Click here for the pdf file for the (November/December 2000) issue of The VivaVine: The vegetarian-issues magazine published by The VivaVegie Society.

  If you don't have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it here.

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

November / December 2000, Vol. 9, No. 5


Table of Contents:


Vegetarian center programs

All events are at [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00]. Where appropriate, participants may bring dinner with them. After 7:00 p.m., Mon. to Fri. (after 4:00 p.m., Sat. or Sun.), you may need to be buzzed in from the street. Use the code 5106. Information: [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00].

Workshops (6:30 p.m.)

By appointment: Getting started with your new veggie diet
What do you eat, now that you've decided to go vegetarian? Free.

Nov. 21: Workshop for wanna-be vegetarian-issue journalists
Learn about the inverted pyramid, copy style, the importance of proper grammar, and the who, what, where, and why of covering our issues. Suggested donation: $3.

Lecture series (6:30 p.m.)

Dec. 14: What about fish? The environmental holocaust of overfishing the oceans (Pamela Rice)
What's the story on fish? An introduction to the vegetarian/environmental point of view. Find out nutritional substitutes for fishing our oceans to extinction. Suggested donation: $3. Seminar (6:30 p.m.)

Rap 'n' Wrap (6:30 p.m.)

Nov. 14 & Dec. 12: A time for vegetarians to shoot the breeze and sort things out from our own perspective

Why is making fish into farmed animals so bad? Is it true they have a "testicle festival" in Montana? What about that cow that got loose in Queens? If you have an opinion about it, we'll discuss it, and we'll order burritos. Suggested donation: $3.


Sunday Soirees at VivaVegie's Veggie Center

Our soiree is at the Vegetarian Center: [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00].

  • 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.

  • Dates: Nov. 26 and Dec. 17

  • Time: 6:30 p.m.



Click for program listings that take place at the Veggie Center, including seminars, workshops, rap sessions, and soirees.

Always call to confirm the details.

Thurs., Nov. 16

Sat., Nov. 18

Sun., Nov. 19

Tues., Nov. 21

Thurs., Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving Day)

Fri., Nov. 24

Sat., Nov. 25

Sun., Nov. 26

Sun., Dec. 3

Sat., Dec. 16


For more NYC-area vegetarian events, contact:


Russell Trall: A visionary doctor

By Karen Iacobbo

The word quack evokes an image of the snake oil salesman pitching potions from the back of a covered wagon. Yet the patent-medicine salesmen of yesteryear were not the only representation of the term quack. During the 19th century in America, regular doctors--that is, the allopaths--were accused of quackery by people who demanded that medicine evolve past the use of blood-letting, leeches, and poisons like mercury.

A 19th-century vegetarian saw beyond the prejudices of the medical establishment.

Among the foremost activists opposing the drug therapists and offering another option was New York City's own Russell Trall, M.D., who was also a leading advocate of vegetarianism. Most who denounced medical mayhem and instead employed holistic, drugless, natural medicine were convinced that flesh foods had no place on the menu. (Anyone for bringing back the term "flesh foods"?)

In 1852, Trall founded the New York Hygieo-Therapeutic College, the first medical school to admit women on equal terms with men. Trall was influenced by Sylvester Graham and Isaac Jennings, M.D., who taught that the body is governed by natural laws originating from God and verified by observation.

Trall contended that when these laws were broken, sickness and death could result. A frugivorous diet--as mandated in Genesis and verified as natural for human beings by 19th-century studies of human anatomy--was one of the laws. When illness developed, rather than suppressing symptoms the drugless doctors sought to remove the causes. Once the causes were removed, the body tended to heal itself. Trall maintained that drugs harmed the body; they did not act upon the body but the body acted upon the drugs. For example, a laxative drug seemed to work only because the body rejected it. The drug itself did not cause the bowels to work.

Trained as an allopath, Trall had observed patients who had become well without drug intervention and those who had been made sicker by drugs. He noticed how the body was helped when patients were prescribed rest, "vegetable diets," treatments such as massage and hydrotherapy (the "water cure"), and direction to fill the mind with higher thoughts.

Trall was a sought-after doctor who even lectured at the Smithsonian Institution during the Civil War on behalf of soldiers. The doctor published more than a dozen books, which found an audience hungry to help themselves and to avoid the horrors and the sometimes fatal results of the regular doctors' medicine.

Hygieo-therapeutic Dr. Trall told his students that his practice was not lucrative, and the only reason they should become physicians was that they wanted to help the sick and teach them how to avoid sickness in the future.

Trall's views about medicine led to his vegetarianism and a vice presidency of the American Vegetarian Society. Like other vegetarians of his time, he abhorred cruelty to animals. In the 20th century, Herbert Shelton studied and then expanded Trall's work, which is today known as natural hygiene. Yet more than 100 years after Trall's death, and after billions of tax-payer dollars have been spent on health care, the nation has yet to examine the drugless doctor's ideas seriously.

Might Trall's work finally evoke the noninvasive, natural healing millions are seeking? Might it finally be the key to true prevention of sickness? Allopathy does not ponder these ideas, and when not ignored, the doctor and his ideas are ridiculed. Perhaps we have something to learn.


