Vegetarian Scene in East Tennessee

The Vegetarian Society of East Tennessee website is now www.VS-ET.com

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Quote of the Every Once in a While: “Many athletes have drawn inspiration from the most powerful animals—bulls, stallions, and elephants—all of whom eat entirely vegan diets—while a pussycat is a heavy meat-eater.” ~ Neal Barnard, MD


At last: new computer, files restored and a new resolve to update this site a bit more often. Sorry for the delay. ~  JM


Bradley VictoriousVegan Wins World Boxing Title vs. Undefeated Champion  Vegan Tim Bradley won a split decision against the sporting world’s favorite, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, much to the consternation of sportswriters everywhere. Pacquiao had been a five-to-one favorite. Many question the decision, but every fighter knows the cardinal rule: Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges. Now, the superiority of a plant-based diet is not proven by a single victory over a meat-eater. Boxing is a hard sport (as my signature eyepatch might suggest), and there are many factors in excelling at it beyond diet. But both men were unbeaten when they faced off, and no one is going to claim all Bradley’s wins were bad decisions. His string of victories and his going toe-to-toe with the highly touted Pacquiao is enough to prove our point: no one needs meat to be strong. The percentage of vegans in the US is small, but, despite that ”shallow bench” a number of vegans have made a name for themselves in martial sports. Considering the odds, that is significant. I know of no study that has been done to objectively measure the effects of veganism on sports, but there’s a reason the gladiators chose to be vegan (see below). At any rate, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., considered by many the best boxer, pound for pound, in the world, thinks Bradley a worthy opponent and hopes to fight him next.


 

Veggie MktADA Says Veggie Diet Good for What Ails Ya  Those wackos at that food faddist, extremist, subversive animal rights front group the ADA are at it again. The American Dietetic Association has previously endorsed vegetarianism as a healthful diet. In their new position paper they go further, stating that a vegetarian diet - including vegan - is not only nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents, but, significantly, a plant-based diet can help prevent and reverse chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. The only clinker in their otherwise ringing endorsement of vegetarianism in their most recent position paper on the subject (July issue Journal of the American Dietetic Association) is the use of the familiar and misleading word “well-planned.” As though the average American - or your humble webhost - is going to be sitting down with a calculator, scales and a formulary. A better word would be ”sensible.” Sensible in eating a wide variety of colorful plant foods, and sensible in not falling prey to the legions of hucksters trying to sell you unnecessary, unscientific and expensive “superfoods.”


Render Unto the King  To paraphrase the old nursery rhyme, the King is in his counting house, counting out your money. As part of the Wall Street Bailout, Goldman-Sachs got ten billion of our dough, which didn't really go all that far because they had to giveGimme themselves 65% of it as bonuses. But don't feel too badly that we couldn’t do more; we are! One of GS’s major investments is Burger King. A recent report by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) reveals we're picking up more than a quarter billion a year to cover public health and income support programs upon which Burger King employees are forced to rely to supplement their sub-poverty level wages and lack of affordable health coverage. Let them eat fries, eh, Kingy? Whatever happened to noblesse oblige?

But, okay; BK has contempt for its workers, but they have to respect their customers, the reason they put the key in the door, right? Especially their female customers, the ones most likely to bring a whole family for a meal out. Right? Right?
On the other hand, and to give the Prince his due, Burger King has led the way in requiring humane slaughter techniques from its suppliers, even petitioning the USDA for a dramatic improvement in its lax enforcement policies. And they are the only prominent chain in Knoxville to offer veggie burgers (the few Backyard Burgers here also have them).

