The VivaVine . Sept / Oct 1999
the vegetarian-issues magazine

The VivaVine is a publication of the VivaVegie Society, New York City's premier vegetarian-outreach organization.

Natasha Stovall
Natasha Stovall
VivaVegie takes a stand at the Nathan's hot dog eating contest. Here are Jean Thaler in picture in lower left. In picture on the right are (left to right) Bobbie Flowers, Jean Thaler, Alex Press and Scott Lustig putting their convictions on display by wearing replicas of VivaVegie's famous sandwich boards (CLICK HERE to find out how you can obtain boards of your own). Joining the demo were Michelle Fornof, Natasha Stovall (pictured above) and Julie Tuesday. Nathan's spends a bundle each year on marketing and promotion, and the Fourth of July contest is their main event. All it took was seven vegetarian activists to get covered by both Reuters and the Associated Press. Too easy. / Three photos are by Mihelle Fornof.

FUNDRAISER / PARTY: All you have to do is come and have a good time to benefit VivaVegie's new vegetarian center!

CARNIVORE CONFLICTS: EU snubs hormone-injected U.S. beef

GRAPEVINE How to Get Protein? Basically, by eating food (and other stories)

VEGETARIAN NEWS Hog producer to pay for big stink (and other stories)

COMMENTARY: VivaVegie wants you!

CURRENT PROGRAMS: Veggie Center launches programs

PROJECT FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE FOR VEGETARIANS: Comprehensive rundown of the latest government giveaways

EURO DIOXIN: Deadly substance contaminates meat by the ton

ENVIRO-DISASTER Meat no. 2 on baddie list, scientists say

THE SLAUGHTER KING How IBP exploits immigrant workers

FOR THE HEALTH OF IT Beef industry woos nation's health professtionals (and other stories)

VEGGIE NUGGETS Pandemic of biblical proportions predicted, animal ag at its root (and other stories)

VEGETARIAN ROOTS: Veg Festival in New York City in 1853

VIVA VEGIE SOCIETY NEWS: Vegans rally around VivaVegie's new vegetarian center




Anonymous benefactor to donate $20
to VivaVegie's vegetarian center
for every person who attends!
games <> D. J. Ron Montano presiding
all-vegan food <> best-costume contest
Menu: Roasted portabello mushrooms with kasha potato and herb stuffing <> miso-glazed Japanese eggplant <> green beans with sautéed cherry tomatoes <> green salad w/ balsamic vinaigrette <> assorted rolls w/ white-bean spread

Fri., Oct. 29 <> 6:30 p.m. <> $20 admission <> Brownie's Café

Location: 74 Trinity Place, 2nd floor, behind Trinity Church
N or R to Rector Street <> 2, 3, 4, 5 to Wall Street



The VivaVine
September / October 1999


VivaVegie wants you!

By Pamela Rice

A Place of Our Own: The Vegetarian Center of New York City

Visitors have been streaming into VivaVegie's new Vegetarian Center in New York's bustling Flatiron district. There are days when the phone seems to ring off the hook. The center has hosted more than half a dozen planning meetings so far for both Big Apple Vegetarians and Earthsave (Long Island and Hudson Valley). Three new programs to take place at the center have also been launched: Fortnightly Videos, Big Apple Vegetarians' book discussion club and a vegetarian beginner's workshop. In addition, the VivaVegie Society is now sponsoring a lecture series, to take place monthly at TRS Professional Suites.

This is it. Vegetarians in New York City now have a home of their own. Still, some of us seemingly need to get used to the idea. Yes. We are here for you. Don't forget it.

The center is a great symbol of our belief in ourselves and our lifestyle. Let the people in your life know that it exists-especially the meat eaters. Let people know we have this physical place, an advocacy center just for us. When the meat-eating world gets us down, we don't have to take it; we have a place in which to learn and plan a campaign to get our views across.

The center has a lot to offer, but it is also in need of your support, financial and otherwise. This "place of our own" is now only a tiny sapling longing to grow into a mighty oak. We need all the help we can get! So, get involved in our volunteers program, [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00], or get out your checkbook and make a tax-deductible donation. Remember that donations made to the center before the end of the year are doubled by our matching-fund grant.

VivaVegie launches four programs

1. Fortnightly Videos

Movies are chosen because they have content related to vegetarianism.

  Sept. 1: Green Card
  Sept. 15: Go West
  Sept. 29: Household Saints
  Oct. 13: City Slickers
  Oct. 27: 101 Dalmatians

Alternating Wednesdays at the center, [click here for new address as of 12/28/00]. Programs begin at 6:30 p.m. with vegetarian and AR videos. Feature presentations begin at 7:15. Reservations are strongly recommended. Suggested donation: $5. Bring your own dinner. Information: [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00].

