In this edition...
Health and Environment
|Seafood: Toxic risk on your plate
|Canadian government urged to ban contaminated fish from Asia
|Shocking waste of fish caught in the wrong nets
|What's for dinner? Chemical stew.
|More human bird flu in Asia
|Study: Low-meat, high-fiber diet best, even IF it doesn't cut colon cancer risk
Lifestyles and Trends
|Veggie experiences: Father's comment leads to challenging change
|Catering to veggie guests for the holidays
|Compassionate attitudes at odds with farm animal reality
|Growing demand creates more vegan options at university eatery
Animal Issues and Advocacy
|McDonalds called on to lead in more humane treatment of chickens
|Bovine escapees revert to wild nature - avert capture
|New movie has Australian pork farmers worried
|Anti-ham ad aims to change festive menus
|'Secret' dolphin slaughter provokes revulsion
|Birds burned alive in Romanian bird flu cull
Are They Serious? Unfortunately Yes
|As if these creatures weren't exploited enough: Researchers work on chicken fuel
Books and Perspectives
|Moosewood Restaurant's latest cookbook offers fresh vegetarian ideas
|Sir Paul, entertainer and now children's author, says 'Bambi turned me vegetarian'
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Health and Environment
Seafood: Toxic risk on your plate
Full story: Chicago Tribune, US
Supermarkets are routinely selling seafood highly contaminated with mercury, a toxic metal that can cause learning disabilities in children and neurological problems in adults, a Tribune investigation has found. The investigation reveals a decades-long pattern of the U.S. government knowingly allowing millions of Americans to eat seafood with unsafe levels of mercury. Avoiding mercury-contaminated fish is further complicated by the fact that the metal is ubiquitous in the world's oceans, lakes and rivers.
Almost all the mercury that people are exposed to comes from eating fish. And almost all fish contain some amounts of the metal. The importance of avoiding mercury-laden seafood was underscored by a study [of cognitive ability] released this fall by researchers from Harvard Medical School. Other studies suggest the heart benefits of eating fish might be offset by mercury. Two major European studies found that mercury exposure can increase the risk of fatal heart attacks in men. [An extensive, worthwhile article - part one of an in-depth investigation into "The mercury menace."
Chicago Tribune, US - December 11, 2005
More on "The mercury menace":
Seafood regulators ignore their own experts, issue flawed warnings and set pro-industry policies
Chicago Tribune (December 12, 2005)
Short answer: It's not
Chicago Tribune (December 13, 2005)
Canadian government urged to ban contaminated fish from Asia
Full story: CTV News, Canada
Canadians are buying contaminated fish from China and Vietnam, the Consumers' Association of Canada says. Citing the use of a dangerous fungicide on fish farms, the association wants the federal government to ban the importing of certain fish products from those two Asian countries.
"A cancer-causing banned fungicide, Malachite Green, is being used by fish farmers in some Asian countries, particularly Vietnam and China.'' Bruce Cran, president of the association, said. "Independent labs tests of these fish purchased at Canadian supermarkets have shown that consumers are being sold these contaminated fish." Cran said the [government] has not publicly advised Canadian consumers about the contamination.
CTV News, Canada - November 25, 2005
Shocking waste of fish caught in the wrong nets
Full story: ENN/AP
Commercial fisheries in the U.S. kill a pound of fish for every four pounds intentionally caught, jeopardizing efforts to restore some struggling stocks, scientists said [November 30]. A tally of the nation's yearly unintentional "bycatch" - unwanted fish that are caught and, in most cases, die before being thrown overboard - was conducted by scientists Jennie Harrington, Andrew Rosenberg and Ransom Myers.
Their peer-reviewed study, sponsored by the environmental group Oceana and published in the December issue of Fish and Fisheries magazine, found that 1.2 billion tons of fish annually are left for dead with every 4 billion tons caught in commercial nets. [The scientists] said the government should start doing its own annual compilation of bycatch data and enforce further restrictions on fishing to encourage more use of lighter gear and smaller fishnet mesh sizes.
ENN/AP - December 1, 2005
What's for dinner? Chemical stew.
Full story: AlterNet
Imagine having to go to a doctor for a prescription to buy the ingredients for dinner. It's not such a farfetched scenario. Enough chemicals circulate in our animal products to stock a medicine cabinet. Consider the turkey raised in a factory farm in conditions of pain and squalor. Close confinement requires the use of a long list of antibiotics to control diseases. And let's not talk about what the bird picks up during processing. One of the last stages at the slaughterhouse is a dip in chlorine to wash off pathogens. But conventional turkeys are practically a health food compared to some of the other dinner options, such as roast beef.
