August 2007

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In this edition...

Health
  Is a vegetarian diet healthier?
  Study ties colon cancer's return to diet
  Diet and prostate cancer
  Health care and Michael Moore: Who's the real "Sicko?"

Environment
  Factoring meat into our carbon footprint
  How green is my diet?
  Stocks fall as tuna shifts from pet food to delicacy
  Gorilla warfare

Lifestyles and Trends
  Go vegetarian to save money
  An ambivalent vegetarian
  New recipe for sustainability: stem-cell burgers
  Sex with meat-eaters off the menu
  Veg experiences: Scott Cary wants to whip the police force into shape

Animal Issues and Advocacy
  Animal cruelty isn't judged on a level playing field
  Pet the dog, eat the cow: Our confused relationship with animals
  The real price of the £2 chicken
  Compassionate carnivores: Humane farming eases pangs for some vegetarians
  Less suffering for some: Veal calves will no longer be in crates after 2017

Books and Perspectives
  Evil Business: A thrilling veggie tale
  Want to be a skinny bitch? Diet book tells how
 
  Health    

Is a vegetarian diet healthier?
Full story: MSN

Seven million people in the United States call themselves vegetarians. But while vegetarians claim their diets are healthier, many carnivores and omnivores extol the virtues of eating high on the hog: Consuming meat, after all, is simply following nature's dictate, for hungry humans have been devouring everything they could lay their hands on through at least the past 100,000 years of evolutionary history, and probably much longer. So who's got legitimate bragging rights? Evidence has been building for two decades that people who eat a mostly vegetarian diet have the upper hand. But even scientific studies may not be enough to convince meat eaters to give up their lust for flesh in exchange for a longer, more disease-free life.

MSN - July 26, 2007

Study ties colon cancer's return to diet
Full story: Los Angeles Times

Colon cancer survivors who eat a "Western" diet high in red meat, fats and refined grains are more than three times as likely to have a recurrence as those who consume a "prudent" diet high in fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, researchers said [August 14]. Scientists already knew that avoiding a Western diet could reduce the risk of contracting colon cancer in the first place, but this is the first study associating the diet with a recurrence of the disease.

Los Angeles Times - August 15, 2007
Related:
Meat, dairy nutrient may raise cancer risk, says study
Food Navigator (August 13, 2007)
Quote: Choline, a nutrient found in meat, eggs and dairy products, has been linked to a possible increase in the risk of colorectal cancer in women.


Diet and prostate cancer
Full story: Jamaica Gleaner

One's diet is believed to play an important role in the causation of prostate cancer. Epidemiological studies, looking at different populations where the incidence of prostate cancer varies widely, suggest that differences in diet may partly account for these variations. It is known, for example, that Asian men living in Asia have a very low incidence of prostate cancer. However, when these men migrate to America and adopt a Westernised lifestyle, within a generation, their incidence of prostate cancer approximates that of their white American counterparts.

Studies suggest the following as potential protective dietary factors: tomatoes and tomato-derived products, pomegranates, cruciferous vegetables, vitamin E, selenium, fish and omega-3 fatty acids [Editor's note: VegE-News encourages non-fish omega 3 sources such as flax and walnuts], soy, isoflavones and green tea with polyphenols. Dietary factors which increase prostate cancer risk in adult men include dairy products, calcium, zinc at high doses, saturated fat, grilled meats, heterocyclic amines and high caloric intake. Calcium-rich foods such as milk, butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream should be minimised to reduce prostate cancer risk.

Jamaica Gleaner - August 15, 2007
Related:
Brocolli stops prostate cancer
BBC (August 13, 2007)
Compound in broccoli could boost immune system, says new study
Environmental News Network (August 21, 2007)


Health care and Michael Moore: Who's the real "Sicko?"
Full story: PR-GB.com, Bulgaria

Michael Moore's movie, "Sicko," is his attempt at placing blame for the American health care crisis on the shoulders of the pharmaceutical companies and the government. Clearly, governmental agencies that are supposedly looking out for the welfare of the citizens are far from innocent, and pharmaceutical companies are anything but good Samaritans, but Michael couldn't be more wrong on this one and need not look too much further than his own mirror to see the real problem. His denial is problem #2.

The fact is, Michael Moore is just another cog in the big, dysfunctional machine that Americans currently call "health care." It is actually "disease care," and therein lies problem #3. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Michael Moore wants to engage in a problematic way of life and then make those problems that he's created someone else's problem. That's problem # 4. Where does personal responsibility fit in to Michael Moore's paradigm? For those who care to deal in reality, until people take responsibility for their own lives and their own health, there will not be health. The truth is, our diet is directly responsible for well over 80 percent of the diseases from which we suffer. [By "The Vegan Sage" Jeff Popick.]

