March 2009
In this edition...

Health
  Eating quarter pound of red meat a day raises early mortality risk: Study
  Eating food that's better for you is the key
  Can you look to government for nutritional guidelines?
  Vegging out is simple, healthful

Environment
  The meat in the global warming sandwich
  Some foodservice vendors try out 'low carbon diet'
  Knife and forking the world to death
  Eat locally, or eat differently?

Lifestyles and Trends
  I can't believe I'm still a vegan
  Compassion Over Killing harnesses teen TV to spread the word
  Faith in our food choices
  Stella McCartney's alternative for leather-clad Paris

Animal Issues and Advocacy
  Animal sentience: Stone-throwing chimpanzee displays planning abilities
  Q&A: Undercover animal-rights investigator
  Tough times trump foie gras feast
  Proposed Australian animal transport standards 'disappointing'

Books and Perspectives
  'The face on your plate'
  Vegan before dinnertime
  Want a healthy kitchen?
  What's left when the money's gone?

Of Note
 



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(Excerpts are included from current news stories. Click on the "Full story" link to read the full article.)
  Health    


Eating quarter pound of red meat a day raises early mortality risk: Study
Full story: CBC, Canada

People over 50 who eat large amounts of red and processed meats face a higher risk of death from heart disease and cancer than those who eat the smallest amounts of hamburgers and hot dogs, a study of more than 500,000 Americans reports. In [the March 23] issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, Rashmi Sinha and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md., looked at the link over 10 years between meat intake and risk of death among people aged 50 to 71. "For overall mortality, 11 per cent of deaths in men and 16 per cent of deaths in women could be prevented if people decreased their red meat consumption to the level of intake" in the lowest quintile or one-fifth, the study's authors wrote.

CBC, Canada - March 23
Related:
BBQ meat linked to higher risk of death
Sydney Morning Herald (March 24)
Green leafy vegetables may halve lung cancer risk
NutraIngredients.com (March 11)


Eating food that's better for you is the key
Full story: New York Times

To eat well, says Michael Pollan, the author of In Defense of Food, means avoiding "edible food-like substances" and sticking to real ingredients, increasingly from the plant kingdom. There's plenty of evidence that both a person's health - as well as the environment's - will improve with a simple shift in eating habits away from animal products and highly processed foods to plant products and what might be called "real food." From these changes, Americans would reduce the amount of land, water and chemicals used to produce the food we eat, as well as the incidence of lifestyle diseases linked to unhealthy diets, and greenhouse gases from industrial meat production. All without legislation. [Article by Mark Bittman, author of "Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating" - see "Books" below.]

New York Times - March 22

Can you look to government for nutritional guidelines?
Full story: San Francisco Chronicle, CA, U.S.

As scientific researchers, we find President Obama's directive on "restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making" very welcome news. We hope this will lead to health care policy that is informed by [the] most ignored scientific fact on health: That a whole-foods plant-based diet can prevent and in many cases reverse heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases. . . Here is a daily diet that meets government nutrition guidelines: Breakfast: 1 cup Fruit Loops; 1 cup skim milk; 1 package M&M milk chocolate candies; fiber and vitamin supplements. Lunch: Grilled cheddar cheeseburger. Dinner: 3 slices pepperoni pizza, with a 16-ounce soda and 1 serving sugar cookies. This helps explain why 12-year-old schoolchildren develop thickening of their carotid arteries to the brain, and 80 per cent of 20-year-old soldiers, dying in combat, are found to have coronary artery heart disease. . . Unfortunately, the scientific findings on diet and disease are marginalized by the political power of huge, mutually reinforcing commercial interests - meat, dairy, sugar, drugs and surgery. [This is, of course, by no means a situation unique to the U.S.]

San Francisco Chronicle, CA, U.S. - March 17

Vegging out is simple, healthful
Full story: Denver Post, CO, U.S.

So, you're thinking about cutting back your family's meat consumption? Maybe it's for health reasons, or a way to trim the family budget in trying economic times, or maybe one of the kids refuses to eat anything with a face. Fortunately, adding flavorful and filling vegetarian entrees to the cooking repertoire isn't too difficult - even if you've got picky eaters in the family. Chefs say the answer can be as simple as adapting a family favorite side vegetable into a main dish, or putting a meatless spin on foods they already crave, such as pizza, enchiladas or Thai.

