Nobody wants to eat wrong or bad foods, but who should decide what is appropriate and good? The answer is that there are many who set so-called food standards and these individuals and interests may have agendas other than the pure healthfulness of products offered for human consumption. This is not to say that open competition of perspectives on nutrition is unfairly biased. For there never was a time when more, more accurate and better information has been available regarding nutritional qualities of foods has been available – nor more clearly presented. It behooves everyone to learn how to determine what foods, which quantities and qualities, are best suited to meet individual nutritional needs and those of any family members for which one is responsible. This is serious business, for good nutrition which sustains and enhances health is of great value.
It boils down to who is truthful and trustworthy in providing nutritional information and foods.
Prudence suggests awareness, caution, and self-guided education ensures that one is getting proper nutrition. The most important single nutritional standard is healthfulness for each individual. In a world in which no two are exactly alike, individual differences are important. Groupfeed may suit the needs of kitchen staffs and large system produce buyers, yet this is not a formula for maximum health for some – if not most – individuals. The point is that nutritional standards may be set for any population, but – when based on aggregate data and only on nutrient minimums – these may in fact disadvantage individuals and sub-groups, thereby being responsible for a less than maximally healthful total group. Further, such large group standards may tend to center on minimum nutritional requirements rather than achieving any maximum benefits.
One strategy of possible value builds on the concept of a nutrition team. Each individual needs one. A personal physician, as a team member, can provide invaluable scientific observations and data regarding the individual’s body, parts, and their functioning. A nutritionist or dietitian can provide equally vital information relating to appropriate food qualities, portions, sequencing of intake, absorption, and assimilability. a herbalist can provide information about phytonutrients and nutriceuticals, as they are currently known, for a baked potato is one thing, but if it is rolled in kelp powder and rosemary before baking and then further enriched with tofu sour creme, paprika, nutritional yeast flakes, fresh chives and basil, dried coriander, sage, thyme, ground black and red peppers – then the nutrition of this food offering significantly exceeds that of a plain baked potato read off some seemingly official chart. Whether known or not, the food producer is also a member of one’s individual nutritional team and whether this contributor is a veganic-organic soil builder who uses open-pollinated non-genetically-manipulated seeds, maintains the highest health standards and works in a system which delivers nutritious produce quickly to the consumer matters very much. Then there is the individual, who organized and manages this personal health team – the team leader so to speak. Add a chiropractor, naturopath, physical trainer, massage and aroma therapist as needed because each of these specialties can add value to the team’s positive effects.
Einstein said it best: “Everything is connected.”
To approach nutrition as if it is some disconnected plane floating self-sufficiently alone in undefined space is naïve and unscientific. Whether one needs more or less protein or iron, for instance, depends on everything. Age? Sex? Body type? Activity types and levels? Genetic background? Stress level? Fat-muscle-bone ratio? Food sources, variety, and quality? Season? Climate? What’s good for eight-year-old Billy is not necessarily the same for 88-year-old Martha. Individual differences exist. Ascertaining them in terms of maximal as well as minimal nutrition is one step in a lifelong life quality improvement effort. No one specialist has all the answers or necessarily understands the relevant questions. Teamwork can generate catalytic synergetic power.
There is an industry dedicated to setting and enforcing purportedly beneficial human nutritional standards in the United States. It includes governmental and non-governmental interests.
The federal government funds committees of the National Academy of Science Food and Nutrition Board whose member appointments are reviewed and approved by the National Research Council. Among these official governmentally funded and approved groups in groups in groups, the Committee on Dietary Allowances is concerned with health maintenance, energy, and nutrient needs. It periodically issues a set of nutritional standards termed Recommended Dietary Allowances and abbreviated as RDA. Chronic disease reduction, dietary excesses, and inadequacies are the concern of the Committee on Diet and Health. Committee members tend to be “recognized” “scientists” who have experienced practitioners in dominant academic fields. Like the Supreme Court, committee members present positions which are debated, a consensus is formed and then reports are issued in which the participants’ reasoning and explanations of how consensus formed are described. This is an orderly bureaucratic process largely unseen by the public and rarely of interest to media. Presumably, members and committees maintain frequent contact among themselves, with similar professional specialists and official bodies in other countries, also with the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The United States Food and Drug Administration concerns itself with food safety and presumably maintains active liaison with the NASFNB nutrition standard committees and those of the United States Department of Agriculture which is responsible for moving agricultural products into markets and “surplus agricultural commodities” into whatever channels may be accessible at any given time. USDA directs the federal school lunch, breakfast, and other foodservice programs. Every five years a USDA committee updates in conjunction with The United States Department of Health and Human Services, and then disseminates Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The drafting process accommodates input from citizens and organizations. It is currently underway for “Guidelines 2000.”
Millions eat according to the daily menu prescriptions of the United States Military guided by Pentagon decisionmaking and budgeting, research of food science laboratories in Nattick, Massachusetts and, presumably, coordination with USDA and FDA and NASFNB. Millions of patients in Veteran Administration and other federal institutions including healthcare facilities and prisons make up other populations whose daily foods meet some officially sanctioned standards.
States maintain organizational structures concerned with food safety and nutritional standards.
Private for-profit food producer and processor groups naturally seek to influence standard setting to their advantage, some more than others and a few more successfully than most. This is fair in a democracy. It can, to use an analog, leaven the loaf. Yet it can seem to make the soup taste better while moving merchandise, but not improving and possibly even damaging human health. Finally, though, they adapt to whatever standards are governmentally set and label as legally required.
Nutritional Standards? Why? Whose? For whom? What are the criteria?
CRITERIA FOR NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES
The Institute for Plant Based Nutrition has developed a set of 100 criteria for nutritional guidelines. Each of the criteria is centered on some food quality. Regarding bone formation, and maintenance, for example, Criteria 8 inquires whether the ratio of calcium, phosphorous and magnesium is “healthful.” Criteria 61 is concerned with whether “the nutrient is healthful for the liver.” Is the nutrient “appropriate” for the “physical activity level” asks Criteria 100. They leave assessment and evaluation of each criterion to the user without controlling the evaluative outcomes. Therefore, these Criteria are analytical tools rather than rules. For instance, the term “healthful” is to be defined by whoever is applying the criteria. Therefore, this is a non-impositional set of criteria for nutritional guidelines, claiming only the authority of scientific perspective and the well-asked question – allowing for value based variance in responses.
