March 2006
Celebrate Meatout Monday - March 20 and Earth Day - April 22

In this edition...

Health and Environment
  Tofu, oatmeal, nuts help lower cholesterol
  Study: Switching to vegetarian diet keeps weight down
  Worldwatch slams meat factory concept
  Bird flu is the high price of cheap chicken
  What that mad cow means
  Tuna sushi: Trendy but toxic
  You can't judge a meat by its colour

Lifestyles and Trends
  Veggie Experiences: Dennis Weaver, actor and environmental activist, 1924-2006
  A small step for the Tibetan vegetarian movement, a giant leap for Tibetan civil society
  Vegetarian diplomacy
  Australian politics a meaty business, study finds
  Do you tofu? More and more, the answer is a resounding yes!
  'Thoughtful' vegan diet holds lessons for others

Animal Issues and Advocacy
  Off the hook
  'A sunless hell': Confronting the cruel facts of factory-farmed meat
  When animals grieve
  Don't trust those 'certified' labels on grocery eggs
  Small victory over cruelty: Seychelles bans cutting sharks' fins
  Australia puts hold on export of live animals to Egypt

Are They Serious? Unfortunately Yes
  Introducing the Enviropig
Special offers for
VegE-News readers:

  Health and Environment    

Tofu, oatmeal, nuts help lower cholesterol
Full story: CTV, Canada

Maybe your doctor should write up a grocery list to help lower your cholesterol, suggests a small study that showed a rigid diet seemed as effective as cholesterol-lowering pills. "People interested in lowering their cholesterol should probably acquire a taste for tofu and oatmeal," said study co-author David Jenkins of the University of Toronto. The study, published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was funded in part by almond promoters and a major food company.

The participants were already on a heart-healthy diet. They were then prescribed a diet that included more specific foods, such as raw almonds, tofu and other soy foods, viscous fibers such as oatmeal, barley, okra and eggplant, and plant sterol-enriched margarine. After a year, the group who stuck faithfully to the new eating plan lowered their cholesterol by an average of 29 percent. Jenkins said the rate was comparable to results from participants who had taken a statin drug for one month before starting the diet, as well as general studies of patients on such drugs. Cholesterol for those who didn't stick to the new diet remained about the same. The real world is "a relatively hostile place" when it comes to healthy eating, [Jenkins] said. "We're asking people to buck the trend."

CTV, Canada - March 14, 2006
More good news about veggies:
Red cabbage could cut Alzehimer’s risk
Nutraingredients Europe (March 10, 2006)
Vegetarian eating has benefits
Iowa City Press-Citizen (February 27, 2006)
Soy benefits heart health in healthy young men
Medline Plus (February 28, 2006)

Study: Switching to vegetarian diet keeps weight down
Full story: Khalleej Times, UAE

If you want to keep the weight down, switch to a meat-free diet, scientists said [March 7 in London]. Researchers, who studied the eating habits of 22,000 people over five years, including meat eaters and vegetarians, found they all put on a few kilos but meat eaters who changed to a vegetarian or vegan diet gained the least.

"Contrary to current popular views that a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein keeps weight down, we found that the lowest weight gain came in people with high intake of carbohydrates and low intake of protein," said Professor Tim Key. The research compared weight gain among meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans and is published in the International Journal of Obesity. "The lowest weight gain was in people who changed their diet to eat fewer animal products," he told Reuters.

Khalleej Times, UAE - March 13, 2006
Related stories:
Study highlights health risk with high protein Atkins diet
USA Today (March 16, 2006)
Dairy products fail to stop weight gain
PCRM (March 6, 2006)

Worldwatch slams meat factory concept
Full story: Business-Standard, India

Since the latest outbreak of avian flu in Southeast Asia in 2003, public health officials, farmers, veterinarians, government officials and the media have referred to the threat as a 'natural' disaster. However, avian flu, mad cow disease, and other emerging diseases that affect humans from animals are symptoms of a larger change taking place in agriculture - the spread of factory farming. An article in the latest release from the Worldwatch Institute, titled 'Happier meals: Rethinking the global meat industry,' describes how factory farms are breaking the cycle between small farmers, their animals, and the environment, with collateral damage to human health and local communities.

The greatest rise in industrial animal operations is occurring near urban areas of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where high population densities and weak public health, occupational and environmental standards are exacerbating the impacts of these farms. The number of four-footed livestock on Earth at any given moment has increased 38 per cent since 1961, from 3.1 billion to more than 4.3 billion, while the global fowl population has quadrupled since 1961, from 4.2 billion to 17.8 billion birds.