Denver Post, CO, U.S. - March 16
 
  Environment    

The meat in the global warming sandwich
Full story: Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

Forget the carbon-belching car or the coal-fired power station - it's the humble steak we should be worried about. "Not many people know it but the meat industry is a big contributor to climate change," [Mark Berriman, the director of the Australian Vegetarian Society] says. "People talk about helping the environment by stopping driving and getting low-energy light bulbs but the most effective thing you can do is cut red meat out of your diet." Berriman is not alone in this opinion. Last year, Nobel laureate Rajendra Pachauri, the chief of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, strongly suggested the world's population curb its consumption of meat to counter global warming.

Sydney Morning Herald, Australia - March 23

Some foodservice vendors try out 'low carbon diet'
Full story: Mercury News, CA, U.S.

A hungry student at the University of San Francisco couldn't find a few college staples at the campus eatery - a juicy hamburger and a cheesy slice of pizza. It was "Low Carbon Diet Day," and beef and cheese were off the menu. With 18 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases emitted by livestock raised for meat and dairy products - more than cars, trucks, ships and planes combined, according to a United Nations report - more food purveyors are launching initiatives to lower their "food carbon footprint."

Mercury News, CA, U.S. - March 8

Knife and forking the world to death
Full story: Pacific Free Press

It was 1987, and I was a first year student at De Anza College in California when my environmental/social justice awakening began. Their Liberal Arts degree program got me thinking about evolution, ancient history, and the magical ecological processes of planet Earth. With other concerned students and supportive professors we launched the Green Future Club, hosted a Rainforest Awareness Week, and established an on-campus recycling project that exists to this day. I gave up my traditional Alberta-raised, British parent-influenced meat-centric diet, learned to soak beans and spice tofu, and reveled in my new 'direct action' veggie lifestyle.

Pacific Free Press - February 26


Eat locally, or eat differently?
Full story: Environmental Science & Technology

Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews of Carnegie Mellon University examined the environmental benefits of eating locally grown foods and found them a bit lacking in the carbon-footprint department - eating less red meat and dairy turned out to be a better way to reduce greenhouse gases than an all-local diet, according to the pair's life-cycle assessment. The team found that eating an all-local diet saves the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving 1000 fewer miles each year, but eating a vegetarian diet 1 day per week is equal to driving 1160 fewer miles per year. Food writer Michael Pollan has embraced the authors' ideas and recently suggested that President Obama lead the country in enacting "Meatless Mondays" at the White House (no word on whether the president has taken up his proposal). According to Pollan, if all Americans eliminated meat from their diets one night per week, the environmental effect would be equivalent to taking "30 to 40 million cars off the road for a year."

Environmental Science & Technology - March 4

Ready for your own "Meatless Mondays?" for your health and the planet?
Check out Meatout Mondays from FARM
Also:
Take the Veggie Challenge from the Toronto Vegetarian Association
Request a free vegetarian starter kit from PETA
Find recipes and our very own going veggie tips at VegE-News
Check out the experiences of "Star McDougallers" - people making the transition and changing their health.

 
  Lifestyles and Trends    

I can't believe I'm still a vegan
Full story: Newsweek

More than halfway through my sixth decade, I have learned to live with the routine insults and occasional horrors of passing time. . . There is one thing, however I will not abide: getting fat. Which is why, in early January, as my holiday food intake helped push my weight past the 210 mark for the first time (I'm six feet tall) I became a vegan. Much to my surprise, more than two months later I am still a vegan. I am also 12 pounds lighter and I have substantially more energy than I did when I was a flesh eater. (That's the term I use now to describe people who eat meat; annoying non-vegans, I have found, is one of the best things about being a vegan.) I began by following the 28-day program described by the vegan firefighter Rip Esselstyn in his new book The Engine 2 Diet. At age 46, Esselstyn, a former professional triathlete, has been eating a plant-based diet for more than 20 years. As it turned out, radically revamping my eating habits was not as hard as I expected it to be.

