The Viva Vine: vol #2, no #3: May / June 1993
A Story Buried; But Seeds Have Been Planted

Even though the New York City press virtually ignored the local rally that kicked off the Adopt-A-McDonald's Campaign sponsored by Beyond Beef, the incredible issues that Beyond Beef is bringing out are slowly reaching the mainstream . . . True, the New York City press just didn't come out for our rally in Madison Square Park. They didn't come out, even though the rally ushered in a new era in public concern; even though from our rally we launched teams of leafletters to 25 McDonald's locations throughout New York City; even though we had about 125 people show up, many at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday; even though the campaign was a national event; and even though the local office of the Adopt-A-McDonald's Campaign sent out nearly 100 press releases to the local as well as the national media.

Still, despite the snub, the Beyond Beef Campaign has had an extraordinary impact. The mainstream press is in fact taking notice of the dangers and health hazards of meat and poultry.

Case in point: the current issue of Newsweek, May 24, 1993 (in spite of itself), has published a scathing indictment of animal foods from the standpoint of contamination. ("The VivaVine" could not have been more scathing!)

Other victories include the distinct possibility of labeling of the likely-to-be-approved bovine growth hormone, BSI, no doubt largely due to public distrust of the genetically engineered substance that when administered to cows boosts milk production by 10% to 25%. The Beyond Beef Campaign has been highly instrumental in building awareness of the bovine growth hormone issue.

And, it is just incredible how many articles are coming out about the benefits of eating more plant foods, especially those green and yellow veggies, and less animal foods. The New York Times ran a fabulous article in its Science Times section in its April 13 issue. The article sang the praises of plant foods as being the foods of great healing powers.

So why didn't the press come to our rally in Madison Square Park? One activist who said she has had a lot of experience with the press asked right back, "Why should they have? All we have is a petition drive. There are 10 animal rights organizations doing things all the time around New York City. Why should they look at this action? Now, if you had people blocking traffic in the middle of Fifth Avenue, then the press would have come out. You have to remember you're dealing with New York City. Things are different here. There are just too many stories competing with this one."

Other sources said, more cynically, that they have proof that reporters were told by higher ups at the Networks to block-out the story of the Adopt-A-McDonald's Campaign. Reporters got the word from "on-high" that they were simply not to cover or run stories about the campaign. (Given that we had a black-out of the story in New York City gives credence to this theory.)

Understandably, immediately after the April 17th rally, many in the Adopt-A-McDonald's Campaign and The VivaVegie Society felt that the anti-McDonald's effort might have been all for nothing. But now, a good month later, with the meat and poultry industry on the run from some pretty good media exposes, things seem to be looking up.

Without question, the E. coli epidemic in Seattle in January of this year has also played into the hands of Beyond Beef. Beyond Beef won a suit earlier in May (1993) requiring that all meat and poultry in the U.S. be sold with labels giving handling instructions -- instructions such as, wash hands after touching meat, and keep raw meat away from foods to be eaten raw. (To Rifkin, the victory is only a start, and vows to go back to court if the labels do not include warnings of the potential for harmful, and even deadly, bacteria being present inside the product. )

It could very well be that there was a blackout on news about the Madison Square Park kickoff rally. But the Beyond Beef message will not be silenced. Localized versions of the official Beyond Beef press release went out to media points all over the country (not just NYC) from hundreds of individuals and coalitions nationwide. These press releases, it happens, worked to give more information than just time and place of various local events. They included a rundown of the issues. A lot of people in the media, all over the country, have read our message. And now it is clear. The great advertiser McDonald's may have been promised by top media executives that the Adopt-A-McDonald's story would be buried in New York City, but it seems likely now that no other promises were made.

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