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The VivaVine
Journal of the VivaVegie Society, Inc.
September/October 1998, Vol. 7, No. 3

VivaVegie at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
Penelo Pea Pod (Bobbie Flowers) and a veg-evangelist (Pamela Rice) at the 82nd annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn. We blanketed the crowd with literature, including the "101 Reasons." Thank you, Adam Weissman and Josephene Bellacomo.



Y O U E A T F I S H D O N ' T Y O U ?

Torcoletti's pig
Journal cover, this issue

by Alex Press






The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- V I E W P O I N T

When you stop eating meat, you begin to see the world differently.

For me, the change began in the days when my wife and I used to walk a big circle in a park in Teaneck, New Jersey. Often we were joined by a pair of ducks who waddled part of the way with us. We became fond of them and laughed at what a sight the four of us must have made and joked that we would probably never eat duck again. The fact is, we didn't. The next to go was chicken, after I lifted the lid on a pot of homemade chicken soup, which I had always loved, and all I could see was what seemed to be the results of a train wreck.

Bit by bit, our appetite for meats fell away. We both lost weight and felt better generally, but the most unanticipated result was how giving up meat changed the way we viewed animals. We no longer had to compartmentalize them and rationalize why we ate some, like cows and pigs, and why we didn't eat others, like dogs and cats.

Slowly, we began to see all animals as being not much different from the ducks that walked us slowly around the park, and, of course, we didn't see much difference between the ducks and us.

That was about 14 years ago, and now, when I see a cow in a field, I find it bizarre that a large part of the reason she is there is to be eventually killed, sliced up, put in plastic packages and eaten.

Edmund Klein is a frequent contributor to The VivaVine.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- V I E W P O I N T

We'd put vegetarianism on the map

Thirteen tool-shop workers shared the winning Powerball number in the largest lottery jackpot ever, in July. The prize was $296 million. Since the winners had opted for an up-front lump-sum payout, the winning amount diminished to $161.5 million, which, when divided by 13, comes to about $12.4 million each. After taxes, each man's winnings whittled down to approximately $9 million. Still, not too shabby.

After the winners were announced, several of us here at VivaVegie headquarters were shaking our heads. Each of us was thinking the same thing. What should luck have to do with it? What were these factory workers going to do with all that money? It was reported that six of them planned to continue working at the machine shop. Couldn't they think of anything better to do? Is the world going to be a better place because of their personal good fortune?

It wasn't long before I got to daydreaming about what VivaVegie would do with $9 million. There is no question, I knew just what I would do.

Not a day goes by that I don't wish for a vegetarian center here in New York City. With $9 million, that dream could be downright doable.

We'd have the resources to hire the lawyers and accountants to advise us, purchase the vegan products and pro-vegetarian books and literature we'd sell at the center, set up the computers for the cybercafé, employ public-relations and advertising professionals to promote the center, put together a speakers' bureau and set up a juice bar--hell, make it a full-fledged vegan restaurant. After all that, we would still have enough to put down a sizable amount on the purchase of a building, preferably right on Broadway. We'd bring in a few brilliant architects and store designers--New York City is full of them. Then, once construction was completed, we would bring in speakers from all over the world to present us with astute and inspired talks on nutrition and the environment, as well as hunger and farm-animal issues. And don't forget those cooking classes and book signings!

In the end, vegetarians would have something physical, a shrine of sorts, to show the world. Here, vegetarians could stand up tall with pride before a meat-eating world. Suddenly, our lifestyle would be a lot more viable and a lot less invisible.

Of course, vegetarians could do all of this right now if we wanted to--that is, if we began acting more like any other committed constituency.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- Y O U E A T F I S H D O N ' T Y O U ?

About a year ago, there was a report out of the Los Angeles Times that 20 tons of Pacific mackerel had washed ashore near San Onofree, California. The article could only guess at how the fish got there. The assumption was that a commercial fisherman threw them overboard because they had been either a hazard to his ship or in a quantity over quota. Though the number of fish in this case was especially large, incidences of fish dumping are not unusual for this coastline, it was noted. California law prohibits such "wasting of wildlife," as the article put it, but how is anyone to trace this kind eco-lawlessness to a culprit?

Worldwide, fisheries are suffering from the devastating impact of bycatch, a term used to describe the unwanted marine life that is inadvertently caught (or overcaught, as in the above instance). All told, it amounts to a whopping 25 percent of the world's fish catch. What happens to it all? It usually gets dumped overboard, unused and dead.