Whale KillerBoycott Japan. All of it. I don't think any race is inferior to any other. But I think some cultures are. I hope I’m not going out on a limb by pointing out that the whole nation of Japan is one punkass country. I guess the brutal treatment of the nations they occupied prior to and during WW II, and the brutalization of their POW’s, should have told us as much, but we all thought they’d changed for the better. Personally, I became something of a Nipponophile, a huge Akira Kurasawa and Toshiro Mifune fan, a student of Zen and Zen painting and judo, an admirer of Ikibana and eager to participate in a tea ceremony. But Japan has broken my heart. For one thing, they treat the women of their country with contempt (Rapeman is really pretty typical). They continue to slaughter the highly intelligent whale and butcher dolphins with the apparent support of most of the Japanese people. Sea Shepherd, despite the courage of their people, can only do so much. So boycott all Japanese products. During this economic mess we need to buy American anyhow. And sign the petition to let Japan know American dollars will no longer subsidize Japanese ruthlessness.

[Personal Note: I don’t know how many people still visit this site, since I have so little time to update it. But my friend Eva did, and she was dismayed by the anti-Japanese drawing I’d posted here, drawn by Dr. Seuss. I think the term she used was “off-putting.” Or maybe it was “repugnant.” She feels that a “culturist” is the same thing as a racist, or at least that it is somewhere on the same slipptery slope. And, of course, I knew when I posted it that some—most?—would find it objectionable. I had hoped to demonstrate that the depth of … ummm … repugnance among the decent people of the world toward Japan’s arrogant, sneering, mocking (“This is a Research Vessel”) cruelty is of a kind with, if not of the scale of, that which most of the world felt at the rape of Nanking, the revelations about their systematic and government sanctioned rape of Korean women, and so on. In general, I don’t much care what people think of me personally. But I find I do care what some people think of me.
          
So I’ve taken down the Dr. Seuss drawing; I’d always meant to balance it with one of my favorite Zen paintings of a monk anyhow, with the headline, “Which is the Real Face of Japan.” And I was going to change all the text here, acknowledge that of course we all know that no culture is better than another culture. But now I’ve seen the latest installments of the new season of Whale Wars again and I’m once again disgusted with a culture that permits this savagery without demurrer. However … perhaps I’m being a bit hasty. Even Captain Watson himself has new hope that objections to Japan’s rape of the seas are at last being raised, however tepidly, within Japan itself. And I’m now seeing that there is opposition to animal cruelty among the Japanese people. So … thank you, Hakira, for helping to enlighten me. Maybe I can now seek further enlightenment through zen after all.]


Angstrom Minerals  There’s a new, trendy supplement, Angstrom Minerals, that you simply must try. Or, if it's not available in a store near you, you can acheive the same results by throwing a hundred dollar bill out your window as you drive over the Tennessee River. See new entries on the Tripe site.


A Setback for Soy Bashers  One of the stranger phenomena of the food fights of recent years is the abrupt onslaught of vitriolic attacks on soy products for human consumption. Since soy is the one plant product that contains all essential amino acids in significant quantity, it is a mainstay of vegetarian diets (though, of course, there in no real need to get all our protein from a single plant). Thus, it is tempting to suspect a secret campaign by the meat industry to make us mistrust our true friend, the soy bean. Add to that hucksters soy-milking current nutritional uncertainties to make names for themselves where obscurity should have been their lot (The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food). Some (including, alas, a few parents) confuse soy milk with soy infant formula. There is confusion among many about human estrogens and plant phytoestrogens. Some trumpet that soy makes boys gay and young men aggressive, summoning up a homophobic’s worst nightmare. But a meta-to be published soon in the journal Fertility and Sterility showed that neither soy foods nor more concentrated soy isoflavone extracts affected testosterone levels in men. We'll consider other soy myths soon on the Tripe page.

Note: Since there is at least some slight theoretical basis for further investigation we should keep up with ongoing research. But, as of now, there is no evidence that soy is harmful, only speculation that it might be, and plenty of evidence that soy products are nutritious and their consumption reduces the risk of some cancers and heart disease, with tempeh appearing to have some advantages over other forms.

