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

The VivaVine (July / August, 2001, Vol. 10, No. 3)


Click here for the pdf file for the current (July / August, 2001) issue of The VivaVine: The vegetarian-issues magazine published by The VivaVegie Society.

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Table of Contents


Vegetarian center programs

All events are at 121 East 27th Street, Suite 704. Where appropriate, participants may bring dinner with them. Information: 646-424-9595.

Rap 'n' wrap (6:30 p.m.)
Tues., July 17: A time for vegetarians to shoot the breeze and sort things out from our own perspective. Likely topics that will come up for discussion: (1) The vegetarian class-action suit against McDonald's. (2) The hoof-and-mouth disease crisis. (3) What of Phoenix--the symbol of life embodied in a British baby calf? And has anyone discovered yet where to get a vegan meal in Timbuktu? Suggested donation: $3.

By appointment: Getting started with your new veggie diet. What do you eat, now that you've decided to go vegetarian? Browse our files and take some literature. View videos that will have you saying, "Aha!" Donations are appreciated.

Two volunteers' open houses (6:30 p.m.)
Fri., July 27 & Aug. 24: Help your favorite vegetarian advocacy organization, and learn marketable skills too! Are you organized? Can you stick to a task? VivaVegie needs clerical work, such as filing and database input. Join like-minded veggies, and make a difference, too. We'll order in gourmet vegan pizza from Viva Herbal.


Go to program listings of events that take place at the Vegetarian Center, including workshops, rap sessions, and two open houses. For the following listings, please call to confirm details. Events are in Manhattan unless otherwise noted.

Wed., July 11-Sun. July 15
North American Vegetarian Society holds its Vegetarian Summerfest 2001. This is one of the major vegetarian conferences of the year. The Conference Center, Pitt-Johnstown, PA. Info: 518-568-7970, http://navs-online.org.

Fri., July 20-Sun., July 22
EarthSave Long Island is sponsoring Planet Earth Expo! Delicious food, cooking demos, and more. Wantagh Chamber of Commerce Annual Festival. Info: 631-421-3791, http://li.earthsave.org.

Sun., July 29, and Sun., Aug. 26
Vegetarian street out reach with the VivaVegie Society, 1:00 p.m. Distribute our "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" (new 2001 edition now available) and other literature to passersby. Call 646-424-9595 for locations.

Thurs., Aug. 30-Mon., Sept. 3
The Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society (click for story, this issue) has a booth at the Columbia County Fair in Chattham, NY. Penelo Pea Pod makes an appearance. Info: 518-392-0964.

Mon., July 8-Sun., July 14, 2002
International Vegetarian Union is sponsoring its 35th World Vegetarian Congress: "Food For All Our Futures." Commune with vegetarians from all over the world. Tours to the countryside will be available.
Edinburgh, Scotland. Info: http://www.ivu.org/congress/2002.

To list an event in this calendar, send e-mails to evhotstory@aol.com.


More NYC-area resources
• Accent on Wellness Natural Hygiene support group meets every Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Hygeia Center, 18 E. 23rd St. A raw pot luck is held the first Saturday of the month at 6:00 p.m. 212-253-2262, PlanetHealth@aol.com.
• Brooklyn Raw holds a pot luck the last Friday of each month, 7:30 p.m., at Eco Books, 192 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, between Sackett and Union Sts. A support group is held the first Wednesday of the month, 7:30 p.m. 718-832-9380.
• Central Jersey Vegetarian Group has monthly pot lucks. 908-281-6388.
• EarthSave Hudson Valley hosts a pot luck the fourth Saturday of each month. http://hudsonearthsave.org.
• International African Vegetarian Network and Friends' dinner, the first Sunday of the month, 4:00 p.m., the House of the Healing Fire, 212-368-5320, Sis Moutique.
• Iron Vegans' Raw Food Connection holds a pot luck the second Saturday of the month. 718-263-7160.
• NYC Vegetarians holds monthly dinners, pot lucks, and other activities. Les Judd, 718-805-4260 (Mon.-Thurs., before 10:00 p.m.), celiaveg@aol.com.
• Veggie Singles holds monthly events for single vegetarians interested in meeting other like-minded plant eaters. 718-437-0190.
• VegOut (a social group for lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender vegetarians and friends). 212-802-8655, vegout1@juno.com.

Stop 'em in their tracks with the 2001 edition of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" (one-third, new and improved)! This is our popular 16-page "mighty convincer" that documents the ills of meat and the virtues of veggies (by Pamela Rice)--over 100,000 in circulation. It is available in single copies and in bulk. Click here for pdf file.



Hoof-and-mouth disease: It's what's for dinner
By Pamela Rice

This disease is rarely fatal. But to cloven-footed commercial livestock, it might as well be a death sentence. When your life--as far as your human owner is concerned--depends on how much your body puts out in the way of flesh or milk, any reduction in productivity invariably translates into an early demise. First, hoof-and-mouth disease puts blisters on your hooves, teats, muzzle, and lips. You get a fever. Then you lose your appetite, so your growth slows. And if your purpose in life is "giving" milk, this function also goes kaput. If by the tiniest chance you're allowed to live long enough to recover, you will be debilitated for life.

If this is your crime, no, you will not pass Go, and you will not collect $200. You will go directly to slaughter. Then your carcass will be burnt to embers on a mountainous pyre so that any trace of the infectious HMD agent that may be harbored in your body is destroyed. This is the scenario that is still playing itself out for those ruminant animals who got in harm's way during the latest British outbreak, of Biblical proportions. It's not personal. It's business: HMD has economic ramifications more than anything else.

