HOME

PLEASE WAIT FOR THE PAGE TO COMPLETELY LOAD BEFORE YOU CLICK. THANK YOU.

The VivaVine ~ May / June 1998


Editor's Note:
No March/April edition of The VivaVine was produced due to staff time taken out for the production of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian."


Table of Contents
VivaVegie at the Easter Parade
VIVAVEGIE AT THE EASTER PARADE, 1998

VivaVegie does the Easter Parade

How not to heal a heart: Doctors, preferring surgery and pills, ignore vegetarian option
by Alex Press

Review: Slaughterhouse--The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry, by Gail Eisnitz;
a review by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.

Related story: Inspectors sue top USDA and FSIS officials

Repercussions of a groundbreaking book: Slaughterhouse


PROJECT FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE FOR VEGETARIANS
Government dollars keep meat and milk producers fat and happy [Part one of a series]
by Edmund Klein


GRAPEVINE
Our Veggie Pin-up for this issue: Mayra Ortiz


VEGETARIAN NEWS
Compiled by Alex Press and Alan Rice

TRICKLE-UP VIOLENCE
Cruelty to Animals: It doesn't always end there... So what happens when it's the basis for entire industries?
by Scott Lustig


SUMMER MUNCH
Two savory recipes by Laurie Jordan: One light, one hearty

VEGGIE NUGGETS

cover: 101 Reasons

Farm Show: Sobering reality check for a couple of vegans


VIVA VEGIE NEWS

Calendar of events







A R T I C L E S S T A R T H E R E



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


How Not to Heal a Heart: Doctors, Preferring Surgery and Pills, Ignore Vegetarian Option
by Alex Press

In the United States today, we face two competing models of heart health. On one side are desperate, expensive and often dangerous surgical and pharmaceutical measures to undo years of bad habits: high-fat, meat-heavy eating; a lack of exercise; smoking. On the other are inexpensive, safe and relatively simple measures people can take not only to reverse that damage but, even better, prevent it.

One might expect the public and especially doctors to embrace these measures. But a lot of money is invested in the status quo. According to the American Heart Association, the direct health-care cost for America's heart woes will reach a staggering $171.1 billion in 1998, including $14.8 billion for drugs and $10.4 billion for "medical durables." Bypass surgery alone costs $26 billion annually, according to Newsweek. Meanwhile, almost 1 million Americans die of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death (at 41.5 percent of the total mortality rate). More than 20 percent of Americans suffer from a cardiovascular disease.

It doesn't have to be this way. According to a position paper from the American Dietetic Association, the national trade organization of registered dietitians, "Not only is mortality from coronary artery disease lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, but vegetarian diets have also been successful in arresting coronary artery disease."

Still, the race continues for yet more technological fixes: biotechnology that grows new arteries; artificial hearts; and even genetically altered animal transplants. According to Business Week, PPL Therapeutics, the company that drew worldwide attention for apparently cloning a sheep, is hoping to develop genetically suitable animal hearts, whose original owners would then be mass-produced via cloning. (The irony of using animal organs to replace human organs made rotten by animal-based diets is frequently noted in animal-rights circles but lost on the mainstream media.)

Among the surgical means of clearing cholesterol-clogged arteries, angioplasty remains popular, although the procedure, which involves pressing fatty plaques against artery walls with a balloon-tipped catheter, is not always successful. Often the arteries close up within months; one study found more than 20 percent of patients going back for another helping. Devices called stents, wire cages that hold blood vessels open, seem to help. But according to a February story in The New York Times, stents cost $1,500 to $2,000 each, and it's not unusual for doctors to use five or six of them at a time.

Other surgical devices have gained popularity among doctors, the Times suggested, thanks to heavy marketing by manufacturers. Each year thousands of cardiologists attend a conference entitled Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics, where they are plied with such treats as shoeshines, golf clubs and tickets to a performance by John Mellencamp. Although leading figures in the field have criticized the easy mixture of commerce and science, the conference "tremendously affects practice," said one observer quoted in the article. Among the gizmos greeted with early conference-generated enthusiasm are lasers, shavers and rotating blades, all of which have been targeted at arterial plaque with disappointing and occasionally alarming results.

Only days after the Times article, a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offered yet more reason for suspicion toward doctors. In a 1995 survey of nearly 30,000 office visits, researchers found that doctors counseled patients on exercise as a means of preventing heart disease less than 20 percent of the time and on diet only a bit more often than that. Just over 10 percent of visits included counseling on weight reduction, although a third of Americans are overweight. In a 1988 study cited by the CDC as a source of insight into the odd silence of many doctors on these crucial issues, "92 percent of internal medicine residents reported that a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet can effectively lower cholesterol levels.... However, 72 percent of physicians believed they were inadequately prepared to provide dietary counseling."