Packing Plant Treats Workers Like Meat  In February authorities raided a packing plant and staged an emergency evacuation of 21 mentally handicapped workers from their 106-year-old living quarters, said to resemble “an abandoned building.” The workers were brought there twenty years ago by Henry’s Turkey Service to work for West Liberty Foods. Henry’s was permitted by law to pay a sub-minimum “handicap wage,” then deducts hundreds of dollars a month for room and board and something called “kind care,” even though no assistance is provided the workers. One worker, Keith Brown, has lived and worked there for 30 years and has saved $80. Who’d have thought that slaughterhouse operators could be so unfeeling? Sort of makes me long for a Tales from the Crypt kind of justice for the sub-minimum human beings running this human bondage operation.


CannibalsCreepy Commercial of the Year  Actually, there are two exceptionally creepy commercials this month, both very promising candidates for the Creepy Commercial Hall of Fame. The first is for Boost Mobile and involves two hogs engaged in an act of cannibalism. Grotesque, not funny, and certainly not likely to win my custom, even if I hadn’t just decided to get rid of my cell phone altogether. (Ahhh, to be on my own once in a while.)

The other is the new McDonald’s commercial that features a discordant, jangly melody and a Billy Bass-like mounted fish singing, “Gimme back that Filet-o’-Fish; Gimme that fish! (Repeat) What if it was YOU hanging here on this wall? If it was YOU in that sandwich you’d not be laughing at all.” We’ll overlook the fact that it should be, “What if it WERE you hanging here on this wall.” We can expect a talking fish not to be thoroughly familiar with the niceties of grammar. But what is the purpose of this commercial? We know McDonald’s spent millions on this campaign and that every frame of it has been analyzed by focus groups and by advertising psychologists (that doesn’t mean advertising psychology has any validity, just that advertisers can’t take the chance that it might). So what are they trying to accomplish? A hint might be found in the gent they’ve chosen to be the eater of sentient fish flesh. With probably millions of attractive young men and women eagerly seeking commercial roles, they’ve chosen a fellow that would be typecast as a member of an inbred backwoods family that feeds on lost tourists. The point? Just a hunch: as more and more of our fellow citizens are letting compassion play a part in their food choices, McDonald’s is running an ad specifically mocking that view, a pro-cruelty ad. Too cool 2 B kind! And that may be the point of the Boost ad, too: all the cool kids are mean! They’d eat their fallen friends in a New York minute.

For examples of illogical but commonplace animals delighting in being eaten see Suicide Food. Of course, those who routinely eat greasy meat are, in fact, commiting suicide. We must wonder if they, too,will greet death with a toothy smile.


Who’s Feeding Your Kids?  There has been a spate of articles in recent years condemning vegan parents for neglecting their children by not forcing them to eat like everyone else. Many of the cases that make headlines are parents far outside the practices of most vegans, sometimes not vegans or even vegetarians at all (see the paper linked from Vegan Villains below). But real, conscientious vegan and vegetarians parents have also been threatened and, in some cases, have actually lost custody of their children, often to spouses who promise to see the kids get their minimum daily requirement of Big Macs. But at least the government is sincerely trying to look out for our children’s health, right? See the Real News segment to the right.


Knoxville Has a Real Vegetarian Restaurant!!!  No more fawning gratitude whenever an “omnivore” restaurant is kind enough to throw us vegetarians a bone. So to speak. “Vegetarian dishes and daily carnivore specials” indeed. We need a restaurant of our own. Maybe two. And now we’s got one! The Glowing Body, right behind Magpie’s bakery on Central (a couple blocks south of the County née Sears building) is not only veggie, it’s mostly vegan and mostly raw. Not that raw matters to me, but it’s also delicious. Great coffee, too (though I’m pretty sure it’s been roasted). I’ve heard some say it’s pricey. Yeah, if you’re a hog as I sometimes am and get one of everything. But, for those on a budget (and who isn't these days), the Blue Plate special was as much as I could eat for $6.25* (soup and salad last time). And I’m a good-sized (just shy of 200 lbs) and active guy. For another two bucks I got a large container of fruit salad to take home. I’ve heard vegetarians lament the lack of a veggie restaurant here, even saying they’d work free to help one get started. Well, now that won’t be necessary. Just patronize them.
*Me and my big mouth. Now it’s up to $8.25, which is still not bad as good eateries go, but which is approaching the limits of the disposable income of we ragged folk.