At press time, over 2 million animals in Great Britain had been slaughtered and burned to satisfy an eradication program designed to save the $1-billion-a-year export business in English meat. Only a small fraction of these animals--about 1,400--actually had the disease. The rest were destroyed as a preventative measure. This did not go over well with farmers holding healthy animals who were within the 2-mile culling zone of any outbreak. When the slaughterman's gun was just around the bend, some farmers threatened to stand between the executioner and the animals.

"First they lock you up. Then they shoot your livestock, and then they force you to breathe in the smell of your burning livestock for the next week," fretted one farmer who had just witnessed the ruthless carnage of his sheep by English authorities. On other infected farms, animals were simply left to starve to death. Since HMD is so contagious, authorities would not let farmers get near them.

This disease is rarely fatal. But to cloven-footed commercial livestock, it might as well be a death sentence.

At the end of March, England's chief scientist, David King, said that up to half of England's 63 million farm animals eventually would have to be sacrificed to eradicate the disease from the country. This will probably turn out to be an exaggeration, but such a prospect is terrifying if even a small part of it comes true.

A New York Times article in May told the raw economic truth: "People who have no contact with agriculture--most of us, in other words--are sharply reminded from time to time that in the common agricultural view of things, cattle and sheep are primarily economic beings, their well-being, their care, their ultimate fate determined almost entirely by the investment they represent. This is one of those times."

An imported batch of meat, probably from East Asia, is believed to have originally brought the infection into England. Soon the disease got a foothold in a teeming livestock market in Essex.

The British government decided it did not want to lose its status as an HMD-free state, so officials became adamant that the country would go to whatever lengths were necessary to stem the tide of the infection. Vaccinations for animals in good health were ultimately rejected, since antibody reactions test positive for HMD--which again would jeopardize any disease-free status. The many strains of HMD would also complicate a vaccination program.

Vaccinating the animals would have been the humane solution to the crisis. In any case, millions of animals could have been saved, at least in the short term.

The real victims of this episode are what the industry dispassionately terms "catastrophic mortalities." Such deaths happen all the time--either by flood, heat wave, hurricane, or other weather disaster. Other animal diseases also swiftly wipe out large populations of livestock on a regular basis. The massive death and destruction that these events create is a moral outrage to begin with, but the sanitation problems that the sheer numbers of dead animals produce happen to be disastrous to the environment, no matter how the bodies are disposed of. The British scenario was no different, with scientists warning that the pyres were releasing huge amounts of dioxin into the air.

The public often is spared the knowledge of animal culls; news of them is usually confined to agricultural trade journals. Not this time! The British public and the entire world got a good dose of this story, not only because it's a bit hard to hide the incineration of millions of large mammals (dead chickens, being small, are easier to keep under wraps), but because HMD is so contagious that every vehicle of the infection, including humans on holiday in the English countryside, had to be halted. Clothing, shoes, the breath of a pig, or dust on a car-radio aerial can harbor the virus, which can live up to three weeks.

On some infected farms, animals were simply left to starve to death. Since HMD is so contagious, authorities would not let farmers get near them.

Whole regions in England had to be quarantined as soon as the disease hit. Major sporting events in the countryside were called off. And during the height of the outbreak, all 11 national parks in England and Wales were off limits, with those in violation at risk of being arrested. It's hard to run a country, or hide an ugly livestock disposal event, when no one is allowed to move. Too bad the Brits could not stop the wind! The infectious agent that causes HMD can be kept airborne for up to 40 miles.

Naturally, the media began following the gruesome details, publishing photographs of mountains of charred carcasses. The word vegetarian was seen more than a few times in articles about the carnage.

When the ash settles on this one, many of the owners of the killed animals will be out of business. Herds that may have taken years to build were ordered destroyed. Even a number of rare breeds were threatened with extinction by the giant cull. Still, a lot of farmers won't be completely out of luck. Many will be compensated by the British government, or at least partly reimbursed for the animals who were destroyed. For those commercial enterprises merely tied to the livestock business, or for those in the tourism industry, calculating the losses--far greater than those suffered by farmers--is much harder. The tourism industry in particular may just have to eat the economic disaster this time, to the tune of hundreds of millions of British pounds.

As with mad cow disease, this outbreak of HMD started in England and later spread to the other British islands, as well as to continental Europe. The critics complained that the Brits again had not contained the disease agent fast enough. When HMD hit the European mainland, the United States and Canada tightened their import restrictions on live animals and certain meats and cheeses from the entire European Union, with Danish pork ribs being one of the hardest-hit--even though there wasn't a trace of HMD in Denmark. A day later, a number of other countries followed suit. Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) even suggested that the United States block imports of meat from anywhere in the world. Ultimately, England was seen as the "leper of Europe," as one Irish junior minister put it. And soon, thanks to meat, we had yet another reason for countries to be at each other's throats.

Vegetarians in England were quick with the I-told-you-sos, suggesting that livestock farmers switch to crop farming for direct human consumption. One sheep farmer quoted in a British newspaper was not amused with the vegetarian finger wagging: "It really makes my blood boil to see their trendy ideas exploiting our problems." He suggested--with more passion than logic--that the agro-reformers, animal-rights activists, and vegetarians shut up until the hoof-and-mouth outbreak had been conquered.

At the same time, a few people started to consider the vegetarian lifestyle, but if news accounts are any clue, many more were apt to look toward other animal foods. Shrimp from Thailand, kangaroo meat from Australia, ostrich meat from South Africa, and even horsemeat from the United States have become alternative fare in European households, just as fast as the sales of European beef hit the floor. In mid-March 2001, sales of beef in Germany dropped to a fifth of their volume just four months earlier.