PR-GB.com, Bulgaria - August 7, 2007
 
  Environment    


Factoring meat into our carbon footprint
Full story: On Line Opinion, Australia

The debate about climate change has been raging for a few years now and it is certainly beginning to heat up. The sceptics are slowly being muffled by the overwhelming scientific evidence. In Australia, television shows such as Eco House Challenge and Carbon Cops have hit the screens and public protests with many thousands of people have hit the streets. Politicians are clamouring to be seen as having a solution to the climate change problem. Business and legal communities are discussing carbon trading and the effects that climate change is going to have on their bottom lines.

However, there is one simple thing which isn't being mentioned in the global warming debate. Our diets. On average Australians eat over 70 kilograms of meat per person each year. Cut out beef from your diet and you'll save 1.45 tonnes of greenhouse gas a year. By way of comparison, if you were to switch from a normal sedan car to a hybrid car you would reduce your annual emissions by only just over 1 tonne. If you reduced your dairy intake by just 2 cups of milk a week, you would save 250kg of greenhouse pollution in a year. These statistics show that reducing your meat and dairy consumption or, even better, committing to a vegetarian or vegan diet, is the easiest thing every one of us can do to address global warming. The time has come to factor meat into our carbon footprint.

On Line Opinion, Australia - July 30, 2007

How green is my diet?
Full story: Natural Life, Canada

Q: A friend recently told me that she has stopped eating meat because it contributes to global warming. That seems a bit far-fetched to me so I'm wondering if you can set the record straight by connecting the dots between environment and diet.

A: Surprisingly, what we choose to eat has one of the biggest impacts on the environment, including the climate, of any human activity. A 2006 Italian study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems. Researchers examining the impact of a typical week's eating showed that plant-based diets are better for the environment than those based on meat. An organic vegan diet had the smallest environmental impact and all non-vegetarian diets required significantly greater amounts of environmental resources, such as land and water. But the most damaging food was beef, with up to 100 calories of grain required to produce four calories of beef.

Natural Life, Canada - September/October, 2007
Related:
Going green with cuisine - Video coverage
NBC4, Washington (August, 2007)
The truth about denial
Newsweek (August 13, 2007)
Eat this!
Succinct animated message

 

Stocks fall as tuna shifts from pet food to delicacy
Full story: Environmental News Network/Reuters

Over-fishing has made Atlantic bluefin tuna a prized delicacy a century after the fish were scorned in Europe as pet food, according to studies that urged better international protection. "Tuna are now like floating goldmines out in the ocean," said Brian MacKenzie of the Technical University of Denmark. Bluefin tuna, which spawn in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean, can be worth $10,000-15,000 each in Japan, where they are eaten raw as sushi, said Andre Boustany, an expert at Duke University in the United States. One single fish sold for a record $178,000. The Atlantic bluefin stock has plunged in recent decades, meaning that even a total halt to fishing might not help stocks revive, he said.

Environmental News Network/Reuters - August 6, 2007
Related:
Tuna in troubled waters
AllAfrica.com/East African, Kenya (August 7, 2007)


Gorilla warfare
Full story: Newsweek

The men huddled under billowing green ponchos and shouldered their AK-47s nervously. Summer rains drenched the plains and canopied jungle of Virunga National Park, a vast preserve along the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo that is home to an estimated 60 percent of the world's surviving mountain gorillas. The men allowed the rain to douse their cigarettes. Then, in single file, they began to move into the forest. Through the din of the storm, a shout quickly rose up.

The rangers found the first corpse less than a hundred yards away, in a grove of vines and crooked thicket. The mammoth gorilla lay on her side, a small pink tongue protruding slightly from her lips. She was pregnant and her breasts were engorged with milk for the baby that now lay dead inside her womb. The rangers crowded around and caressed the gorilla's singed fur. They shook their heads and clicked their tongues with disapproval. One grabbed her hand and held it for a long time, his head bowed in grief.

Newsweek - August 6, 2007
Related:
The most moving environmental story of the year
Grist Magazine Blog (August 12, 2007)

 
  Lifestyles and Trends    

Go vegetarian to save money
Full story: MSN Money

What visitor to Whole Foods (aka "Whole Paycheck") hasn't stared in slack-jawed wonder at bluefoot mushrooms imported from Europe ($39.99 per pound), off-season organic grapefruit from Texas ($2.49 per softball-size fruit), organic almond butter ($14.99 a pound) or pine nuts ($13.99 a pound)? In a world of $1 double cheeseburgers, it's no wonder that many people suspect that a vegetarian diet is more expensive than one that includes meat. But that's generally not true.