Beef StrokeGive Thanks for the Bizarro World  No, I don’t mean the Bizarro World in which we find ourselves, here at the end of eight years of Bushism. I mean the insightful, amusing, and provocative panels brought to us each day in our local papers by cartoonist Dan Piraro. Dan also occasionally works in a sly comment on animal issues and the natural superiority of a vegan diet. It seem Dan's campaign to restore his featureto the Dallas Morning News has been successful, thanks to loyal fans, including you if you wrote in support. But this might be a good time to thank theKnoxville News-Sentinel for carrying the feature; it really is one of the most reliably amusing strips in the paper. We need the Bizarro world now, more than ever, for a moment’s respite from our own more bizarre, less funny world.


One in Four Mammals Face Extinction  Despite his legendary toughness, the Tasmanian Devil is going the way of the Tasmanian Wolf, along with a fourth of all mammals. The first comprehensive mammal survey reveals that in all mammals where population trends are known, the trend is downward in more than half. The Tasmanian devil’s numbers have decreased by 60% in the past decade. One hundred and eighty-eight mammals are in the “Critically Endangered” category. Loss of habitat including deforestation to produce rangelands for cattle is amajor factor.



Magpie
© Learning and Teaching Scotland

New Member Joins the Self-Aware Club Until now there have been eight members of the self-aware club, species generally believed to be the most intelligent based on the rare quality of individuals thereof recognizing that they are entities separate from the rest of the universe. Contrary to the pronouncements of certain TV pseudoanthropologists who proclaim, without a shred of evidence or even theoretical basis, that our ancestors could not have evolved the sapiens brain had they not taken up meat-eating, six of the previous eight are herbivores (I’m including man, evolutionarily, in that group); the cetaceans are the exceptions. The new (to us) member is the first true omnivore and the first non-mammal: the magpie. We will have to reconsider the phrase “bird brain” as an insult. Parrots are being considered for future membership. The others of our exclusive club so far, if you were wondering, other than ourselves, are the common chimpanzee, the bonobo, the orangutan, the dolphin and the elephant, with gorilla and killer whale being most recently added. Expect many to react violently, especially creationists and psychologists, both groups very prickly when their superiority is questioned.     It has been suggested that a sub-species, Homo televisionus, be removed from this classification


Old School is Best for Strength Perhaps this will settle the long-running debate down at the gym: free weights are definitely better than machines (I knew the Y was wrong to replace their old weight room with its kettlebells and squat racks with a Spinning room. Damn yuppies!) At the Nutrition and Fitness link.

Sorry I’ve neglected that page, but I’ve been in school studying nutrition and fitness. And stuff. Mostly stuff.

Rights for Apes  We have long known - those of us who believe in science, anyhow - that the great apes are our closest living relatives, the bonobos being >98% us. The fact that that hasn’t resulted in any great outpouring of protection for them probably shouldn’t be suprising, considering how badly some humans treat others, disgracing our primate ancestors. And there is the case of Oliver, the human-like chimp that many respectable scientists thought might be a human-chimp hybrid, something science has not shown to be impossible. So how was our possible half-brother received? He was exhibited to the public for a while, then sold to an experimental lab. Now Spain , through the efforts of The Great Ape Project, has become the first country to legislate rights for our taxonomic kinfolk, one of only five animals, including us, currently known to be self-aware. And Barcelona has become the fifth Spanish city to condemn bullfighting, no more cruel than our own rodeos. Perhaps it's time to put Spain on your itinerary of countries worthy of your compassionate tourist dollars. Say thanks to their embassy here.


Deadly MRSA Found in Pigs, Farm Workers  Even though I’ve not yet begun my health care career,Mad Cow & the USDA I’ve already encountered the threat of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus); it’s one of the resistant organisms of greatest concern in hospitals, where it was, until recently, regarded as a nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infection. Now it’s of even greater concern; it’s loose in the wild, and infecting livestock workers and the meat Americans are eating. And factory farming is probably the major reason MRSA even exists. More on our Meat and Labor page.