Perhaps they are too busy prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Zocor to pick up a book on nutrition. The Associated Press reported last December that doctors are annoyed by their patients' resistance to taking these drugs for the rest of their lives at a cost of $65 to $200 a month. Some patients also complain of stiff muscles that, in the words of one dissatisfied customer, "make you feel 100 years old." For the doctors, the choice is simple. As AP put it, "When patients pull up in BMWs and decline to pay $1,000 a year for their medication, Dr. Michael Miller...tells them the cost of a bypass surgery: $50,000, including follow-up visits."

There is, of course, a better choice, one that through the tireless efforts of Dr. Dean Ornish is gaining increasing mainstream exposure. Ornish has reversed heart disease in his patients without drugs, without surgery--through a program of exercise, meditation and low-fat vegetarianism. According to a Newsweek profile of Ornish last March, 40 major insurance companies now cover his program as an alternative to surgery. They're realizing that vegetarianism saves them money even as it saves lives. Sadly, it may take a while for the rest of the medical profession to take that knowledge to heart.


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


Let's talk about slaughterhouses...
Because If We Don't, Nothing Will Change
Review by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. slaughtered pig Mahatma Gandhi once said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." If this is true, then the horrifying material in Slaughterhouse indicates we are in for an extremely harsh judgment.

The subtitle of the book is "The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry." In our age of hype, one might expect this to be an exaggeration, but the subtitle is more than fulfilled by Gail Eisnitz's well-written, powerful description of her more than 10 years of personal investigations in U.S. slaughterhouses and her interviews with workers and federal investigators, which reveal a pattern of coercion to ignore chronic violations of safety and humane regulations.

Gail Eisnitz is an indefatigable and tenacious detective who has been pursuing animal abuse for many years. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, and she has appeared on Good Morning America and Prime Time Live. She formerly worked for the Humane Society of the United States and is currently chief investigator for the Humane Farming Association.

Among the many scandalous facts brought out by this gripping indictment of the meat industry are the following:

Because stunning devices often don't function properly, some animals run amok in the plants or kick and scream as they are pierced. Sometimes they kick the knives back into the faces or bodies of slaughterhouse workers. Some animals are skinned or scalded while they are still alive.

The system places almost as little value on human life as it does on animal life. Pressure to keep the production line moving at all costs takes a terrible toll on slaughterhouse workers. Eisnitz documents the prevalence of alcoholism, drug use and spouse abuse. Some workers reported becoming sadistic, taking out their frustrations by beating animals to death.

Because of excessive production-line speeds, the number of crippling repetitive-motion disorders in slaughterhouses has increased dramatically in the past 15 years. Workers are forced to relieve themselves on the production line because they are given very few breaks to go to the bathroom. The deplorable working conditions result in worker turnover rates that are often as high as 100 percent in a year. Immigrants are especially vulnerable to this exploitation.

Deaths from foodborne illnesses have quadrupled in the last 15 years in the United States. Some reasons are that, increasingly, meat covered with feces, abscesses, tumors, hair and maggots has moved into the human food system; some processing plants are infested with cockroaches and rats; and sometimes even condemned meat is taken out of trash barrels and returned to production lines.

Because of the revolving door between industry and government, there is a cozy relationship between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the meat industry. Rather than using their authority to see that there is compliance with federal meat-safety and humane laws, high-ranking USDA officials, more concerned about agribusiness interests than animal welfare and human health, use their authority to insure maximum production at all costs. Because inspection policies have been developed in collusion with the meat industry, food inspectors are often powerless to enforce federal slaughterhouse laws. Also, recent federal legislation has substantially reduced the number of inspectors. Those who try to stop the production line are often reprimanded, demoted or fired.

Slaughterhouse is an eye-opener that leads readers through the real-life hell that today's slaughterhouses represent, revealing ever widening circles of cruelty, corruption and contempt for both animals and human beings. We can only hope that the startling facts it reveals will be read by many people and that it will alert the nation to the widespread abuses of the meat industry at the end of this century in much the same way as Upton Sinclair's classic book The Jungle did in 1905. As Eisnitz says in her conclusion, "Now you know, and you can help make the changes."

Richard H. Schwartz is the author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival and Mathematics and Global Survival. You can reach him at (718) 982-3621 or by E-mail at Schwartz@postbox.csi.cuny.edu


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


RELATED STORIES

Inspectors sue top USDA and FSIS officials

In mid-April federal meat and poultry inspectors and the Community Nutrition Institute filed a lawsuit alleging that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has begun studying the possibility of plant employees' conducting carcass-by-carcass inspection under federal supervision. The changeover, the plaintiffs say, unlawfully shifts the burden of food safety from federal inspectors to meat- and poultry-plant personnel, a shift that would put the industry on an honor system in regard to food safety.

The suit names the FSIS, its administrators and the USDA's Thomas J. Billy and Daniel Glickman as defendants.


