The VivaVine . June/July 2000

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

Lobster by Juan Torcoletti

Table of Contents

COMMENTARY:What are we waiting for? We've got the power! by Pamela Rice

COVER STORY: Fishing to extinction (part 2 of a 2-part story)

GRAPEVINE: Letters from readers

VEGETARIAN NEWS: Accidental microbes could cost billions to U.S. livestock industry, and other stories

VEGETARIAN CENTER NEWS: San Fran. veggie fest draws 1,300

FORCED MOLTING Slipping through the egg-safety cracks

VEGGIE NUGGETS Stiff-necked meat eaters say $1,000 is not enough to go veg for a week, and other stories

COMPANION Q & A: Cruelty-free cats: who would have thunk it?

FOR THE HEALTH OF IT Rave reviews for apples, beans, broccoli & nuts

VEGETARIAN ROOTS: Johnny Appleseed was a happy wanderer with a fruity mission, by Karen Iacobbo

THE X-CREMENT FILES: The manure hits the fan when federal ruling on nutrient runoff dumps on factory

VVS NEWS: Matching Fund Continues


CALENDAR: Summer conferences and fun

MASTHEAD: The folks who make it all happen

NYC-AREA RESOURCES: A. Social events and lectures, B. Food preparation classes

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN addresses 140 area vegetarians at our Great American Meatout observance


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


Surprise: We've got the numbers

Pamela Rice

By Pamela Rice

Not all vegetarians may know it, but the meat, poultry, dairy and fishing industries have many problems. If you don't believe it, just read their industry publications.

On the economic front, gluts of pork and dairy in particular have driven prices to the floor for months, shaking out thousands of small family farmers. It seems that the more the government hands out subsidies, the worse their situation gets. On the environmental front, scores of commercial fish species are being harvested to extinction, driving fishermen out of business. And lawsuits are a regular part of the landscape as neighbors to farms as well as government agencies sue over odor and manure runoff. On the human-health front, animal-based foods are constantly being indicted on fat content and cholesterol levels. Dietary studies regularly link animal-based diets with diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. On the other side of the coin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture just declared that soy foods should be allowed to carry a label indicating that consuming them may be instrumental in lowering risk for heart disease. I don't think red meat is going to get a label like this anytime soon. The USDA even passed a rule recently that allows the nation's school-lunch program to offer kids entrees that are 100 percent soy based; before April, no school-lunch-program entree could contain more than 30 percent soy. And then, a week doesn't go by, it seems, that tens of thousands--even millions--of pounds of animal-based foods aren't being recalled because of bacterial contamination. Problems, problems, problems.

If we vegetarians could just campaign as vociferously as the meat industry, we could really get somewhere.

Animal agriculture can't seem to hold its own to start with, let alone afford any adversities. Its existence depends on being perpetually propped up by the government dole. Case in point: U.S. agriculture--which in our country usually means animal agriculture, thanks to the large portion of feed-grain farming--took in $22 billion in subsidies just last year. In addition, animal agriculture is gridlocked into dependency on what essentially amounts to exemptions from the Animal Welfare Act and the Clean Water Act--exemptions worth many billions to it every year, exemptions that could be characterized as the utter foundation of its existence. Such industries can hardly be called viable, at least as long as consumer prices remain unnaturally low. So why don't we just let them collapse under their own weight? Why do we cut them so much slack?

I have a theory--or shall I just call it a truism? The meat, poultry, dairy and fish industries get away with this because we let them. And who is this we? A lot of people; but especially vegetarians, because we are the only constituency that suffers the hidden costs of animal-based foods yet benefits nothing from the end product.

What if it could be that we didn't have to put up with this lopsided state of affairs? According to the Vegetarian Resource Group of Baltimore, Maryland, 2.5 percent of the U.S. population is lacto-ovo vegetarian. Conservatively, that amounts to at least 4 million people. Recent counts of the number of farmers in America come to nearly 2.2 million. Now, if we vegetarians could just campaign as vociferously as the meat industry, we could really get somewhere.



Public Advocate Mark Green addresses 140 area vegetarians at our Great American Meatout observance NYC Public Advocate Mark Green is seen here presenting a proclamation from his office making March 20, 2000, Great American Meatout Day in the city of New York. He spoke to a crowd of 140 attendees at New York City's Meatout gala, March 14. He told those in attendance, "I want to speak to you about New York City politics; but more than this, I'm here to learn." The event was sponsored by the VivaVegie Society, Big Apple Vegetarians and the Sierra Club Vegetarian Outings Committee.


Vegetarian Center Programs

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

Date: Saturday, June 24
Time: 3 to 7 p.m.
Place: The vegetarian center
Food: Middle Eastern fare, $2
RSVP: [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00]

Help the cause of vegetarianism, VivaVegie style. Vent your 2 on how best to cut through to the meat-eater brain. Those brave of heart can get their veg-evangelical feet wet for an afternoon with our informational table, which will be set up outside.

  • Workshop
Aug. 8 & Sept. 5: Getting Started With Your Veggie Diet What do you eat now that you've decided to go vegetarian? Workshops begin at 6:30. Information: [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00]. Free.

  • Lecture series
June 29 & Aug. 24: The Environmental Impact of a Meat-Centered Diet Pamela Rice Overfishing, overgrazing, overpolluting, manure out of control--learn how wasteful and destructive to the environment animal-based foods are. Talk begins at 6:30 p.m. Suggested donation: $5.

  • Big Apple Vegetarians' Rap 'n' Wrap with Jean Thaler

Aug. 9: Come prepared to speak about your favorite (and most detested) vegan products.
Freewheeling discussion begins at 6:30 p.m., and we'll order burritos. Suggested donation: $3.