2. Big Apple Vegetarians' book discussion club

This event takes place at the center, [click here for new address as of 12/28/00]. Discussion begins at 6:30 p.m. Suggested donation: $5. Bring your own dinner.

3. Lecture series

Designated Thursdays at TRS Professional Suites, 44 E. 32nd Street, 11th fl. Lectures begin at 6:30 p.m. $8 admission includes refreshments.

4. Workshop

Designated Tuesdays at the center, [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00].

Workshop begins at 7.

Where we've been and where we need to go

With the aid of federal 501(c)3, nonprofit status, obtained in 1998, the VivaVegie Society received a substantial anonymous donation that allowed it to open an office in March 1999, in Manhattan's bustling Flatiron district. VivaVegie has named this new space the Vegetarian Center of New York City.

A foundation to build on

The challenge for us as a community is for vegetarians to come together and build this center into a place we can be proud of, one that represents a large, active and influential constituency.

Donations to be doubled

Don't forget that our anonymous donor has offered a generous matching grant. Donations‹totaling up to $10,000--that are received before December 31, 1999, will be matched.

Year 2000 Fund

Our current center is just a start. Ultimately, we need to grow into a much larger facility at the storefront level, hopefully sometime in the year 2000. See the pledge coupon below. Be part of this historic endeavor.

The Vegetarian Center of NYC

[click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00].

However, other hours can be made available upon request.
Always call to confirm your visit.


VivaVegie Society
P.O. Box 163
Pocono Lake, PA 18347


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


Veg-events city- and nation-wide

Click HERE for a listing of four ongoing activities sponsored by the VivaVegie Society: Fortnightly Videos, Big Apple Vegetarians' book discussion club, VivaVegie's lecture series and workshops for new vegetarians.

The information that follows may change. Always call to confirm dates and locations.

Thurs, Sept 16 Fri, Sept 24 Sat, Sept 25 Sun, Sept 26 Fri, Oct 1­Sun, Oct 3 Sat, Oct 2 Sun, Oct 29 Sun, Oct 31 Fri, Nov 12


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


IBP: How a meatpacker made workers into machines

By Pamela Rice

Today's slaughterhouse worker is often a new immigrant who doesn't speak English, makes only one cut or motion all day and is grossly underpaid. In many cases, he is illegal.

by Pamela Rice

You know things are bad when non-English-speaking immigrants and political refugees go on strike, which is what happened this June at the Walulla, Washington, slaughterhouse of meatpacking giant IBP. "I see this as a wake-up call" to the industry, Mark Grey told the Los Angeles Times. Grey, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Northern Iowa, has studied the industry's shift toward immigrant labor for over a decade.

Though the strikers gained a $1.50-per-hour starting-wage increase, from $7 to $8.50, the company refused workers the right to stop the production line when their safety or that of the food itself is threatened. The Times suggested that the strikers had overestimated the sympathy their tales would generate. Picketers, it said, displayed scarred faces, limping gaits and missing fingers, results of the treacherous conditions they face on the job.

With IBP Inc., appalling labor relations are only the beginning of the story. When one thinks of the ills of corporate control and consolidation of the last two decades, this company takes the cake.

IBP, one of a handful of companies that now dominate meatpacking in the United States, ushered in widespread cost-saving measures that forced competitors to follow suit or go under. It radically changed the way meat comes to market, turning processing methods on their head and completely overhauling the labor force. It essentially transformed meatpacking workers from skilled, unionized butchers into interchangeable parts.

Assembly lines are nothing new to meatpacking. Henry Ford, it is said, got his ideas about efficient factory operations from a slaughterhouse. But IBP took this efficiency still further. It began in the early 1980s by removing slaughter facilities from union-strong big cities. Whereas whole carcasses had previously been sent to highly skilled, well-paid grocery-store butchers, IBP began sending carcasses already cut up in boxes. Today the worker who cuts up the carcasses and boxes them is typically a new immigrant to the United States who doesn't speak English, makes only one cut or motion all day and is grossly underpaid. In many cases, he is not even legal. A bathroom break for him is often a luxury. With the lack of union power, line speeds have grown faster over the years. This has made the work much more dangerous. And in the rush to deregulation in the 1980s, the U.S. government largely stood by and let these changes occur, although, according to Mark Grey, a good number of government fines for safety violations have been levied.

An extensive story in U.S. News & World Report (September 23, 1996) noted that in the mid 1990s 36 percent of meatpacking-plant workers nationwide were sustaining injuries every year. Meatpacking is the most dangerous form of employment in the nation.

