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In this edition...
Health and Environment
| ||Foods that feed your brain|
| ||Sushi popularity and illegal fishing hurting tuna stocks|
| ||Study shows higher asthma rates in schools near factory farms|
| ||Mad Cow: Symptoms can emerge decades later|
| ||Happiness doesn't cost the Earth|
| ||Whaling industry belongs in the past|
| ||Lighten up on a vegetarian diet|
Lifestyles and Trends
| ||More African Americans embracing vegetarianism|
| ||Vacations for savvy vegetarians|
| ||It died for us - ethical shopping|
| ||Is there anything left that we can eat?|
| ||Big is beautiful as ethical food stores grow on shoppers|
| ||Would you eat lab-grown meat?|
| ||Veggie experiences: Religion a source of inspiration|
Animal Issues and Advocacy
| ||Animal intelligence resists definition|
| ||Peter Singer: Meat production today is not just inhumane, it's inefficient|
| ||Africa's apes 'are being eaten to extinction'|
| ||Gorillas on the menu in meat trade|
| ||Billions of birds deserve a better end|
| ||Chicago bids frustrated farewell to foie gras|
Books and Perspectives
| ||Six arguments for a greener diet||
Special offers for
Health and Environment
Foods that feed your brain
Full story: Common Ground
As you read this, a fatty acid called EPA is helping regulate your blood pressure, immune system, heart health plus various organ functions throughout your body. A related substance, DHA, is an important building block in your brain and eye and is essential in helping you think and see. For you men, DHA is also a component of sperm. EPA and DHA are members of the omega-3 family of fats that is commonly found in seafood. Yet, many people are finding plenty of sound reasons to forgo fish nowadays. Seafood is known to be a concentrated source of contaminants...and a primary source of food-borne illness. There are also some compelling ecological and ethical arguments for avoiding fish.
Fortunately, including seafood in our diet is not essential to our health. Apart from eating fish, there are ways to obtain the two long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that do such important jobs for us. Our bodies can build EPA and DHA from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), another member of the omega-3 family, which is found in flaxseed, hempseed, walnuts, canola oil and soy. A good choice is to include one of the following in your daily diet: two teaspoons of flaxseed oil, two tablespoons of ground flaxseed, or a handful of walnuts (1-2 ounces).
Common Ground - July, 2006
Sushi popularity and illegal fishing hurting tuna stocks
Full story: BBC, UK
East Atlantic and the Mediterranean are being stripped bare by illegal fishing, WWF has warned in a report. Traditional tuna-trap fishermen in the Gibraltar Straits have caught 80% less fish in the last three years compared with the 1990s, the report claims. It also says that demand for tuna in the UK is being driven by "fast sushi" bars and by supermarket sales. Fleets exceed quotas and some are failing to report catches, WWF says.
The fishery is running out of control, fuelled by the unrestricted expansion of tuna farms across the Mediterranean Sea and driven by the high prices paid by traders in Japan and elsewhere. "The European Commission risks bearing witness to the collapse of this centuries-old fishery," said Dr Simon Cripps, director of WWF's global marine programme. WWF called for an immediate closure of the fishery - pending the implementation of a recovery plan and "strong" management measures.
BBC, UK - July 5, 2006
National Geographic (July 10, 2006)
Study shows higher asthma rates in schools near factory farms
Full story: Radio Iowa
A study by University of Iowa researchers shows that kids who go to school near large-scale livestock farms may be at higher risk for getting asthma. Doctor Joel Kline, a professor of internal medicine, says they monitored one school near a concentrated animal feeding operation or CAFO, and one school that was not. He says, "We found a significant difference in the rate of asthma between the two schools." Kline says the kids at the school near the CAFO were almost six times as likely to be diagnosed with asthma as the kids who went to the control school.