The High Cost Of Shrimp  So, is it really bad to eat shrimp? How sentient could they be? Where’s the harm? Well, shrimp are scavengers, and rather high in cholesterol as seafood goes. But more to the point, the ones you’re likely to be served just might be the product of slavery or child labor.

Rider on a Black Horse Bringing High Prices to Your Foodmart

Four Horsemen
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ~ V. Vasnetsov, 1887

“The Book of Revelation” speaks of the end of the world, presaged by the coming of the four horseman; the third, riding a black horse, is often thought to represent Famine. The Worldwide English translation says "four cups of wheat for bread will sell for a day's wages.” Signs that we are living in the last days, whether or not you accept a literal interpretation of The Bible, are all around us. We hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving bounty as that tradition of a festival of gluttony may be coming to an end. Forget about peak oil; we may have passed peak food. Gwynne Dyer in The End of Cheap Food warns that a burgeoning population, the equivalent of a new nation of Turkey every year, is overwhelming land and water resources, and the short-lived good old days of plenty, when our food cost us only a tenth of our income in the US, are now behind us and not likely to return within our lifetimes. Not only are there more mouths to feed, but more of them are demanding meat, meaning more grain is going to feedlots instead of breadbaskets. The increasing demand for fuel means that agricultural production is becoming more expensive, and, part of a vicious cycle, much of the grain being grown is now also being used as fuel. And global warming is reducing harvests; a modest 2° rise in temperatures this century, near the low end of predictions, could mean a 20% drop in food production. Has your your grocery bill gone up noticeably? Americans will begin paying a larger and larger share of their income for food, quite possibly up to 25% within ten years. The people of poorer nations will try to address the problem by dying. Other populations may decide to take measures less accommodating to our interests.

What can we do? Well, we can begin to shop local farmers’ markets, increasing the incentive for local production. We can encourage our friends to eat lower on the food chain. We can urge our government to relax its restrictions on exporting family planning. And we can revisit the concept of the Victory Gardens of World War II. “V for Victory; V for Vegetarian."

The folks who made the Meatrix films, though not vegetarian ("organic" meat and dairy are still bad for you), are anti-factory farm and pro local farmer. Visit their Sustainable Table page.


Caveman & WifeIs the Meat Myth Sexist? Popular shows on anthropology such as Walking With Cavemen would have you believe that our prehistoric forebears not only ate meat, they ate nothing else. Such shows even make the preposterous - and unsupported - claim that our large brains would not be possible without adding meat to our diet. Apparently, somewhere between Australopithecus afarensis (below average man) and Homo sapiens sapiens (smart, smart man) our vegetable sources of brain food maxed out (we have 1400 cc’s of brain to keep up; maybe 1600 in my case). It seems the entire impetus to evolve to modern Homo automotivus (lardbutt man) was driven by the quest for meat, culminating in the BK drivethrough.

The producers of the show are not entirely to blame; their anthropological consultants share the preconceptions that many of us have. Plainly, the role of men in bringing home the bacon was essential to our survival; the women were useful, too, in staying home and changing fur diapers. Maybe this long-held myth helps fuel the attempt to feminize vegetarianism (see our Manly Vegetarian page).

However, as a sub-theme in their book Man the Hunted Donna Hart and Robert W. Sussman make a convincing case that meat was a very small part of primitive diets, acquired opportunistically, and that the role of the gatherers - women, as evidenced by the study of primates and primitive cultures - was what kept the tribe alive. Men served as lookouts. They also point out that primitive man was not a hunter; he was meat.


