March 20 is the 23rd annual Great 'American' Meatout
In this edition...
| ||Unhappy meals - some healthy advice from author Michael Pollan|
| ||Latest Canada mad cow case shows epidemic say U.S. cattle groups|
| ||Mad cow: How risky is it to drink milk?|
| ||Survey finds mercury in every fish tested|
| ||Message for men: Go veggie for sake of virility and longer life|
| ||Meat and global warming: A few more 'Inconvenient Truths' |
| ||Forget a Prius. Eat a felafel|
| ||Growing taste for 'live fish' - yes, steamed, bbq'd, baked while alive! - stripping reefs|
| ||Congo rebels kill, eat endangered mountain gorillas|
Lifestyles and Trends
| ||Veggie experiences: My veg moment|
| ||Few in Japan clamoring for whale meat|
| ||Filipinos urged to celebrate 'Year of the Pig' by going vegetarian|
| ||Boycott this cruel 'delicacy'|
Animal Issues and Advocacy
| ||Canada's largest pork processor to set pigs free from cages|
| ||Happy calves: Sickly newborns growing stronger every day at sanctuary|
| ||Silent protest against cruelty of Australian live-sheep exports|
| ||Can't a guy destroy a slaughterhouse without being called a "terrorist"?|
| ||Animal sentience: Chimps may have used hammers 4,300 years ago|
Movies, Books and Perspectives
| ||Cajun cooking, veggie-style|
| ||Catching up with the Mad Cowboy|
Unhappy meals - some healthy advice from author Michael Pollan
Full story: New York Times Magazine
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give away the game right here at the beginning of a long essay, and I confess that I'm tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a few thousand more words. I'll try to resist but will go ahead and add a couple more details to flesh out the advice.
Like: A little meat won't kill you, though it's better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you're much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. That's what I mean by the recommendation to eat "food." Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you're concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it's not really food, and food is what you want to eat. [So begins a long and informative essay.]
New York Times Magazine - January 28, 2007
Latest Canada mad cow case shows epidemic say U.S. cattle groups
Full story: Cattle Network
Two major U.S. cattle groups reacted to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's announcement of a new case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, by decrying the latest case as proof of an epidemic and calling for more information. The CFIA said it had confirmed BSE in a mature bull from Alberta. Early information indicated the age of the bull fell within the age range of previous cases in Canada. "This case shows Canada has a widespread epidemic that spans several provinces and over a decade in time," said R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America Chief Executive Bill Bullard. "This suggests there has been widespread exposure of this disease in the Canadian cattle herd."
Cattle Network - February 8, 2007
Mad cow: How risky is it to drink milk?
Full story: Nutrition Horizon, Netherlands
In a first-time global breakthrough, a Swiss start-up firm [Alicon] has succeeded in detecting prion proteins [cause of neurological conditions such as Mad Cow disease (BSE) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in human beings] in the milk of humans, cows, sheep, and goats. This again raises the question of a "mad cow disease" risk from drinking milk. From a consumer standpoint, milk and milk products were regarded as safe up till now. Prion proteins were even found in homogenized and pasteurized milk on supermarket shelves.
In the case of the prion proteins detected, it is highly likely that they were of the normal variety posing no danger to health. However, the occurrence of the normal variety could mean that the milk of cows already infected with BSE also contains infectious prion proteins of the disease-causing variety. Alicon's head of research, Dr. Ralph Zahn, comments: "So far there has been no scientific basis for assuming that only 'healthy' prion proteins are present in milk and those causing disease were not." Hence, beside blood and urine, milk is another body fluid in which prions causing disease could be present. As an American team of scientists has shown recently, infectious prions even arise in saliva.
Nutrition Horizon, Netherlands - February 7, 2007
Survey finds mercury in every fish tested
Full story: ABC News/AP
Scientists looking for fish tainted by mercury found them in every fish and every river they sampled across the [Western U.S. states], suggesting that industrial pollution generated around the world is likely responsible for at least some of it. The survey of 2,707 fish randomly collected from 626 rivers in 12 states represents the biggest regional sampling yet of mercury in fish in the West, said Spencer A. Peterson, senior research ecologist EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory.