Kline says they had questions about the impact on schools after seeing other CAFO studies. Kline says they'd previously seen that workers who work in confinement facilities had reductions in lung function more than other workers. He says they wanted to know if this would also affect students who went to school in the area of a CAFO. He says they didn't find any other significant difference in the schools to explain the increase in asthma at the one school.
Radio Iowa - June 26, 2006
Grist Magazine (June 30, 2006)
Mad Cow: Symptoms can emerge decades later
Full story: WebMD
Symptoms of mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE) may emerge more than 50 years after infection in humans, according to a new study. Researchers say the findings show that the size of a potential mad cow disease epidemic may be much bigger than previously thought. John Collinge of University College London and colleagues studied the only other known BSE disease outbreak in Papua New Guinea and found those infected in the initial outbreak in the 1950s were still developing the disease 50 years later. As a result, Collinge says current predictions of the size of a human BSE epidemic may be substantially underestimated.
WebMD - June 23, 2006
CBS News, US (July 20, 2006)
Happiness doesn't cost the Earth
Full story: BBC, UK
People can live long, happy lives without consuming large amounts of the Earth's resources, a survey suggests. The 178-nation "Happy Planet Index
" lists the south Pacific island of Vanuatu as the happiest nation on the planet, while the UK is ranked 108th [Canada: 111th, France: 129th, Australia: 139th, U.S.: 150th]. The index is based on consumption levels, life expectancy and happiness, rather than national economic wealth measurements such as GDP. The study was compiled by think-tank the New Economics Foundation (Nef).
One of the authors, Nef's Nic Marks, said the aim of the index was to show that well-being did not have to be linked to high levels of consumption. "It is clear that no single nation listed in the index has got everything right, but it does reveal patterns that show how we might better achieve long and happy lives for all while living within our environmental means," Mr Marks said. The index builds on a report that Nef published earlier this year that warned if annual global consumption levels matched the UK's, it would take 3.1 Earths to meet the demand.
BBC, UK - July 12, 2006
Calculate your personal Happy Planet Index
Try it - it's fun - and being veggie helps!
On the environmental impact of diet:
Interview with the "Mad Cowboy" Howard Lyman
CJSR Radio, Edmonton, Canada - Terra Informa program
(scroll down to find Terra Informa and then the veggie segment)
Earth Save International
Toronto Vegetarian Association
Whaling industry belongs in the past
Full story: Toronto Star, Canada/Financial Times, UK
Whaling is an unusual example of an environmental issue on which the U.S. stands alongside what green campaigners regard, quite rightly, as the good guys. There is no justification - social, cultural, ecological or nutritional - for resuming the slaughter that brought some species to the brink of extinction in the mid-20th century. Although whale numbers have recovered to some extent, zoologists say they are still far below the historic levels before industrial whaling started in the 19th century. The latest Japanese argument that whales threaten fish stocks is absurd, at a time when human overfishing is having a far greater impact.
Japan's claim to have a special cultural justification for whaling turns out on examination to be largely bogus. Most Japanese only started to consume whale meat with the coming of industrial whaling. There is little evidence that younger people today have any taste for or cultural attraction to eating whales; indeed, the Japanese government has found it hard to sell the meat from the hundreds of whales a year that it kills in the name of what it laughably calls "scientific research."
Toronto Star, Canada/Financial Times, UK - June 21, 2006
iol, South Africa (July 5, 2006)
New Zealand Herald (June 26, 2006)
Japanese no longer like whale meat
ENN/Reuters (June 14, 2006)
Lighten up on a vegetarian diet
Full story: Daily India
"It does not matter what you eat. Just don't eat a lot, exercise, and your weight will not be a problem." True? Not quite! There is scientific evidence that a vegetarian diet keeps that weight down, whereas meat eaters put it on. What you eat does matter. You know that weight loss is an industry. A money-making industry with many claims to make. The US FDA has warned against the effectiveness of a number of products that are being marketed. By contrast, vegetarians and vegans know what they eat and why they eat it. They save money and lose weight.