Cows get pumped full of growth hormones. [Professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine] Samuel Epstein has estimated that a young boy who eats two hamburgers in a day could raise his hormone levels by as much as 10 percent. He also points to elevated rates of reproductive cancers. Meanwhile, the routine use of antibiotics potentially builds up our resistance to drugs and encourages the spread of super resistant bacteria. "Eighty percent all antibiotics in the United States are given to animals to enable them to survive unhygienic confinement in factory farms," according to the national director of the Organic Consumers Association. [The article explores the issues in depth and makes enlightening comparisons with Europe.
AlterNet - November 24, 2005
More human bird flu in Asia
Full story: eliteweb
China reported its sixth human bird flu case [in the eastern province of Jiangxi] as Indonesia awaited tests that could confirm its tenth human victim. Experts say repeated outbreaks in poultry are increasing the risk that the virus could mutate into a form that would jump easily between people, possibly sparking a global pandemic.
China has mounted an aggressive campaign to fight bird flu but the Jiangxi outbreak is China's 26th reported epidemic in poultry since Oct. 19. The government says 151,000 chickens, ducks and geese have died and another 22 million have been destroyed to stop the outbreaks.
eliteweb - December 16, 2005
South Florida Sun-Sentinel (December 7, 2005)
GlobalResearch.ca (November 27, 2005)
Study: Low-meat, high-fiber diet best, even IF it doesn't cut colon cancer risk
Full story: Yahoo! News
Eating lots of fiber does not lower a person's risk of developing colon cancer, but it is a good idea to consume fiber-rich fruits and vegetables anyway for your heart and overall health, a study said on [December 13]. An analysis of 13 previous studies that included 725,000 men and women concluded that more fiber in the diet made no difference for colon cancer risk. Eating lots of fiber did cut the risk of rectal cancer slightly, and a fiber-rich diet is known to ward off heart disease and diabetes. A diet heavy in red meat and alcohol is known to increase colon cancer risk.
[Editor's note: Dr. John McDougall says on Vegsource that "The discrepancy here is that the studies use fiber "pills" and are not measuring the effects of a healthy diet, high in plant foods (which inherently are high-fiber) and low in animal products (containing no fiber). Supplements don't work."
Yahoo! News - December 13, 2005
Lifestyles and Trends
Veggie experiences: Father's comment leads to challenging change
Full story: Asbury Park Press, NJ, US
Exactly one year ago, I decided to make a change I had been contemplating for quite some time. I took this challenge for all sorts of reasons.
Reason No. 1: You might drop a few pounds. Reasons No. 2 through infinity for the change: A vegetarian diet is simply the right thing to do. I started to contemplate the vegetarian lifestyle when I was a teen and only recently have tackled the call head-on; my sister is a longtime vegetarian and so was my late father. He once asked of me, "With so many purchasing options at your local supermarket, does it make any sense to continue the wholesale slaughter of animals?"
It challenged my thinking and led me to countless magazine articles and books. I started scratching the surface and realized that ethics, environment and health were interconnected in this one issue. Years passed, and eventually I found myself eating meat only once a week - on football Sundays. So I challenged myself to make that turning point. Sure, I still miss the hot wings to go along with my beer and my team, but I can live a lot more at ease, knowing I am not turning my back on my principles or inhabitants of the earth yet to come.
Asbury Park Press, NJ, US - December 11, 2005
Catering to veggie guests for the holidays
Full story: Europe Travel News
Award winning cookery writer and Vegetarian Society patron, Rose Elliot MBE, explains how to avoid a Christmas catering crisis "At this time of year nearly everyone I speak to is desperate for advice on cooking for veggie guests at Christmas. It's no surprise really, as, these days virtually every household has a member or two who choose not to eat meat! So in the spirit of spreading a little seasonal goodwill, I'd like to share my best advice for making a Christmas meal that everyone will take pleasure in."
1. Don't wait until Christmas Eve to consider your veggie guests!
2. Read the labels
3. Make plenty...because the meat-eaters almost always want to try "just a little"
4. [Ask for store help in] finding unfamiliar ingredients
5. Don't cook your veg with the meat
6. Cheat [with a shop-bought main course]
[Click on the link for details and more tips.
Europe Travel News - December 13, 2005
50 Connect, Food & Drink, UK (December, 2005)
Compassionate attitudes at odds with farm animal reality
Full story: The Washington Examiner
Unfortunately, there is a massive disconnect between how [Americans] believe farm animals ought to be treated and the conditions prevalent in the meat, egg and dairy industries. According to a recent poll, more than two-thirds of Americans find it unacceptable that there are no federal laws that protect the welfare of animals on the farm and more than four-fifths believe there should be effective laws that protect farm animals against cruelty. Further, the poll indicates that nearly three-quarters of Americans believe there ought to be federal inspections of farms to ensure humane treatment.
