The Viva Vine: vol #2, no #3: May / June 1993
NYC Kicks Off Adopt-A-McDonald's Campaign

April 17 was the nationwide kick-off date for the Beyond Beef Coalition's Adopt-A-McDonald's Campaign. In New York City, about 125 people came to Madison Square Park at 23rd St. and Fifth Ave. in Manhattan that Saturday to show support and/or pick up their materials for the campaign. House of Tempeh, a local jazz band, provided "vegetarian sounds," and Whole Earth Bakery, a local "institution," provided the fine baked goods and veggie fixings, most of which were vegan.

Think about it ... could this have been the first-ever demonstration about food? But food will be the issue of the nineties, or so predicts Jeremy Rifkin, the brainchild of the Beyond Beef Coalition who, from Washington D.C., orchestrated Adopt-A-McDonald's. What, with food irradiation, growth hormone and antibiotic injections in food animals, genetic engineering, and deadly bacteria in meat and poultry, Rifkin just may have a point.

Following is what Pamela Teisler, the New York City coordinator of the Adopt-A-McDonald's Campaign, had to say at the microphone at the rally. (She also had the opportunity to read a similar tract on WBAI (95.5 FM, NYC), a local radio station, just days before the April 17th rally.):

"The Adopt-A-McDonald's Campaign was started to urge McDonald's Corporation (specifically) to put a veggie burger on its menu, at all 9,000 outlets in the U.S. Today, we're asking, 'what is the real cost of 85 billion hamburgers sold,' which McDonald's boasts of? McDonald's is today the biggest single promoter and greatest benefactor of the beef culture (or what I would call the 'beef machine') in the U.S. Today, we are targeting McDonald's because they are the most visible. It is a strategic move. We know that if McDonald's puts a veggie burger on its menu all the other fast food restaurants will do the same.

We're asking: 'What is the health impact of 85 billion hamburgers sold?' Our meat-centered diet is nearly irrefutably tied to heart disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and most of the diseases that we are suffering from in western society.

We're asking: 'What is the environmental impact of 85 billion hamburgers sold?' Our meat centered diet is turning the glorious breadbasket of our midwestern states into a dessert, and our rivers and streams into stagnant waters.

We plan, with this campaign, to expose the beef industry. We are simply concerned citizens. We are disturbed by information that is seeping out; that inspection of meat (and poultry) is virtually non-existent; that animal cruelty is virtually institutional; that the beef industry is utterly subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer (and what are we getting in return?). We want to expose the shameful fact that only a small amount of grain that is fed to beef cattle today could tomorrow alleviate all the hunger in the world. We are concerned about contaminants in meat (pesticide concentrations, hormone and antibiotic additives, and deadly bacterias). We are going to be exposing the facts about bovine growth hormone, which is a genetically engineered substance about to be approved by the FDA.

We are showing the world, today, that people will get out there. We are here to press the issue with the media that they need to begin doing their job. The mainstream media needs to begin investigating the beef and poultry industries. They need to go into the slaughter houses, to the stockyards, to the feedlot, into the layer hen house, into the dairy factory, and to farmers' fields that have become lifeless from overuse of pesticides and fertilizers.

Whether anyone likes it or not, we as activists are going to be out there exposing the hidden costs (those intangible costs) of our meat and poultry-centered diets.

Now if you had asked a person who smoked about his or her smoking habit in 1955, let's say, he or she might have said, "I'm not hurting anybody else." Well, we know differently now. We've got health care costs and secondary smoke that we know about now related to smoking. The fact of the matter is, the same thing goes for beef and poultry. Having a meat-centered diet is not just a peculiar habit which has no effect upon anyone else. Our food choices have a profound impact on others. It's not always apparent at first glance. But when you look carefully at the issue you see that having a meat-centered diet is in fact a costly, destructive and selfish lifestyle. And the people with meat-centered diets are not paying the real price for their habit.

People who are aware and who do not share this habit, this lifestyle, are concerned. And angry. But until now, there was no public way to join with others and show it.

I thank everyone here for coming out early [10:30 a.m.] this morning on your day off [Saturday]. You have made an incredibly important statement!"

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