  • Sunday soirees at VivaVegie's Veggie Center Light snacks * (BYO beverage)

Admission fee: one news-paper/magazine article on a vegetarian issue. Recommended, but optional: bring your favorite music CDs and potluck dish. July 23 and August 27 * 6:30 p.m.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


Veg-events city- and nation-wide

Please call to confirm details. "NYC" indicates Manhattan events.

Sat, June 17
  • VivaVegie's Pamela Rice speaks on the environmental and economic impacts of meat at the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society "Eating for Health and Compassion" conference, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY. Info: 914-338-8223 or veggierae@aol.com.
Sat, June 24 Fri, June 30-Wed, July 5
  • Animal Rights 2000 conference, Washington, D.C. Info: 1-888-ASK- FARM.
Tues, July 4 Wed, July 5-Sun, July 9
  • Vegetarian Summerfest 2000, at UNCA, Asheville, N.C. Info: 518-568-7970, or www.navs-online.org.
Mon, July 10-Sun July 16
  • Thirty-fourth World Vegetarian Congress, Toronto. Info: 416-544-9800.
Fri, August 4-Sun, August 6
  • The Long Island Coalition for Animals has chartered a bus to the Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down. Info: 516-785-6416.

NYC-area resources

Social events and lectures

  • Big Apple Vegetarians: (212) 715-8642
  • Bronx Cheer Vegans: (212) 726-1208
  • Central Jersey Vegetarian Group: (908) 281-6388
  • Earthsave Hudson Valley: (914) 472-7392
  • Earthsave Long Island: (516) 421-3791
  • Eco Books: (718) 623-2698
  • Hoboken Vegetarians: (201) 792-5300
  • Iron Vegans' Raw Food Connection: (718) 263-7160
  • Natural Hygiene: (212) 253-2262
  • Raw Food Group: (718) 833-9712
  • Sierra Club NYC Vegetarian Outings: (718) 805-4260 (Mon - Thurs only)
  • Veggie Singles: (718) 437-0190
  • VegOut: (212) 802-8655

Food-preparation classes

  • Gulliver's Center: (212) 730-5433
  • Himalayan Institute: (212) 243-5995
  • Integral Yoga: (212) 929-0586
  • Natural Gourmet: (212) 645-5170
  • Park Slope Food Coop: (718) 622-0560
  • Sivananda Center: (212) 255-4560
  • Sunfire Juice Club: (718) 622-1000
  • Whole Foods Project: (718) 832-6628


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


In the waters around Cape Canaveral, fishing has been restricted. An ecosystem teeming with life has been the glorious result.  

Marine Madness: Fishers cling to strange logic

Large ships scrape seabeds with dredgers that level the nooks and crannies that marine life depends on for shade, protection and places to spawn.

By Pamela Rice

Up to four out of five commercial fish species in the United States are either fully exploited or overfished, according to a federal fishery agency study in 1998, as reported in an October 1998 Associated Press story. Last year, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that 98 species of fish are overfished, up from 90 the year before. Worldwide, 70 percent of fishing grounds are being "strip-mined" by too many fishermen chasing too few fish, according to a 1998 report issued by the World Wildlife Fund. In fact, up to 84 million tons of seafood are extracted from the world's oceans each year, about 40 percent over sustainable levels, the report said. Many of the world's most valuable fish stocks--about 200 in number--are being threatened with extinction, the report also noted.

Though the fishermen of the world are often the first to know when a species is showing signs of a crash, short-term goals (ranging from paying off a mortgage on a boat to making a quick billion for a trawler operation) usually get the best of them. In their race to extract fish, they rationalize, if we don't take them, someone else will.

Some of the worst damage occurs when large ships scrape seabeds with dredgers that level the nooks and crannies that marine life depends on for shade, protection and places to spawn. An area twice the size of the United States is leveled by such trawlers every year, according to an ABCnews.com article in December. In their quest for commercially viable fish, dredgers contribute largely to the gathering of 29.7 million tons of unintended species, the article also noted. Bycatch is the term that refers to marine life not meant to be caught, which is later discarded overboard, usually already dead. Last year, the barndoor skate was recommended for listing as an endangered species, because its numbers have been reduced by 90 to 99 percent, according to the ABCnews.com article. It has no commercial value; it is only bycatch.

In the meantime, a fish-eating world struggles with its imprudent and wasteful dietary preferences. Though the compassionate and sustainable vegetarian diet (which of course does not include fish) is the only real answer to fish extinction, regulators of fisheries continue to cling to the politically expedient though ineffectual notion of fisheries management--that is, micro-regulating catch species, size, season and area. Even the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has declared that most management plans have failed to protect fish from overexploitation. The plans usually fail, because they tend to butt up against a barrage of subsidies to fishermen--government support that only works to promote more fishing.

Another fish-eater solution to fish extinction, which has been adopted by various conservation groups of late, is the publication of guidebooks instructing consumers on how to avoid particularly imperiled fish species when they dine. According to a New York Times article, the Monterey Bay Aquarium devised such a guide, as did the National Audubon Society and the Environmental Defense Fund. It is not known what measure of effectiveness the guides will prove to have, given that the endangered fish they tell people not to buy otherwise continue to be legally caught and sold.

In the meantime, the world has seen a glimpse of what a vegetarian world could mean to fish. In the waters around Cape Canaveral, fishing has been restricted for reasons of safety and security since 1986. Nature, it has been found, has gratefully returned the favor, according to a study reported in a March story in The New York Times. An ecosystem teeming with life has been the glorious result. Species rarely seen at all, nor in such mature sizes or abundant numbers in other American waters, were observed by scientists from 1986 to 1990. Except for the often prize-winning gamefish that are caught by anglers on the periphery of the no-fishing zone, species that dwell in the area around Cape Canaveral enjoy life, free from human intervention. Following are a few stories of species that have not fared as well.