While the Criteria were developed for application to documented nutritional guidelines – drafted and printed position papers arguing on behalf of some nutrient quantity or quality, presence or absence, and interrelationships among nutrients – they can also serve other practical uses ranging from assisting in the assessment of individual food choice patterns to design and implementation of large-scale foodservice plans. They are intended to facilitate, supplement and enhance the work of nutritional guideline developers at every level, perhaps reminding of patterns and interrelationships truly important yet possibly overlooked. The set of Criteria provides a simple set of scientifically based concerns to be considered in any nutritional program setting.
Food producers may find the Criteria interesting and helpful. As an easily used checklist, they can be used in assessing the nutritional validity of a single food product, individual meals or even model dietary plans for days, weeks and lives. A produce distributor could utilize the Criteria in developing a scientifically based system of soil building mineral and microbe enrichment and programmed plant selection for growers to use in order to ensure that consumers would be getting the full range of known and validated nutrients through the diverse produce offered by such a quality food production system. Soil lacking zinc cannot produce edible pants which are zinc rich and some types of broccoli provide more nutrients than others. A food processor or manufacturer could use the Criteria in ascertaining the nutritional variables present in a product already marketed or as a list of specifications for one being designed. The food technologist could design products to specifically meet any Criteria, particular selection of Criteria or all of them. Further, if one determined that over a period of a week each of the 100 criteria had been met by the entry in an individual’s food journal or advance meal plan, having ascertained that in 100 dimensions “healthful” nutrition was being provided, it would be reasonable to state that such a dietary pattern had considerable merit. The Criteria can even be used as a checklist of human nutrition concerns by restaurant chefs, food buyers and menu planners. They provide a generally and specifically useful set of tools. Armies could march on these Criteria, sailors sail, pilots fly and astronauts orbit. It is an interesting hypothesis that was school children, those institutionalized, incarcerated and otherwise fed so well that all 100 Criteria were satisfied to a high degree of healthfulness, there could be more learning and less agitation. Nutrition affects perceptions and behavior.
Finally, the IPBN Criteria may be helpful globally and internationally in comparative studies when diverse nutrition plans are being considered.
CRITERIA FOR NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR CENTURY 21 PROPOSED BY THE INSTITUTE FOR PLANT-BASED NUTRITION is a 28-page publication issued in June 1999. The document presents an introduction to the problems associated with nutritional guidelines and provides an analytical historical review of the context in which they have been developed in 20th century America. It includes the IPBN definition of “plant-based nutrition” which has been updated – by the addition of edible rhizomes – to supplement the Criteria. “Background Information Questions Relating to Nutritional Guidelines” are offered to encourage clarification of motivations and assumptions imbedded in nutritional guidelines through assessment, analysis, and reflection. Suggestions for “Data Management” are included along with current citations of “Further Resources” appropriate for consideration by those associated with developing, implementing and assessing nutritional guidelines for any constituencies. Copies of this publication and permission to reprint it are available from the: Institute for Plant Based Nutrition, 333 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania 19004-2606, TEL: 610-667-6876 FAX: 610-667-1501 EMAIL: email@example.com WEBSITE: ww.plantbased.org
FIVE STAR AWARD
THE CASE FOR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FIRST
Produce for Better Health Foundation has published YEAR 2000 DIETARY GUIDELINES: The Case for Fruits and Vegetables First, A Scientific Overview for the Health Professional, is a summary of nutritional research relating to the human health benefits of nutrition based on fruits and vegetables. Author Mary Ann S. Van Duyn, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., reviews scientific research findings indicating healthful associations of fruits and vegetables with the major diseases including cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, birth defects, cataracts, diverticulosis, diabetes mellitus, longevity, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obesity. A “Report Card of Health Benefits” associated with consumption of fruits and vegetables is provided as a graphic table along with another table indicating correlations between fruit and vegetable “active” compounds and common disease “conditions.”
Even more invaluable, however, is the state of the art “bibliography” which is incomparable – an absolutely essential tool for anyone working on or in any way concerned with nutritional guidelines.
Fifty-two fruits and vegetables are listed in a “Produce Nutrition” table which presents the name of each of these edible plant foods along with typical serving size and verified nutritional values in terms of: total calories, calories from fat, total fat, sodium, potassium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron.
In her introduction to the document, PBHF President Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., states that “While fruit and vegetable consumption is slightly increasing, we compete against millions of food advertising dollars for far less nutrient-dense foods.” She urges that “there are some foods that are better than others for long-term health – and those are fruits and vegetables (including beans) and other plant-based foods such as whole grains, soy, and nuts.” Concluding, she declares “We must stand united – government, health organizations, health professionals, consumer press – and move forward a plant-based diet for Americans.”
A seminal work and vital resource. YEAR 2000 DIETARY GUIDELINES, The Case for Fruits and Vegetables First is available from Produce for Better Health Foundation, 5301 Limestone Road, Suite 101, Wilmington, Delaware 19808-1249 TEL: 302-23-ADAY FAX: 302-235-5555 WEBSITE: www.5aday.com
VEGAN HEALTH STUDY
For all the chatter about objectivity and scientific methodology in the research to benefit human health, vegans as a group have not been studied. Not just medical doctors, but also anthropologists and sociologists should find vegans interesting. A few adventurous psychologists have peeked into veganism and one historian specializes in the continuing saga of these persistent phytovores through the centuries. Economists might investigate the reasons modern vegans and their ancient Pythagorean ancestors have survived and thrived. If so malnourished, protein and Vitamin B12 deficient, as some so-called experts have claimed, then why aren’t vegans chronically sick and rapidly dying? There must be an anti-vegan propaganda campaign going on, for all the vegans we have observed over decades are healthy, strong, vigorous and seem to be living beyond actuarial table expectations.
Fourteen billion dollars expended this year by the National Institutes of Health will not include any vegan health study. Congress, wrestling with Medicare budgeting, will not be inquiring about veganism as a possible lifestyle for reducing healthcare costs. Pharmaceutical companies will not be investigating drug response differences among vegans and non-vegans. Nor will health insurance companies report on the pattern of disbursements for the healthcare of vegans and non-vegans. Life insurance companies will not be asking new prospects whether they are vegan, just “Are you a smoker?” or analyzing their payout records to determine whether vegans live longer than the “average life expectancies” which they continually report. Isn’t it interesting that nobody seems to be interested in veganism except the millions who practice this healthful way of life?