Newsweek - March 14

Compassion Over Killing harnesses teen TV to spread the word
Full story: QSR Magazine (Fast Food Industry)

[The nonprofit Compassion Over Killing (COK) airs commercials linking fast food to animal cruelty on MTV, a teen-oriented TV network. This article looks at their impact on the quick-serve (fast-food) industry.] "I almost bought fried chicken for lunch today," one viewer said in an e-mail to COK. "Then remembered your commercial I saw on TV last night." The commercials have affected the diets of countless young consumers, and COK has convinced [some fast-food] industry big wigs to offer more vegan options. We spoke with Erica Meier, executive director of COK, to find out what the campaign is about and how quick-serves can avoid being stung by its campaign. . . What do you hope quick-serves will take away from your campaign? From small restaurants to locally based mom-and-pop-owned restaurants to national companies, I think that the message seems to be clear from consumers that these options are in higher demand. As more and more companies recognize this, I think they can benefit from it.

QSR Magazine (Fast Food Industry) - March

Faith in our food choices
Full story: Florida Times-Union, U.S.

While the motivations and details vary from religion to religion and person to person, they share a belief that there are physical, spiritual and moral consequences in people's food choices. . . The notion that environmental awareness and compassion should factor into food choice is influencing a growing Christian vegetarian and vegan movement. "Christians who take their faith seriously see it impacting their entire life . . . and that would include the food they eat," said Stephen Kaufman, a physician and chairman of the Christian Vegetarian Association. Growing awareness of the negative environmental impact of animal agriculture - its consumption of foods that could feed the poor and its emission of greenhouse gases - makes vegetarian a moral imperative for Christians and a society that now has plenty of healthful alternatives to meat, Kaufman said. There is also a question of compassion for animals subjected to the cruel killing methods of the factory-style slaughter houses, he said.

Florida Times-Union, U.S. - March 3
Related:
Meat scandal gives Jews kosher dilemma
Quote: "The rationale behind keeping kosher has always been to spare the animal pain," Silver said. "The practices now are the opposite: They are causing the animals to suffer. If you want to be true to your Jewish beliefs, you would become a vegetarian." - South Florida Sun-Sentinel, U.S. (February 24)
Cooking with conviction: Adventists encourage healthy eating with vegan classes
mlive.com, MI, U.S. (March 21)
Documentary - "A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal The World"
Jewish Vegetarians of North America
allcreatures.org
Interfaith initiative


Stella McCartney's alternative for leather-clad Paris
Full story: New Zealand Herald

With leather a huge trend on and off the catwalks - practically le tout Paris is in rock chick-style leather leggings or jackets - the ethical could find themselves stranded in sartorial Siberia. Enter Stella McCartney. The latest collection from the British designer and lifelong vegetarian showed skinny faux leather and suede thigh-high boots, and fur-like wool coats, which offered a convincing, and pointed alternative, to the real versions.

New Zealand Herald - March 10
 
  Animal Issues and Advocacy    


Animal sentience: Stone-throwing chimpanzee displays planning abilities
Full story: Los Angeles Times

Santino knew the humans were coming. So each morning, he trolled for stones and fashioned concrete disks to be stashed in strategic locations until it was time to hurl them at his pesky visitors. As a chimpanzee, Santino wasn't thought to be capable of anticipating events in a way that so closely resembled human behavior. But cognitive psychologist Mathias Osvath became convinced after watching the 30-year-old primate repeat his routine for a decade at a Swedish zoo, according to a report published in the journal Current Biology. "Such planning implies advanced consciousness and cognition traditionally not associated with animals," wrote Osvath, research director at the Lund University primate research station in Gavle, Sweden. In human evolution, "similar forms of stone manipulation constitute the most ancient signs of culture."

Los Angeles Times - March 14

Q&A: Undercover animal-rights investigator
Full story: TIME Magazine, U.S.