Meanwhile, the chance of hoof-and-mouth disease coming to the United States is quite within the realm of possibility; some say it's only a matter of time. Plague or no plague, vegetarians won't be affected directly. We do stand to lose, however, by what I call "taxation without justification." The eradication of millions of animals could cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. The U.S. government already has promised to reimburse farmers for any lost livestock. Without this guarantee, it's assumed that farmers might be less than forthcoming in reporting sick animals.

And as if this were not enough, at the request of farm groups, the federal Catastrophic Disaster Response Group has been put on alert that it may have to coordinate a massive mobilization of agencies across the nation to move swiftly to control an HMD outbreak in the United States--indeed, as if human life were at stake. This top agency, which normally worries itself with bioterrorism or industrial disasters, brought together 26 U.S. agencies in April to rehearse and role-play in an exercise that seemed more like a military war game than anything else. The National Guard would likely be deployed in a real situation.

The ultimate disaster for America, however, could be the infection of American wildlife. Wild animals could become a long-term, even permanent reservoir for the disease. If this happened, would anything stop the livestock industry from asking for a widespread government campaign to eradicate every wild animal that walks on hooves in the United States?


Hoof-and-mouth disease: Different from mad cow disease
A lot of people, especially on this side of the pond, get these two diseases mixed up.

Hoof-and-mouth disease, also known as foot-and-mouth disease, is a viral infection--similar to a very bad cold--that for all intents and purposes affects only animals. One British man contracted a mild version of the ruminant illness in April to nationwide consternation. A freak accident had caused infectious fluid from a decaying animal to be propelled directly into his mouth. People do not get sick by eating meat from infected animals. But the animals themselves can catch the disease from uncooked meat harboring the disease.

Mad cow disease, on the other hand, definitely has a companion human variant, and the infectious agent in this case--the prion--is considered one of the most monstrous and freakish things in nature. It is all but proven that cows fed on the ground-up body parts of scrapie-infected sheep developed scrapie-like symptoms--only peculiar to cattle. It was called mad cow disease, because cows with the ailment appear crazed. Human victims of a "new variant" of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease are the next link on the infection chain. It is believed that these people became infected by eating the meat from the "mad cows." There is no cure for nvCJD; all victims die after suffering from a protracted and agonizing illness. Today, there is heightened awareness all over the world about feeding the remains of animals back to livestock. Feeding ruminant back to ruminant (cow to cow) is especially taboo and is now illegal in many parts of the world. Still, there are holes in the system, as an FDA investigation recently found. Perhaps there should be laws against people eating ruminants!


Commentary: Having a calf and eating steak too
By Pamela Rice

She was pinned under her dead mother for five days, but her awful predicament is what ended up saving her life in a country quite confused about what it thinks about animals.

She's now known as Phoenix--named after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes--a calf as adorable as any creature on Earth. She was saved from the massive cull of cattle, sheep, and pigs that was instituted to eradicate the still-ongoing outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in England. Phoenix was saved by politics and public relations. By the time her story hit the newspapers--her lovable face was plastered across all the tabloids--the Brits had had just about enough of public slaughter, incineration, and mass burials.

Pleas came from everywhere to spare her life, because saving her this time would make her twice blessed. She had already

defied death once when authorities overlooked her tiny newborn frame during the cull. She stayed hidden under her mother, who, along with the rest of an uninfected herd, was shot and left in a pile. Phoenix surfaced when crews came along to incinerate all the bodies.

Since the virus that causes hoof-and-mouth disease can be carried for miles via the wind, animals in herds that are simply near a farm with a confirmed case also have to be destroyed--this to provide disease-free buffer zones.

No word yet, but we can just guess that our cute little calf will probably be allowed to live out her days into old age. Phoenix is a symbol of hope, you see. We assume that she will be vaccinated, a privilege afforded only to a few rare-breed animals that will never be exported as meat.

It's quite a bit different from when vegetarians rescue individual factory-farmed animals and put them in sanctuaries. Should we let meat eaters have their symbol too?
A decade or two out, we'll also probably hear that Phoenix died--peacefully of course--and at once we'll be reminded of this horrible time.

In the end, what we have here is a bunch of meat eaters saving one animal to assuage their collective guilt, quite a bit different from when vegetarians rescue individual factory-farmed animals and put them in sanctuaries. Should we vegetarians let them have their symbol too?

What is the logic of this? Save one potentially contaminated animal after exterminating 2 million? If the policies that doomed the other cows were prudent, why spare this one? Sure, she's cute. But if you asked me, I'd say let's make her a martyr, not a concession to hypocritical sentimentality. How dare they try to put a happy face on yet another ugly consequence of beef Wellington! If you can't stomach the bloodshed, the burning, and the waste, my friend, you need to stop eating meat.


County Fair: Veg'ns in brouhaha

Booth ban overturned, but not until after a fight

When one thinks of rural America, pastures, rolling hills, and orchards come to mind, not book burning and censorship. But that's exactly what vegetarian advocates were recently up against in Columbia County, New York--in the nation's

The "101" burned

Joan Zacharias, holding a charred copy of "101 Reasons." Photo by Tom Lyons

third-largest dairy-producing state.

At last year's county fair, 4-H kids and dairymen stole literature including a stack of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" from the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society booth and burned it on a barbecue grill. Rather than promising protection for the vegetarian booth at this year's event, fair organizers informed the vegetarians that they would not be welcome at all. The vegetarians found this unacceptable.

