruth Reichl, a food writer for The New York Times, wrote, "In the last few months, I cannot remember looking at a single menu without finding foie gras. Just as bathtub gin defined Prohibition, just as meatless Wednesday meant the World War II years, the '90s are the time of foie gras." Restaurants today are having a field day offering all sorts of eclectic varieties of foie gras dishes, further entrenching this product of cruelty as a popular food item among restaurantgoers. Today one can find "foie gras with French toast," "poached foie gras," "foie gras peach surprise," "foie gras pizza" and "foie gras ravioli."

Because of public pressure, a number of renowned establishments have removed foie gras from their menus, including New York City's Windows on the World and Air Canada. Activists need to continue the pressure to reverse the trend toward popularization of this cruel food. Call any local restaurant or food store in your area where foie gras may be found. If they sell it, inform them of the cruelty behind it and firmly, but politely, tell them to stop carrying it. But, ultimately, laws that allow foie gras to exist in the first place need to change.

Scott Lustig is president of the Ethics and Animals Club at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Scott is also a member of the VivaVegie Society.


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1998 "101 Reasons": Funds approach goal

Heartfelt thanks to all the people who pledged, or paid up in advance, to sponsor the 1998 edition of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," by Pamela Rice. The following generous people, listed in no particular order, make up our proud roster of contributors:

Leigh and Helayne Gaither, Conscious Design, Inc. (New York, NY), the Vegetarian Resource Group (Baltimore, MD), Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (Washington, DC), Joan Zacharias and Tom Lyons, Animal People: News for People Who Care About Animals (Clinton, WA), Marge and Keith Folino, Stephen R. Kaufman, Candle Cafe Restaurant (New York, NY), Bob Gotch, Emanuel Goldman, Duane R. Cornella, Frank Jude Boccio, Don Douglas Bozarth, Eddy and Ellen Bikales, Second Nature health-food store (Red Bank, NJ), Hal Glick, Sondra Peterson, Craig Filipacchi and Nadine Miral of Earthbase (New York, NY), Sabina & Daughter Antiques (Baltimore, MD), Sandra Reed, Satya magazine (New York, NY), Naomi Weinshenker, NC Network for Animals (Raleigh, NC), USA Devanand Yoga Center (Queens, NY), Craig and Cherie Cline, New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance (Englishtown, NJ), Marianne Sullivan, Toni Kamppi, Garland M. Jones, and Mia MacDonald. At press time, our pledge total was at $1,700. With a goal of $2,400, that is 70 percent of the way there!


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Saturday, January 24

Vegetarian potluck and lecture, sponsored by EarthSave Long Island, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Gloria Dei Church in Huntington, NY. Admission: $6; EarthSave member: $3 ($8 additional for those without food to share). Reservations required. Next potluck and lecture scheduled for Saturday, February 21. Information: (516) 421-3791.

Sunday, January 25

VegOut potluck lunch (fourth Sunday of every month), 1-3:30 p.m. at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, 208 W. 13th Street, NYC. Bring vegan dish to share and $3 donation. Next potluck lunch scheduled for Sunday, February 22. Information: (212) 802-8655.

Tuesday, January 27

Sierra Club-NYC Vegetarian Outings Committee presents a Chinese New Year's feast at Vege Vege, 7 p.m. at 544 Third Avenue (between 36th Street and 37th Street). Information/mailing list: (718) 789-3386.

Sunday, April 12

Join the VivaVegie Society for its biggest activist day of the year. Armed with our "grande dame of vegetableland," Penelo Pea Pod (see picture on page 10), we'll make a splash again this year as we target all the major media organizations and thousands of spectators at the Easter Parade, 11 a.m. on Fifth Avenue between 50th Street and 51st Street. We'll be speaking out against modern egg production, and we need your support. Call ahead to confirm meeting plans. Information: (212) 966-2060.

Sunday, May 10

Celebrate Mother's Day with the VivaVegie Society by leafleting at "the Cube," Astor Place and Lafayette Street, NYC, 1:30-5 p.m. We'll set up our veal crate for maximum impact. View the world from the calf's perspective, inside the crate--and turn a few heads around while you're at it.

Wednesday, July 8-Sunday, July 12

The North American Vegetarian Society will be presenting its 24th annual Summerfest at the picturesque campus of Pitt-Johnstown in Johnstown, PA. Learn from the experts in the fields of health, nutrition, exercise, animal rights and the environment. Dine on great-tasting vegan food. Accom-modations available. Information: (518) 568-7970.