October 1 is World Vegetarian Day - October 2 is World Farm Animal Day
In this edition...
Hurricane Katrina Stories
Food for Life provides vegetarian relief for Katrina victims
Full story: The Daily Herald, UT, US
Paul Turner, director of Food for Life, said volunteers were in affected areas a few hours after the hurricane hit, distributing hot, freshly cooked vegetarian meals to anyone who needed them. The vegetarian meals are part of the Hare Krishna's belief system, but there are more practical reasons as well - the meatless dishes are healthier and less expensive, so more people can eat for less. About 40 volunteers are along the Gulf Coast, Turner said. They are serving about 1,000 people daily, but hope to get that number to 5,000 to 10,000 soon.
The Daily Herald, UT, US - September 7, 2005
For more information and to donate to organizations providing vegetarian relief:
Chickens that rode out the storm now escape the frying pan
Full story: San Francisco Chronicle
Instead of meeting their fate in a Mississippi slaughterhouse, [1,000 lucky chickens] will live out the rest of their lives in sanctuaries and backyards. The birds' savior, Kim Sturla, who runs an animal sanctuary, said she wasn't alone in her mission. She was joined by several employees from the Humane Society of the United States and an animal sanctuary volunteer from New York.
The group rescued the chickens from a badly damaged Mississippi poultry farm. In just two nights, the group collected about 1,000 birds - including 19 that had been bulldozed into a burial pit with thousands of dead chickens and inches of maggots. "Thank God we walked by that pit one last time," said Sturla, describing the difficult conditions the group faced. Sturla also rescued two black kittens from a garbage Dumpster.
San Francisco Chronicle - September 13, 2005
Related stories and information:
Includes list of animal charities for donation. Brandenton Herald, FLorida, US (September 4, 2005)
Animal Planet News (September 12, 2005)
Ongoing coverage and images of the relief efforts.
Health and Environment
Yes! Eat-all-you-want diet works - if it's healthy vegan fare
Full story: rxpgnews.com
A low-fat, plant-based diet is more effective at helping women lose weight and improve insulin sensitivity than an omnivorous diet, shows a new study in The American Journal of Medicine. Half of the study participants followed a vegan diet; the other half followed a control diet based on National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines. "The study participants following the vegan diet enjoyed unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods that enabled them to lose weight without feeling hungry," says Dr. Barnard, the lead author.
Scientific studies show that obesity and overweight are far less prevalent in populations following a plant-based diet [including a] recent study of more than 55,000 Swedish women. Worldwide, vegetarian populations experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases. The simplicity of a vegan diet appeals to [busy] people, and many familiar recipes are easy to adapt. Studies show that patients give the low-fat vegetarian diet a high rating, and that the transition only takes about three weeks or less.
rxpgnews.com - September 12, 2005
Deadly avian flu pandemic "inevitable"
Full story: Toronto Star
The deadly avian flu virus is slowly but surely making its way around the world. It now appears all but inevitable that it will arrive in North America this year or next, via migrating birds or, more likely, unwitting travellers, as with SARS in 2003. The virus has already ravaged the poultry stocks of Southeast Asia and millions of peoples' livelihoods. It has also begun to kill other animals, including pigs. More forebodingly, if still only sporadically, it has crossed over into humans.
If a global pandemic is in the cards, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. The loss of human life even in a mild pandemic would be devastating; anything more virulent, catastrophic. Margaret Chan, chief of influenza pandemic preparedness at the World Health Organization, no longer talks about if it is going to happen: "The only question is: When?"
Toronto Star - August 27, 2005
SciDev.net Science and Development Network for the developing world (September 15, 2005)
Look at this chicken's reaction to treatment and tell me they aren't intelligent. Novosti Russian News and Information Agency (September 15, 2005)
Cruciferous vegetable compounds block lung cancer progression
Full story: Science Daily
A family of compounds found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and watercress, blocked lung cancer progression in both animal studies and in tests with human lung cancer cells, report researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center and the Institute for Cancer Prevention.
They say the results suggest that these chemicals - put into a veggie pill of sorts - might some day be used to help current and former smokers ward off development of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in Americans. [Editor's note: Here's an idea - how about eating those veggies, instead of a pill?]