After a flurry of media coverage around the capital region and letters to the editor from outraged vegetarians and free-speech advocates all over the world, fair officials voted unanimously to reverse the booth ban but insisted that "anti-dairy" and "anti-farming" literature could not be displayed at the booth.

Citing the First Amendment, the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society and its attorney decried this "soft censorship" and continued to negotiate with fair organizers, reminding them that it was not their role to protect big dairy and cattle interests. Eventually, they backed down on the literature ban.

Throughout the controversy, fair organizers have objected most to vegetarian information on dairy and slaughter. "Don't say that the farmers are killing their cows!" said one fair official. Joan Zacharias, veggie booth coordinator, points out that there isn't a vegetarian group in the world that wouldn't offend dairy and beef cattle farmers. "They don't like us reminding people of the connection between the cows in the 4-H dairy barn and the American Legion hot dog booth."


Red Meat: Co-op holds referendum

At the end of June, ballots to determine whether Brooklyn's Park Slope Co-op should be allowed to sell organic red meat were to be received from members. The VivaVine will report the outcome of the election in the next issue.

According to Seth Asher, the Co-op held a members' forum to discuss the possible development. He reports that the person who initiated the proposal suggested that the organic option would lessen consumption of factory-farmed meat and help people make the transition to vegetarianism. "With unmitigated chutzpah," Seth fumed, "she even waved VivaVegie's '101 Reasons' as supporting fodder for her proposal."

As co-op member Ted Lewis put it in a flyer he crafted to distribute to shoppers every weekend leading up to the ballot deadline: "The co-op should ideally serve as a model for healthful, responsible living. While most of the members are probably not vegetarians, we nonetheless need to know that the products we buy reflect the co-op's mission statement--that is, are healthy, do not hurt the environment, and do not exploit others (read animals and workers). We have the choice of building the co-op as a place that fosters these values or making choices that undermine these values. Vote 'no' on the food co-op's organic red-meat referendum!"



Mythical realization
I just finished reading your "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian." I guess I always pictured dairy and egg farming as more natural than they actually are. Perhaps the mythical ideals of the family cow and chicken were in my head--just as the reality of factory production escaped me. You have strengthened my resolve to live a more responsible and healthy life.
Jack Burns

When will the cruelty end?
Is there any hope that farm-animal cruelty will ever end? It has become so pervasive and appears destined to get worse. It seems that most people continue to eat meat despite in many cases being at least somewhat aware of what goes on. Do people just not care?
Via the Internet

Editor's note: A funny thing happens when you adopt the vegetarian lifestyle: You tend to see connections that others just can't. I try not to dwell on the enormity of the task or the apathy of nonvegetarians. Instead, I try to do something every day to advance our cause.

Every hour counts
Everytime we enlighten people to the suffering of the voiceless, and every time we help someone stop consuming meat products, we help to save countless animal lives. As I see it, every hour counts.
Tom W.
Portland, Maine

Hillary factor
If Hillary Clinton acts on your letter to her, I would almost consider becoming a Democrat. Since I am a lifelong Republican, this would be the supreme sacrifice for vegetarianism.
Joyce E. Spatta
Bend, Oregon

Editor's note: We're still waiting for a response from the senator's office.

Warm wishes from NAVS
VivaVegie's Vegetarian Center is a tremendous milestone for the vegetarian movement. What a shining example you've set for other groups! We know you'll accomplish great things there. And with Penelo Pea Pod on hand, we're sure you'll also be having fun (that's really important too!).
You have our warmest wishes for many years of successful activities and outreach. At least until that time when it's the few remaining meat eaters who need support centers.
Brian Graff
Codirector, North American Vegetarian Society

Raw, vegan, and ecumenical
Our last-minute raw vegan ecumenical Passover seder in The Bronx was a success. Next year, we'll make sure to give you plenty of notice of the time and place, so more people can join us.
Susan Rothman
The Bronx


VVS volunteer profile: Elena Romanova

Here's Elena of Manhattan, who volunteered her expert services as a certified public accountant. She completed our form 990 for the IRS in record time. After this picture was taken at the Veggie Center, Elena told us that she was on her way to yet another animal-rights group to volunteer her time.


Comments heard at the Vegetarian Center of NYC:

Asking the protein question at the VeggieCenter is like bringing up affirmative action at a skinhead meeting.
--Peter Erickson, Long Island City, New York

I believe we ought to put a tax on death. That should make a few people into vegetarians.
--A.J. Elterman, Queens, New York

I find that people are less open to talk about what they eat than what they think about religion or politics. Even their sexual preferences can be discussed more reasonably, I find.
--Seth Prince, Brooklyn, New York

The whiteness of milk is no indicator of purity or safety. Next time, pour it down the drain instead of down your throat.
--Kate Garrison, New York, New York

Vegetarianism is for people who eat.
--Pamela Rice, Publisher, The VivaVine


Vegetarian News

Galapagreed:Fishermen now snaring humans
Survival of the richest

A fierce battle has erupted in the waters near the famed Galapagos Islands, the setting where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution. Today, a fight for survival is being waged between conservationists and a ravenously greedy bunch of fishermen. In November, 900 fishermen, angry about quotas, threatened tourists, blocked roads, destroyed the islands' telephone antenna, and even ransacked the Charles Darwin Foundation research station, taking some of the tortoises there hostage. Several days later the director of the facility, with fishermen in pursuit, had to flee for his life. He was rescued from a mangrove swamp by special forces of the Ecuadorean navy.