Blue crab. Adult blue crabs, who make their home in the Chesapeake Bay, have declined to a third of their early-1990s numbers, down from 600,000. The density of spawning females--a measure of both size and number--is also down 70 percent. Young crabs are also on the decline. At the same time, the number of Virginia crabbers has been allowed to increase five times in as many decades as crabs became a replacement catch when oysters crashed. Maryland has been more environmentally responsible, by being somewhat more restrictive with the number of harvest pots each waterman may use and the number of licenses that can be issued. Restrictions on crabbing are now imperative to avoid a collapse of the fishery.

In the meantime, the U.S. crab market is increasingly being made up of low-priced crabs from Asia. Scarcity normally forces prices up, but crabbers are getting less for less, making regulating the bay more difficult to achieve.

Deep-sea fish. There are places in the ocean so deep that plants don't even exist there. But are these places devoid of life? Not at all. Here, exotic creatures do survive, despite the darkness and worse, the unfathomable pressure, which, at the deepest levels is the equivalent of 50 jumbo jets weighing down on a human.* At thousands of feet down, you would think that man would be forced off limits, but think again. Deep-sea fish have suddenly had to face a predator never before seen and never before so ravenous. Today, they have to confront humans able to navigate through fog with radar, locate fish with sonar and subsequently find rich locations again and again with satellites.

Since the orange roughy does not come to sexual maturity until age 30--not atypical for a deep-sea fish--the gold rush on its flesh quickly became a recipe for near extinction.

Many deep-sea fishermen have turned to high tech out of desperation as other fishing grounds have collapsed because of overexploitation. And, in what amounts to near-sighted thinking on the part of the U.S. government, many of these fishermen are likely to have received grants that aided them in their exploration.

Before its population collapsed, the deep-sea-dwelling orange roughy was the rage at every trendy restaurant. Tragically, since this New Zealand fish does not come to sexual maturity until age 30--not atypical for a deep-sea fish--the gold rush on its flesh quickly became a recipe for near extinction. In terms of endangerment, people who eat it--or any of the other deep-sea varieties including deep-sea crab, royal red shrimp and spiny dogfish--might as well be eating the flesh of a giant panda. In ecological terms, the removal of even one species from such a delicate food chain in the deep, deep ocean is extremely disruptive.

Lobster. The past 20 years brought dramatic changes to lobstering in New England. In a word, the industry upsized. From 1980 to 1997, the Maine catch, in particular, doubled to 84 million pounds. Fueled by attractive financial returns, trap totals soared to 2.6 million before being limited to 1,200 traps per fisherman in Maine and 800 traps per fisherman in Massachusetts. Caught in the web of lobsterman interests and state and federal regulations are the lobsters themselves, which marine biologists warn are being harvested unsustainably. Either the number of traps needs to be reduced or young egg-producing females need to be released when caught. Though healthy lobster populations belie environmentalists' recommendations, the outcome of a lobster crash would be more dire than for other fish species. The crustaceans are slow to reproduce and take five to seven years to grow to adulthood. And if the parasite that apparently caused half of the lobsters caught in traps on Long Island Sound to die spreads to New England, the problem of too many lobstermen chasing too few lobsters will be exacerbated.

Lobsters are especially threatened today because other species were ruled off limits. Fishermen who previously landed cod and halibut switched to lobster when conservation regulations dried up their pickings.

Shrimp. Overfishing is threatening shrimp numbers to the point of collapse, but the impact that shrimp fishing itself has on other species is even more of a tragedy. According to Carl Safina, a founding member of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, trawling for shrimp accounts for a full third of all the world's bycatch. (Twenty-five percent of the world's fish harvest is considered bycatch.) "Discarded creatures outnumber shrimp taken by anywhere from 125 to 830 percent," Safina revealed in a fall 1998 special Scientific American edition on the oceans.

But as noted, shrimp themselves are also declining in number. According to an 18-month-long Texas Parks and Wildlife study made public in April, overfishing in Texas has reduced the shrimp catch rate (pounds harvested per hour) by 50 percent since the early 1970s. At the same time, the shrimp harvested during the same period increased by a factor of four. The consensus from the staff that compiled the study is that if trends are not reversed, the fishery will collapse.

The story is much the same off the shores of New Hampshire where shrimp populations are also bleak. Fishermen there have already had their regular-season groundfish catches restricted because of dwindling stocks. Now the regulators have recommended that shrimping be drastically reduced. Too bad. Shrimping was all there was left during the rest of the year.

* "The Sea Survey," The Economist, May 23, 1998.

JUDEA JOHNSON       VivaVegie volunteer Judea Johnson is shown here staffing our table at this year's Earth Day festivities in Battery Park. Not shown are Rob Dolecki and Jesse Legue. The following week, VivaVegie made a splash as per usual at the Easter Parade. Penelo Pea Pod, our grande dame of vegetableland, stole the show, as VivaVegie's own veg-evangelists (Bobbie Flowers--as Pea Pod, Lenny Morgenstern and Laura Dauphine, among others) distributed the "101" to enchanted onlookers. Thanks to Laura Dauphine, Murray Schechter (as Pea Pod), Alex Press and Jean Thaler for Earth Day 2000 outreach at Grand Central Terminal and the Juilliard School.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


GE Ingredients: McD's tests positive

Farewell from Alex

For the past three years I've had great fun working with Pamela and Alan Rice to compile the misdeeds of the meat industry and promote veganism. Pamela has taught me a lot, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity she offered me to express my strong opposition to the American way of eating. The VivaVine is a unique publication--there is none other that goes after the exploiters of "food" animals with such focus, mingling moral outrage and dark humor. I am proud to have been a part of it and regret that, as my day job has become a day-and-night job, I am no longer able to serve as editor. In a world that could hardly be less vegan-friendly, it takes a special kind of person to adopt this way of life and stick with it. But sticking with it is an act of critical importance. We vegans, by our mere existence, prove to meat eaters that they have an alternative.