Business-Standard, India - February 22, 2006

Bird flu is the high price of cheap chicken
Full story: Los Angeles Times

Chicken has never been cheaper. But the industrial farming methods that make ever-cheaper chicken possible may also have created the lethal strain of bird flu virus, H5N1, that threatens to set off a global pandemic. People have been living with backyard flocks of poultry since the dawn of civilization. But it wasn't until poultry production became modernized, and birds were raised in much larger numbers and concentrations, that a virulent bird flu evolved. Virulent bird flu has left the factories and moved into the farmyards of the poor, where it has had devastating effects.

The truly great ruse is that industrial poultry farms are the best way to produce chickens - that [they] are keeping the world safe from backyard poultry and migratory birds. But what's going to be on our tables isn't the biggest problem. The real tragedy is what's happened in Asia to people who can't afford cheap, industrial chicken. And the real victims of industrially produced, lethal H5N1 have been wild birds, an ancient way of life and the poor of the Earth.

Los Angeles Times - March 12, 2006
Related stories
Global poultry industry is the root of the bird flu crisis
Global Research (March 2, 2006)
No country safe from bird flu
Ireland online (February 28, 2006)
No time to be in the chicken business in France
New York Times (March 10, 2006)
Fear of bird flu in Greece sparks huge drop in poultry sales
Today Online, Singapore (March 3, 2006)
More Britons worried about eating chicken
Reuters, UK (March 1, 2006)


What that mad cow means
Full story: M&C News, US

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was quick to assure the public earlier this week that the third case of mad cow disease did not pose a risk to them, but what federal officials have not acknowledged is that this latest case indicates the deadly disease has been circulating in U.S. herds for at least a decade.

Jean Halloran of Consumers Union in Yonkers, N.Y., said consumers should be troubled by the USDA`s secrecy and its apparent plan to dramatically cut back the number of mad cow tests it conducts. Last year the USDA tested more than 300,000 animals for the disease, but it has proposed, even in light of a third case, scaling back the program to 40,000 tests annually. "They seem to be, in terms of actions and policies, taking a lot more seriously the concerns of the cattle industry than the concerns of consumers," Halloran said.

M&C News, US - March 16, 2006
Related story:
Japan confirms first mad cow case in cattle raised for beef
23 cases were previously confirmed in dairy cattle
Centre Daily Times, PA, US (March 17, 2006)

Tuna sushi: Trendy but toxic
Full story: Los Angeles Times

Tuna is arguably the most popular offering at sushi bars. But now a public health advocacy group is warning about the safety of tuna sushi and questioning the Food and Drug Administration's system of monitoring the mercury levels in fish, based on tests on a small sample of such delicacies at Los Angeles restaurants. "Eating sushi has become the new Russian roulette," [Eli Saddler, of] said.

"Our testing shows a pattern of mercury levels being significantly higher than what the FDA reports," Saddler said. Mercury, which is linked to reduced brain development in fetuses and young children, is found in at least trace levels in nearly all fish. The FDA and Environmental Protection Agency have warned that women who may become pregnant and young children shouldn't eat certain high-mercury fish, including swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. They should also limit their consumption of tuna, the agencies have said.

Los Angeles Times - March 6, 2006

You can't judge a meat by its colour
Full story: CBS News

Picture yourself at the grocery store faced with two cuts of packaged fresh red meat, one pink, the other brown. Which would you choose? Most people would buy the pink meat, assuming it was fresher. But that's not necessarily true. The meat industry has started spiking much packaged fresh meat with harmless amounts of carbon monoxide, which helps the meat retain a pink, "fresh" color for weeks.

Consumer groups are up in arms over the practice because it's happening without any provisions to tell consumers the meat has been treated with the gas. The groups fear that could lead to the consumption of spoiled meat, because the treatment could keep meat looking fresh beyond when it actually is. "It's critical that the industry clearly label the meat to show that consumers can't rely on that color as their cue." [But that doesn't happen.]