When you hear that in 1993 34 million red snappers were discarded by Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawlers--even while the average red snapper catch for the region is only 3 million--the 25 percent bycatch estimate may become easier to comprehend. But to make matters worse, much worse, the total amount of fish being caught today is larger than ever. According to an Associated Press story in June 1997, the capacity of the world's fishing fleet has increased fivefold over the last four decades. In terms of environmental sustainability, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 53 percent of the world's fishing fleet is superfluous.

These new legions of fishermen are impacting the world's oceans and waterways so fast that most people aren't aware that a blem of fish extinction even exists. Suddenly, the experts are sounding desperate alarms. In January more than 1,600 scientists from 65 countries warned that overfishing, pollution and coastal development were wreaking unprecedented damage on the oceans. In fact, 34 percent of fish species are now endangered, according to an evaluation by the World Conservation Union. This conclusion comes after 35 years of observation using the data from more than 500 scientists worldwide; the evaluation is considered the most comprehensive of its kind.

One of the authors of a sobering report on the environment, released in 1997 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, was quoted in a Time magazine article in August last year: "We are reaching, and in many cases have exceeded, the oceans' limits. We are no longer living off the income but eating deeply into the capital." Though the report described coastal pollution, the filling in of wetland areas and the building of dams as destructive, it determined that the most important threat to the oceans was overfishing.

The FAO designates 70 percent of the world's fish stocks as either over-exploited, fully exploited, depleted or recovering. The scarcity of fish is forcing huge numbers of fishermen out of the business. Some governments are now trying to buy back fishing licenses. The more determined (and mortgage-strapped) fishermen of today, however, are likely to adopt practices that ultimately fan the flames of destruction. These die-hards have turned to nontraditional sources for fish--species often never before considered for human consumption. Oddly, governments often subsidize the exploitation of these final frontiers. Our modern-day fisherman is recklessly harvesting lower in the aquatic food web, or he may even go after exotic deep-sea species. For the moment, abundance is being found. But many of these species are integral to delicate environments below. Driving them to extinction will inevitably lead to a full-fledged ocean-ecosystem collapse.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- G R A P E V I N E

Die-hard meataholic reforms. He's marked the date he last ate meat

I am a die-hard meataholic, I admit. It is hard for me to pass by the golden arches without getting a taste for "the weekly special." Still, I recently made the choice to move toward vegetarianism. Hopefully soon the taste for animal flesh will be removed entirely from my mouth. I am truly looking forward to embracing a healthier me.

I can mark May 15, 1998, as the day I ate my last piece of meat. Granted, I don't have plans to sneak chickens out of poultry growers' lots or become an activist by chaining myself to a truck full of pigs. That's not my style.

I do think of Albert Einstein, however, who once said, "Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." I feel a lot better knowing that animals do not have to lose their lives just to satisfy my selfish needs.

Rex Hickey
Jacksboro, TN

A baffling litany of questions

I found your "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" to be extremely informative. However, reading it prompts me to ask: If abstaining from meat is so logical from the standpoints of the environment, economics, religion, ethics, altruism, compassion, physiology and health, then why do people continue to eat it? Is it social norms? Is it cultural patterns? Is it psychobiologically ingrained behavior? Is it a superiority complex? Are we slaves to our senses? Is it ignorance? I guess that this leads me to a broader question: Why do people do anything though it may be illogical? Any thoughts on this? Do you know if I can find any books on the subject? Can I possibly find surveys or polls that may be pertinent to this topic? Thank you for your assistance.

Amit Dungarani
Chicago, IL

Editor's note: These are questions that one could probably attempt to answer only after a lifetime spent in the library. For now, we might suggest a recent book by Jim Mason. It's called An Unnatural Order (Continuum). Perhaps our readers might have some ideas, too. We'll try to publish direct responses. The following letter is a start.

Getting people to listen: The crux of the problem

When I came across "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" on your Web site, I sat and read the whole thing through--first the 1996 version and then the 1998 version. I tried to get coworkers interested, but they made a lot of lame excuses. Eating meat is just so ingrained that most people cannot even fathom anything different. This, I think, is the crux of the problem of getting the word out. One coworker listened to a few of your reasons, but told me she didn't want to have to learn how to eat again. This reaction is, I believe, akin to the small child running around holding her ears, screaming, "I'm not listening!" I, for one, can't refuse to listen any longer. Thank you again.

Vanessa Richard
Posted on the VivaVegie Web site bulletin board

Glowing praise for VivaVegie from a real hero of ours

I've been meaning to write ever since I received the materials you sent me. Your newsletters and your "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" are fabulous! In fact, when I received them, I couldn't put them down. They are so well researched and will be a terrific resource for me. I look forward to joining VivaVegie and using your materials as a source of very credible information.