Recent British scientific research is based on a study of 22,000 people who were followed over five years. All participants put on weight over that time. However, meat eaters who changed to a vegetarian diet gained the least weight. Prof Tim Keys, who led this study for the University of Oxford and Cancer Research UK, said: "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." The evidence is in on effectiveness of vegetarian diets with respect to weight loss. If you also know that you are doing your body and the planet a favour by losing weight through vegetarian or vegan diets... then what are you waiting for? It's over to you!
Daily India - July 24, 2006
Lifestyles and Trends
More African Americans embracing vegetarianism
Full story: Insight News
If you think that vegetarianism is the exclusive domain of trim-and-fit celebrities or tight-bodied athletes, think again. In recent years, there has been a growing trend among African Americans, who have resolutely decided to emancipate themselves from the slavery-based tradition of artery-clogging "soul food" and from the newer chains of "fast food" - opting instead for a meatless and more natural diet.
From Dallas to Miami to New York City, a rising number of Blacks on the rush-hour road of unhealthy living have been taking the off-ramp. Weary of tipping the bathroom scale, getting bad test results from doctors, and losing loved ones to diabetes, heart disease and cancer, more than a few African Americans are now tossing out the meat, grease, and processed foods, and setting up "vegetarian societies" to provide community-based support networks and health information resources. "In reality, soul food is a plantation diet," [Tracye McQuirter of the Black Vegetarian Society of New York] said. Thus, vegetarianism is best understood not as a denial of traditional Black culture but as a celebration of our freedom to choose.
Insight News - May, 2006
Vacations for savvy vegetarians
Full story: The Epoch Times
Where does a vegetarian go for vacation? Well, it depends on what the vacation is for. Relaxation? Honeymoon? Adventure? Like any other vacationer, vegetarians have varied interests. [Researching the options,] I was amazed to find destinations as diverse as beachcombing in Hawaii to skiing or snowboarding in France. I found destinations in the U.K., Asia, Australia, Canada, and South and Central America. Just in the United States, there are veggie destinations from North to South and from East coast to West coast.
There are travel options for the hiker or biker, the skier or sailor, even for simple tourists and sightseers. There are also destinations for the art lover, numerous retreats and spa, as well as trips for the spiritually-minded. Some of the bed-and-breakfasts advertise organic, chemical-free lodging for the vegetarian, Earth-conscious traveler. Veggie cruises are also available. [The article lists suggested resources.]
The Epoch Times - July 19, 2006
Tucson Citizen, AR, US (July 19, 2006)
It died for us - ethical shopping
Full story: New York Times
Do oysters have little bivalve souls? Do they dream briny dreams, scream briny screams? On a level that I suppose is selfish and somewhat silly, I hope not, because they are alive when they are shucked right in front of us, their deaths more proximal than those of so many creatures we eat. They don't thrash like the lobster in its scalding pot, but should we nonetheless worry about how they meet their end? And whether that end is a sufficiently compassionate one?
These questions seem less ridiculous than they once did. This month Whole Foods announced that it would no longer sell live lobsters, saying that keeping them in crammed tanks for long periods doesn't demonstrate a proper concern for animal welfare. The Chicago City Council recently outlawed the sale of foie gras. All of these developments dovetail in these food-obsessed times with a heightened awareness of what we eat: where it came from, what it was fed, how it was penned, how it perished. More Americans are spending more time mulling the nutritional, environmental and, yes, ethical implications of their diets. [The full article is highly recommended.]
New York Times - June 25, 2006
Is there anything left that we can eat?
Full story: Washington Post
I can't decide what to eat. I don't mean which recipe to make, or what restaurant to go to. I mean when I go grocery shopping, I'm paralyzed with indecision. Everything, it seems, is either ethically, nutritionally or environmentally incorrect. Guilt is ruining my appetite. The point is, choosing what to eat and drink has become hard work. It's not simply a case of taste or price. Now we have to ask ourselves: Is this good for my health? Have animals suffered? Is it local? Organic? Bad for the planet? Harvested by child workers?