The modern scientific research uses a model which includes test subjects and control group participants. Both are given some stimulus and a predetermined set of responses are measured. Then follow statistical comparisons of selected data believed to be related to the predicted change. Typically, some standard or stimulus is applied and this is termed the independent variable. Subjects could be a set of thirty-year-old manic depressive patients, for example, who are in a state mental hospital or, in another instance a group of randomly selected subjects from the Boston telephone book. It is to this aggregate base of bodies that something will be done – perhaps a series of pills will be given in which some will be placebos and others the particular stimulus or medicine expected to cause change. The dependent variable is what is to be changed, an independent variable or is several should effect the change sought. For example, aspirin or a carrot could serve as an independent variable, as could tetracycline or a combination of raw vegetables and exercise. A review of medical research journal articles reporting on uses of food plants will quickly reveal that contamination of the variables frequently prevents clear conclusions from being drawn regarding any exclusive effects of plant-based nutrition. In some cholesterol studies, diet and exercise have been managed so that researchers cannot conclude that either exercise alone or diet alone have had any effect. There is always the caveat that much has been learned, but more research is needed – and just what that additional research should be may not be specified or it is suggested in such a way as to becloud. Thereby an endless cycle of superfluous research proceeds like a dog chasing its tail. Though not really scientific research, inconsequential studies may receive funding and engage many high-income professionals in the huge and expensive health domain. Public health lacks a sufficient valid plant-based nutrition-related research data base.
Somebody needs to do something. Human life is too important for there not to be a vegan health data base. We’re going to have to develop this ourselves. It will not be for vegans, for we already know the health benefits of their wholesome natural culture, but for those who haven’t yet realized that their health problems may be rooted in their misguided dietary non-veganism. To determine scientifically if plant based nutrition benefits health, let the first national vegan health study begin.
Dr. Michael A. Klaper, M.D. is eminently qualified to lead the “Vegan Health Study” effort. He will direct it through the Institute of Nutrition Education and Research. A comprehensive questionnaire has been designed for participants. It is ready for implementation. Standard blood tests will be requested of each participant in order to establish data which are parallel to those of non-vegan heath studies. As control groups for making scientific comparisons, non-vegans will include Lacto-, Novo- and lacto-ovo-vegetarians as well as others who are neither vegan or vegetarian. Scientifically accepted research models and data analysis require such procedures so valid comparisons of the health of vegans and non-vegans can be made. Current costs for a standard battery of blood tests are in the $400.00 to $500.00 range. A data base of only 100 vegans will cost at least $40,000.00. For 1,000 vegans, $400,000.00 would be needed. The questionnaires must be printed and mailed, data gathered will be electronically scanned or keypunched into computer storage, and after the initial set of data has been entered, independent analyses will be conducted which compare vegans and non-vegans across each of the significant dimensions. It will take time, energy and money, but vegans are persistent, resourceful. This first vegan health study will be conducted; but it will never be completed, because new data will be needed from each successive generation and, throughout each participant lifespan. Multiple stages of data gathering will be needed in order to reveal any changes over time. Finally, autopsy data can prove invaluable; in fact, a simple sub-study could be concerned only with vegan and non-vegan autopsy data which could clarify what has gone on in the lives and bodies of these two different human lifestyle practitioner groups.
IPBN has contributed a modest amount to encourage the Institute for Nutrition Education and Research to proceed with this seminal and essential health study. Each year, IPBN will contribute and now encourages every vegan organization to contribute as its resources allow. Fundraising is needed. Walkathons and vegan health fairs are appropriate. IPBN will promote this INER Vegan Health Study in every issue of Plant Based Nutrition as well as at every display and presentation it provides throughout each year. What others are doing to raise funds for INER will be reported and praised in PBN. Every vegan organization should promote this INER work. Individually, estate planners should consider tax saving strategies which could benefit both donor families and this INER project to determine and monitor the state of vegan health. Corporations will be making significant contributions to health improvement by providing financial support for the INER effort. Food growers, distributors, manufacturers, packagers wholesalers and retailers should support this INER leap forward in behalf of health improvement. Others may wish to do parallel studies – insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Certainly, it would be appropriate for governmentally funded agencies and institutions to encourage and support the INER Vegan Health Study to ensure that such national health data are gathered in adequate quantity utilizing current state-of-the-art laboratory testing of blood samples and participant profiles. Such a study should not have to be done by underfunded volunteers, nor should vegans have to study themselves; but, until the predominantly non-vegan institutionalized health research industry realizes the value of vegan health data, there is no better choice. No matter how small the number of participants and budget, this INER Vegan Health Study can help change the world – so that people who want to be can be healthier, stronger, and suffer less disease, while living longer and enjoying life fully.
You can help by contacting, contributing and cooperating: Institute of Nutrition Education and Research, 1601 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Suite 342, Manhattan Beach, California 90266.
FIVE STAR RESTAURANT AWARDS
Vegan restaurants are proliferating as people seek the benefits of this scientifically valid, ecologically sound, philosophically, morally and ethically virtuous cuisine. Vegetarian restaurants are expanding their vegan menus and high-quality restaurants of every sort are providing vegan options due to customer requests and the increasingly high state of awareness and education among chefs, servers, and management teams. This is a good time for vegan cuisine.
The “Best Restaurant in North America” is It’s Only Natural in Middletown, Connecticut. ION serves a full range of vegan specialties each day at lunch and dinner. The facilities are impeccable, staff well trained and cordial. Chef-owners Mark Shadle and Lisa Magee-Corvo run a first class operation which is pleasant and wholesome to a degree not yet attained by any other restaurant observed and tested. So, for the third consecutive year, ION and its staff are awarded the IPBN ***** FIVE STAR BEST RESTAURANT CITATION OF EXCELLENCE AWARD. In 1997, 1998 and again in 1999, ION has demonstrated exemplary performance, high-quality nutrition, interesting and beautifully presented food choices for a full range of tastes. Mark, Lisa, everybody at ION: You are the best! Keep growing. Lead vegan cuisine further forward. Teach others as only you can. Start a vegan chef school – every town in America needs an ION outpost where the best possible food is prepared and served in the best possible ways – offering vegan cuisine for everyone. ION, 386 Main Street, Middletown, Connecticut 06457. TEL: 860-346-9210
The “best vegan French dip sandwich” is available in Seattle at the not-vegetarian Café Flora. It is an exquisite concoction, juicy portobello slices with carmelized onions stuffed between two crusty bread slabs with a brown au jus garlic and mushroom dipping sauce and appropriate garnishings of salad greens – salad and fresh fruit. It’s worth traveling to the city beside Puget Sound just for this one great sandwich. Here is a successful concept on which to build a healthful vegan restaurant chain. ***** FIVE STAR quality. French dip sandwich par excellence! Café Flora is at 2901 East Madison in Seattle, Washington 98112. TEL: 206-325-9100
One city leads all others by supporting four vegan kosher Chinese restaurants, each open every day and night – all year around and every one excellent. It’s called “the city of brotherly – and sisterly – love,” “half of Hollywood’s hometown” or Philadelphia. Further, this internationally recognized cuisine center has many other Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican, Moroccan, Thai, Vietnamese and classic continental restaurants which offer extensive vegan menus. There’s nothing else like this concentration of awareness and quality in the world. Great chefs. It’s been a long time evolving since Benjamin Franklin tried living on plant foods exclusively – for awhile – back in the 1700s. In terms of vegan cuisine, there is no better than can be found all around this old town.