Behind the fishermen are the real players: deep-pocketed middlemen who are eager to purchase entire catches of lobsters, sea cucumbers, and shark fins for sale in Asian markets. Intense demand has attracted a rush on what the conservationists characterize as a very finite resource. But greed has a habit of holding sway when a fisherman's take can amount to a cocaine dealer's income on the mainland, to paraphrase the chair of aquatic biology at the California Academy of Sciences, who was quoted in an Associated Press story in December. And the greed is redoubled when those hefty incomes begin to falter as more and more fishermen come to the area to share in the wealth.

Salmonella flunks out of school-lunch program

Salmonella on beef is still not legal, not for the school-lunch program anyway. But for a moment, the zero-tolerance rule for the pathogen in school-bound meat, which went into effect early in 2000, almost got rescinded. President Bush got a quick taste of public outrage early in April when, apparently, a low-level employee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided not to enforce the rule.

Surely the meat industry has wailed loudly enough for looser standards. Profit margins are markedly lower for suppliers, and the government has to pay more for school-lunch beef, since the rule went into effect. Last year, 4.2 million pounds of product had to be rejected because it was too contaminated for schools, according to the head of a California beef-processing firm who spoke at the annual business meeting of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, according to a February edition of Feedstuffs magazine. I guess we can assume that the rejected meat ended up in another market--one that does not have to live under the stringent school-lunch rules.

Let's level the playing field

As Europe struggles to implement laws that would impose some semblance of animal welfare into its agricultural practices, it continually comes up against lower-priced imports from countries that are under no legal obligation to produce their meat as humanely and therefore as expensively. But European poultry interests are taking the issue to the World Trade Organization.

A spokesman from a federation of poultry processors, who was quoted in a September 2000 edition of Feedstuffs magazine, said that the WTO should require livestock and poultry producers around the world to adhere to a standard of humane treatment of animals or else set levies on dairy, meat, and poultry exports that enter Europe. Something needs to "neutralize" Europe's added costs of animal welfare, he said. Future cage-size requirements for layer hens are estimated to raise costs for European producers by 15 percent.

Maryland first to consider reports on antibiotic use

In February, a bill was filed in Maryland to require farmers to report the amounts and types of antibiotics they administer to their animals, according to a February22 story in The Washington Post.

A month earlier, the Union of Concerned Scientists announced its finding that a large proportion of the total amount of antibiotics that are produced in the United States today are given to healthy animals on farms to promote an artificial rate of growth. It found that 25 million tons, or 70 percent of the total used in both humans and other animals, are administered mostly to chickens and pigs in subtherapeutic doses. This amount, the group pointed out, was 40 percent higher than what the industry has reported.

The report uncovered a disturbing weakness in how the nation keeps track of antibiotic use on the farm. Antibiotics in general are becoming ineffective because of overuse. Having farmers disclose their antibiotic use should help pinpoint to what extent meat is to blame for today's antibiotic resistance. Industry groups dispute the findings of the UCS yet they also oppose the legislation that would determine the actual numbers.

Fish inspection is virtually nonexistent

Though more individuals are affected by foodborne illness from beef, chicken, and pork, seafood causes more outbreaks than any other food, according to a survey done last year by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Indeed, more than half of the nation's seafood companies aren't following federal food-safety rules, according to a recent congressional investigation, as reported in a February edition of the Baltimore Sun. Could it have something to do with the virtually nonexistent U.S. inspection of fish?

Regulators from the Food and Drug Administration visit processors only once a year to oversee essentially voluntary sanitation measures implemented by companies. Often an inspection entails nothing more than an overview of paperwork. Moreover, half of all fish consumed in the United States are imported. None but a few of the largest foreign processing plants are ever seen by U.S. inspectors.

NYC-area meat processors caught red-handed

In a recent set of random inspections, almost one in four New York meat markets had at least one violation.
Federal inspectors from Nebraska were called to Manhattan's meat district on West 14th Street in mid-March, as well as to other sites in New York and New Jersey, to probe allegations of widespread corruption and safety abuses of the federal meat inspection service. Immediately, several plants were shutdown for rodent infestations and other unsanitary conditions. Eventually, 50 local processing plants became targets of the special inspection.

The intense oversight was the culmination of an undercover investigation that was prompted by whistleblowers in July 2000. Thomas Billy, the administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (the agency under investigation) said there was no sign that tainted meat had reached the public. But according to USDA inspector general Roger Viadero, during a Senate Agriculture Committee oversight hearing at the height of the crackdown, the investigation had found that inspectors in the Northeast District of the FSIS often simply do not show up for work, as reported in a March edition of Feedstuffs magazine. Also during the hearing, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) charged that reports of improprieties in New York City meat inspections have been common for 20 years.

A story in New York's Daily News reported that in one recent set of random inspections, almost one in four New York meat markets had at least one violation. "The problem is so widespread, it's hard to believe it's just mismanagement," said Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN).

New directions in ecoagriculture

It's man versus nature, and it seems both are destined to lose. According to a report issued by two environmental groups in March (and cited by Bloomberg), of the 17,000 largest nature reserves around the world, half are being used for agriculture, the reality of which is severely threatening wildlife. Too many poor, malnourished people are living in these species-rich areas, making the preservation of natural habitats that much more difficult. The World Conservation Union and the Washington-based charity Future Harvest suggest that the answer to increasingly threatened biodiversity is for ecology and agriculture to team up by way of what they term "ecoagriculture." Let's hope they don't integrate animal agriculture too heavily into their plans, or they may end up doing more harm than good.