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


REPERCUSSIONS OF A GROUNDBREAKING BOOK: SLAUGHTERHOUSE

Gail Eisnitz: Slaughterhouse writer takes to podium

Through a Reuters news story, Slaughterhouse author Gail Eisnitz was able to get her "shocking story of greed, neglect, and inhumane treatment inside the U.S. meat industry" (see the facing page) to a national audience. On April 2 the wire service reported on a press conference she gave in Washington: "Some U.S. slaughterhouses routinely skin live cattle, immerse squealing pigs in scalding water and abuse still-conscious animals in other ways to keep production lines moving quickly, two current and former U.S. Agriculture Department employees said on Thursday," the Reuters story began.

Eisnitz was accompanied by two eyewitnesses to the animal abuse she writes about in her book. She was quoted as saying, "This kind of mistreatment is standard practice in the industry."

Steve Cockerham, a USDA inspector at a Nebraska plant, and former USDA veterinarian Lester Friedlander provided evidence supporting the charges. In reference to the sight of plant workers cutting the feet, ears and udders off cattle that were still conscious, Cockerham was reported to have exclaimed, "They were still blinking and moving. It's a sickening thing to see." Friedlander stated that "meat inspectors were discouraged by USDA officials from reporting any mistreatment of animals."

VivaVegie is not aware of any other wire services that reported on the news conference.

Congressman cites brutality

Rep. George Brown (D-Calif.) has complained to the Agriculture Department that packing-plant workers "often find themselves resorting to unbelievable brutality" to keep production lines moving. He said he based his charges on allegations by several USDA inspectors and on a recent book, Slaughterhouse, by Gail Eisnitz of the Humane Farming Association.

According to Meat Marketing & Technology, a trade publication, Eisnitz reports that at one particular slaughterhouse officials in the mid-1990s ordered the amperages on stun guns turned down so they would re-charge faster and not impede line speeds.


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


PROJECT FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE FOR VEGETARIANS
Government dollars keep meat and milk producers fat and happy
by Edmund Klein

Part one of a series

Imagine what would happen if Washington announced that whenever automobile sales slumped, the government would step in and buy cars to tighten supply until prices rose again. And what if the program were to be supported by deductions from your paycheck? And what if the surplus cars were to be shipped to unpolluted areas to help people acquire a taste for them?

corruption on the back of livestock

Now apply the same thinking to meat, poultry, milk and eggs. No imagination is necessary. Programs like these have been the hallmark of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other government agencies for decades.

Each year taxpayers contribute billions of dollars to prop up animal agriculture, whose products have been repeatedly linked to disease and environmental destruction and whose mode of operation is often brutally cruel. The government supports the questionable dietary habits of a portion of society by placing a tax on everyone, then taxes everyone again to provide loans and grants to the same animal industries in an attempt to slow the environmental havoc they cause.

Much of this is carried out under a glib cloak of doing good. Catchphrases include increasing meat production "to feed a hungry world" (while many more people could be fed with grain than with the meat that's produced from it) and "protecting a rural way of life" (while each year more family farms are driven to ruin by competition from huge agribusinesses that resemble uncaring factories more than farms).

Nonetheless, the government seems pleased with the direction things are going. "The outlook is very, very bullish," said Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman at the USDA's annual Outlook Forum in February. The four areas he highlighted for even greater government support were:

Greater risk protection, a code phrase for more price supports.

Expanding the size of the marketplace. This would involve government backing of more exports, together with boosting domestic consumption through advertising and dumping excess production in the nation's schools and food banks.

Being an "information broker...especially to the livestock sector" so that ranchers and farmers can more accurately adjust their production and slaughter schedules to expected demand. This is a function other industries pay for themselves.

Fighting "phony science," an obvious swipe at European countries, which have refused for health reasons to accept U.S. beef produced with rapid-growth hormones.

There was more than a little irony for vegetarians and health professionals when Glickman cited President Clinton's State of the Union address, in which the president spoke of the need to invest research dollars toward finding cures for heart disease, cancer and AIDS. The agriculture secretary didn't mention the connection between meat eating and the first two diseases. Nor did he acknowledge the mountains of data already showing that people who eat animals live shorter, sicker lives than those who don't.

The government's boosterism of questionable dietary practices doesn't end with the Agriculture Department, either. More than a few eyebrows were raised recently when Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala appeared with a milk mustache in national ads paid for by milk producers.

The idea purportedly was to promote milk as an effective way to reduce bone fractures because of the calcium in it. Unsaid was the fact that a high-protein diet, of which dairy products are typically a part, is actually associated with calcium loss. Adequate calcium can be obtained from nonanimal sources, such as dark green leafy vegetables. But to acknowledge the drawbacks of milk--which many people are allergic to or simply unable to digest--might cause demand to drop, leading the government to use more tax money for price supports, even as farmers use powerful chemicals like bovine growth hormones to force far more milk out of cows than nature intended.

"It's hard not to have faith in all the positive things happening in agriculture," Glickman told the forum. But is what's good for big agriculture really what's good for you? For America? For the world?


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


GRAPEVINE

Advice for the clueless: "Living in Harmony With Vegetarians"

by Alison Green

Reprinted with permission from author.