Animal Disease: Suffering for animals, risk to humans

By Glen Boisseau Becker

We've all heard about E. coli bacteria, salmonella, Listeria, and perhaps West Nile fever. But how about foot-and-mouth disease, swine fever, Exotic Newcastle Disease, and the Nipah virus? The media have generally paid little attention to the spectrum of illnesses that pose an increasingly dangerous threat to the welfare of the world's livestock--and potentially even the lives of those who feed on animal products, not to mention the health of America's multi-billion-dollar animal agribusiness.

Some infestations have been close to home, like the epidemic of avian influenza that caused widespread deaths among Mexican chickens in 1995, or the Poult Enteritis Mortality Syndrome (PEMS) that shut down 42 North Carolina turkey farmers about a year later. Other illnesses, farther afield, have been monitored by news agencies and concerned scientists. Here are a few stories that should have made headlines just this year:

As trade barriers fall, contagious diseases cause massive economic losses and sometimes threaten human health.

Eastern England experienced an outbreak of swine fever, leading both the European Commission and China to declare a ban on British pig exports. The Netherlands had experienced a massive outbreak three years earlier.

Meanwhile, the U.S. hog population was smaller than expected, thanks to an ailment called pseudo-rabies that attacks young pigs. According to Bloomberg News, the USDA reported that the number of infected animals was down to about 390,000 this spring, following a government expenditure of $62 million to kill off 854,000 infected pigs last year.

International alarms were sounded after ten cattle smuggled from Argentina to Paraguay were found to carry the virus that causes bovine foot-and-mouth disease. Argentinians responded by destroying more than 3,500 cattle, in hopes of containing the illness. The U.S. promptly reinstated a long-term ban on Argentine beef.

Other cases of the same disease were reported in various places, from Brazil to Poland and beyond. In response to outbreaks in Korea and Japan, pigs and cattle were destroyed, inoculations promoted, barns burned, and markets closed, while animal farmers worried about the threat to their livelihood.

Then in Mexico, Exotic Newcastle Disease attacked poultry farms. Some 13,600,000 birds had to be destroyed, and Tyson Foods suffered a loss of approximately $25 million, according to Business Week.

Such afflictions reportedly pose no direct danger to human health, though they can obviously jeopardize local, national, and corporate economies. The Nipah virus is a different story.

In Singapore and Malaysia, first mosquitoes and then fruit bats were blamed for carrying an unusually powerful strain of this virus to the swine population. Last year, The New York Times reported, more than 100 people in the region died of the virus, and authorities felt compelled to destroy roughly 1 million pigs. Nipah has also been shown to infect horses, dogs, and cats.

In England, 76 people have died so far from new- variant Creutzfeld-Jacobs Disease (the result of "mad cow disease" when transmitted to humans). This is a hideous degenerative ailment that attacks the human brain, and many of the victims have been very young. Peter Smith, in charge of Britain's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, warned the BBC that the current annual death toll is likely to increase by 30 percent.

Mad cow disease, as such, has not yet been detected in the United States. But in August, a federal judge in Vermont ordered the destruction of more than 350 sheep--imported from Belgium and Holland--after some of them tested positive for a version of the same disease. (The USDA used taxpayer dollars to reimburse the owners for their loss.) Ironically, though the disease is known for its long incubation period, some of the same sheep had offspring that were slaughtered and sold as meat.

The September 11 issue of Business Week included a six-page report on the spectre of "bio invasion." It talked of such deadly concerns as screw worm, heartwater disease, and chicken influenza, the last of which first caused human fatalities in 1997. Throughout the story ran the fear that the worst is yet to come.

Why are the dangers greater now than in the past? The breakdown of international trade barriers is one factor; according to Business Week, agricultural imports to the United States have risen 28 percent in the past five years. And with the number of federal inspectors perilously low, exotic ticks, maggots, viruses, and pathogens can easily be introduced into domestic animal populations.

Meanwhile, tourists are globe-hopping in record numbers, and they too can carry hardy pests that could ultimately spell disaster--in suitcases, on shoes and clothing, even in their lungs. The virus that causes foot-and- mouth disease, for instance, can survive up to 24 hours in a traveler's respiratory tract--enough time to go halfway around the world. Factor in the dense concentration of animals in America's factory farms, as well as the speed with which "food animals" can be shipped from place to place, and you have the recipe for a 21st-century plague.

Such realizations may provoke a spectrum of responses from Jill and Joe Consumer. Some assume that science and federal safeguards can always come to our rescue. This is a fool's paradise, as insiders recognize. For instance, look at mad cow disease, which is caused by a mysterious sort of infectious protein called a prion. Even burning an infected carcass does not destroy the prions; they are practically indestructible, even when heated past the boiling point of lead.

More broadly, experts realize that while humans have tampered with nature's balances in countless ways--from pesticides and growth hormones to genetic engineering--animal diseases are too numerous and unpredictable, and their pathways are too varied, for us to control them forever. Business Week's report indicates that "as many as 70% of all pathogens are capable of jumping species." So Joe and Jill Consumer's response may swing to the pessimistic extreme: "Nothing is safe to eat anymore!" Fortunately, this is not true. The greatest dangers consistently seem to come from the consumption of animal products. Organically grown produce is still our safest food, particularly when animal fertilizers are replaced by plant-based compost.