Most of the staples of a vegetarian diet are cheap. In fact, most of the world's people eat a mostly vegetarian diet made up of inexpensive commodities such as beans, rice and corn. If you drop red meat, poultry and fish from your diet, you'll find plant proteins cheaper than the equivalent amount of animal protein. In the long run, no matter how much you spend on a vegetarian or semivegetarian diet, you'll likely see a payoff in better health, lower risk of chronic disease and reduced health-care costs compared with someone who eats a typical American diet. Dollars and cents aside, how much is it worth to live without heart disease, cancer or diabetes for the last decades of your life? How much is it worth to lower your risk of dying [prematurely]?

MSN Money - July 24, 2007

An ambivalent vegetarian
Full story: Self Magazine

Every time I sit down to eat at a restaurant, it's the same dilemma: Should I choose what I want or order vegetarian? Sometimes I'm lucky and what I want is meatless. But if what I really want is the boeuf bourguignon or the veal pepperonata, I squirm, caught between moral horror, my taste buds and a desire not to be the "weird" vegetarian. I'm 38, and I have been engaged in this internal war, off and on, for nearly 20 years. I have been a vegetarian, semivegetarian and old-fashioned carnivore. Right now, I eat everything - but with a pervasive sense of unease. I thought my dilemma would get clearer over time - that my sense of what's right, at least right for me, would have naturally evolved toward some conclusion. But it hasn't. I'm more torn than ever.

We relegate thoughts about the creatures we eat to about the same space we give to any crisis halfway around the world that we feel we can't understand or have a direct impact on. We don't like to think about it because there's so little we feel we can do about it. We make assumptions that negate the pain and suffering (at least in the case of the animals) and absolve ourselves of responsibility in preventing or relieving it. Just because we turn our back on the situation doesn't mean it isn't there anymore. But what is our responsibility? Or, at the very least, what is mine? Much as I try to ignore the question and dig in, it haunts me whenever I eat meat... Am I incapable of exercising empathy when it's inconvenient? Which leaves me to contemplate a particular irony: It is not other people but animals who are forcing me to consider the depth and breadth of my humanity. Every time I pick up a menu.

Self Magazine - July, 2007


New recipe for sustainability: stem-cell burgers
Full story: Globe and Mail, Canada/The Poultry Site

Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium. Winston Churchill, 1932

Winston Churchill was correct, in his volume of essays entitled Thoughts and Adventures, to anticipate the manufacture of meat, first in the lab, then in vats. He was wrong in the time it would take to get industrial meat into mass production. We're still not quite there. It's going to take another five years or 10 years - depending on whether you're waiting for hamburger or steaks.

Globe and Mail, Canada/The Poultry Site - August 3, 2007
Related:
Growing bacon in a Petri dish
Toronto Star (August 12, 2007)
Quote: The goal, say two veterinary scientists, is to feed millions 'without having to kill animals'- "I can imagine that some people will have problems with it. But some people might not realize that some part of the meat they eat is artificial" like what some animals are fed, how they're raised, and how their flesh is processed after slaughter.

 

Sex with meat-eaters off the menu
Full story: Stuff, New Zealand

No sex, please, you're a carnivore. A new phenomenon in New Zealand is taking the idea of you are what you eat to the extreme. Vegansexuals are people who do not eat any meat or animal products, and who choose not to be sexually intimate with non-vegan partners whose bodies, they say, are made up of dead animals. The co-director of the New Zealand Centre for Human and Animal Studies at Canterbury University, Annie Potts, said she coined the term after doing research on the lives of "cruelty-free consumers." Many female respondents described being attracted to people who ate meat, but said they did not want to have sex with meat-eaters because their bodies were made up of animal carcasses. "It's a whole new thing - I have not come across it before," said Potts.

Stuff, New Zealand - July 31, 2007
Related:
If you're veg, here's my number
The Times of India (August 8, 2007)


Veg experiences: Scott Cary wants to whip the police force into shape
Full story: Austin American Statesman, TX, US

Sgt. Scott Cary used to fit that ugly stereotype: A burger-munching cop in an extra-large uniform, he couldn't make time in his stressed-out life for exercise. Today, though, he's decked in running shorts and a T-shirt, pacing the sidewalk as he waits for the Austin Police Department Running Team to show up for their Tuesday night workout. Cary formed this team three years ago, hoping to help his co-workers do what he did - hone muscle, shed weight and ease tension... He compares giving up meat to quitting cigarettes, which he did in 1976, or cutting out alcohol, which he did in 1981. "You give it up one meal at a time," he says. "I didn't quit meat for animal rights, I did it for my own health. And I can't ever see going back to my old eating habits."