I wondered if there might be some moral and ethical template I could apply to my food decisions. Arthur Caplan is the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Caplan believes there's no need to have "a moral aneurysm" every time we go to the supermarket. Every person, he says, needs to establish a scale of ethical priorities. Is taste most important to you? Cost? The environment? Your health? Animal suffering? Pick one thing that matters most and let that drive your decisions. For Caplan, No. 1 on his list is whether suffering was involved. He also points out that, in a way, we should be grateful we are even considering all these ethical questions. "These are the dilemmas of abundance," he says. "If we were living in Darfur, the only answer to 'what to eat?' would be 'anything I can find.'"
Washington Post - July 19, 2006
Big is beautiful as ethical food stores grow on shoppers
Full story: The Times, UK
Ethical shopping may sound like the pastime of well-meaning hippies, but tell that to the boardroom. A retail revolution is underway, according to market analysts, and the trend dubbed "ethical consumerism" is now big business. According to a report by the Institute for Grocery Distribution, shoppers are increasingly prepared to pay a premium for high-quality organic, free-range or fair trade products. The Institute for Grocery Distribution believes that the ethical shopping trend is growing so fast that soon it will apply as much to toothpaste, soap and tea towels as it does to organic milk, free-range eggs and chicken and fair trade coffee and chocolate.
The Times, UK - July 17, 2006
Dan Rather profiles the founder of Whole Foods Market
Sixty Minutes, US (May 31, 2006)
Miami Herald, FL (July 15, 2006)
Notable quote: "I find it strange that people are squeamish about killing lobsters but don't mind eating hamburgers."
Would you eat lab-grown meat?
Full story: The Tyee, British Columbia, Canada
As I type these words, men and women of science are growing meat in a laboratory. That's meat grown independently of any animal. It isn't hatched or born. It doesn't graze, walk or breathe. But it is alive. It sits growing in a room where somebody has called it into existence with a pipette and syringe. "Cultured meat," it's called. It already exists in ground or chipped form. "It's cleaner, healthier, less polluting and more humane," says Jason Matheny, a doctoral student in agricultural policy at the University of Maryland who sits on the board of New Harvest, a research organization for in vitro meat.
It could be a long time before people smell the legume blossoms and start eating lower on the food chain. Matheny thinks cultured meat can be "a stopgap measure" aiding that process: methadone for meat eaters to ease the transition out of the era of 72-ounce steaks and into the days of dollops of hummus. Maybe he's right. Maybe in vitro meat can serve that purpose. Or maybe it will work in a different way - by so thoroughly grossing people out that they'll gladly reduce their meat consumption just so they lessen the risk of accidentally eating a meatri burger. That's how it's working on me.
The Tyee, British Columbia, Canada - July 18, 2006
Wired news (June 21, 2006)
Discover Magazine (July, 2006)
Veggie experiences: Religion a source of inspiration
Full story: Red Orbit/Topeka Capital-Journal, US
Robin Gibson learned how to make cheese out of cashews when she got married. For the lifelong vegetarian, the request didn't seem so odd. Gibson and her husband, Brian, who is allergic to milk and other dairy products, were raised vegetarian because of their religious beliefs. The two are part of a growing number of Seventh-day Adventists who subscribe to church recommendations for a healthy diet. "We believe our bodies are a gift from God and we should take care of that gift if we truly appreciate it," Harvey said.
Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif., is an Adventist Health Sciences Institution focused on integrating the church's teachings into health and science studies. The university is conducting studies on Adventists who follow the health guidelines and those who don't. While this study is a few months from completion, articles about past studies through the university have been published in Newsweek, CNN and National Geographic. "The National Geographic article looks at Loma Linda and how the people there live longer than on average," Gibson said.