For two “best-of-the-best” most outstanding vegan entrees, the Cherry Street Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has earned an IPBN ***** FIVE STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD. Chef Ray Fung’s “Mushroom Mushroom Chow Fun” is in an excellence class by itself. So is his “Rainbow Stuffed Tofu.” And, in the appetizer or light lunch class, Ray’s three colored “Steamed Dumplings” lead the field with three different fillings, spinach greened carrot yellowed and plain white tender skins. “Cherry Street,” as it is affectionately called by those who frequent it, is a fully vegan and kosher Chinese vegetarian restaurant in Philadelphia’s Chinatown at 1010 Cherry Street, Philadelphia 19107. Everything on the menu is excellent. TEL: 215-923-4909
Peter Fong invites you to his Singapore Chinese Vegetarian Kosher Restaurant at 1029 Race Street in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, 19107. Peter has earned an IPBN ***** FIVE STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD for two unique offerings: the best “Tofu Hot Pot” and “Leek Dumplings” there are. With a Southeast Asian flair, everything on the menu is excellent, but these two are unique and eloquent. No chef but Peter offers the authentic spicy succulence available at his Singapore, and who but Peter gathers fallen gingko nuts from areas trees to serve in special dishes? Superb. TEL: 215-922-3288 Peter has another Singapore Vegetarian Kosher Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant nearby in Cherry Hill, New Jersey – same menu, smaller place, free parking.
“Vegan Dim Sum” and “Sea Surprise” earn Chef-owner Ming Chu an IPBN ***** FIVE STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD. In his tribute to jumbo shrimp, Ming presents a garnished platter with the delicately fried rice powder, carrot and seaweed flavored morsels arranged in an upright design with tofu mayonnaise in a small bowl for dipping the chewy morsels. As for Ming’s “Dim Sum,” these individual small dishes exquisite in aroma, taste, texture and appearance are all available every day. All-you-can-eat for the fantastic bargain price of $10.00 US. Nothing like this anywhere else. Superb. Delightful. Everything on the menu is excellent, vegan and kosher. Kingdom of Vegetarians, 129 North 11th Street, Philadelphia 19107. TEL: 215-413-2290
Harmony Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant is a vegan kosher paradise with page after page of exquisite menu offerings. Brilliant from the beginning, Harmony’s design uses a diner-sized space and perfectly efficient kitchen, cool colors and easily managed traffic pattern, this innovation could be franchised coast-to-coast and surely would be successful. Harmony has spread out and now fills three side-by-side sites which can feed hundreds at a time. Every menu item is excellent. Harmony has earned an IPBN ***** FIVE STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD winning for its unique “Taro Balls” which have no peer and “Swirling Seitan” cooked wrapped around a chopstick as nowhere else. Located at 135 North 9th Street, Philadelphia 19107. TEL: 215-627-4520
Out west in Orange, California, just a fifteen-minute drive from Disneyland, Lotus Café Vegetarian Cuisine offers a totally vegan menu of delectables. An IPBN **** FIVE STAR AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE is deserved for the “Hot Pot Soymeat Ball” and “Cashew Tomato Basil Medley” entrees. Every menu item is excellent. Twelve entrees are each special, as are the soups, salads, appetizers, smoothy cocktails and soymilk icecream filled mango dessert. Veganomics at work here too. Congratulations Chen Family! Visit Daniel, David, Mom and Dad at Lotus Café, 1515 West Chapman Avenue, Orange, California 92868. TEL: 714-385-1233 FAX 714-385-1040
PETA VIDEOTAPES TORTURE OF PIGS
We had made an appointment to visit the new PETA headquarters on the south end of the Chesapeake Bay in Norfolk, Virginia. “Bring photo ID” we were told. The guard checked it and a staff member came down the elevator to greet us.
“Is something going on?” we asked gingerly. “We’ve released tapes of pig torture and there have been threats.” was the polite reply. We’d read the USA Today report earlier. It explained that PETA “Released videotapes of pigs being tortured, beaten with pipe wrenches and skinned alive at a hog farm.” It quoted flesh industry spokespersons denying the videos and described how the moving pictures were obtained. “The videotaped footage was obtained with a hidden camera worn by a PETA investigator who worked at the farm for three months.” (February 11, 1999, page 3A.) Another PETA videocassette, of fur marketing practices, was also attracting media attention.
“Is everyone here vegan?” we asked, surveying the four-stories modern glass-walled building. “Pretty much,” was the answer, “but it’s voluntary. We follow the law.” We understood. “After a few days working here,” our hostess remarked, “new employees go vegan because of what they learn.” We were leaning on a table covered by a stack of photographic posters showing a freshly skinned fur fox carcass. It alone would provoke reflection in anyone and then there were all the other posters, newspaper clippings and tragic reports of fellow creature live cut short.
Cheering were the recipes, photos of good looking vegans in PETA promotion scenarios. Many of these are printed in PETA’s quarterly magazine deemed by our son years ago as “The best of all the vegetarian periodicals.” Hip. It remains undoubtedly the best in terms of graphics. These illustrations are captivating and every issue is a delight to see. The writing is excellent as well, each word chain carefully scribed and edited for maximum clarity and punch. This magazine, and the skilled staff who compose it, definitely “SPEAKS UP” for fellow creatures. It’s hard hitting ethics on the move. In actuality, PETA opponents defeat themselves as did the General Motors president who researched GM auto safety in comparison with vehicles from all the other manufacturers in the world, every one of which had already quit using fellow creatures in crash tests. We’re giving it up, he told Alex Pacheco, because our safety record is the worst. Obviously, the tests were not saving lives as was intended. Alex had expected to have to argue, but GM gave up on the basis of their own data. It happens. PETA staff have seen many such self-realizations.