Gail Eisnitz
Author, Slaughterhouse:
The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry

(Prometheus Books)

The information was straight to the horrid point

I am not a vegetarian, but after reading your "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" I plan to become one. I was revolted by the information listed. I had read Harvey and Marilyn Diamond's Fit for Life and numerous other books on the subject, but your pamphlet was straight to the horrid point. I have been uncomfortable about eating meat for a long time, but when you don't think about where it comes from, it's easy to choke down a burger or two. Like most people in this country, I was brought up eating meat and potatoes. (How was I to know?)

I don't have a clue how to be a vegetarian, but you can rest assured I will find out.

Deborah Patterson
Via E-mail

Now he hears me!

As the wife of a meat eater, I was surprised when my husband actually said he would read the "101 Reasons." He may come around yet. Thanks, VivaVegie!

Pam Huizenga
Via E-mail

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- V E G E T A R I A N N E W S

Tyson to turn guts and feathers into animal feed

In late July, Maryland officials said they would seek $5.37 million in fines from Tyson, the nation's largest poultry producer, for the excessive amounts of slaughterhouse sludge it had dumped on a field outside Berlin, near Chincoteague Bay. The company had finally stopped dumping the sludge in June after an exposé in The Washington Post, nearly two months after a warning from the state.

The brown-green slime at issue contains solids, including guts and feathers, from the water used to wash slaughtered birds. Tyson said some of it will now be processed into animal feed.

The fine for the sludge dumping would be on top of $4 million in penalties Tyson had agreed to pay in May for wastewater discharges by Hudson Foods at its Berlin processing plant. Tyson bought Hudson last year. Tyson also had to direct $2 million toward pollution controls.

Ag-addled rivers make "top-twenty" list

The conservation group American Rivers' list of the twenty most endangered rivers in North America this year includes three waterways imperiled by animal agriculture. They are the Pocomoke in Maryland (poultry), the Apple in Wisconsin and Illinois (hogs) and the Potomac, which flows from West Virginia to our nation's capital (poultry and cattle).

More manure than milk?

An article last spring in the Los Angeles Times offered some startling statistics on the California dairy industry, the country's largest, which produces 20 percent of the milk consumed nationwide. According to the story, each of the state's 1.3 million dairy cows excretes 120 pounds of waste a day--as much as two dozen people--for a collective total of more than 55 billion pounds yearly. Meanwhile, according to the Times, each cow consumes 270 pounds a day of feed and water and produces 70 pounds of milk. The story cited a 1996 state report that blamed dairy farms in one region for poisoning hundreds of square miles of underground rivers and streams.

Higher production means more pigs will suffer

In the meat world, where animals are mere "commodities," the reality of their suffering is easily lost in the calculus of agro-economics. So, as the U.S. hog industry prepares to raise its annual output in the next year and beyond by almost 40 percent, to 137 million hogs, it must be noted that this means a dramatic increase in the number of victims and therefore in the net quantity of misery. (The figure does not include the millions of hogs who will die from sickness and injury, at the farm and in transit to the slaughterhouse.) The planned increase, described in the June 15 issue of Feedstuffs, a trade publication, will most likely exceed the anticipated increase in consumer demand, leading to prices that will leave 80 percent of the industry in the red, according to an expert quoted in the article. This can only mean a shakeout, resulting in fewer and larger (read more nightmarish) operations. The expert also suggested that producers are working to enlarge their facilities before laws are passed to prevent such expansions.

Hog farms: There goes the neighborhood

When a smelly industrial hog farm moves into town, area homes become less desirable--and less valuable. It's a truth that seems self-evident, but now the idea has been recognized in concrete dollar amounts. In a possibly precedent-setting move, the Board of Review in DeWitt County, Illinois, announced last May it would reduce assessments on about two dozen odor-plagued homes. Those within a mile and a half of a pair of facilities housing 7,200 sows are to receive a 30 percent reduction. Those within two miles are to receive a 10 percent reduction.

For the affected homeowners, the resulting tax cuts are probably small solace. Barbara Dunham, one of the tax-cut recipients, told the Associated Press that the smell from the hog farms is sometimes "so thick you can taste it." For the town, the lower assessments could mean less money for schools.