These beliefs stand in stark contrast to the legal reality. And unfortunately, routine abuse of farm animals is often the reality in our country. Most egg-laying hens are confined in cages [smaller] than a sheet of paper. Most pigs are kept in gestation crates barely bigger than their bodies. And most calves raised for veal are chained by the neck in crates too narrow for them even to turn around. The United States is lagging far behind the European Union when it comes to farm animal welfare. We shouldn't leave the fate of the animals raised for food to those who profit from their abuse. The time is long overdue for state and federal authorities to begin regulating the treatment of animals on farms.
The Washington Examiner - November 28, 2005
Revealing similar sentiments - but, unfortunately, similar abuses exist
Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals/CCN Mathews (December 2, 2005)
ENN/AP (November 22, 2005)
HalifaxLive.com (November 24, 2005)
Thankfully, there are many easy and cheap alternatives
The Minnesota Daily (November 18, 2005)
Growing demand creates more vegan options at university eatery
Full story: The New Hampshire, Univ. of NH, US
Tofu. It's a spongy, cheese-like food made by curdling hot soymilk with a coagulant such as calcium chloride. Sound appetizing? To many vegans it does! From dining hall renovations to soy and tofu packed meals in the vegan sections, [University of New Hampshire] dining services has begun to accommodate for the animal-friendly appetites of its vegan students.
Whether they watched PETA's "30 reasons why you should be a vegan" video, or they came across the pamphlets in the MUB on animal cruelty, a growing number of students are exploring vegetarianism and veganism. This decision not only affects a student's diet, but also the availability of food for them to eat. With the consistent increase in veganism across the UNH campus, restaurants and food carts have started to accommodate different eating styles into their everyday selections.
The New Hampshire, Univ. of NH, US - November 29, 2005
The Orion, California State University (November 30, 2005)
Animal Issues and Advocacy
McDonalds called on to lead in more humane treatment of chickens
Full story: News24 Southern Africa
Scalding chickens alive is the wrong way to prepare meat for a McNugget, animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal [says]. Peta and socially responsible investment firm Trillium Asset Management issued a shareholder's resolution calling on the fast food giant McDonald's to require its suppliers to switch to a humane system [currently used in Europe] of slaughtering chickens.
The animal rights group said the current method of slaughtering chickens in the United States involves hanging the birds upside-down by their legs and running their heads through an electrified bath that often doesn't shock them sufficiently to be knocked unconscious as their throats are slit and their bodies are dunked in tanks of scalding-hot water for feather removal. "Chickens are the most abused animals on the face of the planet," [a Peta spokesperson] said, explaining that birds have no protection under humane slaughter regulations. "Every moment of their lives from birth to death is categorised by misery."
News24 Southern Africa - December 8, 2005
Bovine escapees revert to wild nature - avert capture
Full story: Los Angeles Times
Something with hoofs moves behind an oak. A twig snaps and dry grass rustles as a horned animal breaks into the clearing. Could it be one of the fugitive cattle of Cheeseboro Canyon, the elusive bovines that park rangers say have eluded capture for more than five years? [They] escaped from a pen in Ahmanson Ranch and disappeared into the national park.
How can livestock - 1,000 pounds of hoofed sirloin - elude capture for five years in a popular park adjacent to a busy freeway? Bill Plummer, an animal science professor, says farm animals unleash their wild instincts after an escape. To adapt to their surroundings, he says the animals have become thinner and wirier. "These cows won't look like the cows you normally see," Plummer says. Once returned to a pen, Plummer says the cattle will revert to slow, dull domesticated farm animals. A Thorazine-like stupor will take over. But until then, Cheeseboro and Palo Camado canyons remain home of the free and land of the bovine. [Editor's note: You know who we're rooting for.
Los Angeles Times - December 6, 2005
New movie has Australian pork farmers worried
Full story: The Age, Australia
The pork industry survived the film Babe 10 years ago - but animal rights activists are ready to cash in on the film adaptation of Charlotte's Web, the tale of a brave spider's attempts to prevent Wilbur the pig from becoming Christmas dinner. It is not scheduled for release until September but animal rights group Voiceless has already signed up one of the stars, Daisy the 100-kilogram sow.
With Daisy by his side, Voiceless founder Brian Sherman, along with the group's patron, Hugo Weaving, will call on consumers to boycott the traditional Christmas ham and support free-range pork products. But Australian Pork Limited spokesman John Lamont said: "Groups such as these prey upon the ignorance of city kids... (by) filling their heads with nonsense."
The Age, Australia - December 4, 2005
Anti-ham ad aims to change festive menus
Full story: The Mercury, Tasmania, Australia
This little piggy went to the cinema. As a result, you might never look at pork the same way again. That's the aim of a campaign showing between flicks at [an Australian Cinema] during the festive season.