"101 Reasons" grilled: Book burning in farm country

"101 Reasons" was cooked on a grill at the Columbia County fair in upstate New York in September, where the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society had a booth. Many copies were stolen and cooked by wayward youths who saw their action as a pro-dairy statement. The incident resulted in excellent local media attention.

(See photograph in the Acrobat Reader version of this issue.)

Click here for the pdf (Acrobat Reader) file for the current (November/December 2000) issue of The VivaVine: The vegetarian-issues magazine published by The VivaVegie Society.

  If you don't have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it here.


The San Gennaro challenge: Delicious non-meat sausages

It may be a record! In a mere 3 hours, VivaVegie--along with its "grande dame of vegetableland" Penelo Pea Pod--distributed over a thousand copies of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian"! But here's the good part: We did it at the San Gennaro Feast, the famous Little Italy street fair. San Gennaro, as every New Yorker knows, isn't just any food fest. It's a place where people come to worship the pork-sausage sandwich. Now we know there's a sleeping giant out there. People you'd never expect are craving information about vegetarianism!

(See photograph in the Acrobat Reader version of this issue.)

Click here for the pdf (Acrobat Reader) file for the current (November/December 2000) issue of The VivaVine: The vegetarian-issues magazine published by The VivaVegie Society.

  If you don't have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it here.

Here's a recipe that was floating around on various e-mail lists. We discovered that it's a chef's favorite at Petre Bach, an environmentally conscious inn that sits majestically in the bucolic hillsides of Llwyngwril, Wales. Find more at the Petre Bach Web site: www.petrebach.com.

Vegetarian sausages

1 large onion, chopped finely
1 red pepper, cored and seeded, chopped fine
1 green pepper, cored and seeded, chopped fine
Sunflower oil
6 thick slices whole-meal bread (9 oz.) ground into crumbs
Egg replacer equivalent to 1 egg
Chopped fresh sage to taste

Cook onion in oil until transparent; add peppers and cook until they begin to soften. Mix in a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, egg replacer, and sage. Shape into sausages and fry gently until brown on all sides. The mixture can be frozen before frying.

Special thanks to Joan Zacharias for testing this recipe. She vouches that these "sausages" are delicious.



Returning to a peaceful, healthy time in her life

I became a vegetarian ten years ago. I felt wonderful. I was at my ideal weight, and I could look myself in the eye. When my family pressured me, I was firm, even though some of them even cut off contact with me. Then three years ago, my mother, who had always been my supporter and a vegetarian herself, died unexpectedly. Afterward, regrettably, I gave in to family pressure and began to eat animals again. I have felt grief, self loathing, and horror because of it. I gained weight and have been subject to severe health problems.

Today, in an attempt to come back to that peaceful, healthy time in my life, I started looking at Web sites on vegetarianism. Your site made me cry and remember why I did not eat animals back when. I am going back as of this minute!

Don't give up. You may reach only one person each day, but it is more than most of us do. I really appreciate your effort and your research. You don't know how much healing is happening because of you.

Charmagne West
Winnemucca, Nevada

What about supplements? Does fish count?

I read your tract "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" and it has changed me for life. This was the most awesome article I think I have ever read. I sent the Internet link to all of my buddies. I have been researching everything I can about whole foods and vegetarianism. I want to find out about supplements. Today someone said they had never seen a healthy-looking vegetarian. I have never known a vegetarian. Does fish count?

Kari Mogensen
via the Internet

Editor's note: You've never known a vegetarian before. I have to wonder how many vegetarians your friend has seen! I do a lot of vegetarian street outreach, and I see and meet a lot of vegetarians. Though I can't say I've never known an unhealthy one, more frequently than not, when someone tells me for the first time, "I'm a vegetarian," I say to myself, "I thought so. They have a special healthy glow." Still, a vegetarian can fall into the same traps that other people do in our culture. Considering that 90 percent of the food at the supermarket, vegetarian or otherwise, is probably unhealthful to eat--low in nutrition, high in calories, and highly processed with hydrogenated oils--is there any wonder that we see so much suboptimal health, regardless of lifestyle?

As for supplements, I'm not qualified to tell you what's best for you. I do tend to side with those medical gurus who believe in eating abundant amounts of vegetables (mostly green and leafy), fresh fruits, whole grains, and legumes. With these things on your plate, you can probably keep the supplements to a minimum. Surely there are undiscovered essential nutrients that reside only in foods and therefore don't exist for you to take in pill form. You may want to think the options through and consult with a trusted medical practitioner before "self-medicating" on the basis of what may only be company-sponsored promotional material.

As for fish? Yes, they count. Each one. The VivaVine recently ran an extensive two-part story on some of the grave consequences of overfishing. Anyway, there are vegetarian substitutes for all nutrients found in fish. Call [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00] to obtain the articles.

Sounds as if you're about to take a journey. As with every road untraveled, there can be pitfalls. To avoid a lot of them, I strongly suggest starting with Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Web site, www.drfuhrman.com. Later, browse through the links page at the VivaVegie Web site. You're lucky: You've already read the "101 Reasons."

"High-class" eatery okay with cruelty

In spite of the largest turnout of activists in front of a single restaurant during our entire veal campaign, Balthazar (80 Spring Street in Manhattan) still won't even talk with us about removing "milk-fed" veal from its menu. Over 21 high-profile restaurants around New York City have signed Farm Sanctuary's pledge not to serve veal from calves who are raised in crates and fed a diet that makes them anemic. The good news is that this stubborn, so-called high-class eatery is on a well-trafficked street, and we have been able to educate a lot of New Yorkers (and visitors) about the cruelties of crated veal with our outreach.