A Mexican laborer, who can make more money in an hour in an IBP plant than he can all day in his native town, soon finds that the extra money comes at a high price. He doesn't stay long and ends up returning home with stab wounds and debilitating musculoskeletal injuries.

Industrywide, the annual employee turnover in today's meatpacking plants is greater than 50 percent and could be as much as 80 percent, Grey told the Times. Companies like IBP count on this high employee "churn," not to mention the sometimes illegal status of their workforce. If an employee is illegal, he is less likely to report his injuries. But even if he is legal, a six-month wait is the industry standard for health insurance to kick in, according to Grey. Workers often don't stay long enough to receive benefits, the few there may be. The lack of permanence in the workforce makes union organizing difficult.

Municipalities have given IBP incentive packages to encou it to set up shop in their town. IBP generally returns the favor by bringing in a foreign workforce in need of social services. Towns need to augment their public-school programs with multilingual curriculums, law enforcement must bone up for the extra crime that comes with transient, alienated people, and hospitals must bear the burden of an underinsured population.

All in all, it's a losing deal-for the workers, the local community and, of course, the animals whose body parts get shipped out in IBP boxes.


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


How to Get Protein? Basically, by eating food

Ulcers solved by veg diet

Thank you oh so very much for confirming our decision to give up meat. My wife and I followed the lead of our 14-year-old daughter and gave up meat primarily for ethical reasons. The health issue
VivaVegie asked passersby to "get a feel for the horror" of crate-raised veal on Veal Ban Day, May 9, in New York  
was secondary, but the benefits became obvious almost immediately. My wife suffered from a stomach ulcer and ulcerative colitis, which showed little sign of being any more than contained from medical treatment until meat was removed from the diet.

It has now been four months since we made our decision, and we haven't looked back!

Via E-mail

His digestion's better, too

I don't eat beef or pork products, and after reading "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" at Earth Day, I've stopped all poultry and dairy products too. My digestion is already improving. No more animal products for me...ever!

Although it is very disturbing, sickening and saddening to read, I'm glad I ran across the "101 Reasons," and I'm grateful that you are getting this information to the public.

Gainesville, Florida

Depressed by suffering

I get depressed when I read about the torture animals endure just so human beings can feed on their carcasses. I long for the day when people are wholly exposed to the goings-on in the meat and dairy industries and are disgusted. God bless all the animals who needlessly suffer at the hands of greedy humans.

Rita Misaikos
New York, New York

Rethinking dairy

I have been a vegetarian, off and on, for the last 12 years. I'm happy to say that for the last year or so, I've been completely back on. Your "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" has made me rethink dairy

P.S. After reading your list, my husband of two and a half years finally agreed to become vegetarian. Now he's as staunch a supporter of it when we discuss it with other people as I am.

Via E-mail

Newbie ponders protein

I had considered becoming a vegetarian, but I didn't know its benefits or the cons of carnivorism. Now I am going to convert! I am extremely happy with my decision. Thanks for inspiring me and providing the motivation. I do have some questions, though:

  1. What should I eat to replace the protein usually obtained in meat? I was told that vegetarians must eat plenty of nuts and beans to balance the lack of meats. Is this true? What kinds of nuts and beans in particular?
  2. What replacement product should I buy for cow's milk?

Isabelle Goodsell
Derby, Vermont

The editors reply:

You can easily get all the protein you need by eating a variety of healthy foods. Beans, whole grains, nuts, vegetables-eat whichever kind you like, in whatever quantities suit your appetite. There's no need for you to anxiously stuff yourself out of fear of a protein deficit. And contrary to a persistent myth, you need not combine particular foods in a single meal, carefully measuring the proportions. For more on nutritional issues, check the American Dietetic Association's position paper on vegetarianism, at www.eatright.org/adap1197.html.

As for milk: Try soy milk. Be warned, though, that it doesn't taste like cow's milk. Put some on your cereal. Try mixing it with chocolate or a banana in a smoothie shake. Most important, try different brands-some are sweeter and thicker, and may be tastier to you, than others.

Deluded meat eaters

Shortly before I married, my mother was having a chat with my future mother-in-law. My mom was unloading her worries over my vegan diet. In an effort to comfort her, my fiancée's mother said, "Things could be worse. He could be on drugs."

Via E-mail

Taunts and teasers

I'm 52 and a vegan. I had a copy of the "101" from '91 in my desk for years. It was there for all the taunts and teasers but was misplaced when I changed jobs. Your updated text is wonderful! I believe deep inside my soul the world can be at peace and flourish. People need to take off their blinders and understand what the beef, poultry and fish industries are doing to our planet and our populace.