Though the survey found some fish with elevated mercury levels, most levels were low, in line with canned tuna found in grocery stores. While generally below levels considered unsafe for people to eat from time to time, the mercury could pose a danger to fish and wildlife that depend on fish for their diet. Levels were generally higher in fish-eating fish, such as bass, walleye and pike, than in insect-eating fish, such as trout. Elevated mercury levels have been linked to learning disabilities and developmental delays in children and to heart, nervous system and kidney damage in adults. Out of concern for the health effects, several states and the federal government have taken steps to cap mercury emissions.
ABC News/AP - January 24, 2007
Message for men: Go veggie for sake of virility and longer life
Full story: Better Nutrition
The single biggest step men can take to live longer is to adopt a vegetarian diet. Statistics are quite clear on this point. Vegetarians, male and female, outlive everyone else. They automatically eat more foods that promote longevity - vegetables, fruits and whole grains - to make up for the hole in their diet caused by avoiding the fat-laden meat that all-too-soon brings the male pump to a dead stop. And simply switching from red meat to chicken and fish doesn't help much, if at all. Both have plenty of cholesterol and a lot more fat than you would guess. The good news? Your arteries begin to clean themselves as soon as you start topping your pasta with marinara instead of meat sauce.
And eating less meat might also preserve your potency. By age 60, about one in four North American men has experienced impotency, and, in most cases, blocked arteries are to blame. Tofu anyone?... Eating less meat cuts your cancer risk. Vegetarians - even french-fry-eating, soda-guzzling, couldn't-care-less-about-health vegetarians - are 40 percent less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters. And if you're worried about losing your tough-guy image, keep the phrase "strong as an ox" in mind. After all, oxen are vegetarians. [Need more?] Going veg now can greatly increase your chances of keeping your hair.
Better Nutrition - 2006
Times-Leader, PA, US (February 6, 2007)
Meat and global warming: A few more 'Inconvenient Truths'
Full story: Huffington Post
The report released [February 2] by the world's leading climate scientists made no bones about it: global warming is happening in a big way and it is very likely man-made. So, if we are indeed the bulk of the problem, we ought to step up and start doing things differently. Now. My last post ("Vegetarian Is the New Prius"
) got a lot of traction, and I think it's because there is a realization that being "part of the solution" can be a whole lot simpler -and cheaper - than going out and buying a new car.
We can make a huge difference in the environment by eating a plant based diet instead of an animal based one. Factory farming pollutes our air and water, reduces the rainforests, and goes a long way to create global warming. And although the vast majority of responses to the piece were positive, there were some environmentalists for whom the idea of giving up those chicken nuggets was impossible to swallow. I thought I might discuss a few of the key concerns that my meat-eating friends offer in defense of their continued meat consumption. [The full article is well worth reading - it provides clear, articulate responses to objections to a plant-based diet.
Huffington Post - February 2, 2007
Forget a Prius. Eat a felafel
Full story: Haaretz.com, Israel
Ever since Leonardo di Caprio, Julia Roberts and the other Hollywood superstars discovered the Prius, the hybrid car has become the symbol of the consumer battle against global warming. But few consider that a much more efficient, cheap way to prevent sea levels, floods and droughts from devastating the planet as we know it, is to turn vegetarian... The amount of fossil fuel needed to create one calorie of food from livestock is ten times greater than the amount of fossil fuel needed to create one calorie of vegetarian food. Producing food from livestock therefore causes ten times the amount of carbon-dioxide gas emissions.