Mexican gov't sues U.S. egg giant

DeCoster, the Maine egg giant that a year ago agreed to pay $2 million for labor violations, now faces a class-action suit paid for by the Mexican government. The suit, filed in May, charges that Mexican workers were treated differently from non-Hispanic U.S. citizens--forced to handle high volumes of chicken manure, live in trailers with as many as 17 people and go without running water in their bathrooms, according to the Associated Press. The suit also charges that the Mexicans were denied promised raises and made to work with old, dangerous equipment.

Concern mounts over antibiotics in animal agriculture

In his new book, Mad Cowboy, ex-cattleman Howard Lyman recalls how shifting his farm from a grazing operation to a concentrated feedlot caused the health problems of his herd to "rise dramatically." "Like most feedlot operators," he says, he was forced to put antibiotics in all the cattle's feed because "it would have been too time-consuming to try to target only the sick cattle." Lyman found himself changing antibiotics "every thirty days or so," as they were becoming less and less effective.

That's the problem with these miracle drugs. Using them indiscriminately hastens the rise of resistant bacteria. And, experts worry, the resistant strains can be transmitted from animals to the people who eat them, causing cases of food poisoning that will be ever more difficult to treat. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in May estimated that between 68,000 and 340,000 Americans are infected each year with DT104, a strain of salmonella that is already resistant to five antibiotics.

As Lyman's story illustrates, the meat industry is dependent on antibiotics. It needs them to boost animals' growth rates and to keep them alive in today's intensive conditions. Livestock owners are now sweating the prospect of government restrictions, which seem increasingly likely as scientists learn about the risk that antibiotics in animal agriculture pose to human health.

A report issued last July by the National Research Council, a government-advisory body, said that cases of antibiotic-resistant human disease caused by bacteria from livestock have "clearly occurred." Although the report's authors, who were slanted toward agricultural interests, downplayed the immediate risk, they called for "extra vigilance" and recommended the formation of a federal task force to "ensure the appropriate use of antibiotics in animals and humans."

In a June meeting convened by the World Health Organization, a panel of experts expressed concern about a particular class of antibiotics, known as fluoroquinolones, and called for more data. Last October another WHO panel had recommended a partial ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in livestock.

In May the European Parliament voted unanimously for a review of antibiotics in agriculture. The previous month, the Agriculture Committee of the British House of Commons had recommended a complete ban on the use of antibiotics for growth and tight restrictions on other agricultural uses.

Surprise! Meat consumption is going up

Contrary to a common perception, per capita meat consumption is expected to go up this year: by six pounds, according to an expert at the University of Missouri. He told a July meeting of the National Broiler Council, a chicken-industry trade group, that three pounds of the increase will come from pork and two from beef.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture agrees with the projected rise and then some: A chart on its Web site predicts an increase of not 6 but 7.7 pounds this year.

For a distressing historical view, consider that per capita meat consumption has gone from 195.1 pounds in 1980 to an estimated 216 pounds in 1998, according to the USDA. (These figures do not include fish.) Although beef and pork have lost some popularity in that time, chicken and turkey have soared, more than making up the difference.

Be that as it may, a hamburger is eaten by a third of all Americans every 24 hours, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. And 5.4 billion cow patties were consumed last year.

Egg industry targets senior citizens

For this year's National Egg Month, in May, the American Egg Board (AEB) rolled out a campaign that was bound to raise a few eyebrows. The idea: "to leverage National Egg Month and Older Americans Month," according to the trade organization. The campaign included a video released to over 750 television producers in which an academic from the Tufts University Center on Aging "informed older adults about the importance of including nutrient-rich foods, like eggs, in their diets." Materials were also provided at a June conference of the American Association of Retired Persons. According to the AEB, "Booth visitors learned that new research refutes their old beliefs and picked up nutrition education materials for future reading, pleased with the prospect of increasing their egg intake."

Just what those hardened arteries needed.

Veg cookbook wins top prize

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison, has won the Julia Child Cookbook Award for the best general-interest cookbook of the year. The prize, a large crystal whisk, was presented to the author last April by the grande dame herself, unrepentant omnivore and heavy-cream defender Julia Child. The book's more than 1,400 recipes include eggs and dairy. On another sour note, Madison, the former chef at the famed San Francisco veg eatery Greens, proclaimed, "You can still cook everything in this book and serve it with meat, fish or fowl."

SF live-animal markets upheld by court

San Francisco animal advocates suffered a setback in July when a judge ruled that the city's live animal markets could continue to operate. The decision followed two years of controversy that pitted activists against Chinese merchants. The activists had objected to the crowded, unsanitary conditions in which the animals--birds, turtles, frogs and fish--are kept, often without food or water, and to the methods of killing them. But the judge, while conceding distaste for some aspects of the markets, quoted the Biblical passage granting humans "dominion" over animals and ruled that their mistreatment violated no law.