Science Daily - September 15, 2005
U.S. government turns thumbs down to truthful toxin warnings on tuna
Full story: ABC 7 News
The Food and Drug Administration told California that the state's attempt to require mercury warnings on tuna conflicts with federal law. California's attorney general disputed the FDA letter, and said it was an attempt to stop a lawsuit the state has filed against tuna companies over the warnings. "The federal government has no authority to prevent warnings that provide truthful, important information to consumers," said [a] spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
A year ago, Lockyer sued the nation's three largest canned tuna companies to enforce Proposition 65, California's 1986 law requiring businesses to provide "clear and reasonable" warnings when they expose consumers to known reproductive toxins, such as mercury. The companies are Tri-Union Seafoods, maker of Chicken of the Sea; Del Monte, maker of Starkist; and Bumble Bee Seafoods, maker of Bumble Bee.
ABC 7 News - August 20, 2005
Lifestyles and Trends
You do what you eat - the solution to crime and violence is on your plate
Full story: Ode Magazine
At first glance there seems nothing special about the students at this high school in Appleton, Wisconsin. They appear calm, interact comfortably with one another, and are focused on their schoolwork. And yet a couple of years ago, there was a police officer patrolling the halls at this school for developmentally challenged students. Many of the students were troublemakers, there was a lot of fighting with teachers and some of the kids carried weapons. What happened?
A glance through the halls provides the answer. The vending machines have been replaced by water coolers. The lunchroom took hamburgers and French fries off the menu, making room for fresh vegetables and fruits, whole-grain bread and a salad bar. Is that all? Yes, that's all. [The article cites many other examples and studies relating nutrition and behaviour. It concludes: "We need to know more about the composition of the right nutrients. It could be the recipe for peace."]
Ode Magazine - September 26, 2005 issue
Even in Paris! Vegetarian dining is chic
Full story: The New Yorker Online
[The New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik responds to questions about Alain Passard, the owner and chef of the three-star restaurant L'Arpege, in Paris, which has gone vegetarian.] Q: Alain Passard is taking vegetables to the extreme in Paris. Traditionally, the French are devoted carnivores, and have had fun making light of the California movement and vegetarianism in America. How is Passard's restaurant faring among Parisians?
A: A three-star restaurant in Paris exists, in a sense, off in a universe of its own, as a special, once-a-year destination, where one expects food radically different from the everyday. So I suspect that even hard-core carnivores - and almost all of my dearest friends in France remain hard-core carnivores - are willing to grant Passard an artist's right, a poetic license, to cook as he chooses. I'm also told that there's been a "Passard effect" in Paris: almost every ambitious restaurant in Paris now has at least one all-vegetable plat offered as a main course.
The New Yorker Online - September 5, 2005
Vegetarian lifestyle helps this senior athlete hit her stride
Full story: Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, WY, US
Twenty-five years ago, Oleta Thomas decided enough was enough. She'd spent 40 years on prescription drugs for a slew of conditions that she blames on a childhood of milk shakes, hamburgers and processed food in what she calls the "Sad American Diet." Thomas suffered from migraines, bronchitis, earaches, kidney trouble and more. She wore neck and back braces for early arthritis and scoliosis. There seemed no hope in sight.
Then, she discovered a vegetarian lifestyle, which she attributes to incredible health, energy and vitality even now, at 75 years old. Thomas has penned a book on her dietary philosophy, titled "Diet for Peaceful Eating: How to Stop the War Against Your Body." Following outstanding performances in the Wyoming Senior Olympics the past two years, Thomas was awarded the title of Female Athlete of the Year for 2005.
Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, WY, US - September 6, 2005
Vegetarian experiences: A "weird" reason for going vegetarian
Full story: Record-Journal, CT, US
Joshua Warchol, the lead organizer of the Southern Connecticut Vegetarian Society, became a vegan thanks to the efforts of comedian and actor Weird Al Yankovic. Warchol got tickets to see Yankovic perform and decided to check out the comedian's Web site before the show. On that Web site was a link to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Web site. That's where Warchol got a look at materials and videos about factory farming and animal suffering. "I went from eating meat every day to vegan pretty much overnight," he said.
"I'm doing this because of the ethical concerns I have for the treatment of animals," Warchol added. Warchol said the added benefit of being a vegan is that he feels healthier than ever and he has dropped 65 pounds in the last two years. He said the lives of 80 animals are saved each year for every vegan in the world, but people could make a big difference just by eating one vegetarian or vegan meal per week. "It's not a matter of limiting what you eat," Warchol said. "The easiest way to do it is to expand what you eat. If you add a new vegan meal to your diet each week, pretty soon you're going to be crowding out all the food you used to eat.