Moreover, the amount of energy that chicken gives a person eating it, is 14% of the amount of energy invested in producing it. Cultivating corn and soy beans provides seven and six times the amount of energy invested in their production, respectively. Breeding and processing animals for food is not only wasteful of energy. It requires tremendous amounts of an increasingly scarce element - water... So the next time you're deliberating between a shwarma or a felafel, between a chocolate milk versus a fruit shake, go for the latter. Adopting a vegetarian lifestyle is about the most efficient thing you can do to reduce greenhouses gases.
Haaretz.com, Israel - February 8, 2007
Time Magazine (February 2, 2007)
Choosing a plant-food based diet is a moral issue - Dr. McDougall Newsletter (December, 2006)
Dr. McDougall Newsletter (January, 2007)
Quote: Which would you rather give up? Meat and dairy, or ... The chance to drive a car; Taking a trip to visit relatives on an airplane forever;
Vacationing anywhere by bus, train, or airplane; One-third of the world’s land mass; The rainforests of South America...
Satya Magazine (February, 2007)
Quote: The bottom line is if you eat the mean American diet, then you are responsible for the emissions of an extra ton and a half of CO2 equivalent per person per year, as compared to a vegan who eats the same number of calories but derived only from plants.
Authors Dan Brooks and Richard H. Schwartz, president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, make the case that a shift to vegetarianism is a Jewish moral imperative that will help save the planet and be fully consistent with Judaism's highest ideals
JTA (January 22, 2007)
Growing taste for 'live fish' - yes, steamed, bbq'd, baked while alive! - stripping reefs
Full story: Environmental News Network/AP
Amid banks of bubbling aquariums, Hong Kong resident Kerry To sat back and admired his plate-size steamed grouper plucked from one of the tanks in this Malaysian restaurant and cooked live. What he and other diners don't realize is that their appetite for live reef fish - a status symbol for many newly rich Chinese - has caused the populations of these predators to plummet around Asia as fishermen increasingly resort to cyanide and dynamite to bring in the valuable catch. Entire reef ecosystems, already endangered by pollution and global warming, are at risk.
There is also a growing live reef fish trade off the coast of California, where everything from rockfish to eels are caught and sold, mostly in Asian restaurants along the coast, according to Scot Lucas of the California Department of Fish and Game. But unlike Asia, the trade is heavily regulated and fishermen are not known to use the same destructive methods. The U.N. and the World Conservation Union released a report last year warning that human exploitation of the high seas was putting many of its resources on the verge of extinction. Reef fish are prized mostly because they are cooked live. Traders are careful to ensure they arrive that way, packaging them in bags of water and placing them in coolers for trips that often stretch for thousands of miles.
Environmental News Network/AP - January 25, 2007
Quote: abalone has become a prized commodity for South African entrepreneurs as well as criminals who have poached the mollusc almost to extinction.
Mail & Guardian, South Africa (February 5, 2007)
Congo rebels kill, eat endangered mountain gorillas
Full story: Environmental News Network/AP
Rebels in eastern Congo have killed and eaten two silverback mountain gorillas, conservationists said, warning they fear more of the endangered animals may have been slaughtered in the lawless region. Only about 700 mountain gorillas remain in the world, 380 of them spread across a range of volcanic mountains straddling the borders of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda in Central Africa. Richard Leakey, a conservationist credited with helping end the slaughter of elephants in Kenya during the 1980s, said: "The survival of these last remaining mountain gorillas should be one of humanity's greatest priorities. Their future lies with a small number of very brave rangers risking their lives with very little support from the outside world."
Environmental News Network/AP - January 18, 2007
Lifestyles and Trends
Veggie experiences: My veg moment
Full story: Grist Magazine
The other day I went to Costco with my older boy. It took a bit of persuading to get him there, so I told him about the ladies who stand around and hand out food samples... A hunched lady with a bright red cart was handing out small pieces of chicken breast in teriyaki sauce. I had just enough time to notice the cheery Tyson logo before my attention was drawn violently to the gelatinous wad in my mouth. Its texture was roughly akin to firm tofu. It tasted of ... nothing. Nothing but the hot, salty water that squirted out of it, mixing with the salty corn syrup coating it. It was a salty, spongy chunk of protein-delivery material, coated with corn goo. It could have been made of any uniform, tasteless matter - but it was made of flesh.