CBS News - February 21, 2006
Related story:
U.S. House moves to strip warnings from food labels
Environmental Network News/AP (March 9, 2006)

  Lifestyles and Trends    

Veggie Experiences: Dennis Weaver, actor and environmental activist, 1924-2006
Full story: E-Magazine

A vegetarian since 1958, Weaver's activism started with hunger relief. He co-founded, with other actors, the group L.I.F.E. (Love is Feeding Everyone) in 1981, and its work continues. Today, it supports agencies that collectively feed 150,000 hungry people in Los Angeles County. His vegetarianism was also an outgrowth of his growing environmental awareness. In an essay that appears on his Institute website, Weaver echoes the lessons of Jared Diamond's book Collapse in describing the need to learn from history's vivid examples:

"According to Einstein," he wrote, "we now have an insane relationship with our environment. You see, he defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Weaver's essay concludes with one of the great life lessons he taught, tirelessly, through more than 30 years of environmental activism: "We are all living on this one home called Earth, and for the good of all we must learn to share the great bounty that it has lovingly given us in a fair way, in a way that brings peace, productivity and prosperity to all."

E-Magazine - March 1, 2006

A small step for the Tibetan vegetarian movement, a giant leap for Tibetan civil society
Full story:

This year's Kalachakra will be remembered as the first-ever vegetarian Kalachakra. This was achieved due to the efforts of the members of the Tibetan Volunteers for Animals (TVA). In the months leading up to the religious event, TVA was able to convince the Central Tibetan Administration and exile Tibetans that in light of the teachings of the Kalachakra (with its emphasis on non-violence and compassion), everyone attending the Kalachakra should abstain from eating meat at least for the duration of the two-week long event.

In the last few decades, there has been a steady increase in the number of vegetarians in the world, testament to the fact that vegetarianism is no fleeting fad, and supporting Henry David Thoreau's belief that "it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals." However, compared to other people, the Tibetan exile community is seeing such a disproportionately high number of people turning to vegetarianism that this trend could be called a vegetarian revolution or explosion of sorts...This is a sign of a flourishing civil society, which in turn is a sign of a thriving - in our case, a blooming - democracy. - March 6, 2006

Vegetarian diplomacy
Full story: Common Ground

In the supermarket, as I pass a tasting booth with a woman giving out chicken samples, I say with an insincere smile, "No thanks, I don't eat slaughterhouse products." Or, at least, that's what my evil twin says. It's a dilemma. When I see those bits of chicken, I also see the de-beaking process. I recall the worker grabbing the legs of three struggling chickens with each of his hands. I hear fragile chicken leg bones breaking as a result of their forced and speedy growth to a "marketable" size. I recall the endless conveyer belt at the chicken slaughterhouse that takes both "free range" and the even less free chickens to their painful end.

Yet I suspect that my "shock value" response to the woman at the supermarket does little good for her, for me, or for the unfortunate beings that we classify as "food animals." My response is ineffective because its root is righteousness. It's not unusual for me to later discover that the person I scorned as "less vegan than me" is extremely compassionate. Thus, my less evil twin remembers the Dalai Lama and simply says a truly warm and friendly, "No thanks, I'm vegetarian," as I pass the sampling booth. The combination of respect for my own values and for the people around me offers the most promise for maintaining outward and inner peace. It is the diplomatic solution that is likely to maintain bridges, rather than creating barriers with those I love.

Common Ground - March, 2006

Australian politics a meaty business, study finds
Full story: Stuff, New Zealand

Victoria University senior psychology lecturer Marc Wilson, an omnivore, and PhD student Michael Allen, a vegetarian, say meat is symbolic. "Why do people eat meat? Partly, it's a way of expressing dominance or masculinity...Really masculine men eat more meat," Dr Wilson said. National Party supporters and men who saw the world in a hierarchical way tended to eat more meat than Labour Party supporters and women - who saw the world in a more interconnected, less structured way, the researchers found.

Stuff, New Zealand - March 8, 2006

Do you tofu? More and more, the answer is a resounding yes!
Full story: The Grand Rapids Press, MI, US

Tofu has been a mainstay food for millions of people across Asia for thousands of years. In the West, it's touted as a superstar food, packed with vital nutrients. It serves as a cornerstone for many-a-vegetarian or vegan diet and appears in countless gourmet recipes. Although tofu historically has been overlooked in the West, [wellness consultant MariJo] Yared said it now can be readily found in mainstream outlets. Some restaurants serve dishes containing tofu and most grocery stores carry several varieties of the food in the produce section. "It's an ancient food, it's been around forever," Yared said. "It's exciting that more Americans are embracing this food."