One of the most powerful tools animal-rights activists have is the video footage shot inside places like poorly run dog kennels, animal-testing facilities and factory farms, used as grim evidence of the brutality that can take place. But how do animal-rights crusaders actually get those videos? Through people like "Pete," a 20-something undercover animal-rights investigator who, armed with a hidden camera, surreptitiously got a job in 2006 at an Ohio hog farm. The resulting footage - captured with the help of a group called the Humane Farming Association - and eventual courtroom drama that followed are featured in the HBO documentary Death on a Factory Farm. TIME talked to "Pete" about his undercover work, what it does to his personal life and the lengths he's gone to keep his cover intact. [The documentary is scheduled to run on HBO April 1 in the U.S., April 5 and 13 in Canada.]

TIME Magazine, U.S. - March 9
Related:
"Death on a Factory Farm:  Youtube clips  HBO info  "Variety" Review
Industry reaction to "Death on a Factory Farm"
Quote: For any of us the agriculture industry, this documentary sends shivers down our spines. - BEEF Magazine (March 2)


Tough times trump foie gras feast
Full story: The Sun News, SC, U.S.

It's hard to find a silver lining in a recession. But there is one bright spot: Food magazines have stopped force-feeding their readers recipes featuring foie gras. Gourmet and Bon Appetit have reportedly forsaken foie gras in favor of more budget-friendly options. That's a good thing. It's just a shame that it took a tanking economy - rather than an ethical revolution or even a sense of revulsion - to make some foodies give up diseased duck livers. Long before the global economy started spiraling downward, a number of countries banned foie gras production because it is inhumane. There's no legitimate reason for producing foie gras anywhere. It's a selfish indulgence that we can all do without and, as Giles Coren, food writer for the U.K.'s The Times, says, "a lazy way for a half-competent chef to make his food seem flash." The economy will recover - hopefully sooner rather than later - but if caring people get their wish, foie gras will never rebound.

The Sun News, SC, U.S. - March 22

Proposed Australian animal transport standards 'disappointing'
Full story: ABC News, Australia

An animal welfare group has appealed to Australia's agriculture ministers to reject proposed standards for animal transport. Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes says the standards - which are supported by the dairy industry - failed to address the treatment of newborn calves. 'Bobby' calves are five-days-old when they are sent to be slaughtered. Ms Oogjes says 6,000 bobby calves die during transport nationally each year because they travel long distances without food.

ABC News, Australia - March 18
 
  Books and Perspectives    

'The face on your plate'
Full story: Los Angeles Times, CA, U.S.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson wants to help all meat eaters wake up from the dream of denial they are experiencing. He wants to prepare us for what he describes as a "transformative moment," when we look at the meat or animal product on our plate (fish, fowl, mammal, egg, milk, cheese) and acknowledge that it came from a living being, capable, he has no doubt, of suffering and happiness. Like children when they are first told that the drumstick is actually a leg, the tongue is really a tongue, the bacon was once a pig, Masson hopes, with all his heart, that we will say, "Eeeuwww, yuck." The Face on Your Plate is one of many written in the last few years that implore readers to consider and reimagine how what they eat affects not just their own health but the health of the Earth. Masson's aim is a life with a purpose; his interests follow a powerful trajectory that has led him here, bringing everything to bear on the certainty that eating meat is cruel and immoral.

Los Angeles Times, CA, U.S. - March 16

Vegan before dinnertime
Full story: New York Times

Many people struggle to improve their eating habits. The Times food writer Mark Bittman, [tells] about an unusual strategy that has worked for him. All day long, he eats a vegan diet. But after about 6 p.m., anything goes. In his newest book, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, Mark explains how increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and reducing dependence on processed foods will lead to better health not only for your body, but also for the planet. Mark made the changes after a doctor suggested he adopt a vegan diet [to address health issues]. But for a food writer, Mark said, becoming a full-time vegan was both unrealistic and undesirable. Instead, he came up with a compromise: "I decided to do this sort of 'vegan till 6' plan. Within three or four months, I lost 35 pounds, my blood sugar was normal, cholesterol levels were again normal . . . and my sleep apnea indeed went away. All these good things happened, and it wasn't as if I was suffering so I stayed with it.

New York Times - February 27

Want a healthy kitchen?
Full story: The Oakbook, CA, U.S.