Carol Moon
Regional Director
Farm Sanctuary
New York, New York

Editor's note: For more information on Farm Sanctuary's remarkably successful campaign, contact Carol, the great instigator herself, at 212-567-4556. Also, see an article on fancy, "milk-fed" veal.

Health crisis for more and more families will push the vegetarian envelope

I have been a vegetarian since 1994 and a vegan since 1999. I just wanted to say that I appreciate the time you took to compile your list, "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian." I think vegetarianism will continue to grow in popularity. Unfortunately it will take health problems in many families before people see the negatives in meat-eating diets.

Prabhat Gautam
Redondo Beach, California

Is our government out to poison us?

I found your "101 Reasons" very enlightening. I can't believe all of this information is out there and no one sees it! From what you wrote, it seems our government is out to poison us. By the way, my family and I are not currently vegetarians, so it may please you to know we are going to start trying some vegetarian dishes. I always thought people used vegetarian diets because of their religion. It never occurred to me there were other reasons.

Pamela Rivera
Ooltewah, Tennessee

Tastes and cravings of macrobiotic concern

I have recently taken several macrobiotic cooking classes. In reference to your commentary in the last VivaVine, the macrobiotic diet has a big emphasis on cravings and in incorporating all the tastes (sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, and so on) at one meal. The theory is that we tend to eat junk food because we have not balanced our array of tastes enough to satisfy them. I can't say I'm 100 percent macrobiotic, but I think there is a lot of merit in eating more whole foods. Check out the following Web site: http://lenoresnatural.com.You may find some helpful information and recipes.

Helayne Gaither
Taylor, Michigan


VVS volunteer profile: Evelyn Gilbert

Evelyn Gilbert is currently a vegetarian wanna-be, but she must be fairly serious about making a full transition--beyond beef and chicken--since she has taken on the important job of calendar editor for The VivaVine. She looks forward to meeting more like-minded people at the Vegetarian Center, she tells us, and being positively influenced by "all of you peaceful plant eaters!" Evelyn is senior editor of Natural Living Today, a magazine that focuses on alternative health and vegetarianism.

(See photograph in the Acrobat Reader version of this issue.)

Click here for the pdf (Acrobat Reader) file for the current (November/December 2000) issue of The VivaVine: The vegetarian-issues magazine published by The VivaVegie Society.

  If you don't have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it here.


Vegetarian News

Rescued, then rendered: Tornado traps a million battery hens

Their prisons became their sepulchers in an instant when a tornado in September destroyed 12 buildings holding a million battery-caged hens at the Buckeye Egg Farm in Croton, Ohio. When the buildings collapsed, automated life-support systems were shut down. Suddenly, the birds were trapped in their cages in buildings that (with three exceptions) were too dangerous to enter. A farm in Alabama at first agreed to take 200,000 of the birds but reconsidered because of concerns about Ohio birds spreading disease to their state, according to a Columbus Dispatch story at the time.

(See photographs in the Acrobat Reader version of this issue.)

Click here for the pdf (Acrobat Reader) file for the current (November/December 2000) issue of The VivaVine: The vegetarian-issues magazine published by The VivaVegie Society.

  If you don't have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it here.

Neighbors and animal rescuers from all over the country did their best to save thousands of birds, but for the most part the strategy was to try to remove as many as possible in order to gas and render them before they could die of thirst or starvation. The company was unable to gas more than 30,000 per day, too slow to avoid the inevitable for most of the birds.

United Poultry Concerns president Karen Davis went to the scene to rescue 25 chickens for her sanctuary in Machapango, Virginia. "What these hens have suffered is horrible," she said. "Buckeye has opened people's eyes to the nightmare of modern egg production. When people see the hens we're rescuing, spreading their wings for the first time, they are moved to tears. Modern egg production has become so cruel and insane that even McDonald's has told its egg suppliers to change."

Buckeye is the fourth-largest egg producer in the United States, now with 14 million birds, a million fewer than before the tornado. It supplies about 4 percent of the nation's eggs.

Maryland to big poultry: Become manure-responsible

Maryland authorities fearing the danger of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay are forcing large poultry processors to monitor their contract farmers to ensure that they dispose of their chicken manure "responsibly."

If the manure is disposed of improperly, companies could face fines of up to $25,000 a day. Particularly strict requirements are being set on the use of manure as a crop fertilizer. Manure runoff has been identified as a major cause of water pollution. Tests are being done on the soil to see how much manure it can absorb; excesses can then be prohibited.

Although the large chicken processors own the birds who are raised by the contract growers and dictate every aspect of how these chickens live and breed, large poultry companies have denied responsibility for the disposal of their chickens' waste, trying to put it back on the shoulders of the contract growers.

But Maryland officials are putting the ball in the court of the poultry companies, asserting that those who own the chickens, control every aspect of the birds' lives, and make the most money off them are the ones who should be responsible for the proper disposal of their manure.

On the average, low-income contract growers receive a 1 percent return on their investment, compared with the poultry companies, which boast profits of 20 to 30 percent.