Anti-Wendy's lawsuit charges deception

In a move that gained national attention, vegetarian Patrick Fish of Utica, New York, filed a lawsuit against Wendy's restaurants last July, charging fraud and a violation of his religious civil rights. Fish had ordered a "veggie" pita in April 1997 after being assured it was vegetarian, when, in fact, the sauce contained animal-derived gelatin. Fish later learned that the company's nutritional guides described the pitas as "vegetarian" in bold type, and as "all vegetable," despite listing gelatin in the fine print. According to Lige Weill, of the Vegetarian Awareness Network, Wendy's had also been telling people the pitas were vegetarian on its customer-service line--even after negative publicity.

That summer, a Wendy's spokesperson told the Associated Press the company had recalled the nutritional guides and would remove the gelatin within two months. However, Fish argues, the chain should have pulled the sauce immediately or posted a warning to vegetarians at the counter, so that they could ask for a substitution.

Fish's suit is not unprecedented. In 1996 a bus driver was awarded $50,000 after being fired for refusing to hand out burger coupons; the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that his vegetarianism had the force of a religious conviction. And in 1995, a Boulder, Colorado, man won a suit against a restaurant that had repeatedly served him an anchovy-laced "vegetarian" marinara sauce. Finally, last January a Hindu man sued Taco Bell after being served--and biting into--a beef burrito instead of the bean burrito he had carefully ordered.

In comments to the Associated Press, Fish expressed what many vegetarians experience in such situations. As he put it, "You feel like you've been tainted." The suit is intended as a wake-up call to restaurants that deceive vegetarians or belittle their concerns.

Vegetarian News is researched by Alan Rice and Alex Press.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- P R O J E C T F O R E C O N O M I C J U S T I C E F O R V E G E T A R I A N S

Part two of a series

There are many ways in which the U.S. government uses our tax dollars to prop up animal agriculture: food uncle chicken saminspection, agricultural research, certain conservation programs, cheap land for ranchers, emergency relief, subsidies for product promotion--the list goes on. But of all these supports, perhaps the most blatant is outright product purchases. Every year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture buys millions of dollars' worth of beef, pork, poultry, milk, eggs and other animal foods with the aim of boosting the prices ranchers and farmers get for their goods. Much of the material, which is purchased through the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, goes to the National School Lunch Program and food-assistance programs for the needy. In press releases, the government boasts of providing schoolkids and poor people who use these services with "high-quality protein"; the saturated fat and cholesterol go unmentioned.

For the 1997/1998 lunch program, the USDA purchased $141 million worth of beef alone. Last March the department authorized an additional $30 million in beef purchases, which it slated for food-assistance programs. At the time, Secretary of Agriculture Dan

The USDA regularly makes multimillion-dollar purchases of animal foods for one purpose, to shore up prices for the meat industry
Glickman said, "Even though USDA has already purchased...beef for the...lunch program, it's in the best interest of everyone to maintain a viable livestock industry." By "everyone," presumably he meant ranchers, farmers and feedlot operators. He certainly couldn't have meant taxpayers--or livestock.

But lest other meat producers feel left out, the USDA has kept its shopping list long this year.

In March, the department said it would buy up to $25 million of turkey "to help improve prices for turkey producers." This was in addition to USDA purchases for the lunch program and $35 million in purchases authorized in August 1997.

In May the USDA announced it would buy up to $8 million of lamb. "These additional lamb purchases will help offset the surplus supply of lamb which is depressing prices to producers," Glickman explained.

Then in June the department said it would buy up to $10 million of salmon "to help improve prices paid to fishermen," according to a press release, and to "help...offset excess supplies." The USDA had already authorized the purchase of up to $7 million of salmon in September 1997.

Even the bison industry, "an emerging agricultural enterprise," according to the USDA, gets a helping hand from Uncle Sam. In April the department announced plans to purchase $2.5 million worth of the ground-up remains of these majestic, no-longer-protected animals.

And then there's the pork industry. In this case, "pork" has multiple meanings.

In February the USDA said it would buy $30 million of hog products. As with other categories, these purchases were on top of expenditures for the lunch program. The move followed an urgent plea for help from the National Pork Producers Council in January and petitions delivered to congressional representatives.

Now, just imagine if the government were as quick to spend $30 million on veggie burgers.