Via E-mail

Cooking classes help

I started getting Vegetarian Times when I became a vegetarian for some new recipes. I also took a couple of classes on vegetarian nutrition. I can truly say that I've been healthier ever since. I just read and ordered copies of your "101 Reasons" to share with some of my friends. My mother has started to ask me questions lately about going vegetarian, and I am hoping this will give her a better idea what the meat industry is doing to our food.

Thanks for taking the time to collect all the info.

Rachel D. Marley
Via E-mail


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


THE SMELL OF MONEY: Hog producer to pay for big stink

Vegetarian News is compiled by Alex Press with reference assistance from Alan Rice

$5.1 million awarded in hog odor lawsuit

Fifty-two residents of three northwestern Missouri counties who had sued the Continental Grain Co., a hog farm operator, were awarded $5.1 million in May by a jury. The plaintiffs, who were allied with the Ozark Chapter of the Sierra Club and another environmental group, had complained that the company's hog facilities caused a persistent and unreasonable odor as well as groundwater contamination.

Waste plume released by Carolina hog factory

A million and a half gallons of hog waste was released from a storage pit last April in Kenansville, North Carolina, spilling into a nearby creek. Although the source of the waste, the hog giant Murphy Family Farms, suggested vandalism was the cause, a state investigation pointed to wastewater that weakened and ultimately broke the pit's earthen wall, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

The state's largest hog spill took place in June 1995 and involved 25 million gallons of waste.

U.S. declares deadly listeria germ a "hazard"

In a move that affects more than a thousand plants producing ready-to-eat meats, the USDA declared listeria, a sometimes deadly pathogen, to be a "hazard" last spring. In so defining it, the government required the plants to identify stages in production where contamination is likely to occur, then act to prevent it, according to Bloomberg News. The department had already declared a policy of "zero tolerance" for listeria, meaning that it would allow no detectable levels of the bug in food. (Other pathogens, such as salmonella, are allowed in food within certain limits.)

Last December Sara Lee recalled 15 million pounds of Ball Park franks and luncheon meats at a cost of $76 million following an outbreak of listeria believed to have sickened 100 people in 22 states, killed 15 more and caused six miscarriages.

These 20,000 broiler chickens (bred specifically for their meat) share one sweltering barn in hapless misery. This barn, unlike most, was in plain sight of the highway, U.S.-13, on the Delmarva Peninsula. In such huge numbers (the industry standard) chickens experience intense anxiety. A heat wave or an outbreak of avian disease can wipe out millions of birds within days. Dead chickens, what the industry calls "mortalities," as well as truckloads of chicken manure, create groundwater contamination. Today, animal agriculture is considered one of the primary causes of water pollution. (photograph by Pamela Rice)  

FDA, USDA issue new rules for egg safety

Packages of eggs may soon come with a warning if a Food and Drug Administration proposal issued in July is instituted. The label would read, in part: "Eggs may contain harmful bacteria known to cause serious illness, especially in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems."

In addition, the FDA proposed that all eggs and egg products packed for consumers be refrigerated at 45 degrees or below by supermarkets, restaurants, delis, caterers, vendors, hospitals, nursing homes and schools. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a directive applying the refrigeration requirement to warehouses and transport vehicles that store shell eggs packed in containers destined for consumers. Several weeks later, the USDA proposed a permanent ban on the practice of repackaging old eggs. (The ban would apply only to those eggs bearing the USDA seal, about a third of the total.)

The announcements followed the release of a report from the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, that criticized the dispersal of food-safety oversight among several agencies and the slowness to develop regulations for eggs.

Last year, the USDA estimated that eggs contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis sicken 661,663 Americans annually, hospitalizing 3,300 and killing 390. French toast served at an International House of Pancakes restaurant in Richmond, Virginia, over Memorial Day weekend infected at least 92 people, sending seven to the hospital, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Workers sue Tyson

Tyson, the nation's largest chicken processor, has cheated workers out of pay by forcing them to work during unpaid "breaks" and not compensating them for required preparation time, according to a lawsuit filed in June by 11 current and former employees. The U.S. Labor Department holds that, contrary to Tyson policy, workers should be paid for time spent putting on and taking off protective clothing and sharpening tools, a department spokesman told Bloom-berg News.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, calculates that Tyson underpaid 50,000 workers by $8 a day, for a total of $100 million a year. If Tyson is found guilty of intentional cheating, the court could order double payment for the past three years, for a total of $600 million, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said.

EU widens battery cages

In yet another demonstration of Europe's lead over the United States in farm-animal welfare, European Union agriculture ministers voted in June to phase out conventional battery cages for egg-laying hens. These cages, which typically confine five birds to a space the size of a folded newspaper, are the industry norm here and abroad.

