April 2009
Celebrate Earth Week - Go Veg for the Planet

In this edition...

Earth Week Focus
  The startling effects of going vegetarian for just one day
  Food vs. the environment: Getting to the meat of the problem
  Think globally, eat consciously
  Don't take that last bite - you are destroying the world
  Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd eco-warrior fighting to stop whaling and seal hunts

  Food industry pursues the strategy of big tobacco
  Crops absorb livestock antibiotics, science shows
  Study: Bone density of vegans identical to non-vegetarians
  Early soy intake may slash breast cancer risk later in life

Lifestyles and Trends
  A California chef is changing people's minds about meatless meals
  Vegging out
  How hard is it to go vegan?

Animal Issues and Advocacy
  Humanity even for nonhumans
  Crabs 'feel and remember pain' suggests new study
  Fish are crops?
  Understanding 'cruelty-free' eggs

Books and Perspectives
  Elevating Vegetarian Cuisine
  Climate change you can believe in

Of Note

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

The startling effects of going vegetarian for just one day
Full story: AlterNet

I've written extensively on the consequences of eating meat - on our health, our sense of "right living," and on the environment. It is one of those daily practices that has such a broad and deep effect that I think it merits looking at over and over again, from all the different perspectives. Sometimes, solutions to the world's biggest problems are right in front of us. The following statistics are eye-opening, to say the least. If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save: 100 billion gallons of water, 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock . . . As Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer notes in his new book, "The world is not running out of food. The problem is that we - the relatively affluent - have found a way to consume four or five times as much food as would be possible, if we were to eat the crops we grow directly."

AlterNet - April 2

Food vs. the environment: Getting to the meat of the problem
Full story: WABC-TV, CA, U.S.

Even a cattle rancher probably wouldn't deny that if people cut out even some meat from their diet they'd not only be healthier but they'd also be saving money as well as helping save the planet. Most of us have no idea of the mammoth-sized carbon footprint cattle leave on the earth. The United Nations' 2006 FAO report states: "if every American gave up meat 1 day a week it would save almost 100 megatons of greenhouse emissions, or 90 million plane tickets from New York to Los Angeles." Cut meat from your diet and you also inevitably save money. Everything you replace the meat with is less expensive: beans, lentils and other foods. The savings can be passed on to purchase better, healthier foods like organic fruit and vegetables.

WABC-TV, CA, U.S. - April 1

Think globally, eat consciously
Full story: Vision Magazine

It's Monday morning. With your alarm clock still ringing in your ears, you stumble into the kitchen, pour some corn flakes into a bowl, and douse them with soy milk. The last thing on your mind is clear-cutting in the Brazilian rainforest or the effect of interstate transportation on global warming. Yet there's a very real connection between the foods you eat and the health of the planet. If you're serious about living sustainably, it's important to think about the way you eat. Fortunately, eating sustainably is good for you and the environment. Even if there isn't room enough in your budget for a solar water heater or a new Prius, you can start eating more sustainably the next time you go to the supermarket.

Vision Magazine - April

Don't take that last bite - you are destroying the world
Full story: The Scotsman, UK

Now we should be watching what we eat not just for the sake of our waists but also for the sake of the planet, according to scientists. Experts have calculated that if everyone in Scotland sheds half a stone [7 pounds], it could save the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions as taking 1.2 million cars off the roads each year. The study, by scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's department of epidemiology and population health, highlights that food production is a major contributor to global warming. The researchers claim that a lean population - such as that in Vietnam - will consume almost 20 per cent less food than a population in which 40 per cent of people are obese, similar to the level seen in the United States. [A vegan diet is proven for weight loss.]

The Scotsman, UK - April 18

Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd eco-warrior fighting to stop whaling and seal hunts
Full story: Telegraph, UK

Paul Watson [captain of the anti-whaling ship the Sea Shepherd] is not exaggerating when he says the oceans are dying in our lifetime. Grotesquely wasteful industrial fishing practices - bottom trawling, longlining, driftnetting - are the main culprits, followed by pollution and the decimation of sharks and other predators. The United Nations says that 70 per cent of the world's major fisheries are now fully or over-exploited, and if the trends continue, all the world's fisheries are expected to collapse by 2048. . . For the whales in the Southern Ocean sanctuary, whose brains are bigger than ours, not just in size but in proportion to bodyweight, who are known to be self-aware and experience suffering and grief, the best protection currently on offer is this ragtag crew of clumsy, mutinous vegans and their Ahab captain, sailing down to the bottom of the world in an old black ship and making a reality television show [Discovery Channel's Whale Wars] as they go.