Some Recent USDA purchases announcements

CommodityDate AnnouncedCost to Taxpayers
SalmonJune 5, 1998$10 million
Lamb May 18, 1998$8 million
BisonApril 30, 1998$2.5 million
TurkeyMarch 27, 1998$25 million
BeefMarch 24, 1998$30 million
PorkFebruary 20, 1998$30 million
TofuNot applicableNot applicable

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- F O R T H E H E A L T H O F I T

Times have gotten even worse for those waging battles of the bulge. Guidelines out of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently changed the definition of what it means to be fat. One day 29 million Americans were considered normal; the next, a little more than normal. Now over half the U.S. adult population is officially considered overweight.

Former surgeon general C. Everett Koop criticized the guidelines, arguing that they unfairly moved the goal line for people struggling with their weight. He suggested that the new gauge may even make more people give up their reducing diets. Be that as it may, the NIH is probably just reading the research correctly and then being honest enough to recommend what it points to. (It is not unknown for nutrition experts to fudge dietary recommendations, the rationale being that people won't adhere to major lifestyle changes.)

The risk factors of obesity can no longer be ignored. Direct health-care costs of $70 billion per year are associated with it. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers, as well as asthma and carpal tunnel syndrome, are all linked to widening waistlines.

So, why are people getting fatter? The experts are generally pointing to sedentary lifestyles, larger portions at restaurants, the consumption of low-fat alternative foods that deceptively contain more calories than the high-fat ones they are supposed to replace and even the increasing availability of tasty foods.

Vegetarians in our society can fall victim to any one of these pitfalls. But since vegetarian food usually has more fiber to make the eater feel full on fewer calories, weight problems are less likely. In a 10-year study of 79,000 healthy adults, researchers with the American Cancer Society found that people who ate the most beef, pork and lamb were likely to increase their body mass over the 10-year period. Avid vegetable eaters who exercised regularly were less likely to gain weight.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- P A T H O G E N C I T Y
by Alex Press

Toxin created feelings of "impending doom"

It was a hotelier's worst nightmare: a roomful of lawyers stricken and reeling--apparently from food poisoning.

This frightening scenario unfolded in New York City last June. The occasion was a meeting of 100 lawyers and law students. The culprit appeared to be the tuna steak. According to the Daily News, the affliction claimed 29 victims, including two hotel workers. Twenty-five of them were rushed to area hospitals; four were treated on the scene.

The suspected pathogen was one we hadn't heard of before--"scombroid poisoning."

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the toxin in scombroid poisoning is actually a histamine that forms on certain species of fish (most commonly tuna and mackerel) when they're allowed to begin spoiling. The symptoms can progress from sweating, burning sensations in the mouth and throat, dizziness, nausea and headache to facial rash, hives, edema, short-term diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, there may be blurred vision, respiratory stress and tongue swelling. In the hotel outbreak, one victim also experienced "a feeling of impending doom," according to a physician at the hospital where she was treated.

Unlike most food pathogens, scombroid poisoning is not destroyed by freezing, cooking, smoking, curing or canning. On the bright side, symptoms are seldom prolonged and can be treated with antihistamines.

E. coli 0157:H7, the toxic bacterium long associated with burgers, has lately been getting into vegetables and even water. In an outbreak last June, more than two dozen kids were sickened in a Georgia water park. A vegetarian victim seemed to exculpate burgers at first. But, CNN reported, genetic matching suggested that the pathogen had made its way from ground beef to the pool through the feces of an infected child.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- R E C I P E S

"Living foods" are fresh, raw, unheated, unprocessed organic foods. And most of us could use more of them. For raw power, try these recipes from Rhio. To get more info on the raw-food way of life, call Rhio's Raw Energy Hot Line: (212) 343-1152.

  1. Drain and rinse walnuts. Cut carrots into chunks and measure out 3 cups. Process walnuts and carrots through a Champion or Green Power Juicer (with the blank in) to a paté. If you don't have either of these machines, process in a food processor until as smooth as possible. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Cut celery into 1-inch pieces, then pulse-chop celery, onion, herbs, garlic and lemon juice in food processor until well chopped. Add to carrot-walnut paté in the bowl and mix well. Add Braggs.
(Serves 4. Keeps 2 to 3 days in refrigerator. Serve with crudités.)

*Always use filtered water.

Coconut Rice
  1. Soak wild rice 24 to 36 hours,* changing water once. Drain, rinse and drain rice again and spread out in a bowl to "sprout." Rinse twice a day for 3 to 4 days.
  2. Drain water from sesame seeds and rinse. Mix first five ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the oils and spices and blend well. Toss the rice and vegetables with the oil-spice blend. Taste, and adjust seasonings. (Serves 2. Keeps 2 to 3 days in refrigerator.)
French Lentil Soup Put first 5 ingredients in blender; process into smooth cream. Pour into a bowl and mix in sprouted French lentils and tomatoes. Stir and serve. (Serves 2.)