The Grand Rapids Press, MI, US - March 1, 2006
Related stories:
As vegetarianism grows in popularity, so are food options
Port Huron Times-Herald, MI (March 12, 2006)
Great American Meatout: Can you eat like a vegetarian?
Belleville News Democrat, IL, US (March 12, 2006)
Related: The Great American Meatout and The Veggie Challenge

'Thoughtful' vegan diet holds lessons for others
Full story: News & Observer, NC, US

Vegans are typically motivated by convictions about ecology, world hunger and animal rights. Any use of animals that exploits them or contributes to suffering is off-limits, and that extends to clothing and cosmetics, too. Health reasons may be motivating factors, too, though they usually aren't the driving force. Vegans (and vegetarians) are less likely than nonvegetarians to be overweight, and they have lower rates of coronary artery disease. They have lower blood cholesterol levels and lower rates of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.

I've spent enough time with vegans to know another advantage: When you eat out as a vegan, you eat more healthful foods. Vegans eat more bulky, low-calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables. They get more fiber, less fat and more of the beneficial phytochemicals found in foods of plant origin. Perhaps the most important lesson we could learn from vegans is their thoughtfulness toward food. Vegans mindfully consider everything they eat. They study the fine print on food labels and pepper restaurant wait staff with questions. Many people consider a vegan lifestyle too extreme, but adopting a more thoughtful approach to what goes on your plate can be a giant first step toward a healthier diet.

News & Observer, NC, US - February 23, 2006
  Animal Issues and Advocacy    

Off the hook
Full story: ABC, Australia

Can you hear fish scream? Animal Liberation claims just the thought of a fish in pain should shut down recreational fishing in Australia. Patty Mark, president of Animal Liberation Victoria [says], "Fishing is very cruel, it causes extreme pain and suffering to the animals involved, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with fun or recreation." But it's not only recreational fishing that's under fire, Mark believes that commercial fishing, often seen as an important stabilizer for our economy, should also be banned. "Our oceans are being raped. There's hardly any wild fish left in commercial numbers. They're trawling our oceans, which is destroying the ocean beds and we're totally destroying our environment for fish that will only ever be fed to factory farmed animals."

Patty Mark acknowledges many may make light of the subject, "It's not about radical groups trying to take away all your fun. It's about making this world a better place for us and them. This is about individual animals who suffer and feel pain like any of us," Mark says, "We're animals, birds feel pain, fish feel pain. We now need to extend our intelligence to realise that all animals do suffer, and to use them as a sport when the other person involved is going through incredible torment, there's no fun in that."

ABC, Australia - March 1, 2006

'A sunless hell': Confronting the cruel facts of factory-farmed meat
Full story: Ariozona Republic, US

[Editor's note: While this article's author, Mathew Scully, former speechwriter for President Bush, is talking about a local voter issue, his comments have implications world-wide wherever factory farms exist. The full article is long, but well worth reading.] Arizona voters will be asked this fall to weigh in on a ballot measure called the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act. The initiative would prohibit the factory-farming practice of confining pigs and veal calves in crates so small that the animals cannot even turn around or extend their limbs. Among the more disreputable claims made to justify intensive confinement is that it's actually for the benefit of the pigs. They "prefer" confinement to grazing outdoors. They need "protection" from each other's aggression.

Prepare yourself to hear, in the coming months, these arguments and similar rubbish from industry lobbyists, their shill veterinarians, and anyone else they can trot out to make something pernicious and contemptible seem decent and praiseworthy. Then in the quiet of the voting booth ask yourself why any creature of God, however humble, should be made to endure the dark, lonely, tortured existence of the factory farm, and what kind of people build their fortunes upon such misery. The answer will send an unequivocal message, to factory farmers here and to all concerned, that unbridled arrogance, bad faith, and rank cruelty are not Arizona values.

Ariozona Republic, US - February 19, 2006
Related link:
Mathew Scully's book "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy"
is available at The VegE-Store

When animals grieve
Full story: Ottawa Sun, Canada

While more than a thousand people gathered last week to mourn the passing of prized Toronto police horse Brigadier, were his stable mates grieving as well? One of the herd is missing. And they're probably aware, says one equine behaviour expert; many companion animals share emotional responses strikingly similar to our own.

"The longer and closer their association has been, the more strongly and the longer they are likely to grieve," says Dr. Jessica Jahiel, internationally-known horse trainer and lecturer. "That's not too different from the way humans react, is it?" The emotional lives of animals have been carefully researched and documented in books and articles, including grief which has been observed in many wild species and companion animals following the death of a pack member. A deep attachment in their social group is common among many in the animal kingdom; intricate funeral rituals are even followed by elephants, including mourning at the gravesite for hours.