My biggest problem as a vegetarian has not been the food--which I've found to be delicious and every bit as satisfying as meat--but the bewildering attitudes of my family and friends. Other vegetarians have the same complaints: the weird looks, the silly questions, the hostile interrogations. It seems vegetarians--12 million of us in the U.S. and growing daily--are a sadly misunderstood minority indeed. Thus, I've devised ten simple edicts for meat-eaters in their dealings with vegetarians:

  1. Rid yourself of the idea that vegetarians are spartans who subsist on raw carrots and bean sprouts. The question I hear more than anything else is "What do you eat?" This one baffles me; how would anyone with a reasonably varied diet answer that? I eat spaghetti, stir-fry, hummus, stew, raspberry sorbet, minestrone soup, salads, bean burritos, gingerbread, lentil chili, lasagna, tofu kabobs, waffles, veggie burgers, artichokes, tacos, bagels, saffron rice, lime mouselline, wild mushroom risotto--what do you eat?
  2. Learn some biology. I'm still not sure what to do with otherwise intelligent people who think a chicken is not an animal. For the record, vegetarianism means no red meat, poultry or fish--nobody with a face. I can't count the number of times waiters have suggested the seafood platter as a "vegetarian" entrée.
  3. Especially if someone is a vegetarian for ethical reasons, don't assume they won't object to "just a little" meat in their meal. Would you accept "just a bit" of your cat, or "just a little" of Uncle Jim in your soup?
  4. Quit lobbying for the meat industry. Carnivores seem to think that vegetarians are like dieters and that we want to cheat a little now and then. My father is convinced that if he can convince me of how good his corned beef and cabbage tastes, I'll give in and eat it. Friends try to get me to try "just a bite" of whatever meat product they're eating, on the premise that it's so good, I couldn't possibly pass it up. I sometimes think meat-eaters took their lessons in peer pressure from the bad kids in the anti-drug movies we used to watch in high school. Listen up: no matter how "good" you insist it is, we're not going to eat it.
  5. When a vegetarian gets sick, don't tell him or her it's because of malnourishment. From the comments I hear when I have the flu, you'd think meat-eaters never get sick. When I get sick, there's always someone waiting to tell me it's because of my diet. In actuality, just as there are healthy and unhealthy meat-eaters, there are healthy and unhealthy vegetarians. (And by the way, studies have shown that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than meat-eaters.)
  6. When you're in a restaurant with a vegetarian, have patience; eating out can be a challenge for even seasoned vegetarians. Despite the acceptance into the mainstream of a veggie diet, most restaurant menus are still cluttered with animal products. Some restaurants seem to have nothing but meat on their menus; even the salads have eggs or chicken in them! Don't complain if our attempts at ascertaining the exact ingredients in the minestrone seem like paranoia; experience has taught us these tableside inquisitions are warranted. After years of quizzing waiters and waitresses, I've found that items described as vegetarian often contain chicken broth, lard, eggs, or other animal ingredients.
  7. Don't make faces at our food. Before you scrunch up your face at my soy hot dog or tofu, think about what you're eating. Just because eating animals is widely accepted doesn't mean it's not gross.
  8. Realize we've probably heard it before. One of the funniest things about being veg is the person who is positive that he has the argument that is going to change my mind. It's almost invariably one of these gems: (a) "Animals eat other animals, so why shouldn't humans?" (An-swer: Most animals who kill for food couldn't survive if they didn't do so. That's obviously not the case with humans. And since when have we looked to animals for our standards of behavior?) (b) "Our ancestors ate meat." (Answer: Perhaps--but they also lived in caves, conversed in grunts, and had very limited choices of lifestyle. Supposedly, we've evolved since then.)
  9. Despite popular opinion, you do not have the right to expect vegetarians to compromise personal beliefs for the sake of "politeness." People who would never dream of asking a recovered alcoholic to try their favorite vodka, or demand that someone who kept kosher have some bacon, still think it perfectly reasonable to expect me to eat Aunt Sue's meatloaf because I adored it as a child and she would be ever so insulted if I didn't have some now.
  10. Stop telling us humans "have to" eat meat; we're living proof they don't. People who otherwise respect my ability to take care of myself refuse to trust that I did not make the decision to become a vegetarian rashly. I've done plenty of research on vegetarianism--probably more than you've done on diet and nutrition--and I'm confident in the choice I've made. Are you aware of the studies showing meat-eaters are almost twice as likely to die from heart disease, 60 percent more likely to die from cancer, and 30 percent more likely to die from other diseases? I wouldn't be eating this way if extensive research hadn't convinced me that vegetarianism is healthier and more ethical than eating meat; a more appropriate question might be whether you can back up your diet.

Now go forth and exult in your smooth dealings with vegetarians. You might find things so harmonious that you'll want to try vegetarianism yourself.

Chicken killers haunted: "I could hear the chickens screaming"

In early February, CNN interviewed several Hong Kong civil servants who had been called on to take part in a slaughter of 1.4 million chickens in January when 18 humans were infected with an avian flu, H5N1. Following are a few representative quotes:


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


VEGETARIAN NEWS
Compiled by Alex Press and Alan Rice

Campaign cash, failing food-safety laws:A coincidence?