Moving-target cholesterol

The National Institutes of Health have issued new, more
Take a Pill: Treating heart disease with potent drugs
aggressive guidelines on cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease--which it said is at epidemic levels among Americans. Though "diet" and lifestyle changes were recommended as a person's first line of defense in combating the disease, this repositioning of the guideposts is projected to double the number of Americans taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. The announcement, made in mid-May, promises to be a boon to the companies that make the six cholesterol-lowering drugs on the market.

No media reports on the announcement mentioned that dietary cholesterol is found only in foods derived from animals, nor that people have no nutritional requirement for cholesterol in their diets. The human body manufactures plenty on its own.


Veggie Nuggets

Bear market for bull meat

Want to cut through all the BS when it comes to BSE? Do you care to be spared the beef industry's rosy P.R.-driven drivel about mad cow-disease? The best people from whom to learn the real story are those who make the risk assessments for the big investment firms. A VivaVegie member smuggled a particularly


Penelo Pea Pod, a trooper

You can barely spot her, buried behind this swarm of revelers at the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Always the trooper, our Penelo Pea Pod knows that such a venue is a great place to reach lots of people with the vegetarian message. Penelo Pea also appeared at the Easter Parade.

revealing gem to the Vegetarian Center: a 12-page pamphlet called "Could 'Mad Cow Disease' Infect Your Portfolio?" After its evaluation of the risk that a mad cow crisis could hit the United States, it goes on to analyze how an investor can make or lose money by identifying the companies that stand to be affected by a full-fledged U.S. outbreak. Anybody tied to the multi-billion-dollar beef industry could be open to economic losses, to be sure! On the other hand, a few companies stand to win. The pamphlet listed them by name: Whole Foods Markets, Wild Oats, United Natural Foods, and Gardenburger. Veggie investors and risk takers, take heed.

Eating meat, hazardous too

Vegetarian activists everywhere long for the day when people perceive meat like cigarettes. Those warnings on the sides of cigarette packages make it so clear: These things are not good for your health!

Do we see a crack in the door with meat? Warnings that state "Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness" have been spotted at the bottom of certain restaurant menus. Shall we say the stack of cards is beginning to tumble?

"Pump heads": A new term enters the common lexicon

A heart that is still--that is, not beating--is easier to operate on than one that is moving--that is, beating. So before a surgeon begins performing a bypass, he usually stops his patient's heart. For a doctor to enjoy such convenience, his patient's body must be hooked up to a pumping machine. Unfortunately, the heart patient often experiences brain damage from the ordeal. The phenomenon is so common that they even have a name for its victims: "pump heads."

Enter "beating-heart" surgery. This has become popular, especially with many high-powered executives who are anxious to get back to their brain-dependent jobs. Going veggie in the first place might have spared them the whole dilemma.

Contaminated meat to go

Think that if a meat processor produces contaminated product the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture can shut the company down and force it to do a recall? Think again. The FSIS has no such authority. In fact, when a North Carolina processor received the agency's recommendation to recall over 3-1/2 tons of chicken in October, it simply refused. The only recourse the FSIS had was to notify the public and to stop movement of the product itself.


Video screenings

Call 646-424-9595 to schedule an opportunity for your group, or just yourself, to watch videos at the Veggie Center. Sample titles:
(Other titles also available.)


VivaVegie's Vegetarian Center of NYC
121 East 27th Street, Suite 704, in Manhattan
Office hours: 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., M-F
Always call ahead to confirm your visit: 646-424-9595


VivaVegie's Vegetarian Center
will be closed
from Monday, September 10,
to Sunday, September 23.


Veggie Center proves to be a valuable resource

Lisa Ronce of Manhattan made use of the Veggie Center in May to compile a meal plan for vegetarian patients at Bellevue Hospital, where she works as a registered dietician. Since a lot of the resource material at the center cannot leave the premises, the best solution was to camp out with the computers on hand. Later, Lisa just e-mailed herself the text that she wrote.


Books from two local authors

Judaism and Vegetarianism
New Revised Edition, LanternBooks

By Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.

Dr. Schwartz first shows how the Hebrew Bible offers countless examples of how God intends a compassionate and caring attitude toward animals, our health, and the health of the planet. Then he brilliantly shows how vegetarianism is imperative for these goals to come to fruition.

Kitchen Confidential
Bloomsbury USA

By Anthony Bourdain

The author has pathetically stated "Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for...." Anthony Bourdain is the kind of chef we love to hate, but his book gives a revealing, behind-the-scenes look at restaurant life where meat is always the main event.


Food-animal world
Change the pig, not the housing

We might call it the "transform them to your will" approach. It's pigs, this time, in industrial-size intensive confinement: They become aggressive even to the point of cannibalism when locked inside crowded pens--the norm in today's porcine agriculture. Economics has dictated the conditions. And according to the values of the system, it's change the pigs--their genes if need be--not their housing, to suit human convenience.

Apparently, according to reporter Rex W. Huppke in an Associated Press story in February, intensively confined pigs--as opposed to those more spaciously confined--are so stressed by territorial issues that each one costs the farmer about $56 more to feed. Farmers, we assume, can't just give the animals more space; that wouldn't be cost-effective. Huppke explains: "If the responsible gene...can be located, a simple blood test could be used to identify the most aggressive hogs.Then, using selective breeding or genetic engineering, a line of docile hogs could be developed...."

Referendum on xenotransplantation

Why does it always seem that by the time you learn of some modern technological marvel--especially if it's a troubling one--you wish that someone had asked you whether developing it was okay in the first place. Obvious examples might be cloning, genetically modified soybeans, feeding antibiotics to livestock (because it makes them grow faster), food irradiation, and biotech cow hormones. Well, the Canadians just might be reversing this undemocratic trend when it comes to xenotransplantation, the science that may someday give the world pigs implanted with human genes so that their hearts can be harvested for transplantation into humans. There is a shortage of human hearts for transplanting.