Austin American Statesman, TX, US - August 6, 2007
More veg experiences:
Veggie tales: Think vegetarians are weak and timid? Think again
Tampa Tribune, FL, US (August 11, 2007)
Could lentils save your life? Meet the man who became vegan for a month
Daily Mail, UK (August 6, 2007)
The vegan crusade: Activists attempt to get people to abandon meat with smaller steps and subtlety
Tucson Weekly, AZ, US (August 16, 2007)

 
  Animal Issues and Advocacy    


Animal cruelty isn't judged on a level playing field
Full story: Washington Post

While eating a porterhouse the other night, I began to see the steak for what it was: a hunk of meat, blood and bone. I managed to disgust myself even more by imagining that a charbroiled piece of pit bull would not have looked much different from the gristle of beef on my fork. Then I came back to my senses and continued to enjoy my meal. Too bad for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick that people like me love dogs more than cows. Otherwise, the federal agents who recently charged Vick with dogfighting would have to arrest nearly all of us for participating in far worse acts of animal cruelty.

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney is credited with having said: "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." Well, they don't - and most of us are carnivores. We'll kill a duck, deer, turkey - name any meat - for the sheer entertainment of our palates or for the fun of the hunt. And yet, Vick, 27, must take the fall. Vick's farm was raided by agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the same USDA that permits the wholesale slaughter of cows, chickens, pigs and lambs. Perpetrators of gun violence ought to be taken so seriously.

Washington Post - August 22, 2007

Pet the dog, eat the cow: Our confused relationship with animals
Full story: Salt Lake Tribune

The Michael Vick dogfighting case, and all of the attention on dogfighting and its attendant practices, show one thing very clearly: As a society, we have no idea what we think about animals... I watched cable news recently, and almost every anchor interviewed an official of the Humane Society, and all expressed horror, especially that Vick's indictment had accused him and his fellow defendants of executing dogs in ways apparently designed to be as cruel as possible: drowning, strangling, electrocution. One official compared the practice to child pornography. Then I went into town for some lunch, driving past all of the franchises peddling ground cow for human consumption - the same ones you'll find on every American highway exit.

If killing dogs is the equivalent of child pornography, while eating cows is simply a way to put off mowing the lawn, we seem to be conflicted - or reeking with hypocrisy and confusion... But there is no rational justification for this distinction. Pigs aren't more stupid, or less emotionally complex or less capable of experiencing pain than dogs, but they seem to lack that certain something (well, all except Charlotte's Wilbur). One might simply rest the problem with dogfighting on its effects on human beings - as in, "Dogfighting is debasing not to the pit bull but to the quarterback who participates." But if we really believed cruelty to animals debased humans who participate, we'd have to accept that our massive, industrial-scale systems of cruelty to cows deeply debase all humanity.

Salt Lake Tribune - July 27, 2007
 

The real price of the £2 chicken
Full story: Daily Mail, UK

With its pasty flesh, tightly sealed under cellophane wrapping, the chicken sitting on a blue polystyrene tray on the shelf at Asda really doesn't look like much of an 'icon.' Yet this is how the superstore retailer is marketing its £2 medium-sized British chicken, claiming that the cheap bird's powerful allure makes it one of the few products for which customers will 'cross town' to pop in the shopping trolley. Indeed, weighing 1.55kg and sporting a Union Jack label to assure buyers of its provenance, the Asda chicken is flying off the shelves.

The big question is: how on earth is it possible to sell a chicken at such an extraordinarily low price? The chickens we eat today are typically reared indoors in large sheds, crammed 17 or 18 to a square metre - the stench of ammonia hits you as soon as you open the door of one of these sheds... A study showed that 26 per cent of British birds are lame at slaughter, and they are also prone to heart failure, sores and blisters. Weakened in this manner and crammed together to make sure sufficient numbers are produced to make profits, the birds are susceptible to disease. Yet how much greater will be the concerns about chicken produced in Third World countries, where a drive for lower prices might create poor health and hygiene standards? Faced with such unpalatable possibilities, the £2 chicken suddenly looks a lot less appetising. Regardless of its alleged iconic status.