Record-Journal, CT, US - August 22, 2005
Animal Issues and Advocacy
Australian RSPCA campaign exposes farm animal cruelty
Full story: ABC Rural (Australia)
The RSPCA is launching a national campaign against farm cruelty, targeting the live export, egg and pork industries. The "fair go for farm animals" campaign will include online and print advertising across Australia over the next three months. RSPCA president Dr Hugh Wirth is calling on the industries to undertake animal welfare risk assessments to address community concerns. "What we're doing is aiming this at the producer organisations and saying that if they thought they were badly done by with the PETA campaign on mulesing, they haven't seen anything yet," he said. "And they need to come to terms with the fact that whilst the Australian community supports farming, they don't necessarily support age-old practices."
ABC Rural (Australia) - September 13, 2005
Tasmania Examiner (September 14, 2005)
U.S. farm practices sadly behind other countries
Full story: The Boston Globe
What country has the most advanced animal protection legislation in the world? If you guessed the United States, go to the bottom of the class. The United States lags far behind all 25 nations of the European Union, and most other developed nations as well, such as Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada [Editor's note: all of which are still woefully lacking. ] In the United States, there is no federal law governing the welfare of animals on the farm. Federal law begins only at the slaughterhouse. Most states with major animal industries have written into their anticruelty laws exemptions for "common farming practices."
British law makes it illegal to keep breeding sows in crates that prevent them from walking or turning around - the way in which about four out of every five U.S. sows are kept. In Britain, law does not allow veal calves to be denied adequate roughage and iron, as is common in the United States. Nevertheless, it is Austria that has the most advanced animal protection legislation. A proposed law banning the chicken "battery cage" put to a vote in the Austrian Parliament passed - without a single member of Parliament opposing it. Judged by the standards of other developed countries, the United States has done little to improve the protection of the vast majority of animals. We should direct our energies to reducing the suffering of farm animals.
The Boston Globe - August 20, 2005
Web Devil (Arizona State University), US (September 9, 2005)
Foie gras ban gets vivid hearing
Full story: Chicago Sun-Times
If there was any doubt about the torturous nature of the process used to create the [liver delicacy known as foie gras], veterinarian Dr. Holly Cheever cleared it up - and then some. She described how a goose or duck is restrained three times a day while a steel feeding pipe is jammed down its esophagus. "There is food spilling from the nostrils of these poor animals, who choke to death. You will see birds having seizures or in comas still being grabbed and force-fed. The liver is so expanded that the livers may simply rupture and they die in massive pain and discomfort from internal hemorrhage.
"Nowhere [else] do we intentionally create a desperately ill animal, slaughter it just before it's gonna die because you've made it so ill, and then take this diseased organ, mix it up with herbs and spices and slap it on a cracker on New Year's Eve."
Chicago Sun-Times - September 14, 2005
Chickens suffer in wire-floored cages
Full story: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, NY, US
Ample science shows why chickens do not do "perfectly well" in cages. Chickens' feet and legs contain complex joints including many small bones, ligaments, cartilage pads, tendons and muscles that enable them to search and scratch for food on land. Wild chickens (the Red Jungle Fowl of Southeast Asia, from which all chickens derive) and feral chickens (domesticated chickens that revert to living free) spend half to 90 percent of their time foraging, making up to 15,000 pecks a day.
By contrast, when hens are forced to stand and sit on wire mesh, their feet can become sore, cracked and deformed. The hen's claws, which are designed to scratch vigorously, and thus stay short and blunt, become long, thin, twisted and broken. They can curl around the wire floor and entrap the hen, causing her to starve to death inches from her food and water. Chickens need to be cage-free.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, NY, US - August 19, 2005
Says force-feeding of ducks to make foie gras no worse than keeping battery hens.
BBC News, UK (September 16, 2005)
Fight to save Arizona horses from the slaughterhouse
Full story: Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, WY, US
The future of several hundred horses roaming across portions of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest [is in doubt]. The Forest Service wants the horses taken to a auction house in Sun Valley, near Holbrook, where those unclaimed by owners would be sold to the highest bidders. "Buyers there are typically meat buyers," said Debra Sirower, a Phoenix lawyer representing animal welfare groups and two individuals trying to block the roundup and auction. "The horses would be sold for dog food or to Europe for restaurant tables."