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- V E G E T A R I A N N E W S Y 0 U C A N U S E
New merchandise for McLibel buffs

You read the pamphlet. You followed the trial. You visited the Web site. Now you can buy the CD-ROM, the video and the book.

The McLibel trial, the longest in English history, pitted working-class activists Dave Morris and Helen Steel against the awesome power of McDonald's in an epic battle over a leaflet accusing the company of crimes against animals, the environment, human health and workers' rights. McDonald's sued and, after spending $16 million on the case, eked out a hollow victory in June 1997. (Steel and Morris are appealing the verdict.)

The CD-ROM includes over 20,000 pages of information from the McSpotlight Web site (www.mcspotlight.org), covering every conceivable aspect of the trial. (For PCs only; requires a Web browser--Netscape 2 or above.) To order, contribute $12 or more to Source Alternative, at Calder Square, Box 10165, State College, PA 16805-0165.

Also available from Source Alternative: a 53-minute video documentary, McLibel: Two Worlds Collide ($24.99), and a book, McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial, described by The New York Times as "riveting" (paperback, $8.49). Great source material for do-it-yourself dragon slayers.

How d'ya say "vegan"?

It's hard enough getting American waiters to come clean about hidden animal ingredients in restaurant dishes, but when the garçon speaks a different language, the challenge can be overwhelming. To solve this problem, Vegetarian Traveler has developed sets of passport-size cards laying out precisely what you don't want to eat in 16 different languages. Web site: www.vegetariantraveler.com.

no trespassing on factory farm

No Trespassing • Restricted Area

The photograph at right was taken in front of an intensive livestock facility off the beaten track in De Kalb, Illinois. The sign makes it known in no uncertain terms that trespassing is prohibited. As VivaVine readers know from previous issues, keeping out unwanted microbial "visitors" is of the utmost importance on the farm--"biosecurity" is the term that is used.

If you're a meat eater, you may find it odd to be restricted from the places where your food is produced. But in the completely unnatural setting of the modern livestock farm, animals hang onto life in drugged-up, immunodeficient states. Whole flocks can perish overnight in an outbreak. Salesmen, we see, are allowed to visit this farm, but they must call in advance. Once they get there, they'll have to scrub themselves and dip their feet and even their truck wheels in disinfectant on their way in.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- V E G G I E N U G G E T S

Animal fat clogs "major artery"

Highways are often called major arteries, but the parallel with human arteries turned almost surreal when a tanker truck overturned in Ohio last spring, spilling thousands of gallons of animal fat. And the fat on the road turned out to be almost as tenacious as the fatty deposits in a person's arteries. Workers tried shoveling, scrubbing, hosing and spreading sand on it, but the fat wouldn't go away. It wasn't until three and a half tons of dishwashing liquid was applied that the road was ruled safe to use.

Vegetarian society's X-rated vegetables

A commercial produced by Britain's Vegetarian Society and shown in movie theaters got a rating that prohibits children under 15 from seeing it. The commercial shows "an asparagus tip languidly dripping melted butter, then bread being kneaded vigorously, a pea being fondled in its pod and a female hand firmly holding a bunch of raw spaghetti," The Wall Street Journal reported. The slogan: "Become a real food lover."

The secret origins of Snuggles?

It's tough avoiding products that contain residues from slaughtered animals. They turn up in paint and many lubricants. Marshmallows, many vitamin capsules and, of course, Jello contain gelatin. But who thought something as cuddly as fabric softener could have such grim origins?

Somehow the makers of fabric softeners are able to avoid divulging this on their labels. We checked the supermarket shelves and found the most common label said "Contains Fabric Softener." Not much help, but a lot more friendly-sounding than "Contains Excess Fat From Rendered Animals."

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- F O R T H E A N I M A L S

Throughout the industrialized world, factory farming is now the norm. According to Peter Stevenson, legal and political director of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), 93 percent of egg-laying hens in the European Union are kept in battery cages, devices in which the birds are confined so tightly they can't lift their wings. In the United States, 98 percent of hens are caged. Meanwhile, factory farming is taking root in developing countries, especially China and India, as affluence and demand for meat grow. CIWF reports that, annually, consumption of poultry in India is increasing by 15 percent and the number of pigs in China is increasing by about three times the population of the United Kingdom. Half the world's pigs now live in China.