Daily Mail, UK - August 12, 2007

Compassionate carnivores: Humane farming eases pangs for some vegetarians
Full story: Reuters

Vegetarianism is a popular choice for those whose personal politics extend to their diets. But "compassionate carnivores" see an option that allows them to eat meat without abandoning their principles, focusing on small farms with sustainable and humane practices. Some vegetarians, and those who have reduced their meat consumption because of their conscience or politics, are beginning to eat sustainable meat, choosing products that are not the result of industrial farming practices. "I was talking to this guy I know who said 'The grass-fed movement is the new vegetarianism'," said Alix Wall, a personal chef in the Bay Area of California.

The shift may be fueled in part by the popularity of Michael Pollan's best-seller "The Omnivore's Dilemma," which critiques industrial farming practices and celebrates small operations humanely raising livestock fed at pasture, with an eye to environmental protection and sustainability. The products of the smaller farms that Pollan extols appeal to some vegetarians who stopped eating meat because of concerns about the welfare of livestock, the environmental impact of meat production, or the health effects of eating factory-farmed meat. However, critics say that eating meat with a label implying sustainability or humane practices doesn't get around the fact that these animals are ultimately raised to be killed.

Reuters - August 14, 2007
Related stories:
Humane meat: A contradiction in terms
The Huffington Post (July 31, 2007)


Less suffering for some: Veal calves will no longer be in crates after 2017
Full story: Arizona Republic

We'd like to take this opportunity to say something nice about the veal industry. Over the next 10 years, veal producers will replace the practice of tethering baby cows in tiny, solitary stalls with the kind of group-housing techniques that have been mandated in the European Union for more than a decade. Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, says this is "definitely in response to the Arizona initiative." In November, the state's voters banned veal crates and gestation crates for pregnant sows.

In explaining the change, the American Veal Association's resolution says "many large retail and food-service organizations now consider animal-welfare issues in concert with their purchasing" and "recent events indicate clearly that consumers of veal and other products derived from livestock expect the highest standards of animal welfare." The Republic editorial board has its share of unrepentant carnivores. Yet The Republic strongly supported Arizona's Humane Treatment of Farm Animals initiative because human beings have a responsibility to assure that even food animals are recognized as sentient beings with natural needs. Common decency demands that we treat them as creatures, not products. That is an increasingly mainstream view.

Arizona Republic - August 19, 2007
You tube videos of note:
From Bizarro's creator
Go vegan commercial
You can make a difference

 
  Books and Perspectives    

Evil Business: A thrilling veggie tale
Full story: EarthSave Magazine (pdf - page 22)

How many books have we read on healthy diets, the cruelty of factory farms and the devastation to the environment? All of them are necessary but never easy to read. So for a moment, take a break and read Evil Business by John F. Nienstedt. Evil Business is a light thriller entangled with tales spun around greedy corporations and the people who run them, trans fats, artificial sweeteners and meat analogs. And best of all, there is a happy, vegetarian ending.

The hero in the story, newspaper columnist Norman Fuller, is lured into adventures when he hears the "Voice of Evil." This voice, only heard by Fuller, seems to need Fuller's help in pursuing evil, while protecting Fuller every time he gets into serious trouble. Perhaps the "Voice of Evil" is not so evil after all. Evil Business is a work of fiction. Sadly, the evil that takes place in the story is taken from our current reality. The public needs to be made more aware of the evils in our food supply, motivated by corporate greed at the expense of our health and environment. Evil Business does this, in a fast moving, fun to read thriller. [Available from Amazon: Canada, U.S., UK.]

EarthSave Magazine (pdf - page 22) - July, 2007

Want to be a skinny bitch? Diet book tells how
Full story: Chico Enterprise-Record, CA, US

Don't worry about calling Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin a pair of skinny bitches. Just don't try to get them back on the double-bacon-and-cheeseburger diets of their youth. "We've been called a lot worse," giggles Freedman, who with her best friend Barnouin is co-author of Skinny Bitch, the snappiest-titled diet book on the market. Subtitled, "A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous," it features a drawing of a skinny young woman on the cover and a picture of the two skinny authors on the back.

Written in a flip, "hey girlfriend" style in which expletives are not spared and eating meat is denounced as the "dead, rotting, decomposing flesh diet," Skinny Bitch quickly became a word-of-mouth hit upon publication in December 2005. It all began four years ago when Barnouin, who had been converted by Freedman to a vegan diet, began insisting the two had to "change the world" and get people to eat better. [Available at Amazon: Canada, U.S., UK.]

Chico Enterprise-Record, CA, US - August 21, 2007
 
Note: Whenever possible, stories are linked to the original source. Some sites may require registration, and/or not archive the stories. All links were active at the time of publication.
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