Every veggie burger and tofu hot dog represents an act of healthy subversion against the cruelty machine. With our grains and legumes and our fruits and veggies, let's continue to work for the day when that machine finally grinds to a halt.

Alex Press

[Ed. note: Alex is now the copy chief at
The Village Voice.]

Every minute counts

It's extremely difficult for me to sleep at night knowing of the continual suffering and killing of all the voiceless victims of the meat industry. The way I see it, every minute counts for a living being somewhere.

I've recently created an animal-rights action network, which includes the promotion of a meat-free lifestyle.

Tom W.
South Portland, Maine

McVeggie burger laced with GE ingredients

Thanks for giving your readers that ingredient-by-ingredient rundown of slop they fashion into a McVeggie burger in your last issue. I might add that Marion Burros noted in her New York Times column on September 8, last year, that the McDonald's patty tested positive for genetically altered ingredients.

Diane Beeny
Westfield, New Jersey

Ed. note: In all fairness, McDonald's has notified its french-fry suppliers to stop using Monsanto's genetically modified potato, according to The Wall Street Journal as reported in the CNNfn Web site. Now all we need to do is get McDonald's to phase out the dead animals it uses in its burgers.

Rude Awakening

I just read the book Slaughterhouse, by Gail Eisnitz (Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, 1997). One thing that I don't doubt for a moment is that the horror in those places where food animals meet their end must be beyond any person's worst nightmare.

Although it's hard for me to commiserate with people who kill animals for a living, Ms. Eisnitz made me understand how the grinding pressure of the processing line must drive anyone to the depravity she described. I don't see how anyone could continue to eat meat after reading her book.

Anne Borel
New York, New York

What's in a name?

Please consider changing the name of your so-called Support Group for New Vegetarians. "Support group" suggests something for people who need to share a problem.

A better name would be The Contemporary Thinker. Other names might be Vegetarian Wanna-bes or Nonvegetarians Anonymous.

Karen Iacobbo
Providence, Rhode Island

Ed. note: Your point is well taken, Karen. Those interested in the group should call Linda Dutcher, CSWR, RPA at (212) 543-5513. You can be involved with choosing a better name, too.

VVS archives for HS report

I am doing a report for my high school on the cruel way animals are treated and was wondering if you had any information that could be helpful. Thanks a bunch.

Emilie Leach
Dayton, Nevada

Ed. note: I suggest going into the online archives of our journal, The VivaVine: www.vivavegie.org/vvi/vva/vva.html. Another useful tool is our new search function: www.vivavegie.org/cgi-bin/search.cgi. Search on any word or word phrase.

A fervent believer in the vegetarian cause, volunteer Rob Dolecki is A-1-effective in bringing out the deep-seated feelings of the meat eaters he talks with. Here he is manning the VivaVegie table, and making a difference, on Veal Ban Day.      


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


Economic catastrophe for U.S livestock just a microbe away

Lurking in the luggage of your average tourist could be an invasive pest that could wreak havoc on U.S. livestock. "This is a monumental problem," U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary Dan Glickman was quoted as saying in an article posted to the CNN Web site in March. As an example, Glickman explained that a single link of sausage could bring foot and mouth disease to American shores and cost the meat industry billions. In 1998 alone, beagle dogs alerted authorities to over 2 million illegal agricultural products that travelers inadvertently or otherwise attempted to bring into the country. Of these, 57,000 carried diseases able to infect American livestock and poultry. This is not something the USDA might want the Animal Liberation Front to get wind of, we imagine.

Ag-state senators make China swallow meat

U.S. senators from farm states turned the screws on China in March when they hinted they may not vote to approve permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with the Asian superpower. As Senator Charles Grassley (Republican) of Iowa put it, he was "disturbed" that Beijing had not yet opened its markets to U.S. meat, according to a Bloomberg release at the time. The senators were joined in their hardened stance by the National Farmers Union, the second-largest U.S. farm group, and, more importantly, special U.S. trade ambassador for agriculture Peter Scher.

The pressure worked. By the end of the month, China issued rules that cleared the way for what could potentially amount to U.S. exports of $200 million per year of beef by 2005 (up from $61 million now) and $1 billion of chicken per year by 2010 (up from $455 million now). The chief beneficiaries of the rules will be the giants of the U.S. meat and poultry industries: IBP, the world's largest meat processor, and Tyson Foods, the biggest U.S. chicken processor, among others.

Add to this, late last year, China obtained World Bank approval of a $93.5 million loan to build 130 feedlots and five meat processing centers. Unfortunately, another loan may be needed for the construction of more than a few cardiac medical centers to care for the increase in heart disease soon to follow.


Cruel to calves, toxic to humans--the finest.
(Photo taken in Manhattan's meat district by Michelle Fornof.)

Vegetarianism on the rise? Think again

After a 20-year slide, demand for beef has just experienced an upward swing, according to a January story issued by Bloomberg. The figures were derived from data obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and calculated by leading independent economists and industry experts, the story noted. Last year, each American ate 1.1 pounds more beef on the average than in 1998, or 69.2 pounds per person. David Nelson, who watches IBP, the world's largest beef processor, for Credit Suisse First Boston, said that IBP probably made $38 on each slaughtered steer during its fourth quarter ending last December, up from $13 a year earlier, according to a February Bloomberg report. Analysts in general attribute the turnaround for beef to a robust domestic economy as well as economic recovery in overseas markets. In addition, a current lack of consumer concern about fatty foods has run tandem with a renewed interest in high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets. So, where's the beef? Unfortunately, it's what's for dinner these days.