I thought of hormones and antibiotics pumping into a fat, diseased, declawed bird in a tiny cage, whose every awareness or instinct or impulse is an epiphenomenal byproduct of the process whereby chunks of soft, unused muscle are generated. I thought of the bird going crazy and pecking the bird next to it, and itself, with what's left of its beak. I thought of tens of millions of these animal-esque flesh-production units, packed into huge warehouses, inputting and outputting industrial waste products, all going crazy and attacking each other... Anyway, that's it. I'm done with industrial meat. It's evil. And it's *** gross.
Grist Magazine - February 7, 2007
Chicken farm conditions 'shocking'
TVNZ, New Zealand (January 13, 2007)
Quote: "They also had a lot of dead ones around all over the floor in the cages living with the live ones."
Few in Japan clamoring for whale meat
Full story: Seattle Times, WA, US
Hiroshi Kobayashi has been hunting whales for three years now. But he's never killed one - he captains a whale-watching boat for tourists. And he thinks whaling is, or should be, a thing of the past. "They used to whale here in Okinawa," he said after taking out a group to see humpback whales. "It wasn't a problem because there were more whales then. But I really can't support killing them now." Despite worldwide opposition, the Japanese government is battling to keep the nation's whaling fleet afloat. Now, it also faces a threat at home - a lack of interest among young people who grew up during an international whaling ban, have never eaten whale and see the mammals more as impressive living creatures than as a potential meal.
"It just doesn't seem right," said Kobayashi, who is in his 30s. The government is unmoved by such sentiment [and just hosted] a conference of pro-whaling nations aimed at lifting of an international ban on commercial whaling. [The] ban hasn't stopped Japan from killing whales under the auspices of a research program. Many environmental groups say the hunts are a pretext to keep Japan's tiny whaling industry alive. Meat from the catch is sold commercially. Winning back Japan's hearts and stomachs might be an uphill battle, however. "My parents' generation may feel differently, but I feel sorry for the whales," said Mayuka Hamai, a college student who took Kobayashi's whale-watching tour. "I've never eaten whale. I'd rather look at one."
Seattle Times, WA, US - February 17, 2007
Bloomberg, US (February 16, 2007)
TVNZ, New Zealand (February 14, 2007)
Environmental News Network/Reuters (January 25, 2007)
Filipinos urged to celebrate 'Year of the Pig' by going vegetarian
Full story: Monsters and Critics
Animal rights activists handed out 'vegetarian starter kits' in the Philippine capital's Chinatown in a bid to convince Filipinos to stop eating pork and other meat starting this Year of the Pig. "As the Year of the Pig approaches, we're calling on people to make a positive difference in their lives - and the lives of the millions of pigs - by adopting a healthy, humane vegetarian diet," PETA director for Asia Pacific Jason Baker said.
PETA said that pigs are highly intelligent, sensitive and clean animals "who do not deserve to be abused, slaughtered or eaten. Pigs dream, enjoy listening to soothing music and, when given a chance, establish complex social structures," it said. "Pigs have very long memories and sophisticated communication skills and have acted heroically to save lives of other animals, including humans."
Monsters and Critics - February 15, 2007
China Daily (February 12, 2007)
Boycott this cruel 'delicacy'
Full story: This is London, UK
Consumers should boycott foie gras, the delicacy produced by force-feeding geese, a senior [government] Minister said. Ben Bradshaw said European law made it impossible to ban the sale of foie gras, which campaigners believe involves cruel methods of production. Instead, risking the wrath of the French, who regard it as part of their national heritage, the Animal Welfare Minister urged Britons to stop buying it.