Bigger Cages: EU boosts space for egg-laying hens

According to the ministers' directive, only " enriched " cages would be permitted as of January 1, 2012. Such cages would increase the minimum space for each bird from 450 to 750 square centimeters and allow for such natural behaviors as nesting, dust bathing and perching. As of January 1, 2003, all new cages would have to be enriched, and the minimum area for each bird in existing cages would increase to 550 square centimeters.

According to Philip Lymbery of the British group Compassion in World Farming, the EU ministers' vote was a "monumental decision" and "perhaps the greatest day so far for animal welfare in Europe." A CIWF briefing paper asserted that the requirements for enriched cages would actually render them "uneconomic[al] and therefore favor free range or barn alternatives."

Concerned that the new restrictions might make European eggs uncompetitive with the cheap, more cruelly produced eggs of the United States and other countries, EU officials resolved to make "international acknowledgment of animal-welfare rules...one of the key points" in a future round of World Trade Organization negotiations.

EU lifts worldwide ban on British beef

The European Union's executive commission lifted its three-year worldwide ban on British beef exports on August 1. The ban had been instituted in March 1996 after the British government announced a possible link between a fatal brain-wasting ailment in humans and the consumption of beef from cattle infected with mad cow disease. According to The New York Times, more than 4.3 million of the country's cattle were destroyed in the eradication effort; 174,857 had been confirmed as infected. The embargo is estimated to have cost $2.4 billion.

In the United States, meanwhile, an FDA advisory panel voted in June to recommend that the agency prohibit certain American travelers to Britain from donating blood. The restriction would apply to those who had spent a total of more than six months in Britain between 1980 and 1996, and would cut the U.S. blood supply by 2.2 percent, according to a Red Cross estimate.

Industry to test-market irradiated beef

Meatpacking giants IBP and Excel were considering test-marketing irradiated beef sometime toward the end of the year or early next year, Reuters reported in April. "We'll have to let people know that the technology is safe and that if they're looking for that added measure of safety, they may very well want to try this," an Excel spokesman said.

However, the USDA announced in July that it would wait at least until November to issue its final rules for the use of irradiation by meatpackers. According to Meat Industry Insight News, the rules were delayed by a flood of letters, e-mail and faxes from the public, mostly demanding that irradiated meat be clearly labeled.

Canadians open new slaughter plant

A new slaughter facility slated to open by the end of the summer in Manitoba, Canada, is expected to kill 9,000 hogs a day and eventually increase that number to 18,000. The development appeared to be good news for U.S. hog producers, according to the Meating Place, an industry Web site. The producers had been unhappy with the slaughtering "bottleneck" that developed last year, in part because of the estimated 8 million Canadian hogs that were shipped into the U.S. to be killed. The excess of hogs waiting to be "processed" contributed to record low prices for hog producers.

McDonald's opens its 25,000th outlet

The global march of the meat-based, junk-food diet reached a new milestone in June as McDonald's prepared to open its 25,000th restaurant in the world. According to The New York Times, the restaurant chain is now spread over 115 countries, reaching north to the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland, and south to Invercargill, New Zealand.


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


Dollars for Death: Pols aid favorite animal abusers

By Alex Press

Meat subsidies slipped into federal legislation

In August the U.S. Senate passed a $7.4 billion farm aid package that included $325 million for livestock and dairy producers. However, other giveaways to animal-exploiting interests were less overt.

In May a $15 billion emergency spending bill to finance the war in Yugoslavia and disaster relief in the Americas strangely included $145 million earmarked for U.S. hog farmers-not to mention $26 million for Alaskan fishermen and $3 million for reindeer ranchers.

Later, as Republicans in Congress put together their massive tax-cut bill, one that President Clinton promised to veto, Senate Finance Committee chairman William Roth slipped in a $50 million tax credit to companies that use chicken waste to generate electricity. Alaska senator Frank Murkowski insinuated a charitable deduction of up to $7,500 for Eskimo whaling captains to offset the costs of their hunts. And, in the House tax-cut bill, Speaker Dennis Hastert added a provision repealing a 10 percent excise tax on fishing tackle boxes.

Government props up animal agriculture by fiat

Also last summer, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill to finance the Interior Department that was riddled with special-interest anti-environmental riders, including one that would open a national recreational area in Washington State to cattle ranchers.

Gov't program promotes animal products abroad

In June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the 1999 beneficiaries of its $90 million Market Assistance Program, which is designed to help American businesses market agricultural products abroad. Recipients typically use their funds to place advertisements in various foreign media.