There was a time in high school when Bryant Terry "went off the deep end with junk food." The author of Vegan Soul Kitchen indulged an adolescent appetite for McDonalds, Burger King, and the offerings of other dreck purveyors in his hometown of Memphis. The memory of the satisfaction that came from cheap, fatty food informs Terry's work as a food writer and activist in Oakland some 20 years later. He's not judgmental when he sees a kid tucking into a bag of Cheetos. He just wants the kid to know there's a better world of food out there. Terry's foray into the world of fast food was a short interlude. The food Terry grew up eating was [largely home-grown,] simple, fresh, minimally seasoned, and delicious. It's the same sort of fare that he gives a vegan twist to in Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine. It's his second book. In 2006, he co-authored Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen with Anna Lappe, the daughter of Frances Moore Lappe, who published Diet for a Small Planet in 1971. Bryant doesn't call himself a vegetarian. He says he has a "plant-based diet that's devoid of meat."

The Oakbook, CA, U.S. - March 9

What's left when the money's gone?
Full story: San Francisco Chronicle

John Robbins, best-selling author of Diet for a New America and The Food Revolution, found out on December 11 that 98 per cent of his and his wife's net worth was suddenly gone, lost in the Madoff Ponzi scam. Robbins said the initial shock of discovery was paralyzing, but he's had to swiftly move past the anger and bitterness because "I can't afford the distraction." After talking with Robbins, I've been trying to moderate my thinking about money. Well, I think that the economic crisis of today, the foreclosures, the bank failures, the massive unemployment, could be a turning point. There is a rupture taking place. And I believe that provides an opening, as all major illness does, on a personal level. There is an opportunity to redefine progress, which we absolutely need to do, so that we don't see it merely as the GDP growing but instead in terms of genuine wealth and what really makes our lives worth living . . . and how we can live sustainably, joyfully and reverently on this planet with one another.

San Francisco Chronicle - February 23
 
  Of Note    

Recipe intel
Ever see a great-looking recipe, except for the meat? The article below makes substituting easy for beef, chicken, pork and more. You'll also find tons of information and recipes in the highly recommended: How to Eat Like a Vegetarian - Even If You Don't Want to be One. Plus, now that perfect hiking weather is about to arrive, here are some great post-hiking snack ideas.
How to choose a meat substitute
"How to Eat Like a Vegetarian"
Post-hiking snacks
VegE-News recipes

Share your food wisdom
In a recent New York Times blog Michael Pollan says: "Will you send me a food rule you try to live by? Something perhaps passed down by your parents or grandparents? Or something youve come up with to tell your children or yourself? I will post your suggestions on my Web site and plan to include the best in a collection of food rules Im now compiling."
Michael Pollan wants your food rules

A healthy veggie pregnancy
A recent blog in the Vancouver Sun made the false assertion that being vegan during pregnancy was dangerous. Chad Skelton later retracted his blog - and it was a good opportunity for lots of people weighed in with the facts - it is not only safe, but healthier for mom and baby. Read the comments after the blog for some thoughtful comments and links.
Chad Skelton blog - Vancouver Sun
Doctors endorse vegan and vegetarian diets for healthy pregnancies

Earth Hour: Wherever you live on planet earth, turn out the lights 8:30PM local time March 28
2,848 cities, towns and municipalities in 84 countries have already committed to VOTE EARTH for Earth Hour 2009, as part of the worlds first global election between Earth and global warming. Be part of it!
Earth Hour

Looking for a healthy vegan pet food?
AMI Dog and Ami Cat are great tasting and nutritionally complete. Available in stores in Ontario, BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan, several U.S. states and over the internet everywhere! Click below to find store addresses and internet sources.
Where to buy Ami vegan pet food

Calls to action
Thanks to a courageous Canadian Senator, Marc Harb, there is now a Bill in the Canadian parliament to end Canada's shameful commercial seal hunt, which is expected to take the lives of more than 250,000 baby seals this year alone. Support the historic Bill to stop the hunt!
Petition to support the bill to end the Canada's seal hunt
International Human Society campaign to stop Canada's seal hunt

Each year, in Canada's north, sled dogs are subjected to grueling conditions as their owners press them beyond endurance to win the Iditarod race. Register your vote for the animals below.
Iditarod race deaths cause concern

A note for veggie organizations and members
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