Telegraph, UK - April 16

Ready to make a difference for your health and the planet?
Check out Meatout Mondays from FARM
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
Be inspired by the experiences of "Star McDougallers" - people changing their health
Get armed with the facts on the global warming/diet relationship with this extensive list of eco links from the International Vegetarian Union


Food industry pursues the strategy of big tobacco
Full story: Environment360, Yale University

Kelly Brownell has long studied the relationship between rising levels of obesity in the U.S. and the way our food is grown, processed, packaged, and sold. In [this] interview, he discusses the common marketing and lobbying tactics employed by the food and tobacco industries. [The latter] successfully fought off regulation for decades, thereby contributing to the deaths of millions of Americans. The common strategies include dismissing as "junk science" peer-reviewed studies showing a link between their products and disease; paying scientists to produce pro-industry studies; sowing doubt in the public's mind about the harm caused by their products; intensive marketing to children and adolescents; frequently rolling out supposedly "safer" products and vowing to regulate their own industries; denying the addictive nature of their products; and lobbying with massive resources to thwart regulatory action.

Environment360, Yale University - April 8

Crops absorb livestock antibiotics, science shows
Full story: Environmental Health News

For half a century, meat producers have fed antibiotics to farm animals to increase their growth and stave off infections. Now scientists have discovered that those drugs are sprouting up in unexpected places. Vegetables such as corn, potatoes and lettuce absorb antibiotics when grown in soil fertilized with livestock manure, according to tests conducted at the University of Minnesota. Today, close to 70 per cent of the total antibiotics and related drugs produced in the United States are fed to cattle, pigs and poultry, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Although this practice sustains a growing demand for meat, it also generates public health fears associated with the expanding presence of antibiotics in the food chain. People have long been exposed to antibiotics in meat and milk. Now, the new research shows that they also may be ingesting them from vegetables, perhaps even ones grown on organic farms.

Environmental Health News - January 6

Study: Bone density of vegans identical to non-vegetarians
Full story: News.com, Australia

Vegetarians have been delivered some "very good news" in an Australian study of a group of strict vegan Buddhist nuns. Bone density among the 105 nuns, who live in temples and monasteries across Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, was found to be the same as non-vegetarian women matched in every physical respect. Sydney-based Professor Tuan Nguyen, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, collaborated with [researchers in Vietnam] to undertake the research. "We showed that although the vegans studied do indeed have lower protein and calcium intakes [only about 370mg a day of calcium], their bone density is virtually identical to that of people who eat a wide variety of foods, including animal protein," Professor Nguyen says.

News.com, Australia - April 17

Early soy intake may slash breast cancer risk later in life
Full story: NutraIngredients

High intakes of soy during childhood may reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer later in life by 58 per cent, according to a new study. The new research of Asian-American women adds to an ever-growing body of research supporting potential cancer-protecting properties of soy. By comparing the highest and lowest soy intake values for soy-based foods such as tofu, miso and natto, [researchers] calculated that women with the highest soy intake during childhood (ages 5 to 11) had a 58 per cent lower risk of breast cancer as adults as the women with the lowest soy intake as children. The corresponding reductions for adolescent and adult intake were about 25 per cent, they added. "early soy intake might itself be protective," said lead author Larissa Korde.

NutraIngredients - March 30
Related health news:
Vegan and vegetarian diets protect health of teen girls
Do your daughter a favor. Replace the hamburgers in her diet with veggie burgers and pour her a glass of fortified soymilk. Her lifelong health may depend on it. - Examiner.com (April 3)
Carotenoids linked to fewer hip fractures
Increased intakes of antioxidant pigments from plants may lower the risk of hip fracture in older men and women, according to a 17-year study from the U.S. - NutraIngredients, Europe (March 26)

  Lifestyles and Trends    

A California chef is changing people's minds about meatless meals
Full story: The Register-Guard, OR, U.S.

He's a product of Cleveland who says he was "the worst cook in the kitchen" when he started his career. Now, at a California wine country restaurant that shares its quarters with a yoga studio and draws on Zulu for its name [Ubantu], Jeremy Fox is serving a meatless menu that is capturing the interest of some of the biggest names in the food business and changing the way many of his customers look at vegetables. "I like to impress with everyday vegetables," says Fox, 32. What distinguishes Ubuntu from so many of its flesh-free brethren are plates of imagination and skill, based on impeccable ingredients. Its dishes don't taste like accompaniments or afterthoughts, but fully developed compositions.

The Register-Guard, OR, U.S. - March 17

Vegging out
Full story: San Diego Union-Tribune, CA, U.S.