We had a sense of being very old, for every staff member we met seemed very young. To us, most people we see are significantly younger. This staff is younger than our children. It’s a youth brigade with even greater promise for the future. As these young people mature further and go out into other career stages in the world, their combined power will become an even stronger positive force. We felt glad to have been supportive of PETA as it has grown over the years.
Who is behind PETA? The brains? They wouldn’t recognize us, but we’ve met Alex Pacheco and Ingrid Newkirk several times over a few decades. They still look young, yet middle age is going to touch them eventually. We’ve seen them scared looking as kids can be while describing their harrowing experiences in boxes and get-away cars, facing dying creatures and confronting powerful prestigious leaders in positions such as the presidency of General Motors. From the beginning, we’ve known they are brave. And, they’re true leaders, kind also. They’ve learned how to negotiate with legislators and completely annoy bigots, unveil liars and search and find loopholes in laws which unexpectedly suggest that fellow-creatures are to be well treated in certain states and even nationally. We think they’re bright, still, and that they’ve had more good times than bad wrestling with public attention, media technology advances and educational opportunities. They’ve not yet done everything needed to make the world a decent place for all lifeforms, here are a few things yet to be done which keep them busy a few more decades. There’s no need to cite these, for they’re probably posted in their offices and lists of goals for the next century. That PETA has the lead, leads and will continue cannot be questioned.
To indicate PETA’s appeal, consider that in 1997 it had 500,000 members worldwide. By the end of 1998, PETA members totaled 600,000 with 500,000 in the United States. Will not 1999 show further gains? And doesn’t the $15.00 annual membership cost seem inexpensive considering all the PETA team accomplishes? This is a carefully managed IRS approved 501 (c)(3) charitable organization with a fascinating history and promising future. Long term, the relatively new building PETA owns will save more than it cost. This handsome structure is an asset for the organization and community which will pay dividends for many years forward. Rent saved will allow more employees and field projects. It’s a grand world headquarters and PETA is global. Located at the extreme southern point of Chesapeake Bay where fresh and ocean salt water begins to mix, PETA views eastward over the Atlantic. Geopolitically the location is sublime.
We visited the library and saw others studying there. Librarians befriended us, in the disarming PETA way which made us want to sit down and spend the rest of our lives reading everything ever written about the ideas we PETAites hold dear. But, we had to return to Williamsburg – up the James River past the Jamestown Settlement of 1607 and Revolutionary War Yorktown Battlefield of 1781 where American independence was finally won and Carter Plantation where slavery was early tried and eventually given up for better ways – so that we could continue investigations of plant-based nutrition in the seventeenth century in the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Research Library and so bid our friends at PETA adieu. Edible plants, that’s our IPBN central concern. But, we’ll be back, and many times we hope. In the meantime, our joint membership in PETA is renewed for 1999 and we can’t imagine ever letting it lapse unless we’re absolutely broke. Then, we expect, PETA staff would have mercy and send the publications free if we’d place them in a local library after our reading. If we were hungry, we suspect they’d send food. These are nice people worth knowing and visiting, certainly worthy of encouragement and support. Go PETA!
Write PETA, 501 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510, TEL: 757-522-PETA, WEBSITE; www.petaonline.org. The PETA magazine, PETA undercover documentation on videocassettes, PETA Factsheets, vegan books, posters, free stickers for restaurants which state “WE SERVE VEGETARIAN MEALS” and diverse other items are available through the PETA Catalog.
SUMMER 1999 VEGETARIAN EVENTS
July 7-11, 1999 – North American Vegetarian Society 25th Summer Fest, University of Pittsburgh, Appalachian Mountain Ecology Campus, Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Contact: NAVS, Box 72, Dolgeville, New York 13329 TEL: 518-568-7970 FAX: 518-568-7979 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEBSITE: www.cyberveg.org/navs
July 18-23, 1999 – 7th European Vegetarian Union Congress, Widnau/St.Gallen, Switzerland
EVU Secretariat, Bluetschwitzerweg 5, 9443 Widnau, Switzerland. Contact: TEL/FAX: +41-71-722-64-45 EMAIL: email@example.com WEBSITE: www.ivu.org/evu/news983/widnau.html
July 23-27, 1999 – American Natural Hygiene Society 51st Conference, Orlando Marriott on International Drive, Orlando, Florida. Contact: ANHS, Box 30630, Tampa, Florida 33630
July 28-August 1, 1999 – American Vegan Society 39th Annual Conference, University of Colorado, Main Campus, Boulder, Colorado. Contact: AVS, Dinshah Lane, Box H, Malaga, New Jersey 08328 TEL: 609-694-2887 FAX: 609-694-2288
July 30-August 1, 1999 – 45th Annual Pennsylvania Natural Living Conference, Cedar Crest College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Contact: PANIC, 109 Monteith Avenue, West Lawn, Pennsylvania 19609
LET’S ELIMINATE CANCER IN OUR TIME
Cancer has caused and these are increasingly well understood. Since doctors interested in this disease met in Philadelphia in 1907 and formed the American Association for Cancer Research, scientific processes have been utilized to discover what causes, encourages, slows and eliminates cancer. Looking back, much of the research has been useless and wrongheaded, yet fabulous progress has been made. Like Edison taught, if a thousand failures have led to one success, we have learned something and the 999 unsuccessful experiments don’t have to be repeated. AACR leaders, the top cancer researchers of our time, believe they are close to being able to abolish cancer as a human disease and life-wasting problem. Not all their strategies will work, but some will. They are not all perfect doctors and researchers, relatively few are vegans and vegetarians, probably some of them forget to pay taxes on time and vote. Some may have been unkind to fellow creatures, not to mention colleagues and their families. But, they have the high-powered microscopes, they understand how genes and DNA are encoded, they admit their past mistakes and we have no likelier-to-be-successful team better of specialists on target. If they were anti-vegan and ugly to herbalists, maybe their cry could be ignored. And if they’d serve vegan banquets at their gatherings it would be easier to swoon. Still, they made their case on April 10, 1999, at “Progress and New Hope in the Fight Against Cancer – A Public Forum Highlighting the Latest Discoveries” at the Philadelphia Convention Center and begged for support for a scientific effort to end cancer in our time. At the least, their case must be considered.
AACR invites public support, collaboration with non-profit organizations and wants Congress to double cancer research support annually for ten years. Cancer cure rates are improving dramatically. Can we look AACR cancer specialists in the eye and say “there will be no encouragement here”? Better to wrestle with them on dietary issues and say “get going!”