Fiber gets rough deal from colon researchers

Twenty-nine years ago, a British missionary surgeon observed that poor rural Africans contracted colon cancer much less often than affluent Westerners. He hypothesized that since the Africans ate a diet low in fat and high in fiber, this made the difference. Over the years, evidence bore him out. In April, however, the results of two rigorous studies were released that debunked the connection. In both cases, subjects were chosen on the grounds that they had each had a least one polyp, a tiny noncancerous growth, removed from the colon. Over a span of three years in one study and four years in the other, no difference was recorded in the number of reoccurring polyps between the fiber-eating groups and the control groups.

The jury is still out, say the experts, and in fact, just three weeks later, results of a study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center concluded that fiber does help to control diabetes. In the meantime, doctors will be telling their patients at risk for colon cancer that there is no reason to avoid the foods they may have previously told them to stay away from, that is animal foods and processed foods.

HSUS, Salomon launch animal-friendly fund

The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, has recently teamed up with Salomon Brothers Asset Management to offer a mutual fund that guarantees investment in companies that strictly pass an animal-friendly screening process. The fund will avoid investing in companies that directly harm animals and their habitats. Specifically, the fund will not invest in:

  1. pharmaceutical companies;
  2. cosmetics companies, if there is a question about the use of animals in testing;
  3. companies that use animals in an end product;
  4. companies that produce products antithetical to the humane treatment of animals, such as the manufacture of hunting and trapping equipment.

Enterprises are just steps away from marketing their biotech animals

It has come after ten years in the making: a reliable breeding stock of salmon that can grow up to six times as fast

Franken-Salmon: They now grow six times as fast

as normal. Salmon are only one of a number of genetically engineered animals that have slithered past an impotent government regulatory system, according to an extensive story in the May 1 edition of The New York Times. Other variations on the theme include a pig that produces a bacterial protein that allows the animal to digest phosphorus better, thus mitigating the detrimental environmental effects of manure, and a goat that promises to produce spider silk in its milk, which may have use in making strong, lightweight products such as bulletproof vests.

NJ fishermen hook up with NY wholesalers to sell PCB-laden fish

According to New York state law, some striped bass is okay to eat, some is not. The kind that is not is overloaded with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a dangerous pollutant that the Department of Health warns women of childbearing age and children under 15 to avoid. Because the lower Hudson is so polluted with PCBs, it is illegal to sell striped bass caught in this part of the river. But this is exactly where some New Jersey fishermen allegedly caught their striped bass before selling them to New York wholesalers, which later sold them to some of the fanciest restaurants in Manhattan. The scam apparently went on for three years, beginning in 1995.

Antibiotic resistance: Just try to just say no

In April, researchers concluded that a Nebraska boy's salmonella infection, which was found to be resistant to widely used pediatric antibiotics, came from the cattle on his farm. A December Food and Drug Administration report suggests that up to 5,000 Americans may have suffered for longer-than-normal periods of time during a recent year because they caught an antibiotic-resistant strain of campylobacter from eating chickens, according to an Associated Press story at the time. Bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter are suspected of becoming more virulent because of the overuse of antibiotics on farms, both to treat infection and to speed growth in livestock.

E. coli: Summer's here, and the time is right

The summer months are upon us, and this is the time that the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle will rise to about 50 percent on the nation's feedlots, according to an Associated Press story on March 1. The percentage is about ten times as high as previously believed, according to a report issued by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture late in February. E.coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. It is most commonly found in undercooked ground beef.

Vegetarian News is compiled by the VivaVegie staff.

      The VivaVegie Society teamed up with Farm Sanctuary this Mother's Day to take part in national observances of Veal Ban Day, an annual outreach event sponsored by Farm Animal Reform Movement of Bethesda, Maryland. Shown here are New York City Farm Sanctuary coordinator Carol Moon, left, with passerby Nala Milanovich, who agreed to sit in our regulation-size veal crate. Carol recently convinced five established and well-known New York City restaurants to pledge to stop serving fancy, crate-raised veal.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


Forced Molting: Slipping through egg-safety cracks

The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined in 1998 that the elimination of a cruel agricultural technique utilized by egg producers would reduce salmonella illnesses in people by 2 percent. The finding was uncovered by United Poultry Concerns of Machapongo, Virginia, after it requested a report under the Freedom of Information Act, according to a late April story in the Washington Post. Forced molting is the industry practice that functions to extract additional batches of eggs from battery-caged hens. To force a molt, egg producers keep their hens in darkness and withdraw food for up to 14 days. Water is often removed as well. About three-quarters of all U.S. flocks undergo the intensely cruel process, some more than once, according to the Post article. Sixty-eight billion eggs are produced in the United States every year.

The revelation comes on the heels of a Clinton-administration call for drastic reductions of salmonella in eggs. The bug is estimated to cause 230,000 Americans to become ill every year, according to an April story in the San Francisco Chronicle. Hoping to cut this number in half by 2005 and eliminate it altogether by 2010, a Clinton plan, if approved, will first set out to educate the public to cook eggs thoroughly. In addition, it will have egg farms periodically subject to testing. If salmonella is shown to be present, millions of hens at a time will be destroyed and the eggs sent for pasteurization. New rules or not, all egg cartons will soon bear cigarette-style warning labels.