The food industry has donated $41 million to congressional campaigns over the past decade, one third of it to members of the House and Senate Agricultural Committees, according to a study released in late February by the Center for Public Integrity. Although representatives of the National Food Processors Association and the American Meat Institute denied trying to buy influence, a range of food-safety legislation has gone nowhere, even as the number of food-poisoning cases has risen.

Chicken found to be grossly germ-ridden

If there was ever any doubt of the health hazards posed by raw chicken, a study by the respected product-testing magazine Consumer Reports laid it to rest.

In its March issue, the magazine revealed that of nearly 1,000 chickens purchased nationwide in 36 cities last fall, at least 71 percent posed a significant danger to consumers: 63 percent had the campylobacter germ, 16 percent had salmonella, and 8 percent had both. Those chickens sold as "free-range" scored even worse than the others.

Raw Chicken: Time to whip out those latex gloves

"If we knew how we could get rid of these organisms in fresh raw foods, we would," a technical adviser to the National Broiler Council told the Associated Press. "But we don't know how to do that, and certainly not in any kind of cost-effective manner at all." Translation: To produce clean chicken, poultry growers would have to stop piling birds on top of one another in broiler sheds and dipping their carcasses in a communal bath that some observers have likened to toilet water. And such measures would simply cost too much.

Coverage of the Consumer Reports study included the usual assurances that people could protect themselves by thoroughly cooking their dead birds. However, why anyone would want the toxic ooze that is chicken "juices" dripping all over their refrigerators and kitchen counters is a question that remains unanswered.

Slaughterhouses to workers: "Just hold it in"

Spending one's days sorting through blood- and feces-spattered viscera is bad enough in itself, but today's fast-paced world of animal disassembly has worse pitfalls, including widespread injuries and a general disdain for the dignity of workers.

For example, investigators from the U.S. Labor Department who visited 51 of the nation's 174 poultry plants last fall found a high number of injuries, inadequate protective gear and, in 60 percent of the plants, violations of overtime laws.

In December the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Hudson Foods, the subject of the nation's largest hamburger recall, for alleged safety violations at a Missouri poultry plant that "were likely to cause death or serious physical harm." The previous July, Hudson had been fined for other safety violations at the same plant, according to Dow Jones.

Perhaps even more striking than the meat industry's dubious safety record is its reluctance to allow employees to leave "the line" when nature calls. Poultry processors are especially notorious for this restrictiveness, which sometimes forces workers to soil themselves rather than risk being fired for an unauthorized break. This past spring, in response to such policies, OSHA was set to issue rules on bathroom access, largely targeted at the meat industry.

In a news report last March, the former employee of a Smithfield Foods hog plant who was responsible for cleaning intestines spoke of once being unable to "hold it" long enough to obtain permission for a visit to the ladies' room. However, her sacrifice for the company's chitlins didn't save her. She was fired after staying home for a week with pneumonia.

Perdue sued for racial discrimination

In March seven contract chicken growers sued poultry giant Perdue in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia, charging a "deliberate, systematic and continued pattern and practice of racial discrimination against African-American growers." According to the Associated Press, the company is accused of delivering bad feed, underweighing loads and even breaking equipment. The farmers are seeking $160 million in damages. Their lawyer said the suit is based on an investigation by a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Senate report uncovers tidal wave of manure

How much waste is produced by farm animals in the United States each year? The answer: an astonishing 1.37 billions tons, according to a study by the Democratic staff of the Senate Agriculture Committee released late last December. That's 130 times greater than the bathroom waste produced by our nation's human inhabitants--and amounts to five tons for every U.S. citizen. Just one 50,000-acre hog farm being built in the Utah desert could pump out more excrement than the entire city of Los Angeles.

Amazingly, while this manure tide washes over us, agriculture has remained largely free of the environmental regulations that govern other industries. The problem has grown so severe that even lethargic federal officials are being stirred to action.

Tom Harkin, the ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee and the sponsor of the Senate report, is seeking legislation requiring farmers to submit manure-management plans to the USDA.

And in March the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would require the largest factory farms to obtain pollution permits by the year 2002 and would set standards to regulate their operations. This would be the first time the agency systematically applied the quarter-century-old Clean Water Act to agriculture.

Still, if anyone feared the EPA might come down too hard on corporate-livestock polluters, the agency's head, Carol Browner, was quick to offer reassurance. In a speech to a national conference of hog farmers the day after the announcement of the EPA plan, Browner was happy to be of service. In her words: "Can you tell us what you need us to do? What are the resources we need to provide you with?"

Neighbors say no to corporate hog farms

While the federal government haltingly moves to stem the manure tide, local governments have been spurred to more vigorous action. The reason is simple: For urban residents living far from the nation's farm belt, the problem of animal waste may be a mind-boggling abstraction, but for the citizens of these areas, the pollution and odor are all too real.