It seems that the AACR doctors and researchers have educated themselves. Unexpectedly asked by an IPBN representative “What might be the anti-carcinogenic benefits of plant-based nutrition?” a panel of AACR leaders took turns extolling the positive benefits of such nutrition and praised vitamins and minerals and herbs with the enthusiasm usually observed at vegan and vegetarian conferences. “I take over twenty anti-oxidant, vitamin and other pills a day,.” said one from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He also mentioned “organic” vegetables and fruits in glowing terms. Who among us can cast the first stone at these awakening scientists on the trail of unnecessary cancer and optimist? Satisfy your need for knowledge and decide for yourself whether these “experts” can be trusted. If they meet their goal, the world can be a better place with humans and fellow creatures relieved of tragic burdens. Perhaps suggest not funding research using creatures except people. For information contact: Margaret Foti, Ph.D., executive director, Public Ledger Building, Suite 826, 150 South Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-3483. TEL: 215-440-9300 FAX: 215-440-9313 WEBSITE: www.aacr.org
“Diet and Health Guidelines for Cancer Prevention” are 1. Choose a diet rich in a variety of plant-based foods. 2. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. 3. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. 4.. Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all. 5. Select foods low in fat and. 6. Prepare and store food safely. And, always remember… Do not use tobacco in any form.” These are the suggestions of American Institute for Cancer Research, 1759 R Street, NW, Box 97167, Washington, D.C. 20090-7167. TEL: 202-328-7744
Holding up the dietary and treatment alternatives front in the war on cancer is the Center for the Advancement of Cancer Education which offers publications, workshops and lectures on food preparation to prevent, slow, reduce and cure cancer. Contact CACE, Box 48, 300 East Lancaster Avenue – Suite 100, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania 19096-0048, TEL: 610-642-4810.
National Cancer Institute is one of the National Institutes for Health (NIH) research groups. It channels federal funds to cancer researchers at major institutions across the land. Its cancer research reports implicitly and sometimes explicitly support plant based nutrition as an anti-carcinogenic strategy. To cite one example, it supports the federal “5 a day” educational program which began in California when produce growers won educational support from the state Department of Agriculture decades ago and became a federally selected project in the late 1980s. Someday NIH and NCI will be supporting “10 a day” and then “try for 20.” For information, whatever meets your needs and interests, contact: NCI/NIH, 9000 Rockville Pike, Building 31, Bethesda, Maryland 20892. TEL: 800-4-CANCER WEBSITE: www.nci.nih.gov
Mike Milken had prostate cancer which motivated him to change his lifestyle, he basically adopted veganism, and develop vegan recipes which replaced the pre-cancer episode stuff he had been eating. According to Milken, “907 million Americans living with cancer today” need food alternatives and he has provided a recipe book full of them. Rich and able to hire personal chefs as well as nutritionists as he pleased, Mr. Milken produced The Taste For Living Cookbook, Mike Milken’s Favorite Recipes for Fighting Cancer. His chef, Beth Ginsberg, created favorites including chili, hot dogs, strawberry shortcake, tasty a tasty Reuben sandwich and crispy French fries, cream of tomato soup, brownies and a plethora of other items which pleased and yet please the financier. She gets first listing as a co-author of this book. “All profits go to fund prostate cancer research.” Beautifully illustrated. $27.50US. Order toll-free from 877-884-LIFE. For prostate cancer information contact Milken-funded: CaP CURE, 1250 Fourth Street, Suite 360, Santa Monica, California 90401. TEL: 800-757-2873 or 310-458-2873 FAX: 310-458-8074, EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEBSITE: www.capcure.org
It seems that cancer can be an effect of genes or induced by chemical, radiation or malnutrition experiences. Sometimes good DNA can be injected in bad DNA and the damaged structures will rebuild themselves correctly. Always, people can control exposure to the other three possibilities.
Cancer cell proliferation can be prevented, slowed, maintained and eliminated. It’s worth doing.
HONORING SYLVESTER GRAHAM
Long deceased, Sylvester Graham left civilization the “graham cracker’ which has been much abused. Finally, a manufacturer is offering products which honor this health education pioneer. An IPBN ***** FIVE STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD has been earned by the Health Valley Company which offers two wonderful tasting and lovely to look at “GRAHAM CRACKERS” in either “OAT BRAN” or “AMARANTH” formulations. These contain organic whole wheat flour, cane juice, soybean oil, soy flour, organic oat bran or amaranth, sulfured molasses, soy lecithin, cinnamon, natural vanilla flavor, baking soda and sea salt. These are only two among many vegan food products available from this ethical company which has been committed to organic foods for over 25 years. These outstanding graham crackers are available by the package or case through any health food store. For information contact: Health Valley Company, 16100 Foothill Boulevard, Irwindale, California 91706. TEL: 800-423-4846 between 8 a.m and 4 p.m. PST
FIVE STAR PRESENTER EXCELLENCE AWARD
The author of numerous plant based nutrition and theologically centered books, Dr. Roberta Kalechofsky addressed the American Vegan Society Annual Conference last August in Olympia, Washington. She has frequently appeared at AVS, North American Vegetarian Society and other vegan and vegetarian conferences and events. It would be good to hear her speaking at business clubs and teacher conferences coast-to-coast and across Canada. Wherever Roberta speaks, audience participants draw close and listen attentively because she is interesting. Trained as a historian and philosopher, this accomplished professional is helping to educate the public to understand cultural as well as biological reasons for vegetarianism and veganism. An IPBN *****FIVE STAR PRESENTER EXCELLENCE AWARD has been earned by Dr. Roberta Kalechofsky who shares her extensive knowledge and life loving philosophy generously, with wonderful humor and aplomb. Groups large and small adore her – and learn .
For consulting, writing, publishing and speaking, contact Dr. Kalechofsky through her website: www.micahbooks.com, email: Micah@acunet.net, address her at Micah Publications, Inc., 255 Humphrey Street, Marblehead, Massachusetts 01945 or fax 617-639-0772.
TEAS TO PLEASE
Since 1922 Alvita Herbal Teas have been grown and packaged with increasingly higher standards. Single herbs and blends. English pillow style bags. No strings, tags or staples. Each recyclable paper bag has been oxygen bleached. No chlorine. A picture of the herb inside decorates each Alvita box, sides provide directions for use and a brief cultural history of the herb’s usage. The reclosable top uses an ingenious convenient flap and notch. Inside a brown paper, envelope contains 24 tea bags and can be refolded after each use. Alvita claims that “no herb tea company goes as far to protect the Earth and its precious resources…” and that they “are offering you the most environmentally safe and responsible herb teas possible.” All this and decades of actual use of these fine products and creative package designs leads naturally to the IPBN ***** FIVE STAR EXCELLENCE AWARD for Alvita Herbal Teas, American Fork, Utah 84003.