Conspicuously absent from the Clinton egg plan is the phasing out of forced molting, despite the fact that several studies have found that a link exists between the stress on hens due to the practice and the rise of salmonella, according to the Post story.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000



Veg Fest draws 1,300

Several hundred visitors from all over the country, and indeed from all over the world, have come to the Vegetarian Center since it opened in March 1999. On occasion, our "place of our own" is visited by a veggie notable or two. Over the months we've seen Animals' Agenda editor Kim Stallwood, raw-foods restaurateur Jeremy Safron, Judaism and Vegetarianism author Richard Schwartz, Millennium Restaurant owner Ann Wheat, WBAI's Shelton Walden and even vegetarian mayoral wanna-be Bernie Goetz.

Shown here at the veggie center in mid-May are Michele Simon and Rich Ganis. At the time, these California notables were in town fresh from an immensely successful conference sponsored by the San Francisco Vegetarian Society, which Ms. Simon organized with four others. It was billed as "VegFest--a vegetarian celebration to delight the senses," and the 1,300 people who attended the expo no doubt had to agree with the tag line. With the help of Millennium Restaurant, Whole Foods Market, VegDining.com and other sponsors, the day brought in dozens of vendors, speakers and cooking demos. The keynote speaker was vegetarian nutrition expert and prolific author John McDougall, M.D.

Ms. Simon told veggie center coordinator Pamela Rice that she was seriously toying with the idea of starting her own vegetarian center in San Francisco. The advice she got from Ms. Rice? Do one thing, Michele. Do it well. Do it for a long time. And beyond that, keep a database.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


$1,000: Not enough to go veg for a week

A full 21 percent of the respondents to a Zogby America survey in April said they would be unable to commit to a meatless diet, even if, hypothetically, they could be $1,000 richer in just 7 days. Whites and African-Americans brought the percentage down, since 91.6 percent of Asians and 93.3 percent of Hispanics questioned said, sure, they could live without meat for that long. We say, how about another survey: How much would you have to pay a vegetarian to eat meat? We'd guess quite a bit.

Cat-meat trend sparks cat theft in Beijing

If you live near one of those new Cantonese restaurants setting up business in Beijing of late, you might be advised to keep your pet cat inside your apartment at all times. According to a feature in a January edition of The New York Times, catnapping has increased in order to feed the new restaurants' customers. Some Chinese, the article noted, will pay good money for one particularly favored dish: Dragon and Tiger Flight, a blend of cat and snake meat. One animal welfare proponent quoted in the story noted that police stand idle while thieves sell stolen cats for $3 apiece. She estimated that 500 families had been victims of cat theft over a 3-month period. The fate of the snakes did not warrant anyone's concern.

Would they come in out of the rain?

You might call them slow to learn. First, they go out onto precarious ice floes in frigid waters off northwestern Russia to fish. Then they often go back time and again, despite having to be rescued repeatedly when the giant chunks of ice break loose--something that's happening more frequently lately because of higher-than-normal water temperatures. In fact, more than 1,200 fishermen had to be saved by helicopter or small boat since last fall, according to The Chicago Tribune in April; at least 18 never made it. One fisherman, according to the article, was seen heading back to the ice floe immediately after being dropped off on shore. Another was said to have been rescued five times. To each his own? Sure. But this thickheadedness cost the Russian government the equivalent of $60,000 from January to March and put rescue teams in serious danger.

Brits got "mad" and then got had

The market for English beef before 1996 was only about 650 million per year. But thanks to one little "mad cow" crisis, British taxpayers forked over an estimated 5 billion in eradication costs and industry compensation, according to a June 1999 story on the BBC Web site.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


Cruelty-free critters

By Norbert Banholzer

After reading your "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," I can no longer plead ignorance to the immeasurable suffering that animals endure for human consumption. I have recently made a commitment to stop eating all meat and dairy products. But I still have a problem: What am I to feed my four rescued cats? Aren't cats strictly carnivorous? Is there such a thing as a vegan cat? If so, are there special cat foods I can buy?
--Mary Doughtie

Dear Mary: Until recently two essential cat food ingredients were not obtainable from plants: arachidonic acid and taurine. Insufficient arachidonic acid can cause reproductive problems in cats, while taurine deficiency can cause degenerative heart disease and blindness. Fortunately, both of these ingredients can now be derived from plant sources.

I have lived with two cats for as many years, and beyond the occasional spider which they catch themselves, they are vegan. I feed them Evolution cat food (651-228-0632, by mail order), which provides all necessary nutrients. They mainly eat the dry form but enjoy the canned as a treat. They are healthy and playful, and they have excellent fur.

Wow-Bow Distributors (800-326-0230, by mail order) has a comparable product called Vegi-Crunch for cats and dogs, which the company can actually customize with specific ingredients. It also sells supplements that can be added to your own vegan concoctions.

If you decide to change the diet of your cat, be sure to make the transition a gradual one. I found that mixing in some pasta sauce works well to entice a cat to try the new vegan pet foods. Cats also like fresh grass. Farmers' markets and some health-food stores carry it. Ask for cat grass or wheat grass.

One last bit of advice: When buying vegetarian cat food for the first time, be sure to ask the manufacturer tough questions, so you know you're making the right decision. Finally, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope what I've offered here helps you on your way to finding humane and healthful food for the cats in your life.

Norbert Banholzer is a staff member at F.A.R.M., a leading advocacy group for farm animals.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


New research shows apples, beans, broccoli and nuts get thumbs-up

Apples: Johnny Appleseed would say, "I told you so," or at least be proud, after hearing what researchers in London recently found after examining the health records of 2,500 Welshmen, ages 45 to 59, for five years: A diet that includes at least five apples per week produces stronger lung function than one that doesn't, as reported by the Associated Press. Antioxidants peculiar to the fruit are believed to be the active agents.