That's why no fewer than 20 counties in Kansas and eight in Minnesota have voted against "corporate swine," as one activist put it. In Missouri, the attorney general threatened last fall to sue Premium Standard, which collects 600 million gallons of hog manure, urine and rinse water each year, for environmental violations. He also asked state regulators to remove the exemption large hog and poultry operations enjoy from state odor controls.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a bill imposing a one-year moratorium on new large hog-farm operations pending updated regulations was signed into law. And in South Dakota, citizens have collected enough signatures to put a constitutional amendment banning all corporate farming by non-family farmers on the 1998 ballot.

But amid the flurry of protest and legislative activity, there's one question that few people are asking: If the hog farms smell bad to you, how do you think they smell to the pigs, whose sense of smell is keen enough to sniff out truffles in the ground and who are forced to spend their lives atop giant manure pits?

Antibiotics in animal ag fuel "superbugs"

The use of antibiotics on factory-farmed animals, to increase their growth rates or to simply keep them alive in the crowded, unsanitary environments in which they are raised, poses a grave threat to human health, a growing number of experts are warning.

Abuse of these antimicrobial agents has created resistant strains of salmonella and campylobacter, both of which are then transmitted to humans when they come into contact with raw or undercooked meat. Emerging strains of "superbugs" in hospitals have also been linked to abuses in animal agriculture.

In March a study by a scientist at the Danish Veterinary Laboratory showed that resistance to vancomycin, a widely used antibiotic, had indeed moved from animals to human beings, as suspected. Enterococci, a kind of bacteria, became resistant to the drug in 1986. The study involved genetic tests on intestinal bacteria in people, pigs and chickens.

In a commentary published in the journal Science in February, a scientist at Germany's Robert Koch Institute argued that the routine use of antibiotics in farm animals should be phased out. He noted that "meat products are traded worldwide, and evolving bacterial populations do not respect geographical boundaries."

EU animal-welfare moves could mean U.S. trade war

The United States and the European Union, already at odds on such meat-related issues as hormones in beef, may one day be fighting over the treatment of farm animals. Although the Europeans are a long way from discouraging animal agriculture, they have shown a sensitivity to animal welfare that puts them far ahead of this country.

For example, in March the EU Commission, the trading bloc's executive branch, proposed steps toward a long-term phase-out of battery cages for egg-laying hens. Since the idea of eliminating this confinement system is not even on the radar of American politicians, it's easy to imagine a scenario where the EU scraps the cages (or simply makes them bigger) while the United States adheres to the status quo.

Because battery eggs would be considerably cheaper than nonbattery eggs, the EU would be at a competitive disadvantage, which would force it to boost subsidies to its farmers or, worse for U.S. agribusiness, block the importation of the cheaper, more cruelly produced eggs.

The conflict would probably end up before the World Trade Organization, which has been unsympathetic to European efforts to keep out hormone-treated American beef and is likely to be equally unsympathetic on animal welfare. As with the hormone dispute, the bludgeon of "free trade" serves to punish nations who attempt to set higher standards for products sold within their borders.

Even within the EU, Great Britain, a leading advocate of animal-welfare measures, has been stymied by the free-trade doctrine. In March the European Court of Justice ruled that Britain could not prohibit the export of calves destined for veal crates on the Continent, since the confinement system complied with minimum European standards. Veal crates have been banned in Britain since 1990. The crates, which keep the flesh of calves tender by immobilizing them until slaughter, remain legal in the United States.

Overfishing threatens marine food web

The rapacious consumption of fish worldwide threatens to collapse marine ecosystems, according to a study published in the journal Science in February. The study examined United Nations data and found that since the '50s people have been forced to move steadily lower in marine food chains as overfishing has decimated the top-feeding species. The net result, if trends continue, could be a sea full of jellyfish and plankton and not much else, the study suggested.

U.N. agency warns of grain shortages

Global carryover stocks of grains are expected to remain below safe levels for the coming year, according to a report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization released in March. The stocks for 1998 are expected to represent 15.7 percent of world cereal consumption, the third successive annual figure below the minimum safe level of 17 to 18 percent. A Reuters report noted that "any deterioration in prospects for 1998 crops could result in price rises, with serious consequences for poor countries that [depend] on imports to meet a large part of their food needs."

Currently, about 40 percent of grain worldwide goes to feed livestock, while each year an estimated 18 million people die of starvation.

Veggies in space?

Will there ever be cows in space? While the most feverish of McDonald's executives might envision planting the golden arches on the moon, the fundamental wastefulness of meat production--and the costliness of shipping food from Earth--makes the meat-based diet a nonstarter for future lunar and Martian colonies.

That's why researchers at Cornell University, with a grant from NASA, are hard at work developing tasty, nutritious vegetarian meals that can be made from crops grown hydroponically on space facilities. Among the selections on the interplanetary menu: tempeh sloppy joes and tofu cheesecake.

It seems that for now the idea of shipping cows into space so that astronauts can reduce 16 pounds of grain into a single pound of beef is not receiving serious consideration. But given the tenacity of the meat industry, it can't be dismissed.