AN IPBN WORLD CLASS SANDWICH
It began with a taste of So-Soya, a textured vegetable protein product made of soy and nothing else. We boiled these small dark chunks, flavoring them to deliciousness with Dr. Bronner’s Balanced-Mineral-Boullion. They made fine shishkebabs but cried out for some special treatment never before tried. Eureka! A soy protein chunk sandwich came to mind. So we spread the moist nuggets in a rectangular Pyrex baking dish and baked and broiled them to a slightly dry level of perfection. Two slices of Shiloh Farms Sprouted Seven 7 Grain Bread were slathered with soy based Nayonaise which was then sprinkled with the So-Soya nuggets a touch of Maine Sea Vegetable Kelp Granules and a light spray of Bragg Liquid Aminos. Then, between the two halves were placed crunchy organic romaine lettuce leaves with another spritz of Bragg’s. Hallelujah. Great looks taste textures, mouth feel, stomach satisfaction. We tried them once, twice, sent them out in vegan lunches and received overwhelming praise. So this recipe belongs to the world, it’s too good to keep secret or share only locally. Make it. Share it. Sell it. Spread the word. This world-class sandwich was made in the IPBN test kitchen for you. Containing all the amino acids, mineral rich, loaded with fiber, plenty of protein, chlorophyll and enzymes it is yours to enjoy!
Credit for this IPBN super sandwich belongs to So-Soya, for without this product as a stimulus our lives would have gone on lacking this great power packed nutritional innovation. So-Soya has earned an IPBN Five Star Excellence Award and so have Shiloh Farm’s bakers, Dr. Bronner’s family and staff, Dr. Bragg’s family – daughter Patricia – and staff, Maine Sea Coast Vegetable family and staff, and the Nasoya people who produce Nayonaise. Hurrah! Without all six of these veganomic private and for-profit enterprises, this miracle sandwich could not have been developed.
Products mentioned are available through any health food store. For specific product information contact: So Soya, Tchefa, Inc., 140 Buckingham Road, Brooklyn, New York 11226 or Bayhill Impex Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M1S 4Ea, TEL: 416-293-6555, EMAIL: email@example.com, WEBSITE: www.portello.com; Dr. Bronner’s Balanced-Mineral-Boullion, BOX 28, Escondido, California 92033; Bragg Liquid Aminos, Live Food Products, Inc., Box 7, Santa Barbara, California 93102; Shiloh Farms, Inc., Box 97, Sulphur Springs, Arkansas 72768; Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, Route 1 Box 78, Franklin, Maine 04634. TEL: 207-565-2907; and Nasoya Foods, Inc., Ayer, Massachusetts 01432 . TEL: 800-229-TOFU.
FARM OFFERS GRANTS FOR PLANT-BASED NUTRITION PROJECTS
Once again, Alex Hershaft leads in vegan education advancement. He is offering funding of up to $5,000.00 for projects centered on plant-based nutrition and invites proposals from individuals and organizations. This effort is in honor of Alex’s Mother, who passed away in Israel several years ago. Contact Alex at FARM, Box 30654 Bethesda, Maryland 20824. TEL: 301-530-1737
A PLACE OF QUIET REST
There is a place of quiet rest at the ends of trails in California which merits support, visits, and volunteering. This happy secure “Place” for fellow creatures is managed by Kim Storia and crew, 3448 Laguna Creek Trail, Vacaville, California 95688. Big hearts and kindness, great graphics.
GARDEN ALL YOU CAN
Sir Albert Howard in Colonial India, early this century, demonstrated how layers of green and brown, nitrogenous and carbonaceous, plant matter could be stacked and then “cooked” through natural biological processes into “compost” for soil building, mulch, and fertilizer. Ana Rodale demonstrated and J.I. Rodale popularized Howard’s “Indore” process, developed the basic removable wood stick framed “Pennsylvanian” compost bin and gave the world Organic Gardening magazine now edited by their granddaughter. Scott and Helen Nearing demonstrated self-sufficiency through their small-scale survivalist projects in Vermont and Maine from the 1920s through the 1980s. Ruth Stout, in Connecticut, demonstrated low-labor straw mulching and wire mesh covered growing frames for keeping fellow creatures from garden plants. Eull Gibbon, a transplanted Texan in Pennsylvania, demonstrated how to “stalk the wild asparagus” through his city and countryside wild plant foraging walks and weed harvest feasts. More recently, William Woys Weaver has been demonstrating how to preserve open-pollinating “heirloom vegetables” to preserve evolved seed genes and remind of the variety of plant foods which are available beyond the limited number of commercial and often genetically manipulated produce items available in supermarkets. These and many other pioneers who have paved the way for plant-based nutrition and veganic-organic agriculture deserve to be honored. And there is no better way to demonstrate the power of their teachings than to plant a food plant garden. Plants provide enlivening food.
If all you can do is grow sprouts in a jar, please do it. A single tomato plant in a pot can produce bounty on the smallest or porches or – with careful nurturing -even in a sunny open window. Ideally, you will plant an IPBN Demonstration Garden, eat from it from spring to winter, and share some of the veganic-organic produce with family, friends, and neighbors. They will love you for every bite. If you cannot be veganic, first try, organic alone will do. Supplement that soil with peat moss, even perlite, add dried seaweed flakes, greensand, a little ground limestone, phosphate rock powder, granite dust if you can find it, whatever veganic (plant ingredients only) compost you have made or can obtain and plant whatever seeds and small potted edible plants you like and have available. You can crowd the plants as they generally like each other and close planting can exclude the unwanted plants called weeds. Besides, you will be picking to thin them and making favorite dishes with these greens from the first week they appear above ground. Liquid kelp, diluted with water, is a wonderful nitrogenous fertilizer. So is compost tea, made by soaking compost in a bucket of water for a week and then sprinkling the liquid on and around your happy plants. When crowded, nourished and growing vigorously, plants are less attractive to predator insects. Small vegetables eaten early and often are better tasting than large overgrown specimens and quick picking can beat the bugs to the harvest. Then, what’s wrong with bugs – let them eat a little. God made them too and you cannot even get rid of every one of them even if using atomic bombs. Experiment with aluminum foil reflecting skyward to disorient flying bugs and birds in search of a meal. Slugs won’t crawl over copper foil, maybe even copper wires encircling plants would discourage them. There’s an old trick using paper collars around plant stems to stop cutworms. Most insects can be sprayed off plants with a fine mist. Spray with liquid vegetable soap or garlic diluted with water. Keep in mind that wherever destructive insects appear, they have predators which can be encouraged. Beneficial insects have ways of finding the eggs and vulnerable bodies of non-beneficial ones. Lady bugs eat aphids and lace wings devour green bug eggs miraculously before they can hatch. There are good nematodes which eliminate bad nematodes. The good gardener’s job is to outgrow the negative forces, working closely with nature and tolerating a little imperfection. If two squash vines die of bacteria, virus, and fungus attacks – climaxing with the appearance of hungry insects, maybe two others, the stronger ones, will survive and produce bounty. Side-by-side you can grow healthy and unhealthy,
nourished and undernourished, plants and the destroyers will go for the sick ones again and again. Darwin called this “natural selection.” It goes on whether one likes it or not.