Beans: A Tulane University study that collected data on nearly 12,000 people for over 19 years found that those who ate legumes (beans and peas) at least four times each week had a 19 percent lower incidence of heart disease than those who ate legumes only once a week, according to an article posted to the CNN Web site. Risk for other cardiovascular diseases such as stroke was also lessened by frequent bean eating.

Broccoli: Eat your vegetables, men. A new study says that those who eat just three servings of vegetables per day
Maintaining that squirrelish figure
cut their prostate cancer risk by 48 percent relative to men who eat less than one serving per day, according to a January Reuters release. And eating from the cruciferous family--foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage--reduces risk even further. The study, out of the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, found that at any given level of total vegetable consumption, the more a man ate cruciferous vegetables, the less risk he had for developing prostate cancer. Hear that, Messrs. Giuliani and Safir?

Nuts: No need to eat fish for your omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts, in particular, have you covered there. Nuts in general have recently been found to be tremendous powerhouses of nutrition. They're packed with antioxidants, protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium. But their greatest claim to fame is their ability to lower harmful cholesterol without affecting beneficial high-density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol). In fact, according to a February San Francisco Chronicle story, nuts act like "arterial Dran-O," not only clearing out life-threatening fatty plaque from one's bloodstream but actually widening artery walls--great for reducing high blood pressure. Nuts have also been shown to suppress the growth of cancers. If you're worried about the fat (72 to 90 percent of the calories), don't be. Nuts in moderation can provide essential satiety for the dieter trying to adhere to a reducing plan. Weight loss can be more permanent for the nut eater as well.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


Johnny Appleseed: Johnny, we hardly knew ye, but we enjoy the fruits of your labors
By Karen Iacobbo

Johnny Appleseed became an American folk hero by traveling far and wide to plant apple seeds. But Johnny Appleseed was much more than a sower of seeds: he was a missionary who was very likely a vegetarian. He was born John Chapman in Leominster, Massachusetts, in September 26, 1774--appropriately, a time of year when apple picking is at its peak.

He would prematurely extinguish his campfire to avoid killing insects.

Little is known about Chapman's early years, but scholars trace the start of his saga to the late 1790s. Chapman gathered seeds from the cider presses in western Pennsylvania, put them in bags and carried them into the wilderness of Ohio and neighboring territories and states. Chapman ventured out as far west as Indiana and as far north as the Northern lakes, but spent many years in Ohio. He was respected by settlers and even by hostile Native Americans.

Most of the time Chapman, who was a small and wiry man with long dark hair and a beard, walked barefoot, but he occasionally wore hand-me-down moccasins or shoes that he received as payment for his seeds. Chapman ate fruit, nuts, berries and other goodies from the woods, but he sometimes accepted food from settlers.

The bearded traveler was a follower of the teachings of 18th-century Christian mystic and vegetarian Emmanuel Swedenborg. He carried copies of Heaven and Hell and other Swedenborgian writings on his journeys. Chapman wouldn't knowingly harm any animal, and it has been said that he would prematurely extinguish fires that he started to keep warm, because the light attracted bugs that might burn if they flew too close to the flames. However, Chapman wasn't just a forest dweller. He bought and sold land in Ohio, mostly for use as orchards and seedling farms. Chapman, who died in 1845, also distributed medicinal herbs.

For more information, e-mail alumin@urbana.edu, or write the Johnny Appleseed Society, Historic Bailey Hall, Urbana University, 579 College Way, Urbana, OH 43078-2091.

Karen Iacobbo, a writer, teacher and historian, would love to hear from others with an interest in vegetarian history. She can be reached c/o American Lyceum, 409 Pine Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903, or at jwiacobbo@aol.com.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


Manure Hits the Fan: An update on nutrient runoff

Protecting America's waters was the intent of the Clean Water Act, whatever the source of the pollution.

By Pamela Rice

It should be declared a national crisis. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno should unleash every prosecutorial power at her disposal to crack down on the industries that cause it. President Clinton should declare war on it. What is this enemy that demands our immediate attention? Toxic runoff: land-based pollution that slowly seeps into our waterways via rainfall. No less than a ticking time bomb, this invisible cause of water degradation pollutes more than 300,000 miles of rivers and shoreline and 5 million acres of lakes, according to a report issued by the National Wildlife Federation in April. The NWF report also noted that more than 7,000 beach days were lost nationwide in 1998 because of bacterial contamination. Ultimately, fouled drinking water kills more than 900 Americans per year and makes another 900,000 sick, and these are just the human victims.

Much of the toxic runoff today is caused by nutrients: manure from livestock operations and fertilizer used in the production of grain--70 percent of which goes to feed livestock in the United States. In the past 40 years, the amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen that pour into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River have doubled and tripled, respectively, according to an Associated Press story in early April. Nutrient runoff was recently declared by the National Academy of Sciences to be the most serious threat to coastal waters nationwide.

Pamela Rice at Earth Day festivities, April 23.

For the most part, toxic runoff accumulates into great amounts as a lot of people contribute to it, each a little bit. Pesticide application, automobile use, lawn care, power-plant and incinerator chemical releases and logging are also contributors--and therein lies the reason for the political inertia that has kept lawmakers from making a dent in the problem. Polluters--all of them--keep being let off the hook. In the meantime, the environment pays the price.

A glimmer of hope

On April 6, however, environmentalists--and vegetarians in particular--scored a major victory. A federal judge upheld Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate water pollution caused by runoff from farms and logging operations.