Those seeking to save the animals - including Sirower's clients - also could bid for them. Sirower represents three animal welfare organizations - the Animal Welfare Institute, In Defense of Animals and the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros - as well as two individuals who have sued to protect the horses.
Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, WY, US - September 16, 2005
"It might come as a surprise that 66,000 horses were slaughtered for consumption in the United States last year, and 20,000 more were exported abroad for the same purposes..."
The Washington Times (September 15, 2005)
Animals teach each other new tricks
Full story: The New Scientist
Killer whales and chimpanzees both pass on "traditions" to other members of their group, according to two separate studies of feeding behaviour. The findings add to evidence that cultural learning is widespread among animals. One study involved an inventive [killer whale that] devised a brand new way to catch birds. The 4-year-old orca lures gulls into his tank by spitting regurgitated fish onto the water's surface. He waits below for a gull to grab the fish, then lunges at it with open jaws. A few months after the enterprising male started doing it, the whale's younger half-brother [and other tank mates were] doing the same thing.
Some researchers have suggested that many purported examples of cultural transmission can instead be explained by individuals discovering the skill on their own rather than following another's lead. But because the gull-baiting behaviour is so unusual, "it would be hard to argue that it is individual learning," says ethologist Janet Mann.
The New Scientist - August 27, 2005
Are They Serious - Unfortunately Yes
Reality TV gone too far
Full story: Ananova, UK
Animal rights activists in Croatia have blasted a new reality show on the web where viewers vote on which sheep to save from slaughter. In the show, shown on www.stado.org, seven sheep in a house in Zagreb are filmed non-stop as famous writers come in and read their works to them. Viewers then vote on which of the sheep is thrown out of the house. After the 'eviction' the sheep has to be 'adopted' by a viewer or it is sent straight to the slaughterhouse.
Ananova, UK - September 15, 2005
Awareness of meat-cancer link drops significantly
Full story: infoZine
The latest results from a survey conducted every two years by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) show that the number of Americans who correctly identify diets high in red meat as a risk factor for developing cancer has dropped by nine percentage points since 2001, to just 30 percent. "At a time when research is making it increasingly clear that the typical, meat-centered American diet is associated with increased risk for cancer, the public is more likely than ever to overlook the facts," said Karen Collins, RD, AICR Nutrition Advisor
Why is awareness of this particular link [so low]? [Experts] point to the popularity of high-protein diets over the past few years [that] encouraged Americans to think about meat chiefly as a tool for quick weight loss. The issue was clouded further by the efforts of meat marketers to [present] leaner cuts as "heart-healthy" options. "Lean or fat, red meat is red meat, and Americans need to understand that a diet that is consistently high in red meat comes with real risks," Collins says.
infoZine - August 19, 2005
Mad cow disease from human remains in feed?
Full story: Canadian Press
A leading medical journal has published a disturbing theory on the origins of mad cow disease, suggesting it may have developed because human remains from the Indian subcontinent were mixed into cattle feed in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. The authors say the practice may still be taking place elsewhere. Canada's leading expert on mad cow [Dr. Neil Cashman] says the unsettling hypothesis may be accurate. But Cashman wondered if there was any way to prove or disprove the theory. "Can you imagine what kind of public response there would be if you or I started an experiment where we were feeding human brains to cattle? It's like Frankenstein."
Canadian Press - September 1, 2005
MSNBC.com (August 22, 2005)
MSNBC.com (August 20, 2005)
People's Daily Online (August 25, 2005)
Reno Gazette-Journal, NV, US (August 21, 2005)
Big business tries to file pig patent
Full story: The Brandon Sun, Canada
Pork is the world's most widely consumed meat protein and demand continues to grow as consumer incomes rise in countries such as China. So it is understandable that a company like Monsanto is looking for ways to capture a piece of that action. Specifically, the company wants to patent a package of breeding techniques linked to identifying genes linked to desirable traits, and breeding animals to carry those traits with a more efficient device for artificial insemination. The Monsanto system wouldn't place a patent on pigs per se, but on various genes, traits and methods used to create them.
The company that led the way introducing genetically modified field crops, the company that first proposed the concept of Terminator genes (seeds that won't reproduce), and the company that is now trying to patent pig breeding - has become a bit of a poster child for critics highlighting the perceived evils of big business.
The Brandon Sun, Canada - August 21, 2005
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