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Pamela Rice gives a piece
of her vegetarian mind
to the U.S. Department of Agriculture



Public comment on the child nutrition programs of the USDA

Public comment on the child nutrition programs of the USDA took place through May 8, 2002.

For more information on the programs and the "outreach sessions," visit the following Web sites:

The following is a statement submitted in writing and in person by Pamela Rice during the New York City session, today, April 16, 2002. About half of the wording and focus of this tract came from PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) general counsel Mindy Kursban




I would like to thank the USDA and the Food and Nutrition Service for the opportunity to comment on the reauthorization of the child nutrition programs.

I am the founder of a vegetarian organization in New York City, the founder and coordinator of the Vegetarian Center of New York City, and the publisher of a vegetarian-issues magazine.

Over 150,000 copies of my 16-page pamphlet, which I wrote, entitled "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," have been distributed widely throughout the city as well as all over the country. It sells by word of mouth.

I mention this because everyday people today are more and more adopting the vegetarian lifestyle, simply because it embodies common sense.

But vegetarianism is much more than a peculiar dietary lifestyle. Its issues touch on matters of health, economics, the environment, and animal welfare.

As for health--which this hearing is primarily concerned with--I believe that in order to improve the overall health of our nation's children, decrease childhood obesity, and teach our children healthy eating habits, I recommend that the child nutrition programs:

  • provide more fresh fruits and vegetables, including calcium-rich vegetables, and much less meat, poultry, and fried foods.
  • They should provide soy milk and rice milk to children, regardless of whether a medical or dietary need is shown. To do otherwise, I believe, is simply an outrage.
  • Ultimately, the programs should provide information about nutrition so that children not only have the option, but the desire to choose healthier foods.

Overall, the USDA must sever its ties to the meat and dairy industries.

As for the current food pyramid, from the vegetarian point of view:

  • Why do we have a milk group? Because we have a National Dairy Council.
  • Why do we have a meat group? Because we have an extremely powerful meat lobby.

Vegetarian children grow up to be slimmer, healthier, and live longer than their meat-eating friends. They are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain kinds of cancers.

It is in fact much easier to build a nutritious diet that meets the goals of the Dietary Guidelines from vegetarian foods than from animal foods. Meat and dairy have just too many calories and too much fat for the nutrients that they provide.

And vegetarian foods contain absolutely no cholesterol.

An extensive body of research shows that consuming cow's milk is associated with osteoporosis. It is linked to juvenile diabetes, anemia, constipation, allergies, ear infections, asthma, and prostate cancer.

Moreover, a majority of ethnic populations are lactose intolerant.

Epidemiological research shows that countries with the highest incidence of osteoporosis, including the U.S., have the highest dairy consumption rates.

My final comment, as a resident of New York, is to oppose Senator Charles Schumer's proposal to put milk vending machines in public schools as part of the school lunch program. I would favor bottled water, juices, and nutritious soy and nut milks.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

Pamela Rice
President
VivaVegie Society




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