Some landowners who wanted to log on their property, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation and others, challenged the EPA's authority on the grounds that "nothing in the Clean Water Act authorized the agency to set pollution limits for waterways contaminated solely by runoff," according to the Associated Press. They claimed that the EPA had jurisdiction only over "point-source" pollution, or discharges from factories, drain pipes and sewage systems.

The judge ruled that "no substandard river or water was immune by reason of its sources of pollution." In other words, the Clean Water Act was instituted to fight water pollution wherever it came from, despite the fact that "non-point-source" pollution (or runoff) was not specifically mentioned.

Still, we definitely haven't heard the last of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Individual states still make the final land-use decisions, it reminds us. "This ruling will keep regulatory authority over non-point sources at the state level, where it belongs," the president of the federation was quoted as saying. What a relief! States can still choose to let runoff polluters foul our water.

How easy it would be if there were just one law at the federal level that simply made it illegal to pollute water! The federal judge's ruling will help to that end. Meanwhile, each state essentially has to reinvent the regulatory wheel. Following are a few examples.

Maryland: Regulations for nutrient runoff taking effect in about a year will affect anyone in the state with 8,000 pounds of livestock or more, which is equivalent to about eight or nine full-grown cattle. This threshold goes way beyond national guidelines, which are scheduled to call for regulating only those farmers with the equivalent of a thousand cattle or more. (Baltimore Sun, 4/7/00.)

Minnesota: At press time, both bodies of the state legislature had ironed out bills regarding nutrient management that would allow livestock operations to grow larger and face less regulation than they would using recommendations from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Seeking to avoid "driving business out of the state," the legislation will essentially punish those farmers who have done the right thing and favor those who haven't. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3/31/00 and 4/5/00.)

North Carolina: The Environmental Management Commission of the state gave formal notice in February that it was in the process of drafting regulations on hog-waste lagoons, with the ultimate goal of actually phasing them out completely. In response to calls for leniency on behalf of hog farmers, one commission member was quoted as saying, "It is not the duty of this commission to make rules that would make the swine industry sustainable. It is [our duty] to protect the air and water resources of this state." (Associated Press, 2/11/00.)

Ohio: The fourth-largest egg producer in the country, Buckeye Egg Farms, was given 90 days by an Ohio judge in April to reduce fly infestation caused by untreated mountains of manure from its 15 million hens. A habitual violator of environmental rules, Buckeye said that implementing the rule could put it out of business. Still to come: a 27-count indictment on odor, water and air pollution violations, as well as fish kills and manure spills. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/14/00.)


The VivaVine
March / April 2000


Matching Fund Continues: Donor offers challenge

VivaVegie wants you!

Do something on the low-commitment side. (1) Collect vegetarian-restaurant menus and send them to us.
(2) Arrange to do filing at the office.
(3) Call on short notice to ask if there may be an errand to run.
(4) Adopt a file drawer; cull out-of-date material and glean information for our database.
(5) Keep a notebook of veggie current events and conferences, to be housed at the veggie center.
Get the "101 Reasons" stocked at your neighborhood store.

VivaVegie will give you a stack of sample "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" to give to the retail establishment, free of charge, to test how they sell. Engage the owner/manager and keep in touch with him or her. After a period of time, ask whether he or she wants to order more. Essentially, do all the things that a sales rep would do to "service the account." Ultimately, VivaVegie wants to get regular orders. An order blank is on the 15th page of each copy of the "101 Reasons."

VVS sandwich boards

Take your passion to the streets. It's easy. Now you can obtain brilliant, full-color 11" x 17" replicas of the famous VivaVegie sandwich boards for only $30 (add $6.40 for postage), which includes a starter kit of 20 copies of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian." Send orders to the post-office address on page 4.

Volunteer spirit

There are many ways to make a difference if spreading knowledge about the virtues of vegetarianism is your calling (see "wish list" that follows). Special thanks to the following people who helped the VivaVegie Society since the last VivaVine issue: Tom Thompson, Marian Cole, Bobbie Flowers, Laura Dauphine, Murray Schechter, James Langergaard, Alex Press, Judea Johnson, Rob Dolecki and Carol McGregor.

VivaVegie wish list

  • Publicity and/or marketing assistance
  • Outreach coordinator
  • VivaVine calendar editor
  • Pro bono law or accounting assistance
  • Storage space for "101 Reasons"
Vegie Center matching-fund grant continues

VivaVegie has a matching-fund grant! All donations from individuals (not foundations) that are not in exchange for merchandise--memberships, T-shirts and the like--will be matched, up to a total of $5,000 for the year, thanks to David Sielaff of Seattle, Washington. Since the previous VivaVine issue, we've received donations of $25 or more from the following people: Eddie & Ellen Bikales, Helayne M. Gaither, Brenda C. Chiarello and Glen Boisseau Becker. Each of their donations will be matched.


The VivaVine
June / July 2000


VivaVegie Society, Inc.
ISSUE: VOL. 9, NO. 3
June / July 2000

P.O. Box 1447

New York, NY 10276

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

  • Publisher: Pamela Rice
  • Editor: Alan Rice
  • Contributors: Karen Iacobbo, Norbert Banholzer
  • Copy editor: Glen Boisseau Becker
  • Web site HTML: Marian Cole
  • Gaggle of veg-evangelists: Bobbie Flowers, Murray Schechter, Laura Dauphine, Judea Johnson, Jessie Legue, Jean Thaler, Rob Dolecki, Janine Unverzagt, Phillip Hinton, Lenny Morgenstern, Anne Borel, Scott Lustig and Susan Resnick

  • Karen Davis: United Poultry Concerns
  • Richard Schwartz: author, Judaism and Vegetarianism

  • David Sielaff
  • Nalith

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 "Vegetarian Guide to New York City."

Copyright © 2000. VivaVegie Society, Inc. All rights reserved.