Groundwater at risk from slaughterhouse sludge; Tyson at it again

Inspections in August at two of Tyson Foods' chicken slaughterhouse farms in Maryland revealed that the company was not in compliance with a 1998 agreement with federal regulators to dispose of chicken waste properly. Tyson has since been fined $70,000 for the violations.

The 1998 agreement forced Tyson, the nation's largest poultry processor, to install environmentally safe storage sheds on its farms, where chicken manure and slaughter remains would be dumped. Yet state officials found piles of chicken carcasses, feathers, bones, and manure in shallow open-air pits, just steps away from virtually unused storage sheds. When asked why the sheds were not being used, Tyson officials had no explanation.

Alarmed by the threat of water pollution, David Pushkar, district manager for the Compliance Division of the Maryland Department of Environment, stated in September that he would be sending investigators to a third Tyson farm, according to a story in The Washington Post at the time. He said: "We have concern for groundwater problems. If it's going on at two farms, how many others is it happening at?"

William Trader, a local farmer working for Tyson, said that Tyson managers had instructed him to dispose of the chicken remains and manure in the open-air pit and not in the composting shed, according to the Post. "I didn't like to see chickens lying around out there like that," the newspaper quoted Trader as saying. Trader has since received an eviction notice from Tyson.

The Supreme Court forbids dumping intestinal waste in the river. In a related story, Smithfield Foods was ordered in October to pay a $12.6 million fine for dumping slaughterhouse waste in a Chesapeake Bay tributary, after losing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Bloomberg News. The fine is the largest civil penalty ever enacted under the U.S. Clean Water Act. The world's largest pork producer had dumped thousands of gallons of intestinal waste from its hog-slaughtering operation into the Pagan River. Smithfield argued that it was acting in accordance with rules that the company and the state of Virginia had agreed on. Waste from hog intestines contains phosphorus, which can lead to environmentally destructive algae blooms.

Drug residue found in cattle leads to more government restrictions

Concerned over the excessive levels of drugs found in livestock slaughtered for human consumption, the Clinton administration is preparing a ban on the sale of meat in which high residues of hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals are found, the Associated Press reported in August.

Currently, meat packers are merely required to throw out the part of an animal that has been found to exceed the Food and Drug Administration's drug-tolerance levels, such as the kidney or liver. They are still allowed to sell the remaining cattle parts. The new restrictions will require slaughterhouses to destroy entire carcasses when unusually high residues of drugs are found in any part. The regulations will apply primarily to dairy cows, whose bodies are the source of 40 percent of the nation's hamburger beef. These cows are older than steers when they go to slaughter and tend to contain more drug residues that have built up over time.

The FDA is also working on setting other regulations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including new testing requirements for listeria, a pathogen found primarily in cold cuts, and the deadly O157:H7 strain of E. coli, which most commonly lurks in the folds of ground beef. Evidence shows that the consumption of drug-filled cattle carcasses has caused other human illnesses and allergic reactions. And scientists, among others, are alarmed that certain harmful bacteria to which humans are exposed are the same ones that have developed resistances to antibiotics found in meat.

The industry has said that the new regulations will have a significant economic impact on meat packers, which must now throw away parts of animals--including intestinal contents--that they were previously able to sell.

McDonald's orders its egg suppliers to treat their hens more humanely

Responding to pressure from animal activists as well as scientists concerned about the risk of disease to humans, McDonald's has ordered its chicken farmers to implement better standards of care for their egg-laying hens. McDonald's, the first major company to take such a step, purchases nearly 2 billion eggs per year from its suppliers, as reported in an August issue of The Wall Street Journal.

According to the new regulations, hens must have 72 square inches of cage space each, compared with the approximately 50 square inches they have now. Although the increased "elbow" room still will not let the hens spread their wings fully or engage in other natural behaviors, it will allow all the hens in a cage to lie down at the same time.

The new rules are considered a major victory for animal welfare advocates, since the regulations are likely to produce a ripple effect throughout the U.S. egg industry, which produces about 240 billion eggs per year. A McDonald's spokesman told The Wall Street Journal, "These directives will begin improving the lives of more than 5 million hens throughout the United States. It was the right thing to do."

Other improvements being forced by the burger giant include a ban on forced molting, a sometimes lethal practice in which hens are denied food and water for anywhere from five days to two weeks. The practice is used to increase the size of the eggs--jumbo eggs are a phenomenon of the process--as well as to eke out additional batches.

McDonald's also says it will work to phase out the cruel practice of beak chopping, a widespread practice intended to prevent chickens from pecking one other in response to their stressful living conditions. The procedure, also called debeaking, is performed with an iron-hot clipper without anesthesia.

Those who are truly concerned about animal welfare may still have any number of serious complaints about the conditions in which hens are raised and ultimately killed. But McDonald's stance makes for good PR--and suggests that the meat industry may be starting to worry about its image.

Beef shortages at schools

The Food Safety and Inspection Service, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, does not have any authority to close down meat processing plants it deems unclean. It gets around this power shortfall by withdrawing inspectors, and the filthy plants are not permitted to market the uninspected meat.

But everything changed in December 1999, when a federal judge ordered inspectors back into a plant that the USDA had found overly contaminated with salmonella.