A series of town-hall citizens' forums was begun across Canada in March with a good set of questions for people to consider: Is it a viable solution? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Is it ethical? How would the government regulate it? And what would dictate the approach: science, government, industry, or the public?

Gee, they're sensitive

We thought they had no feelings. That's what we've been told. Now we find they're really quite touchy. Just try to capture them, net them, move them, haul them, confine them, crowd them, or expose them to the slightest cold or heat. They'll let you know they're unhappy. We're talking about fish raised in cages. It's the same old story.

Transporting them from ponds into caged pens is especially stressful. Environmental exposures--such as oxygen deficiencies, high ammonia or nitrate levels, pH shock, and disease--also tend to peeve our swimming friends.Caged fish, who are agitated by these conditions, tend to stop eating, get sick, and often die, according to a January 29 edition of Feedstuffs magazine. To the fish farmer, such problems can spell no return on investment. To the rest of us, they just spell cruel.


For the health of it

D'oh!Fatty diets slow the brain

The brain needs glucose, or sugar, which it gets from carbohydrates. This is its main energy supply. Glucose allows the synthesis of acetylcholine, a chemical involved in transmitting nerve signals to the brain. Starve your thinker with a high-fat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet--like the ones being peddled by Atkins and Sears--and you could be impairing the health of your brain over time, according to new research at the University of Toronto as reported by Reuters Health in February.

The research, albeit using rats as subjects, chimes in with the advice heard from most nutrition experts today: Maintain a diet high in carbohydrates--that is, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Such diets, they say, will not only protect against obesity and the killer diseases but keep your brain working at peak capacity. Just ask the rats: Those fed an especially high-fat diet ranked lower on performance tests of learning and memory.

Let us reiterate: Scrap high-protein diets

Sure, those high-protein diets may allow a person to lose weight or even lower cholesterol in the shortrun, but people who stick with one of these diets following these temporary results are eventually going to have to learn how to eat--if they want to protect themselves against heart disease.

But don't ask us. Turn to a recent advisory paper drafted by the American Heart Association cited by a CNN report. It concludes that in the long run the saturated-fat and cholesterol content of high-protein diets raises people's "bad cholesterol" levels, as well as their risk for cardiovascular disease. The advisory paper, which was compiled by the Nutrition Committee of the AHA, reviewed a number of popular high-protein diets, including the Atkins, the Zone, and the Protein Power diets.

A spokesperson from Atkins's offices was allowed a defense in the CNN story. She claimed that cholesterol goes up for some people on the Atkins plan, because the diet is not being following properly.

Judith Stern, professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California at Davis, shot back: "You want my response to Atkins' saying that [his diet] can lower your cholesterol and do all sorts of goodthings for your heart? You know what my response is? Bull----."

Keep arteries supple with meals low in fat

It's not news that a single meal can kill, and not just by foodborne illness. Artery function can also be fatally impaired by what one eats for dinner--that is, if what is eaten is high in fat. In 1996 we learned that arteries can be restricted by up to 50 percent after the equivalent of a burger and potato topped with sour cream. In early June, we learned that even one moderately high-fat meal can dramatically diminish vital elasticity of the arteries. As reported by Reuters, "Arteries need to be supple enough to expand when muscles--including the heart--demand more oxygen, and a loss of elasticity spells trouble for the body."


VivaVegie News

Thanks to the max for these contributions

Since our last issue, donations of $25 or more were received from the following people: Lili Berley, Juliana Warren, Earl Noar, Elliot Gang, Mark Berman, Barbara Field, Joan Zacharias, and Hangawi Restaurant (12 East 32nd Street, in New YorkCity). Several people also made generous contributions anonymously.

Volunteers make VVS's world go round

Thank you to the following people who helped the VivaVegie Society since the last issue of The VivaVine: Elena Romanova, Goeff Watland, Tom Thompson, Evelyn Gilbert, Rob Dolecki, and Seth Asher.

"Penelo Pea Pod" duty

Thank you to Murray Schechter for posing for a camera shoot for a Time Out New York story on the VeggieCenter, and Bobbie Flowers for coming out for the Easter Parade.

Special thank-yous

VivaVegie is especially grateful to Marian Cole for inputting html code to The VivaVine over the past 2 years. We are sad to lose her but congratulate her on her new endeavors. Also, thanks to Steve Rogers for donating a hot-line number, saving us about $100 per year. Thanks to Paul Lamarca for installing two locks at the Veggie Center.

Get "101 Reasons" stocked at local stores

VivaVegie will give you a stack of sample "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" to give to a retail establishment, free of charge, to test how they sell. Keep in touch with the owner or manager, and 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 "101 Reasons."

VivaVegie's friendly cry for help

• Publicity/public-relations director, most urgent
• Webmaster: Input HTML code for the posting of The VivaVine to the Internet; keep VivaVegie networked with other Web sites
• Advertising sales reps for The VivaVine
• Director, "Operation Target Media"
• Volunteers coordinator
• Grant writer
• Correspondence secretary
VivaVine distributor (even for a single place)

VivaVegie wants you!

Do something on the low-commitment side.

• Collect vegetarian restaurant menus and send them to us.
• Arrange to do filing at the office.
• Call on short notice to ask if there may be an errand to run.
• Keep our notebook of veggie current events and conferences always up to date.
• Complete our listing of resource material housed at the Veggie Center, so a pamphlet can be distributed to libraries.
• Sit in at the Veggie Center when needed during office hours to answer the phone and greet visitors.
• Input data to our computer files.