A breeding pig in a stall features in the ad, which says "Still feel like a Christmas ham? Cruelty, don't buy it!" Tasmania has about 2500 intensively farmed sows, at least two-thirds in stalls hardly bigger than themselves, says Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania pig campaign co-ordinator Emma Haswell. "The first time a lot of these pigs see sunshine is when they go to the abattoir," she said. "These intelligent and social animals suffer terribly, for the sake of cheap pork products."
The Mercury, Tasmania, Australia - December 3, 2005
'Secret' dolphin slaughter provokes revulsion
Full story: The Japan Times
Japan's annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins, spanning a period of six months, is officially condoned as part of traditional culture. However, it is the inhumane way in which the mammals are killed, by stabbing and spearing them, that especially provokes widespread revulsion. Much of the meat is then processed for human consumption - even though eating it could well be a very foolhardy thing to do. Drive fisheries appear to be carried out in as much secrecy as possible. But observers from One Voice [a French-based animal rights group] and Sea Shepherd have reported seeing wounded dolphins writhe in pain for almost six minutes before succumbing to their wounds.
[Ric O'Barry, an official with One Voice] estimates that "more than 400,000 dolphins have been killed in Japan by dolphin hunters over the past two decades. As a [former dolphin] trainer O'Barry said he discovered that dolphins were among the very few creatures in the animal kingdom that were not only highly intelligent, but also self-aware, like gorillas and humans, as evidenced by recognition of themselves when they saw their reflection in a mirror or watched themselves on a TV monitor. [A] Japanese official expressed the view that, "If someone eats a cow, why should one object to a dolphin being eaten; they're all mammals."
The Japan Times - November 30, 2005
Birds burned alive in Romanian bird flu cull
Full story: Reuters
Romania sacked two of its chief veterinarians on Monday after a television station showed junior vets throwing live birds into an open fire during a culling campaign to halt the spread of bird flu. Private television station Antena 3 broadcast pictures of a man wringing the neck of a goose before throwing the bird into a fire. It then showed the distressed bird bursting into flames.
Romania culled up to 17,000 birds on Sunday, quarantining a remote village to prevent bird flu from spreading westward towards more populated areas after avian flu was detected outside the Danube delta for the first time. "I still can't get over these images of cruelty," said Ioana Tomescu, executive director of animal welfare group Vier Pfoten (Four Paws) Romania.
Reuters - Novmeber 28, 2005
Are They Serious? Unfortunately Yes
As if these creatures weren't exploited enough: Researchers work on chicken fuel
Full story: ENN/AP
Fuel is the thing with feathers. Hoping to find an efficient way to help power automobiles and trucks, researchers at the University of Arkansas say they have developed a way to convert chicken fat to a biodiesel fuel. Michael Popp, an associate professor of agricultural economics, said it is too early to tell if making biodiesel fuel from chicken fat is economically feasible. [Editor's note: Let's hope not.
ENN/AP - December 1, 2005
Books and Perspectives
Moosewood Restaurant's latest cookbook offers fresh vegetarian ideas
Full story: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, WA, US
A vegetarian friend of mine swears by just about anything Moosewood. In fact, she and her husband regularly make pilgrimages from their Virginia home to the Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y. I suspect they own Moosewood T-shirts. Me? I've always been oddly lukewarm about this veggie icon. With this bias I opened Moosewood's latest, "Simple Suppers" by The Moosewood Collective (Clarkson Potter, 304 pages). It's billed as "fresh ideas for the weeknight table."
My first thought: this is one good-looking cookbook. Unlike earlier Moosewood books, "Simple Suppers" is beautifully printed (earlier books appear to have been printed on the paper bags the restaurant's free-range soy beans were delivered in). It also is beautifully illustrated with lush color photography throughout, is intuitively organized and virtually philosophy-free. As for the recipes? Still mixed for me, though I think most veggies will disagree.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, WA, US - November 30, 2005
Sir Paul, entertainer and now children's author, says 'Bambi turned me vegetarian'
Full story: The Daily Mail, UK
Sir Paul McCartney has credited [Disney's classic cartoon] Bambi with inspiring his fight for animal rights. The former Beatle, 63, is famous for his animal welfare activism. "If you think of Bambi, its mum gets killed by a hunter, and I think that made me grow-up thinking hunting isn't cool," he said. "It always gave me that idea.
Sir Paul made the comments while being interviewed for his new children's book "High in the Clouds." The book, co-written by Philip Ardagh, is inspired by issues of conservation and animal welfare. The story centres around Wirral the Squirrel, who vows to find the fabled land of Animalia, where all animals are said to live in freedom and without fear.
The Daily Mail, UK - December 12, 2005
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