The USDA is now fighting back. In June, it raised the standards on bacteria for all beef that it purchases for the school-lunch program. The result has been major shortages of beef for schoolchildren, to the extent that some schools have no beef at all in their lunchrooms.

A spoonful of good intentions helps the stunning go down

According to a report presented to the American Meat Institute Foundation's 2000 Conference on Animal Handling and Stunning, 90 percent of beef slaughter facilities tested in a 1999 audit were able to stun their cattle 95 percent of the time on the first try. In 1996, a similar audit showed slaughter plants stunning the cattle on first try only 30 percent of the time. The report was compiled and presented by animal-handling expert Temple Grandin, according to a story posted in February to the Web site of The Meating Place.

Grandin attributed the improvement to recent active auditing of animal handling and stunning by major customers such as McDonald's. In 1996, pigs squealed continuously in many plants, Grandin related. But in 1999, 72 percent of the plants had at least "acceptable" levels of squealing. Also, electric prods for driving animals to the slaughter chute are now being used less often, replaced by colorful flags, rustling grocery bags, and plastic paddles, she said. The amount of squealing and the number of animal slips and falls lend themselves to an objective scoring method, used to gauge the level of inhumane animal treatment at a plant. Grandin herself devised the scoring methods, according to the Meating Place article. Good handling reduces cattle bruising--in other words, less marketable meat, she noted in her talk.

Meat eaters may be able to sleep a tiny bit easier now

A seal indicating that packages of meat and dairy products were derived from more humanely raised animals will soon be appearing at your neighborhood health-food store and eventually in mainstream supermarkets. Products displaying the "Free Farmed" label proportedly will have been produced without some of the uglier aspects of modern animal-food production. Growth stimulants and forced molting, for instance, will be prohibited by producers sporting the label, as will ammonia build-up in poultry grow-out sheds. Cattle in feedlots will have to be provided shade and water, but intense confinement of birds will be only reduced, not eliminated, under the program. Rules for hogs are still on the drawing board.

The standards were developed by the American Humane Association. Inspections will be monitored by the USDA. A September Associated Press story on the seal noted that initially few farmers will be able to meet the standards.

Vegetarian News was written by Deborah Romero and the staff of The VivaVine.


Veggie Nuggets

Their excrement won't stink, if this plan works

Using "microbe remediation" and "biofilters" made of hay, researchers who are designated to work out of a new high-tech hog research facility hope to reduce hog waste odor by 90 percent, according to a May story in the Associated Press. The facility, erected by Oklahoma State University, is costing $3 million to construct. Complaints about odors at the current facility operating in Stillwater, Oklahoma, prompted the move. High tech is considered the wave of the future for universities everywhere, as pressure mounts to combat smells from the increasing prevalence of intensive-hog-farming facilities.

Texas shrimpers say government is in the pink

Shrimp are a finite natural wonder that belongs to no one, you would think. But since landings of shrimp along the Texas gulf coast have declined by nearly 30 percent since 1972, prompting the state's Department of Parks and Wildlife to propose restrictions on fishing, shrimpers are using desperate rhetoric reminiscent of the Cold War era.

One fisherman quoted in an August story posted to the CNN Web site said: "It's a lot like communism. In the communist country they start taking your freedom away from you a little bit at a time. They don't take it away from you all at once, because you'll rebel. So they just pinch you and pinch you."

The proposed restrictions would increase the minimum size of shrimp that fishermen are allowed to bring in.

Bacon to the rescue

Ever since the risk of E. coli O157:H7 poisoning made it imperative to cook beef until gray all the way through, fast-food restaurants in particular have quested after a flavor enhancer. They've settled on flesh from the fatty underbellies of hogs, otherwise known as bacon. No doubt killing customers over the long run with heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes beats killing them on the spot by E. coli contamination. It keeps lawsuits to a minimum, too--that is, until the health victims of meat start targeting McDonald's and Burger King just as smokers have targeted Philip Morris and R. J. Reynolds.

Hot dog production to go ultra-sterile

In the wake of hot dog and ready-to-eat meat recalls--to the tune of tens of millions of pounds--the U.S Department of Agriculture is urging American meat processors to adopt the "sterile, air-filtered conditions of a computer chip plant," as Reuters put it in a June 18 story. Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks are making tough sanitary conditions an imperative. According to Robert LaBuddle, a food safety consultant quoted in the Reuters story, equipment in today's meat-processing plants cannot easily be taken apart for cleaning, and a changeover would be costly for the industry. "Using everything short of a space suit," he said, "we're talking about serious changes to plant layouts."

Video screenings

Call [click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00] to schedule an opportunity for your group, or just yourself, to watch videos at the Veggie Center. Sample titles:


Econ. Justice for Veg'ns

USDA ratchets up farm relief another year

Chalk it up to election-year handouts or to a natural outcome of the budget surplus: In the most recent fiscal year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture broke yet another record in assistance to "farmers and ranchers." All told, payments came to $28 billion in direct assistance, which comes to a full half of all farm income, according to an October 2 USDA press release that reads like a jubilant register of party favors. The assistance comes in the form of an array of programs with names that surely mean little to the everyday citizen. Yet farmers and ranchers undoubtedly have learned to decipher its benefit-speak.