Every public library has garden books. Magazines publish gardening articles regularly. Supermarket check-out area have gardening magazines accessible for quick browsing. Your county has a United States Department of Agriculture Agent listed in the telephone book who will answer any question you put and provide armloads of literature to the extent of your interest. Since the 1860s, each state has received federal funding for a “land-grant college” to educate farmers and their families as well as maintain a “depository” library which contains every USDA publication and many other federal documents. Russia’s not so different. Nor Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, France, Israel, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico or Nigeria. In India publishes agricultural bulletins on mango and rice growing. USDA publication and demonstration plot models have gone around the world to provide information people can use. An educated and highly trained USDA plant growing specialist is nearby, but you must pose veganic-organic questions or be inundated with information about toxic chemicals. There is knowledge about safe natural processes and alternatives if you request it. On the internet, resources for those who would be gardeners is plentiful. Inquire regarding USDA or organic gardening and you will find access to linked sites relating to edible plants beyond human ability to read in one lifetime.
You can visit IPBN Demonstration Gardens in Conshohocken, Norristown, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Others scattered about which have been heard of but not yet seen. If you have planted one, please send a description. Keep planting them until exemplars exist in every state and province. But also visit other demonstration gardens such as those at historic village sites and agricultural museums, arboretums, and parks. There are community gardens in New York City and Los Angeles, many places in between. Community gardens have proliferated and this is only the beginning; there will be a time when more produce is grown at home and locally. Regions will return to greater self-sufficiency due to economics sooner or later. It is just not efficient to fly strawberries from Sacramento to Stockholm and it could be morally wrong. To some degree, nevermind that industrialized peoples are richer and those non-industrialized need wage paying work, a better balance between imported and locally grown food plants will surely develop. If there’s no another benefit, the nutritional levels of the produce should be considered – the quicker they are eaten the more nutritious they are. If you eat what you have grown immediately, it is unlikely that you will be unable to taste the difference in yours and that which you buy. Maybe there is someone who can’t tell which is fresher, more alive, juicier – better tasting. We have never met them. Even the smallest herb leaf, freshly picked, will delight the taste buds. The aroma of a homegrown tomato can enchant. So grow your own, buy from local producers and support the development of veganomics-for-better-nutrition. There’s a garden in your future.
If you can’t plant one, please volunteer to help someone else. Visit produce producers in your area. Get to know them for they need your support and input. Sign up for a County Agent Tour of agricultural production centers. Be your produce market manager’s best friend by suggesting what you will buy and possible sources. It’s a rare one who won’t purchase locally, but this line of work doesn’t allow the managers to get out and see what is going on. Many people do not yet realize that edible plants are sufficient and nutritious food for human beings to thrive and enjoy being alive.
SNAKES ALIVE, JUST ANOTHER CUDDLY FRIEND
As the four-foot rat snake curled around her neck, thoughts on being a vegan wound through my brain. Yes, I also thought my friend to be quite brave to participate in this reptile class. But the instructor had just shown us how the snake had checked out the room, mainly with its flitting tongue. Once sure there was no predators or prey it just wanted to raise its temperature under a warm corduroy collar.
We were not predators from the snake’s perspective, just warm objects though we knew we were friends. Just like when a calf licks your hand, or a pig rolls over for a belly rub or a bird lands on your shoulder. The rest of the creature kingdom knows that it is not natural for humans to eat them. It’s a wonder that more people don’t get the message from simple observations of how creatures behave and interact with us. We just have to keep spreading the word every opportunity.
At this weeklong Elderhostel retreat in Georgia, 30 not yet moribund folks observed fellow creatures and each other and sat down for a meal after the meal served for carnivores. We were not just the youngest but also the only vegans. Two plant eaters, 28 conditioned to cooked flesh.
“Make hay while the sun shines,” farmers say in Michigan, so we seized upon this great opportunity to quietly make some vegan comments during the 15 meals which we shared. Maybe there’s an information deficit here I thought. Why not liven things up with some vegan fun? Pose some dilemmas vegans face and let our new friends get to know us better. If interested in reptile behavior, mightn’t vegans be another fit study for these elder scholars? After all, we’re warm blooded like they are and in no way are we predators. With us, all fellow creatures are safe and none need fear. Midst scholars, I ought to experience some tolerance for vegan philosophy.
I practiced with rhetoric. Even Thoreau in Walden – (There’s nothing like a week without television to provide the impetus to re-read a classic.) – debates with himself, and notes that “I have found repeatedly, of late years, that I cannot fish without falling a little in self-respect.” He continues “…at present I am no fisherman at all.” This Thoreau really knows how to make a point as when he writes “The practical objection to…[eating the flesh of fellow creatures] in my case was its uncleanness; and besides, when I had caught and cleaned and cooked my fish, they seem not to have fed me essentially. It was insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came to. A little bread or a few potatoes would have done as well, with less trouble and filth.”
There you have it. Just imagine how popular I became with philosophical references such as Thoreau’s. They didn’t throw me out, but neither was Thoreau’s escape to Walden Pond forced removal. It’s necessary sometimes to get away from the crass larger society and so we expressed gratitude to everyone, thanked all for their many kindnesses and returned home to our vegan sanctuary. Home is where the heart is and for me that’s a plate of wholesome plant food like we fix it here in Grand Haven where we reside.
Duncan Myers pushes, pulls, leads and enjoys the Vegetarian Society of West Michigan ,he can
be contacted at VSWM, Box 485, Grand Haven, Michigan 49417, and as a vegan philosopher, activist, and advocate in residence, he has a lifetime of experiences to share regarding
the virtues of fellow creatures including humans.