Still, if we're lucky, scientists and policy makers will realize that the Earth, like a space colony, is a closed system with finite resources. And, in the long term, large-scale meat production is unsustainable right here on the home planet just as it would be in other, less hospitable neighborhoods of the universe.


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


TRICKLE-UP VIOLENCE
Cruelty to Animals: It doesn't always end there

by Scott Lustig

The idea that violence toward animals is linked with violence toward people has long been an undercurrent of thought among animal activists. The two are believed to be part of a web of violence in society, emanating from the same roots. "For 150 years, conventional wisdom and the basic tenets of humane education have held that a child who mistreats animals will grow up to be insensitive towards other human beings," says Phil Arkow, chairman of the Child and Animal Abuse Prevention Project at the Latham Foundation, an organization that supports humane education.

There's little doubt anymore that cruelty against animals is connected to violence against people. A 1997 study of 153 individuals who had been prosecuted for intentional physical cruelty to animals found that 70 percent had committed at least one additional serious criminal offense. Another study released last year found that 28 percent of animal abusers described in newspaper accounts over two years had also been convicted of domestic violence. Twenty-seven percent had been convicted of child abuse, 10 percent of assault and 6 percent of murder.

The link is especially stark in cases of domestic abuse. Children who are abused at home are at much greater risk of redirecting that abuse toward animals, which in turn puts them at serious risk of being prone to committing violence against other people. In a study of convicted murderers, 58 percent of those who had been sexually abused as children had committed acts of cruelty against animals, compared with 15 percent of those who had not been abused.

Perpetrators of violence in the home use threats of harm to pets to coerce and intimidate. Children are coerced into sexual abuse and silence about it. In one study of domestic violence, nearly one in four women who entered a battered-women's shelter "reported that concern for their pets had kept them from coming to the shelter earlier."

Recognizing that in homes in which there is animal abuse, there may be domestic violence as well, and vice versa, humane societies, women's shelters, SPCAs, veterinarians, law-enforcement agencies and others are increasingly working together. Women's shelters and humane associations are developing partnerships to give safe haven to the pets of abuse victims. Human- and animal-protection agencies are cross-training.


So what happens when cruelty is the basis for entire industries?

The new awareness of the relationship between animal abuse and violent behavior against humans, however, hardly ever extends to any discussion of farm-animal abuse. In mainstream discussions, "animal abuse" almost always refers to isolated, capricious acts of cruelty inflicted by individuals. As readers of The VivaVine well know, there is a whole other world of abuse, one in which animals are subjected to cruelty in massive numbers. It's just that in the case of this institutional abuse, the cruelty is protected by the law. Whether it's veal crates, battery cages, forced molting, tail docking, farrowing stalls, castration without anesthesia--or any of the other practices exempted from anticruelty statutes as "routine," the meat industry does things to farm animals that could land a person in jail if he inflicted them on a dog or a cat.

But the violence doesn't end there. The meat industry is often guilty of cruelty against humans as well as animals. Workers in factory farms are paid low wages, made ill by the noxious odors of intensive waste production and forced to endure the continuous shrieking of thousands of animals living in extremely unnatural conditions.

In slaughterhouses, workers are subject to injuries, a relentless, dehumanizing pace and severe restrictions on bathroom breaks. All this, combined with the central task of the slaughterhouse--reducing thousands of living animals, week after week, into a collection of body parts--can't help producing a culture of violence that constantly threatens to spill beyond the factory walls.

Animal abuse must be examined and addressed as something that rarely takes place in isolation. It is both a cause and an effect of other forms of abuse. Truly, in advocating against animal abuse--whether individual or institutional--we are protecting and promoting respect for all life.

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.


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


SUMMER MUNCH
Two Savory Recipes: One light, one hearty

Vegan chef Laurie Jordan's stew will stick to your ribs. Her salade provençale will brighten your table. See health-food and herbal stores for ingredients.

Salade Provençale

Handful each of

Carefully select and wash salad leaves, herbs and flowers (steep dried flowers in hot water for 5 minutes); gently dry in salad spinner or basket. Arrange leaves, herbs and other ingredients with attention to color and texture, piling them high on center of plate. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and diced onion. After salad is dressed (1 tablespoon walnut or hazelnut oil, 1 teaspoon sunflower oil,

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, dash of sea salt or garlic salt and pepper to taste), arrange flowers between leaves. For extra zest, add handful of pecans sautéed in 1 tablespoon walnut oil. (Nut oils can be strong; it's fine to blend them with safflower, sunflower or rapeseed oil.) (Serves 4 to 6.)

Seitan Stew

Heat oil in large skillet or saucepan. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms. Sauté till onion is translucent and garlic is soft. Add carrots, celery, tamari, seitan and seasonings, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes. Slowly add soy milk and up to 1&fraction;4 cup water, then thickener, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over rice, garnished with sprig of fresh parsley. (Serves 4.)