Among those receiving more than $1 million this year were the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute ($2.5 million), the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council ($3.3 million), the U.S. Dairy Export Council ($1.5 million) and the U.S. Meat Export Federation ($8.3 million). Other beneficiaries included the American Seafood Institute/Rhode Island Seafood Institute, the American Sheep Industry Association, the National Renderers Association, the Catfish Institute and U.S. Livestock Genetics Export, Inc.

Clinton aids U.S. killers of gentle lambs

In an effort to combat a flood of cheap lamb from Australia and New Zealand, President Clinton imposed a 40 percent tariff and promised $100 million in aid to U.S. lamb producers over the next three years. The tariff will apply to imports exceeding 31,851 metric tons. "The package of import relief and domestic assistance has been carefully crafted to help our lamb industry achieve sustained competitiveness," White House spokes-man Joe Lockhart said in a statement released in early July.

USDA buys into buffalo-meat boondoggle

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in March it would purchase up to $6 million in ground bison meat "to help improve prices to bison producers," according to a press release. The purchase, which is on top of the $2.5 million spent last year, "will help offset the impact of the surplus of bison meat," a USDA official explained. According to The Washington Post, the top beneficiary will most likely be billionaire Ted Turner, the largest producer in the industry.


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


Food scare spreads from eggs and chicken to pork, veal, beef, milk, cheese and butter

The Belgian government agreed in August to test all beef, poultry and pork exports for dioxin throughout the month. It was the latest chapter in an ongoing food crisis that erupted in May with the announcement that high levels of the cancer-causing agent dioxin had made their way into the nation's animal products. The contamination was traced to a single company, which had distributed an estimated 175,000 pounds of tainted animal feed to more than a thousand farms in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

In a dramatic display of consumer vulnerability, the crisis emptied Belgian stores of chicken, eggs, pork, veal, beef, milk, cheese and butter, as well as other products containing them, such as waffles and mayonnaise. It led to bans on Belgian and other European products throughout the world, cost more than a billion dollars and brought down the government of Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, who resigned in mid June. Health and farm ministers had known about the debacle for more than a month before making it public.

The sweeping nature of the food scare undoubtedly left many Belgians wondering, "What's left to eat?" CNN's Web site referred to their "increasingly meager diet." Vegan observers could only shake their heads.


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


HORMONAL RAGE: EU rejects drug-injected beef

By Pamela Rice

It seems that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nation's big meatpackers can't get it through their skulls; Europeans don't want our sex-hormone-injected beef!

European countries have been forced to suffer punitive duties, especially those most steadfast in their opposition

Why can't we leave them alone on this? Ever since the Europeans instituted the ban 10 years ago, the American beef industry and its patrons in the U.S. government have pestered the European Union to put aside its concerns, its distrust, its distaste, not to mention its scientific studies, and just take it.

To the disbelief of many on this side of the Atlantic, including this writer, the Europeans have remained steadfast, some countries more than others. After being absolutely pushed to the wall by the World Trade Organization, they have opted to endure penalties rather than import U.S. and Canadian hormone-injected beef. Perhaps it stands to reason. They've held strictly to the ban for 10 years. They're not about to give up now.

The penalties have come in the form of punitive duties. Because the European Union has defied a directive from the World Trade Organization, of which it is a member, the injured parties, namely the United States and Canada, are allowed to place duties on European imports. In mid July, the United States, alone, came up with a final list of products amounting to $116.8 million. The targeted items included Danish hams, French mustard and German chocolate. In the meantime, Europe is conducting several more studies in an attempt to prove its point that the hormones in beef are dangerous to human health.


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


Mind boggling or just off the wall

Pandemic of biblical proportions predicted, animal ag at its root

There have been at least four worldwide influenza epidemics (or pandemics), which scientists believe can be traced to pig and duck farming in China, killing tens of millions of people throughout the 20th century. Arrival of the next pandemic, public-health officials warn, is now overdue. When it was found that domesticated chickens had directly infected 18 people, killing six (breaking the species barrier between humans and bird) in Hong Kong late in 1997, authorities thought that the next wave was upon us. Though measures taken at the time (the brutal slaughter and burial of 1.4 million chickens over a three-day period) may have stemmed the infection's spread, next time humans may not be as lucky. According to an article in the January issue of Scientific American ("Disarming Flu Viruses," by W. Graeme Laver, Norbert Bischofberger and Robert G. Webster), "If a virus as deadly as that Hong Kong strain tore through the world's crowded communities today, 30 percent of the earth's population could conceivably be dead."