Ron Montano models T-shirt

T-shirts: 1/2 off!

Stop by VivaVegie's Vegetarian Center, 121 East 27th Street in Manhattan (office hours: 4:00-7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday), and pick up one of our T-shirts, modeled here by veggie DJ and health-food store tour guide Ron Montano. The khaki shirts, silk-screened in navy, are available in most sizes (S, M, L, XL) and are yours for half off the regular $12 price, because our old phone number is on the back. Add $3.50 for mail-order purchases (see masthead for the mailing address). You will be able to display the words "Vegetarian Center" on your back wherever you go!


Vegan liberation, now!

Gee, McD:It's really not nice to fool vegetarians!

Fuming about beefy fries

By Glen Boisseau Becker

Perhaps no one should have been surprised. More than ten years after McDonald's boasted that it was switching from beef tallow to "100 percent vegetable oil" for its French fries, we learn that the "natural flavoring" in the recipe still consists of beef extracts. Three angry vegetarians filed a class-action lawsuit in Seattle on May 1, charging that the folks behind the golden arches deliberately misled their customers. Hindu communities responded with bitter complaints in America and dung- throwing protests in India, despite assurances that the fries sold in that country are meat-free.

In a front-page New York Times story (May 20, 2001), a McDonald's spokesman dismissively explained that the PR emphasis on vegetable oil implied nothing more than health benefits. "We certainly don't market ourselves as vegetarian."

Student members of George Washington University's Vegetarian Legal Action Network, which drafted the legal complaint, had already petitioned the FDA to require that food labels disclose the source of any "natural flavors"--so far without results.

BusinessWeek (June 4, 2001) cites other nastysecrets: Church's Chicken and Denny's use beef fat in their fries. Applebee's guacamole contains gelatin (from the bones and hooves of cattle); Pizza Hut puts chicken broth in its white pasta sauce. Fast-food tortillas may contain lard.

Even vegetarian restaurants that appear exclusively vegan may not be (see David Boles on Zen Palate at http://goinside.com/99/6/nycvegan.html).

No doubt it is counterproductive to be crazed with self-loathing after eating minuscule amounts of animal byproducts. Yet if we really care about animal welfare, we should try to be aware of the problem ingredients, including rennet ("enzymes"), stearates, and unidentified flavorings. Vegans also have to watch out for milk derivatives like casein, lactalbumin, and whey.

So naturally, many vegetarians stay away from places like McDonald's altogether. At the same time, we respect those who confront the fast-food joints, request vegan options, and even support such establishments to the extent that they comply.

Furious! Inveigled into buying fries
Jack Greenberg, C.E.O.
McDonald's Plaza
Oak Brook, Illinois

Dear Mr. Greenberg:

According to a front-page story in the May 20 edition of The New York Times, McDonald's French fries are made with "beef flavoring." Is this really true?

In 1990 you announced with great fanfare that you were switching from beef fat to 100 percent vegetable oil. There was no announcement that, despite this change, the French fries had beef flavoring. While you did not specifically state that the potatoes were now vegetarian, any reasonable person would conclude that this change was made to appeal to vegetarians, and not just for "eliminating cholesterol." The major source of cholesterol was not your French fries but your burgers. Other restaurants, including Burger King and Wendy's, don't use beef in their French fries, so how could anyone have suspected that McDonald's would deliberately add beef flavoring, while at the same time stating they were made with "100 percent vegetable oil"?

I am furious that I was inveigled into buying your French fries. Eating beef is contrary to my moral and religious beliefs, and I am a life member of the North American Vegetarian Society. Please make amends by removing the beef from your potatoes, and also please give customers the option of buying a burger made without animal products (available from Kellogg's, Kraft, and other companies). You already sell vegan burgers in other countries, and with the burgeoning vegetarian population in the United States, this would be a brilliant business decision. Do you agree?

Ralph Meyer
Santa Monica, California

Editor's note: Ironically, several McDonald's restaurants in New York do offer a meatless McVeggieburger. And yes, it's vegan, according to animal lover David Boles, who lists the ingredients at http://goinside.com/99/1/mcveggie.html. Now the question is: How much ribbing will you take if your friends catch you eating a "burger" at McDonald's?



VivaVegie Society, Inc.

P.O. Box 1447

New York, NY 10276

The VivaVine • November / December 2000 •
a publication of
VivaVegie Society, Inc.

Vol. 10, No. 3

July / August 2001

P.O. Box 1447 •
New York, NY 10276
646-424-9595 (vegetarian center)
212-871-9304 (hot line)


Publisher: Pamela Rice

Editor: Alan Rice

Copy editor: Glen Boisseau Becker

Contributors: Glen Boisseau Becker and Joan Zacharias

Art: Juan Torcoletti

Calendar editor: Evelyn Gilbert

Gaggle of veg-evangelists:

Bobbie Flowers, Judea Johnson, Jessica Legue, Kate Garrison, Murray Schechter, Jean Thaler, Laura Dauphine, and Joan Zacharias

Editorial consultants:
• Karen Davis, Ph.D., United Poultry Concerns
• Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., author, Judaism and Vegetarianism
• Michael Greger, M.D.
• Mike Hudak, Ph.D.

Special thanks to:
• David Sielaff

JOIN VivaVegie

To become a member of the VivaVegie Society for one year, send $15 to the above address. Membership entitles you to a membership card, four issues of The VivaVine per year, a copy of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," and VivaVegie's Guide to New York City or New Jersey (Call 646-424-9595 for more information).