Red Orbit/Topeka Capital-Journal, US - July 15, 2006
Sapulpa Daily Herald (July 19, 2006)
Animal Issues and Advocacy
Animal intelligence resists definition
Full story: Discovery Channel
People generally define intelligence in terms that place our own species at the apex, but recent studies on other animals suggest skills such as abstract thinking, problem solving, reasoning, and language - once thought unique to us - may not be so uncommon after all. "The closer we examine animals, the more they surprise us with their intelligence and awareness," said Jonathan Balcombe, a research scientist at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC.
A prevailing view holds that all examples of non-human intelligence are simply conditioned behaviors. Recent studies are putting that view to rest. Linguists have argued that certain patterns of language organization are the exclusive province of humans. Once again, new research is turning that idea on its head. Another quality of human intelligence that many animals appear to share is the capacity for complex emotion. "Gradually we are coming to realize that it's wrong to make other feeling beings suffer for our own selfish interests," Balcombe said. "Might doesn't make right. If a more intelligent race arrived from outer space, would they have the right to torture and kill us? I think not!"
Discovery Channel - June 30, 2006
Peter Singer: Meat production today is not just inhumane, it's inefficient
Full story: The Guardian, UK
Global meat consumption is predicted to double by 2020. Yet in Europe and North America there is growing concern about the ethics of the way meat and eggs are produced. Concern about how we treat farm animals is far from being limited to the small percentage of people who are vegetarians or even vegans. Despite strong ethical arguments for vegetarianism, it is not yet a mainstream position. More common is the view that we are justified in eating meat, as long as the animals have a decent life before they are killed. The problem, as Jim Mason and I describe in our recent book, is that industrial agriculture denies animals even a minimally decent life.
Defenders of these production methods argue that they are a regrettable but necessary response to a growing population's demand for food. On the contrary, when we confine animals in factory farms we have to grow food for them. The animals burn up most of that food's energy just to breathe and keep their bodies warm, so we end up with a small fraction - usually no more than one-third and sometimes as little as one-tenth - of the food value that we feed them. By contrast, cows grazing on pasture eat food that we cannot digest, which means that they add to the amount of food available to us.
As consumers, we have the power - and the moral obligation - to refuse to support farming methods that are cruel to animals and bad for us.
The Guardian, UK - July 12, 2006
Related stories and links:
Los Angeles City Beat (June 29, 2006)
The New Standard (July 3, 2006)
Phoenix Business Journal, AR, US (July 8, 2006)
A must-see video from Farm Sanctuary (no heart-wrenching footage - promise!) - forward it to your friends
Africa's apes 'are being eaten to extinction'
Full story: Mail & Guardian, South Africa
Bush-meat trade is threatening a possible depletion of Africa's great apes, the world's leading chimpanzee and gorilla conservationist, Jane Goodall, warned. She said that although governments on the continent have agreed to the protection of the primates, corruption and commercial interests involving logging companies are making conservation efforts futile. Extensive destruction of the forests by international logging firms in Central Africa has exposed the primates, mainly chimpanzees, to bush-meat hunters who are killing off the parent chimps, leaving babies orphaned, and selling off the meat to local and illegal international markets, Goodall said.
"Some meat is eaten by local people and the rest sold in towns and ... exported mainly to the United States and Europe. This meat is eaten by African experts there who come from primate-meat eating countries," she said. "Bush-meat trade brings in $1-billion to the Central African Republic every year and this meat is exported illegally to Europe and the US," Goodall said.
Mail & Guardian, South Africa - June 29, 2006
Gorillas on the menu in meat trade
Full story: Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia
Chimpanzees and gorillas are finding their way on to dinner tables in western Europe and the US, an investigation has found. The investigation, by a biologist from the University of California at Berkeley, has discovered that primates, including the great apes, make up nearly a third of the illegal trade in African bushmeat. Justin Brashares recruited 15 volunteers, all expatriates from west Africa, to visit clandestine meat markets in London, Paris, Brussels, New York, Chicago, Montreal and Toronto.