"We believe that the production of foie gras using force-feeding gives rise to serious welfare concerns," Mr Bradshaw said. "The most effective action is for individuals not to buy foie gras if they dislike the way it is produced. "We hope that public pressure will contribute to an end to this practice." The production of foie gras is banned in Argentina and Israel, as well as in California, where it is also unlawful to sell it. A clutch of European countries have outlawed the practice.
This is London, UK - February 6, 2007
Foie gras is a disease not a delicacy
OpEd News (February 6, 2007)
Animal Issues and Advocacy
Canada's largest pork processor to set pigs free from cages
Full story: Toronto Star, Canada
Canada's largest pork processor is phasing out "sow gestation stalls" - small steel cages used to confine pigs during pregnancy - a week after its largest U.S. rival made the same move. Maple Leaf Foods Inc. said the move to group pens will take place over 10 years and apply only to pigs raised in company-owned plants, not those it buys from other farmers. [Maple Leaf owns or has interests in about 120,000 pigs, representing about 25 per cent of the hogs its processes. The company is currently restructuring its business with plans to reduce the number of pigs it owns within two years to about 50,000.] Consumers will have no way of knowing whether the food on their tables came from a Maple Leaf farm or an independent producer, a company spokesperson acknowledged.
Some 1.6 million sows across Canada are raised in the 0.6 by 2.1 metre steel cages, which animal-rights groups and industry members agree are too small for the pig to move around. [John Youngman, a director of the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals] said the cages, or crates, are harmful. The pigs live in them usually for at least two years, leaving only to give birth and be re-impregnated multiple times before they are "spent" and sent to slaughter. [Editor's note: Good news and a good starting point, but why ten years? And what about the other 1.5 million sows in Canada? ]
Toronto Star, Canada - February 1, 2007
A picture is worth a thousand words - MSNBC (January 25, 2007)
Happy calves: Sickly newborns growing stronger every day at sanctuary
Full story: Chico Enterprise-Record, CA, US
Billy, Phoenix and Casey - newborn dairy calves delivered to Farm Sanctuary's Orland farm last month - were in bad shape when they arrived, said farm manager Leanne Cronquist. They were sickly, lethargic and unable to walk properly, she said. But after a trip to the veterinary hospital at UC Davis and some careful tending, the calves are much better. "They're playful now," said Cronquist. "They run outside, kick up their heels and chase each other." [A Farm Sanctuary] investigator encountered a truck driver who was about to take the three calves from [a large] dairy to be slaughtered. He talked the driver into giving the calves to him instead, and so they were brought to Farm Sanctuary.
[Farm Sanctuary spokesperson Tricia] Ritterbusch said it used to be that dairies raised bull calves for veal. But now that many people don't eat veal because of the cruelty involved in producing it, these calves are shipped off to be slaughtered, for meat or their hides, right after they're born, she said. However, Michael Marsh, chief executive officer of Western United Dairyman, a trade association representing more than 1,000 dairies in California, said Ritterbusch was mistaken. He said it didn't make any sense that a dairy would be sending newborn calves to a slaughterhouse. What's typical, he said, is that newborn bull calves are sold to ranchers who fatten them up for six or eight months and then sell them for beef. Also, Marsh said, the veal market is "robust," not weak.
Chico Enterprise-Record, CA, US - February 4, 2007
Silent protest against cruelty of Australian live-sheep exports
Full story: Arab Times, Kuwait
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [held] a 'silent' demonstration in front of the Australian Embassy in Kuwait on Feb 13, to draw the attention and put pressure on the Australian government to stop exporting sheep to the Gulf region, says director of PETA Jason Baker. Baker said more than 4 million sheep are exported to the Middle East every year and Kuwait alone accounts for 800,000 sheep.
He added, a recent undercover investigation by PETA showed how the animals are being inhumanely transported in big ships. "They suffer from heat, stress, starvation and dehydration and when an animal is stressed it won't eat food," says Baker. A recent survey, Baker said, showed 70 percent of Australians favor a ban on the export of live sheep to the Middle East.