But even as factory farming has spread, so has public awareness and outcry. In response, a number of countries, especially in Europe, have been making legislative efforts to counter some practices.

• In the U.K., veal crates were outlawed in 1990. Beginning next year, the use of sow stalls and tether stalls--narrow metal pens in which female pigs are confined for weeks after being artificially inseminated--will be illegal. Also in the U.K., labels are being placed on egg cartons indicating whether the eggs came from battery hens.

• In the U.K and Canada, the sale of day-old calves is illegal.

• The battery cage has been banned completely in Switzerland, and plans are in effect for its discontinuation in Sweden and Holland. These countries can still import battery eggs, however.

• The Swedish animal-protection law of 1988, in addition to providing for a phase-out of battery cages starting in 1999, forbids tethering of sows and also mandates bedding, sunlight, outdoor access and other provisions to help meet farm animals' needs.

• In Poland the force-feeding of ducks to make foie gras has been banned.

• The European Union voted to ban tether stalls by 2006 and the veal crate by 2007. Last year it accepted a protocol recognizing animals as "sentient beings" rather than as goods or products. According to CIWF, this move "could lead to an end throughout Europe of cruel farming systems such as battery cages and sow stalls, as it will force the EU Council of Agricultural Ministers to take animal welfare seriously."

Meanwhile, in the U.S., over 8 billion farm animals are killed for food annually. Anticruelty statutes protect agribusiness rather than animals. According to David J. Wolfson (author of Beyond the Law, which analyzes protections for farm animals in the U.S. and Western Europe), U.S. agribusiness has used its influence to amend anticruelty laws in 28 states so that they exempt "accepted," "common," "customary" or "normal" farming practices. Agribusiness has been delegated full authority over what is, and is not, cruelty to animals, says Wolfson.

The mass production of animals for food is the single greatest source of animal suffering in the world, and that suffering can end only when people exclude animal foods from their diets. Still, the efforts made by other countries to stem the abuses of factory farming make the United States' willful disregard of the problem all the more shameful.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- F O R T H E A N I M A L S

The Deep South is where two-thirds of the country's chickens are raised. When temperatures get into the three-digit territory--not unusual in summer--mortalities can run up pretty quickly.

At first glance, this region doesn't seem like the best place for such a business. But the effects of blistering heat are not so severe as to make Southern producers rethink their location. In fact, when 7 million chickens broiled to death in a heat wave over a four-week period, first you had to dig fairly deep to find a story about it. Then when you did, you learned how insignificant the loss was to everyone. Well, except maybe the chickens.

Reuters carried the news on June 19. It noted that "shoppers will probably not have to pay much more for chicken at the grocery store."

How could this be? Well, when you look at the numbers, it soon becomes clear that 7 million chickens as part of the big picture are virtually negligible. With some 600 million chickens slaughtered over a typical four-week period, 7 million is relatively small. But as the story also explained, "mortalities" that normally occur over the same period, heat wave or not, amount to 12 million. You do the math.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- V I V A V E G I E S O C I E T Y N E W S

Veg Center of NYC: Donors/pledgers give support

VivaVegie Society sandwich boards

Vegetarian Center of NYC moves forward

In our drive toward the ambitious goal of a vegetarian center in New York City, the VivaVegie Society has received $500 in up-front cash donations. This money is already going toward the promotion of the concept of the center to other potential donors. Six onetime pledges, totaling $675, were also received. In addition, one person made a $10-per-month pledge. The donors and/or pledgers included Glen Boisseau Becker (Brentwood, NY), Carol Ames (Forest Hills, NY), William J. Foeste, M.D. (Brooklyn, NY), Naomi Weinshenker, M.D. (Jersey City, NJ), Radhika S. Grover (Santa Clara, CA), Franc Palaia (Jersey City, NJ), Marta Greenleaf (Scarsdale, NY), Eddy and Ellen Bikales (New York, NY), Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. (Staten Island, NY) and Sheila Schwarz (New York, NY).

Sandwich boards offered

Take your passion to the street--or to the mall, just like the VivaVegie Society. Now you can obtain brilliant, full-color 11 x 17 replicas of the famous VivaVegie sandwich boards for only $30, which includes a starter kit of 20 copies of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian." Send in your order today.

Thank you for the help

Hubert Davis and Dean Milan helped the VivaVegie Society move 26 cartons of the "101 Reasons" out of storage and into a donated space.

The VivaVineSept/Oct, 1998 -- C A L E N D A R

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