Dragging that deer could bag you a heart attack

Those poor hunters. They're wrenching their backs, pulling their muscles and, oh no, dying of heart attacks retrieving their kill. Just gutting a deer can be so strenuous for the cholesterol-laden arteries of these wildlife slayers that hospitals are providing special programs where a person can get a medical screening just by presenting a current or expired hunting or fishing license, according to a December 1998 story in the Los Angeles Times. During one monthlong program provided by a Grand Rapids, Michigan, hospital, 10 percent of the would-be hunters failed their physicals. A few instances of critically clogged arteries were discovered, too, requiring invasive medical procedures.

Cloned cattle make way to grocers' meat cases

The Japanese public was not notified when beef from cloned cattle was shipped to local supermarkets, according to an April Bloomberg News story. Japanese ministry officials, it was reported, declared that the shipments did not pose any health threat. Bloomberg noted that about 370 cloned cattle had been propagated on 50 "private livestock stations" throughout the country.

Policeman reading the


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


Grandmas of the future will tell their youngin's: Eat your soybeans

By Alex Press

Beef industry sidles up to nation's health professionals

Calling all doctors: Interested in helping patients boost their intake of saturated fat and cholesterol? Want to increase their risk of heart disease, cancer and other afflictions? The nation's beef producers have just the solution. A June article published in the Meating Place, an industry Web site, reports that "new and updated beef nutrition education materials are getting wide distribution to health professionals across the country." Paraphrasing a spokesman, the article says these materials "provide health professionals with new and even stronger reasons for recommending beef to their patients and clients." Could increasing business be one of them?

Worms in fish: No cause for alarm?

Imagine this scenario: You purchase lemon sole at a "reputable fish market." But just as you begin to sauté it, you are "horrified to see two very thin worms, about two inches long, crawling out of the flesh." Such was the situation faced by a New York Times reader whose letter was published in the newspaper's Food Chain column in June. "Do the worms pose any danger if ingested?" the reader asked. Though the Times sidestepped the issue of safety, it was quick with reassurance that "most fish are worm-free."

Soybeans: Experts say eat 'em

It seems that hardly a week goes by without another story singing the praises of soy. Whether it's the bean's cholesterol-lowering properties, soon to be recognized in U.S. food-labeling guidelines, or its suspected powers against breast and prostate cancer, osteoporosis and the effects of menopause, word is getting out that this low-fat, protein-rich food is a smart alternative to animal products. As Los Angeles Times health writer Rosie Mestel put it in April, "One waltz through a supermarket or health food store reveals...soy burgers...soy dogs, soy nuts, soy flour, textured vegetable protein...tofu, soy milk, soy cheese...even soy chorizo." Not to mention tempeh, soy yogurt and soy ice cream. When even The Wall Street Journal announces that soy milk has hit the "big time," as it did in August, it's clear that this once esoteric vegetarian staple has finally arrived.

Musings on (cow's) milk

"There's an ongoing campaign to get every adult to drink three glasses of milk a day. That's obviously about increasing sales and profits."
-- Walter C. Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, quoted in The New York Times, June 29, 1999

"Another upward revision [in the U.S. RDA for calcium] and we will all have to be attached to udders with an IV."
-- Emily Yoffe on "dairy doubters," Slate, August 2, 1999


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


  Horace Greeley
  The festival's host was Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, a newspaper noted for its coverage of reform movements

Vegetarians in New York, circa 1853

By Karen Iacobbo

It was a Saturday night in New York City, and more than 300 participants had gathered at Metropolitan Hall for a vegetarian festival; another 200 came to observe. The year was 1853. Held as part of a week of reform events, the festival was sponsored by the American Vegetarian Society. Probably the first national vegetarian organization in the United States, the AVS was organized by three of the giants of vegetarian advocacy in the 19th century: the Reverend William Metcalfe of the Bible-Christian Church, William Alcott, M.D., author of The Vegetable Diet, and Sylvester Graham, the most influential, who was the first to lecture widely on the topic, and the author of Lectures on the Science of Life.

NYC Festival: Vegetarian advocacy makes U.S. debut

In those days, vegetarianism was not separated from other causes meant to improve humanity. Vegetarian advocates like Bronson Alcott, William's cousin, believed diet reform to be as integral to the improvement of the human race as women's equality, the abolition of slavery and the rejection of alcohol.

Present at the festival that day were women's rights leaders Lucy Stone, Emilia Bloomer and Susan B. Anthony. The host of the festival was Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, a newspaper noted for its coverage of reform movements.

Greeley said that New York needed a vegetarian hotel and restaurant to make it easy for people not to eat "fleshfoods." As James Caleb Jackson, M.D., lectured about diet and health, some hecklers from the group of spectators in the balcony attempted to quiet him with ridicule of vegetarianism but were unsuccessful.