Farm subsidies rarely get widespread coverage in the media. There is virtually no disagreement on them between Republicans and Democrats. USDA secretary Dan Glickman said it right out in July when he explained in a Bloomberg story, "We should not be ashamed of providing assistance to farmers." Six giant companies could probably produce all the food that is needed, but that, he explained, would not be politically acceptable. Farmers, he implied, cannot do without government support--that is, "if you want to preserve a systems of family-sized agriculture," the Bloomberg story reported.

But the Environmental Working Group, a government watchdog, may take issue with Glickman's assessment and may even contend that government is fueling the trend toward fewer but larger farms. According to an Associated Press story in April, the group found, after examining 30 million records from 1996 to 1998 amounting to nearly $23 billion, that more than half of the total went to only 10 percent of the recipients.

Vegetarian View. To say the least, the USDA does not have a vegetarian perspective, so the percentage of this year's handouts that went to animal agriculture, specifically, was not broken out. Therefore, vegetarians can only guess at the magnitude of economic injustice (let alone bad policy) this $28 billion represents. It bears noting that 70 percent of all grain in the United States is fed to livestock, tilting the portion of farming that can be put in the animal-agriculture category.

Lobstermen asked, and they received

It's been a tough season for lobstermen on the Long Island Sound this year. The spectre of overfishing is a perennial fear, but this time fishermen's traps were filled with nothing but dead or dying lobsters. The cause behind the carnage is still disputed. Some blame sewage dumping; others even blame West Nile virus mosquito spraying. Whatever the cause, in July the U.S. Congress indulged the requests of these extractors of luxury-food wildlife to the tune of $50 million in bailout money.


Eco-veg report

Red list identifies 11,000 species at risk

According to a massive overview of some 18,000 species and subspecies, the most comprehensive analysis of its kind ever, over 11,000 plants and animals are at risk of disappearing forever. Conservationists say that the rate of extinction is in fact 1,000 to 10,000 times as high as it would be if nature were the only factor, according to an Associated Press story on the study published late in September. Humans are far and away the prevailing culprit in the decimation. Up there in deadly influences, along with expanding cities and deforestation, are agriculture and fishing. The analysis, known as the Red List of Threatened Species, was conducted by the World Conservation Union and involved 7,000 species experts from nearly every country in the world, yet scientists acknowledge that the overview only scratches the surface.

Kids identified as earth's enviro-salvation

What's on the minds of kids today? Nickelodeon, the children's television network, wanted to know. After visiting with 10,000 kids from 28 countries, it found that the most important issues that kids are concerned about are the environment and animals rights. The producer of a documentary about the survey was quoted in a story posted to the CNN Web site: "[The kids] understand the environmental cost of unchecked consumerism and are fiercely willing to do what's necessary to protect the Earth and the life on it, even if it means going without."

Overfished off Massachusetts

The dogfish typically reaches 3 feet in length and travels in packs of thousands, but its glory days may be numbered as it joins the ranks of sea animals that are being overfished. Thanks to a growing human appetite for the species, Atlantic fishermen began poisoning and dynamiting this once-despised fish as the seemingly inexhaustible supply of cod and scallops became severely reduced by--you guessed it--overfishing, about a decade ago.

The spin doctors of the fishing industry, in a move to bolster the image of the fish, decided to call the lowly dogfish "Cape Shark." Whatever the name, the dogfish means big money in Massachusetts, where over half of the roughly 50 million pounds of catch in the United States originates--at least for the moment. The federal government, however, backed by a recent district court decision, says the fisherman must sharply curtail their catches. Marine experts believe that overfishing has severely cut the number of mature female dogfish, who have gestation periods of up to two years.

Sadly, the state of Massachusetts has sided with the fishing industry and is allowing fishermen to buck the federal guidelines within state waters, which extend 3 miles from the coast. Quotas in these waters run as high as 11 times the federal limit. State officials claim that they can "rebuild and continuously harvest." In the meantime, fishermen are leaving nothing to chance and so are on the lookout for the next profitable fish to harvest.


For the health of it

A little bit of dietary sunshine

Hurrah for our side: PCRM wins a federal ruling to pressure the USDA to end ties to animal-food industries

Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases an update to its standing dietary guidelines. The conclusions that result are critical to everything from the well-known food pyramid to the all-pervasive school lunch program. By extension, whoever sits on the advisory committee to determine the guidelines is key, a fact not lost on Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the influential, Washington-based, pro-vegan group representing about 5,000 doctors. PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., has said that the guidelines, which allow two to three servings of both meat and dairy foods per day, become a license to gorge on artery-clogging cheese, hamburgers, and other rich foods, according to a June article posted to the CNN Web site. PCRM has rightly been on the warpath against both the guidelines and the advisors, who in a number of cases have ties to the meat and dairy industries. The group even came out with a vegan "Four Food Groups" in 1991.

PCRM's persistence has paid off. A federal district court in October ruled that the USDA violated government sunshine and conflict-of-interest laws in appointing and operating the national Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, according to an October story in the The Washington Post. PCRM had filed the suit that resulted in the ruling. "Americans are in the worst shape they've ever been, with obesity at an all-time high. The government should be pushing for a diet built from grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes," Barnard was quoted as saying in the CNN story.