"Sheep are confined amid their own waste for weeks or months at a time in furnace-like conditions on disease-ridden ships which hold up to 100,000 animals." In most cases animals which survive the grueling ocean voyage are dragged off lorries by their ears and legs, tied up, beaten and hauled to abattoirs, where their throats are slit several times while they are still conscious.
Arab Times, Kuwait - February 13, 2007
Can't a guy destroy a slaughterhouse without being called a "terrorist"?
Full story: Satya Magazine
That sound you hear is the murmur of activists across the country cautiously lamenting yet another obstruction in the struggle to free animals from exploitation. In November, President Bush signed into law a lugubrious bit of legislation called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), which makes engaging in campaigns that hurt corporate profits or cause property damage a very serious crime... But this new law won't simply constrain the right to boycott. It could hinder all manner of civil disobedience, from peaceful sit-ins and vegan outreach to rescues and minor property damage. C'mon now, can't someone have a website exposing the animal testing industry or destroy a slaughterhouse anymore without being slapped with a "terrorist" label? (I'm kidding, of course. I know anti-animal research websites are very, very wrong.)
It remains to be seen how chilling the effect of the AETA will be. The new law certainly will not prevent underground activists from liberating animals and damaging property, but will radical activism become the only public face of animal advocacy? What will happen to the ag agitators, the circus leafleters, the rodeo demonstrators, the animal rights webmasters, the lab protesters and all the other social liberators? I'm guessing, or perhaps just hoping, there will remain a group of committed activists who will not be deterred by this legislation, even if standing up to animal oppressors requires a little creative thinking
Satya Magazine - February 7, 2007
Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World: A Guide for Activists and Their Allies by Patrice Jones
Animal sentience: Chimps may have used hammers 4,300 years ago
Full story: Toronto Star, Canada
Chimpanzees may have been using stone "hammers" as long as 4,300 years ago. An international research team, led by archaeologist Julio Mercader of the University of Calgary, said it had uncovered the hammers, dated to that time, in the West African country Ivory Coast. It would be the earliest known use of tools by chimpanzees. The hammers were used to crack nuts, a behaviour still seen in chimps in that area, the researchers said in a paper in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Toronto Star, Canada - February 13, 2007
Movies, Books and Perspectives
Cajun cooking, veggie-style
Full story: Clarion-Ledger, MI, US
Get in the mood for Mardi Gras with a little Cajun cooking - without breaking your diet. It's possible to indulge in the rich cuisine of the Southern states without excessive amounts of oil. It's also possible to cook up some excellent and vegan friendly Cajun dishes. The book Good Time Eatin' in the Cajun Country by Donna Simon is filled with vegetarian dishes that are tasty and lower in fat than your typical Cajun fare.
Clarion-Ledger, MI, US - February 14, 2007
Catching up with the Mad Cowboy
Full story: MediaRights
The first time I met Howard Lyman, I'm pretty sure I developed a little crush on him. He was the first bona fide "rambler" I'd ever met (he's traveled about a million miles in the last decade), and his life seemed so exhilarating to me... One of the most amazing (and unique) things about Howard is that he's not lying when he claims to hate the sins but never the sinners. Unlike so many activists, he's both a truth-teller and a people-lover.
A documentary has been released about Howard [Lyman]'s life (written and directed by Michael Tobias and produced by Patrick Fitzgerald) and it's phenomenal. It's based on his best-selling book, and it's called Mad Cowboy: The Documentary
. They filmed it over three years, and edited it down from 150 hours of footage. Like his books and his lectures, the documentary shows how Howard changed his positions on agribusiness and personal diet, how he went from being a fourth-generation multimillionaire cattle rancher to a committed vegan activist. It's a funny, sincere, comforting, informative and compassionate film. And it's a joy to watch. Howard comes across as a warm and gentle man, and that's exactly how he is in person. [To organize a screening, or to purchase a copy of the film visit www.madcowboy.com
MediaRights - January 12, 2007
Cajun cookbook, Howard's book and more available at:
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