They discovered that just over 6000kg of bushmeat moves through the seven markets each month. Prof Brashares believes this could be an underestimate.
"I have 27 records of chimpanzee and gorilla parts being sold in the markets," [New Scientist] magazine quoted him as saying. "In each case it was not a complete body, but a hand, leg, or in two cases, a head." International demand for bushmeat was not driven by need, Prof Brashares pointed out. "It's part of what is clearly a luxury trade," he said. "They could go and buy a filet mignon in London for what they're paying for a baboon."
Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia - July 7, 2006
Billions of birds deserve a better end
Full story: Baltimore Sun, MD, US
The poultry industry now finds itself with an opportunity to implement a technology that would reduce animal suffering and improve working conditions for employees. A Nebraska poultry slaughter company has implemented a better system [controlled-atmosphere stunning, recommended by Peta and used in Europe]. In a press release, MBA Poultry stated, "There have been numerous studies conducted that lead us to believe that the typical electrical stunning systems used in the U.S. can cause severe welfare problems for millions, and possibly billions, of birds each year."
The birds slaughtered at MBA Poultry could be considered fortunate when compared with the overwhelming majority of the 9 billion chickens, turkeys and other birds killed for food each year in the United States. For these animals, abuse from the moment they enter the slaughter facility is still the norm. One of these abuses involves being shackled upside-down while fully conscious. This is a painful and terrifying process for the animals, many of which are suffering from broken legs or painful leg disorders caused by their unnaturally rapid growth. After shacking, the birds are electrocuted into immobility, but not unconsciousness. Their throats are then cut, but those that miss the blade drown in tanks of scalding water designed to loosen their feathers.
Baltimore Sun, MD, US - July 12, 2006
MSNBC, US (July 10, 2006)
Call for action by CIWF (July 20, 2006)
Chicago bids frustrated farewell to foie gras
Full story: MSNBC
In a few weeks it will be illegal to sell foie gras in Chicago; but fans of the delicacy are not going quietly into the night. On a recent evening more than 100 of them paid $150 each to dine on grilled foie gras with cherry chutney and peppercorn brioche; salt and herb cured foie gras with lamb prosciutto; ravioli of foie gras, pheasant and apple and other treats as chefs talked of overturning the ban. "It does bother me the way it's raised, but then my grandfather raised cattle in Kansas, so I'm very aware of what farm life is like," said Pati Heestand, a retired graphic designer and foie gras aficionado.
Joe Moore, the alderman who sponsored the ordinance, discounted the thought by some that once foie gras is banned other foods raised under practices animal rights activists decry, including commercially raised chickens, would be next. "It's the most egregious example of cruelty to animals in order to produce a product that is at best a luxury," Moore said, adding that he received hundreds of comments when the measure passed, with about 60 percent in favor of the ordinance. "They want to ban eggs, they want to ban veal, they want to ban lobster, they want to ban everything," the chef where the dinner was held said.
MSNBC - July 13, 2006
Ad by Animal Rights International and United Poultry Concerns calling American Veterinary Medical Association to task for failing to condemn foie gras
Books and Perspectives
Six arguments for a greener diet
Full story: CSPI
Center for Science in the Public Interest's latest book, "Six Arguments for a Greener Diet" is a meticulously researched examination of scientific studies that finds that eating more plant foods and fewer fatty animal products can lead to extra years of healthy living. Happily, explains lead author and CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, that same diet also leads to much less food poisoning, water pollution, air pollution, global warming, and animal suffering. [The book] carefully connects the dots between a healthy diet and a healthy planet.
A web-based companion to the book, www.EatingGreen.org
, will let consumers take an animated tour of the food supply, calculate the environmental impact of their food choices and the impact their changes may have, and score their diets on the basis of health, environment, and animal welfare.
CSPI - July, 2006
Book available at:
Along with lots more for enlightening summer reading
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