Today is the 39th annual Earth Day. One way some people celebrate the environment is by eating less meat - or avoiding animal products altogether. Veganism, an extension of vegetarianism, takes the stance that avoiding meat and other animal products provides benefits not only to animals, but to the environment and to people's health. In its 2008 "Vegetarianism in America" study, Vegetarian Times magazine reported that 3.2 per cent of U.S. adults are vegetarians and 0.5 per cent are vegans. But the study indicated that of the non-vegetarians surveyed, 5.2 per cent were "definitely interested" in following a vegetarian-based diet in the future. [Chef] Chris Constable says starting on the veggie path isn't difficult. "Inspiration is everywhere," said Constable. He said an easy way to start is by taking your favorite sandwich and simply removing the meat and mayonnaise. From there, the world can be your oyster ... er, your dried shiitake mushroom. (Constable's wife makes a killer clam chowder that not only has no clams, it has no cream. Soy milk and dried shiitake mushrooms make tasty vegan substitutes, he said.)

San Diego Union-Tribune, CA, U.S. - April 22

How hard is it to go vegan?
Full story: Examiner.com

An article in Tulsa World aimed to make the case that vegan diets are difficult and boring. Pretending that she wanted to explore veganism for five days, the author started out with her mind made up that she was going to hate eating this way. And she made the food choices to prove it. Her sample menus were a determined effort to showcase vegan diets as awful. Breakfast smoothies made with black tea? Salad and sweet potato French fries as an entire lunch menu? Anyone with a little bit of commonsense and an open mind can do better than that. There are lots of great new vegan foods on the market to explore, but you don't actually have to think outside the box at all to plan healthy vegan meals. [The Tulsa writer did conclude that she felt better and wanted to stick with her new routine of eating more fruit and veggies.]

Examiner.com - April 9
Sorting out the myths about vegan diets
Virginia Messina, RD answers five of the most common misunderstandings about going vegan: Vegans donít eat fat; You need to enjoy cooking if you want to be vegan; Vegan diets are okay for most adults, but children and pregnant women need some animal foods in their diet; Vegan diets cause eating disorders in young girls. - Examiner.com, U.S. (April 16)

  Animal Issues and Advocacy    

Humanity even for nonhumans
Full story: New York Times

One of the historical election landmarks last year had nothing to do with race or the presidency. Rather, it had to do with pigs and chickens - and with overarching ideas about the limits of human dominion over other species. I'm referring to the stunning passage in California, by nearly a 2-to-1 majority, of an animal rights ballot initiative that will ban factory farms from keeping calves, pregnant hogs or egg-laying hens in tiny pens or cages in which they can't stretch out or turn around. It was an element of a broad push in Europe and America alike to grant increasing legal protections to animals. . . This idea popularized by Professor Singer - that we have ethical obligations that transcend our species - is one whose time appears to have come. . . animal rights are now firmly on the mainstream ethical agenda.

New York Times - April 8
Europe for inclusion of animal welfare in WTO agenda
Philippines News (April 9)
Sri Lanka: New animal welfare bill in Parliament
The Nation, Sri Lanka (April 12)
Do animals feel pain?
Peter Singer essay
Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare Petition
Animals Matter to Me - Add your voice!

Crabs 'feel and remember pain' suggests new study
Full story: CNN

New research suggests that crabs not only suffer pain but that they retain a memory of it. The study, which was carried out by Professor Bob Elwood and Mirjam Appel from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's University, Belfast, looked at the reactions of hermit crabs to small electric shocks. It was published in the journal Animal Behaviour. Professor Elwood, whose previous work showed that prawns endure pain, said his research highlighted the need to investigate the treatment of crustaceans [including crabs, prawns and lobsters] used in food industries.

CNN - March 27

Fish are crops?
Full story: Brockway Hall blog

As you watch this report [available at the link] shown on NBC Nightly News, you learn that the dramatic plunge in the ocean's fish population is only a problem because there are fewer fish for humans to kill and eat, that aquaculture (commercial fish farming) - done in an environmentally correct way - is the answer, and that fish are a crop! "We only grow one crop of fish at a time on a farm, and we have crop rotation," Nell Halse of Cooke Aquaculture proudly tells the reporter. . . Clearly lacking is any mention of fish as individuals, or the very rational idea of no longer eating fish.