Ottawa Sun, Canada - March 16, 2006
Related stories:
Cat comforts grieving orangutan at zoo
ABC News, US (March 9, 2006)
Grieving baboons comforted by friends
Animal Planet (February 10, 2006)
Brigadier. A loss to entire city?
Asks: What gives us the right to treat some animals like royalty and others like machines?
Exqualibar, York University, Toronto, Canada (March 1, 2006)
Chimpanzees show hints of higher human traits
New Scientist (March 2, 2006)
Book review: Creatures Like Us? by Lynne Sharpe
Animal Sentience - Available at The VegE-Store


Don't trust those 'certified' labels on grocery eggs
Full story: Athens News, OH, US

At the supermarket, some conscientious shoppers may look for a carton of eggs labeled "Animal Care Certified" or "Free Range," thinking that the eggs in the carton have come from a chicken that has been treated humanely. In actuality, that could not be further from the truth, said Nathan Runkle from Mercy for Animals. "Despite the lofty-sounding name of the 'Animal Care Certified' label, the actual guidelines set by the United Egg Producers allow for egregious animal cruelty," Runkle maintained.

During investigations at [area farms], Mercy for Animals investigators found shocking conditions. Among the most serious findings, investigators encountered feces-covered hens, chicken corpses left next to birds still producing eggs for human consumption, hens suffering from bloody scratches, open wounds and oozing, untreated eye and sinus infections, and birds trapped in the wire of their cages, left to die from dehydration and starvation. Beginning in April, the United Egg Producers will unveil its new label, "United Egg Producers Certified," Runkle said. "It is a small victory, in the sense that we won't be having the same blatant misleading of consumers," he said. Unfortunately, he added, the United Egg Producers' guidelines are not changing.

Athens News, OH, US - March 16, 2006

Small victory over cruelty: Seychelles bans cutting sharks' fins
Full story: ENN/Reuters

The Seychelles [Fishing Authority (SFA)] has banned the cutting off of sharks' fins by foreign fishermen to curb a flourishing global trade that is threatening the survival of the sea predator and marine ecosystems. The United Nations estimates that 100 million sharks are killed every year world-wide, mostly for their fins which are a delicacy in East Asia where a bowl of shark fin soup can command high prices. "Shark finning is the wasteful and cruel practice of slicing off the highly valuable fins, often from living sharks, and dumping the rest of the creatures back into the sea to face a slow and certain death," SFA said in a statement.

ENN/Reuters - February 27, 2006
More "good news" stories:
High Court of Justice rejects appeal to continue force-feeding of geese
Israel Ministry of Environment (February 23, 2006)
China must stop cruelty to animals, delegates to China's parliament say
Alertnet (March 7, 2006)
A rooster crows in Brooklyn
WNBC News (March 8, 2006)

Australia puts hold on export of live animals to Egypt
Full story: ABC, Australia

The Federal Agriculture Minister, Peter McGauran, has banned the export of live animals to Egypt until authorities have examined claims that Australian cattle are being severely mistreated in Egyptian abattoirs. The claims were aired on the Nine Network's 60 Minutes program, which broadcast footage filmed secretly at Cairo's Bassatin abattoir. The footage showed cattle at the Bassatin abattoir being stabbed in the eye and having their tendons in their back legs slashed to disable them before being slaughtered. An immediate investigation has been launched into the claims. But the industry body Meat and Livestock Australia says it's confidant the images aren't of Australian cattle. [Editor's note: Should that matter?]

ABC, Australia - February 27, 2006
Related stories:
Australia: Animal rights group targets live sheep importers
ABC Rural, Australi (March 16, 2006)
UK: Export of live veal calves to resume despite protests
Independent, UK (March 6, 2006)
Animal rights campaigner devestated at EU decision
icCoventry, UK (March 8, 2006)

  Are They Serious? Unfortunately Yes    

Introducing the Enviropig
Full story: Newsweek

Two Canadian scientists have created a pig whose manure doesn't contain very much phosphorus at all. If this variety of pig were adopted widely, it could greatly reduce a major source of pollution. But the Enviropig, as they call it, is the product of genetic modification - which is anathema to many Westerners.

Newsweek - March 20, 2006
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