"Milk-fed" Veal: Cruelty to calves for a profit

By Scott Lustig

The meat industry, like all commercial industries, seeks to enhance its profit. Profit for this industry is generated through manipulating living, sensitive beings so consumers can purchase their flesh, milk, and eggs. Since there are virtually no federal laws, and state laws regulating the humane farming of animals are few and poorly enforced, the meat industry is free to manipulate animals to generate greater profit, regardless of the suffering and degradation the animals experience as a result.

The modern-day production of veal is a glaring example of the meat industry's use of unbridled methods in its ruthless pursuit of profit. To induce calves to grow flesh that is pale and soft--the characteristics of gourmet veal--farmers immobilize the calves in narrow stalls. The calves are unable to move about, and their muscles remain soft. Iron and fiber, which would darken their flesh, are curtailed in the calves' feed.

Love Animals; Don't Torture Them

Relegated to wooden, slatted floors, the calves are denied straw bedding to prevent them from eating the straw to obtain these nutrients. They are chained at the neck to prevent them from turning around and pitifully licking their own urine, which contains tiny amounts of iron--something calves never do in nature. At the same time, they are subjected to conditions that force their rapid and heavy growth, like being fed a high-fat liquid and growth hormones.

Weak and sickly, the calves suffer anemia and chronic diarrhea from their all-liquid, iron-deficient diet, as well as respiratory disease from having to breathe the residue of their excrement, and lice infestations from their inability to groom their bodies.

Psychologically, they are stressed by being unable to express natural desires and behaviors, like moving around and interacting with peers. They cannot nurse, since they are torn from their mothers at birth. Veal calves are born to dairy cows, and allowing the calves to suckle their mothers would drop the dairy cows' milk output. Since male calves can never produce their own milk, they are frequently sold to veal farmers.

Calves are fed various antibiotics and other drugs to keep them alive in their stress-filled state, a practice that threatens public health by promoting the emergence of dangerous bacterial strains that are antibiotic-resistant.

After 15 weeks, by which time the calves weigh about 350 pounds, they are wobbled out of their stalls for slaughter. If they were kept any longer, death rates from their wholly unnatural existence would increase beyond acceptable (economically feasible) levels. In fact, 10 to 20 percent already die before this time.

Meat produced in this manner is commonly called "milk-fed" or "special-fed" veal. It is the predominant form of veal sold today. Historically, veal was obtained by killing calves shortly after birth, while their flesh was still pale and soft. Today's system of perpetual confinement and manipulated feeding, conceived in Holland after World War II and brought to America in the early 1960s, was a definite moneymaker for the veal industry. Since calves could now be fattened while the desired flesh characteristics were preserved, more profit was generated.

Modern-day veal production is an example of how animal agriculture, unfettered by humane farming regulations, has abused animals for profit. Other major animal food businesses also continue to develop increasingly harsh methods to extract more food output from animals while curbing costs. For the past half-century, for example, egg producers have been cramming hens into wire-mesh "battery" cages. One of the economic benefits of this method is that the hens' eggs roll through the wire-mesh openings, making their collection easier. Never mind the intense need of the mother hens to safeguard their eggs!

Congressman Gary Ackerman recently introduced a bill banning "special-fed" veal production (H.R. 4415). The European Union has already banned it, as well as battery caging and other harsh farming methods. Please call your representative and urge passage of this bill.

Truly, the only way to eliminate the abuse of animals raised for food is to stop eating them. Animal agriculture is intrinsically abusive, necessitating confinement, isolation, physical manipulation, and deprivation. At a bare minimum, the United States needs laws preventing the meat industry from violating animals in its ruthless pursuit of profit.


Viva Vegie News

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Volunteers contribute the greatest gift of all

There are many ways to make a difference if spreading knowledge about the virtues of vegetarianism is your calling. Special thanks to the following people who helped the Viva Vegie Society since the previous VivaVine issue: Tom Thompson, Bobbie Flowers, James Langergaard, Judea Johnson, Seth Asher, Mitchell Stern, Evelyn Gilbert, Laura Dauphine, and Rob Dolecki.

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Do something on the low-commitment side.

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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

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(See photograph in the Acrobat Reader version of this issue.)

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VivaVegie Society, Inc.
Vol. 9, No. 5
November / December 2000

VivaVegie Society
P.O. Box 163 /
Pocono Lake, PA 18347
[click here for new address and contact information as of 12/28/00]
(vegetarian center)
212-871-9304 (hot line)
E-mail: pamela@vivavegie.org

Publisher: Pamela Rice
Editor: Alan Rice
Contributors: Glen Boisseau Becker, Scott Lustig, Karen Iacobbo, and Deborah Romero
Copy editor: Glen Boisseau Becker
Webmaster: Marian Cole
Calendar editor: Evelyn Gilbert
Gaggle of veg-evangelists: Bobbie Flowers, Joan Zacharias, Danielle Dunbar, Laura Dauphine, Judea Johnson, Jean Thaler, Murray Schechter, and Rob Dolecki
Graphics: Michelle Fornof, Toni Dalton and Arnold Wechsler
Editorial consultants: Special thanks to:

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."


Obtain VivaVegie's "Vegetarian Guide to New York City," free! Simply send an SASE to our post-office box, indicating your interest in the vegetarian guide.

Stop 'em in their tracks with VivaVegie's "mighty convincer." "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," our popular itemized booklet documenting the ills of meat and the virtues of veggies (by Pamela Rice), is available in single copies and in bulk. An order coupon appears on page 15.