Dr. Jackson, a vice president of the AVS from Dansville, New York, was a pioneer in "nature cure." At his luxurious health retreat, patients were helped back to health through relaxation; communing with nature; activities including poetry readings, classical music concerts and parlor games; physical exercise; "water cure" treatments; and a vegetarian diet if they chose.

As for the American Vegetarian Society, it waxed and waned but continued to exist in one form or another through the 1920s.

Karen Iacobbo is a writer, teacher, and historian. She would love to hear from others with an interest or information about vegetarian history. c/o Americam Lyceum 409 Pine Street, 1st floor, Providence, RI 02903 or alyceum@aol.com


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


Vegetarianism: The environmentally freindly diet for the new millennium

Consuming beef and poultry declared the second most environmentally destructive activity, just after driving your car or SUV

The Union of Concerned Scientists declare beef and chicken eating environmentally destructive activities

For the most part, vegetarians can feel vindicated by this report, not only because beef and poultry are so thoroughly indicted, but also because the authors explode the myth that to be environmentally conscious all you need to do is recycle your cans and bottles. In fact, buying overly packaged products doesn't even show up in the book's list of the seven most harmful consumer activities.

Consuming beef and poultry is the second most environmentally destructive human activity, just after driving a car or an SUV, according to a new book that evaluates the effects of everyday household consumption.

The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, by Michael Brower and Warren Leon, is a project of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group whose scientific analyses have formed the basis for its advocacy work on energy, transportation, global warming, biodiversity, agriculture and arms control since 1969.

By plugging as many government statistics into their computer model as they could get their hands on, the researchers accomplished, as best they could, the herculean task of evaluating the effects of everything from household sewage and appliances to highways and home construction on water quality, climate and wildlife.

To obtain a copy of the book ($15 paper), call the Union of Concerned Scientists, (617) 547-5552, and ask for the publications department.

Chesapeake Bay grasses nearly gone, poultry producers are suspects

If you were to measure the aquatic health of the Chesapeake Bay, how would you do it? One sign would be an abundance of dark green underwater grasses. Grass beds shelter fish, provide food for ducks and geese, purify the water and even help to control erosion. But a combination of mostly manmade factors has nearly wiped the grasses out. They're down to only 63,495 acres, 10 percent of the area they once occupied, according to a May 1999 article in the Baltimore Sun. A chief suspect in the damage is the hundreds of chicken houses that have sprouted up over the past two decades. Excessive amounts of nutrient runoff from the chicken farms and chicken manure spread on fields have caused algae to proliferate, thereby blocking necessary sunlight to the grasses. Chicken farmers retort that it's not all their fault, and they're right. People putting fertilizer on their lawns must also share the blame.


The VivaVine
September / October 1999


United We Stand: Veg'ns rally around VVS center

VVS sandwich boards

Take your passion to the street. It's easy. 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 orders to our post office address.

Volunteer heaven

We could use more, but we've never had so many volunteers! Our offices [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00] are so convenient to get to, people can easily stop by for an hour or two after work or even fit us into their schedule on a weekend. Special thanks to the following people who joined in the party and furthered the cause of vegetarianism: Tom Thompson, Maureen Cauthen, Michelle Fornof, Diane Beeny, Julia Fauci, Lenny Morgenstern, Bobbie Flowers, Scott Lustig, Anne Borel, Rochelle Goldman, Kristal Aliyas, and Susan Resnick. Also, special thanks to Amelia Hennighausen for dressing as Penelo Pea Pod for Earth Day outreach.

VivaVegie wish list

Thank you for the help

Thank you, Virginia Lynn, Manny Goldman, Hangawi restaurant, Bob Gotch, Sheila Low-Beer, Barbara Simpson, Jean Thaler, Jason Mallory, Norbert Banholzer, Jay, Bonny and James Stelzer, Bobbie Flowers, Wendell Rifior, and Lindarose Perosi for your contributions of $25 or more to the Vegetarian Center of New York City. All of your donations have already been doubled by the matching-fund grant designated by our anonymous donor in support of the center. Call [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00] for more information about VivaVegie's matching-fund grant.


The VivaVine
May / June 1999


VivaVegie Society, Inc.
ISSUE: VOL. 8, NO. 4
May / June 1999

P.O. Box 163
Pocono Lake, PA 18347

[click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00]
(Vegetarian Center)



To become a member of the VivaVegie Society for one year, send $15 to the above address. Membership entitles you to a membership card, five issues of The VivaVine, a copy of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" and VivaVegie's "Easy Guide to Veganism."