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


VivaVegie Does the Easter Parade

Ideal weather was our good fortune this year, so someone was on our side as we preached the vegetarian gospel to the usual throngs of promenading celebrants at the New York City Easter Parade.

The plight of egg-laying hens, again, was our theme as VivaVegie activists--helped by the lure of Penelo Pea Pod--distributed 2,000 flyers and booklets, including the 1998 edition of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian." Newsday afforded our message 2-3/4 column inches, including the phrases: "conditions at mechanized chicken farms" and "hens imprisoned in wire cages." VivaVine editor Alex Press was also quoted, and accurately, too!


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


VEGGIE NUGGETS

The leader's name was Che

A school of herring caught in a trawler's net off the coast of Norway spontaneously turned into a band of freedom fighters and sank a 63-foot boat, the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet reported. The fish formed their aquatic resistance on impulse and swam in unison for the bottom of the ocean, capsizing the ship, which sank in ten minutes. The crew of six was rescued by another trawler.

McD's plans world domination

Every day McDonald's serves up 38 million hamburgers worldwide. That's nearly 14 billion a year. But according to a recent press release, it's not nearly enough for the restaurant giant, which pointed out it still serves less than 1 percent of the populations of the 109 countries in which it operates. The president of the corporation's international division contends, "The remaining 99 percent... represents our enormous global growth opportunities."

Drew draws the line

"I don't eat meat, fish or dairy.... I do this because I love animals and I don't want to eat them or wear them. I made this choice and I don't miss anything at all...."--actress Drew Barrymore, interview with Jane magazine

Man has 120 heart operations

A 51-year-old Milwaukee man who has had 120 operations in the last 13 years to open clogged arteries recently underwent an 11-hour bypass operation, the Chicago Tribune News Service reported. The patient, who'd had 53 angioplasties and as many as 70 cardiac catheterizations to relieve chest pain since his first heart attack, said he looked forward to "being able to stroll down the aisle at the grocery store." We hope he'll head for the produce section.


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


PENNSYLVANIA STATE FARM SHOW

Farm Show: Sobering reality check for a couple of vegans

A Vegetarian World? A few say we will achieve it sometime in the future. Others hope for such a state on a specific timetable, the year 2050 perhaps. Such people, however, probably need a little dose of reality. VivaVegie husband-and-wife team Alan and Pamela Rice had such a sobering experience when they visited the Pennsylvania State Farm Show in Harrisburg in January. Aside from the sheer humongousness of it--a show that is housed in an arena built primarily just for this annual event--the apparent attitudes of the throngs of participants could be hard for an animal activist to take. There is a whole world out there of middle-American families--no, not necessarily corporations--that are tied to meat-centered farming. This sector is utterly clueless about vegetarian issues. It obviously sees nothing wrong with using animals' bodies in any way to make money. Vegetarian activism has a long way to go.


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


VIVA VEGIE NEWS

The 1998 edition of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" is completed and available for your orders

Three months in the making, the 1998 edition of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" is finally off the press and available for orders. Initial reviews are all raves. "It looks better than last time" is the most common reaction when a person first gets a copy. This time the entire front page of the 16-page booklet is given over to a cover illustration; the green ink also adds appeal. Other pluses include high-quality paper and complete references in the back. But best of all, the information is fully up-to-date and about 80 percent new over the last edition.

The cost for this edition has changed slightly. Quantity orders cost the same as for the last edition, but the first copy is $2, postage paid. (A first copy of the 1996 edition was $1 plus SASE.) The 1998 edition is heavier and comes with the references, warranting the extra charge. The references for the 1996 edition had to be ordered separately.

Copies of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" are available at the following Manhattan locations: Terra Verde, 120 Wooster Street; Tower Books, at Lafayette Street and E. 4th Street; Candle Cafe, at 1307 Third Avenue; Hangawi, at 12 E. 32nd Street; and Bachué, 36 W. 21st Street. You can also pick up a copy at Second Nature, 65 Broad Street, Red Hook, New Jersey. Special thanks to Suzy Richardson of Green Vision for her purchase of three cartons (1,800 copies). She will be working on establishing retail outlets for the booklet nationwide.

VivaVegie obtains nonprofit status

The sky's the limit now! Since the VivaVegie Society, Inc., obtained nonprofit status, it became exempt from paying tax on services and supplies. But best of all, contributors to VivaVegie may declare donations as tax deductions. VivaVegie is now better able to approach foundations to fund its activities. And our group has big plans! Goals for the future include a street-level vegetarian center in Manhattan where pedestrians will be able to come anytime to obtain restaurant guides, vegan products, T-shirts, vegetarian cookbooks and pro-vegetarian literature. The center will also serve as a cybercafé, a juice bar and a convenient place for forums to be held and groups to meet.


###



T H E V I V A V I N E ~ MAY / JUNE 1 9 9 8
BACK TO TOP OF PAGE


CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Saturday, May 16 Sunday, May 24 Friday, May 29 Saturday, May 30 Saturday, June 27 Saturday, July 4 Wednesday, July 8-Sunday, July 12