Brockway Hall blog - April 20

Understanding 'cruelty-free' eggs
Full story: Granville Online, BC, Canada

Humane. Organic. Cage-free. Free-range. Free-run. Cruelty-free. Natural. . . But is it truly "cruelty-free"? Unfortunately, no. Labels such as "free-range" or "free-run" mean that the hens are not kept in cages. But they are often kept indoors at almost the same density as if they were in cages (which is basically the same as chickens raised for meat). There is also no regulation of these labels. . . When it starts to cost more to feed and care for a hen than can be made on her eggs, she is sent off to slaughter. Even though they can have a 10 to 15-year lifespan, [all egg-laying] chickens are killed at around two years of age. It's a simple matter of economics. . . [Having your own] backyard hens can get us closer to "cruelty-free," but they still require that we support cruel systems. As long as less productive hens are being sent off to slaughter and roosters are being killed at one day old, no system can be considered truly cruelty-free.

Granville Online, BC, Canada - March 31
Maine egg farm is accused of mistreating its hens
Chicago Tribune (April 1)
Mercy for Animals video

  Books and Perspectives    

Elevating Vegetarian Cuisine
Full story: Inside Bay Area, CA, U.S.

Riverdog Farm showers me in vegetables. Each week, the farm provides me with a box of just-picked-from-the-earth organic vegetables through their community supported agriculture program. But there is always something a little different in my box, something I'm not used to cooking. Fennel? Romanesca cauliflower? It's caused me some trepidation, looking for ways to eat up my entire box before the next box shows up. However, Vegetarian Suppers From Deborah Madison's Kitchen has provided me with plenty of ways to approach the less common vegetables in my box, and do them justice. Madison has a reputation for elevating vegetarian cuisine beyond what I think of as basic hippie fare - vegetables over brown rice with soy sauce. She continues to uphold that reputation with this book.

Inside Bay Area, CA, U.S. - April 15

Climate change you can believe in
Full story: Green Left Weekly, Australia

Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer is a disturbing book and a valuable contribution to the ever-growing body of literature on the historic fork in the road at which the human species currently stands. This book explains the effects of climate change not just on coral reefs and polar bears, but on hundreds of millions of climate refugees. It also describes with some clarity a truly profound shift in collective human consciousness, which would be both the precondition and the hallmark of any successful attempt to prevent runaway warming. . . He also observes that if the planet became vegetarian (or significantly reduced its meat consumption) there would be immensely more food to go around, and even looks at the possibility of sustainable "vat-grown" meat. . . Climate Wars is the best book I have read on the topic since Climate Code Red and raises some very interesting points. I strongly recommend it.

Green Left Weekly, Australia - April 18
  Of Note    

Cook up a healthier planet
Switching to vegan diet is the simplest and biggest change anyone can make to make a difference. What better time than Earth Day to try out a new earth-friendly recipe - VegE-News has some ideas - plus lots of tips for going veggie.
VegE-News recipes

Must-have new handbook for activists
The Animal Activist's Handbook has just been published. It is written by Vegan Outreach's cofounder and executive director, Matt Ball, and Bruce Friedrich, PETA's vice president of policy and government affairs. Both writers are important voices and thoughtful advocates in the animal protection movement.
Review from Compassion Over Killing

Compelling videos
Vegsource has been sending out short excerpts from their documentary Processed People. The videos make for compelling messages to help others understand why you're a vegetarian or vegan. A few links below. Also of note - Jeff Masson talking passionately about his new book The Face on Your Plate and Greenpeace's one-minute video on how cattle ranching is destroying the Amazon rainforest.
John Robbins
Jay Gordon
Joel Fuhrman, MD
Jeff Novick, MS RD
Processed People Website
Jeff Masson
How cattle ranching is destroying the Amazon rainforest

New e-book about the Canadian seal hunt
Adam Wilson has written a thought-provoking book Let's Just Buy the Seal Hunt about the appalling Canadian seal hunt, which destroys innocent lives and Canada's reputation in the world.
"Let's Just Buy the Seal Hunt"

Calls to action
The 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy on April 6 has reportedly killed 294 people and left approximately 40,000 people homeless and living in tent cities in the Abruzzo Region. Many human and animal survivors are struggling to get by, injured and still in shock from the devastation all around. Animal rescue teams from the International Fund for Animal Welfare are working to provide veterinary care, food, and medical supplies to surviving pets and farm animals.
IFAW animal rescue underway in quake-ravaged Italy

Bat World Sanctuary does wonderful work to help bats - they have a fascinating website with a number of action alerts.
Bat World Sanctuary website

FARM Animal Rights 2009 Conference - July 16-20
This year's Conference will be held at the Westin LAX Hotel near Los Angeles Airport. The program will focus on effective tactics to promote animal rights and veganism, to stop federal repression of animal activism, and to engage other social justice movements.
Animal Rights 2009

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