Chimps Eat Dirt; B12 Link?
Chimp Eating
Photo by Aaron Logan, Wikimedia Commons
Eating dirt - or, less often, other indigestible substances like starch - is a not uncommon behavior of humans, especially, in the US, in underprivileged or isolated populations. The conventional wisdom is that the disorder, called pica, is an instinctive effort to supplement nutrients missing from our diets. Eating dirt, in particular, is known among other species as well and is called geophagy. Now researchers, reporting in Nature, have spotted chimpanzees in Uganda eating dirt, and have offered a number of theories as to the survival value of such behavior. A Mayer Hypothesis Allow me to offer one, which I hearby clearly label as my own speculation. True, I have no expertise in primatology, but scientists currently have conflicting theories, so I will be no more wrong than several of them. One of the great conundrums of veganism is, if we were born herbivores, where did our ancestors get B12. Most vegetarians believe they got all they required - a miniscule amount - from unwashed plants. All B12, including that in animal products, originates in bacteria, which are found in abundance in dirt. Enough said?

Eleven Pork Workers Diagnosed with Neuro Damage   Minnesota Health workers revealed this month that eleven workers at a pork processing plant had been diagnosed with severe neuological disease. Among other belated worker safety measures the plant has decided to discontinue the practice of literally blowing out pigs’ brains with high pressure air hoses. More on the Meat and Labor page.


What I Learned in School Today  Actually, I stumbled on this in the Merck Vet manual while researcing the affliction in humans: “The chronic stimulation of C-cells by longterm dietary intake of excess calcium may be related to the high incidence of these [Thyroid C-cell carcinoma] tumors in bulls; adult bulls frequently were fed diets with 3.5-6 times the amount of calcium normally recommended for maintenance, and incidence of the tumors declined significantly when calcium intake was reduced.” So even bulls, who actually should drink cow’s milk as infants, can have too much of a good thing. I’m not aware of this finding in humans… yet. But, hey! This is why we have animal experiments, right? Because the results are always mirrored in humans? </sarcasm>
The Language of Leviathan   Captain Paul Watson and other members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, among others, have long claimed that whales, like other cetaceans, have a highly evolved brain, complex interactions among themselves and with humans, and a complicated language. Science has made recent advances in verifying the last of those claims. University of Queensland researcher Dr Rebecca Dunlop has found they have a number of sounds they use in specific settings and situations. "I've found that they have this massive repertoire," she said in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.Maybe it's time for Japan, in particular, to stop slaughtering them to make pet food and meatballs for school lunches.

Hamburgers: Cholesterol and E. Coli  Hamburger isn't just bad for your heart; thanks to lax health standards it often also harbors infectious organisms like E. coli. 16 cases this year, a big increase from previous years, have warranted massive recalls of hamburger; the largest to date was the recent recall, by Topps Meat, supplier of Wal-Mart and others retailers. An article in The New York Times (free signup required) says that a number of red flags were ignored by the Agriculture Department which seems to have a sweetheart deal with the industry it is supposed to regulate. And now the agri-business giant Cargill has just announced the recall of 1,000,000 pounds of potentially tainted beef. That's a lot of cows who have died in vain. Unless, just maybe, the increased attention to the health hazards of meat persuades a few more thoughtful people they can live without it. And less assuredly with it. A couple of other points to consider: you may have thought we'd quit importing beef from countries clearing rain forest for beef ranches, but Topps imported much of its meat. Also, if the USDA isn't watching out for diseased meat that can kill American people, how much attention do you think they're paying to humane slaughter laws? Read Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz to gain some insights into that.


Though Brutalized, Vick’s Pit Bulls OK for Placement Not only are Pit Bull dogs not the mindless killers the uninformed, the prejudiced and the sensationalistic press make them out to be, even Pits tortured into fightng can tenaciously hang on to their better natures and be rehabilitated and placed. How many of us could endure that sort of existence half as well? Read about the efforts of the ASPCA to save these dogs on the PeTEY page.


With Friends Like PeTA, Who Needs Enemies? Many concerned with animal welfare have long debatedPetey  whether PeTA does more good than harm. On the one hand lngrid Newkirk's group has helped make the phrase "Animal Rights" a household word. On the other hand, some of their ill-conceived campaigns have attracted derision and helped to characterize those who care about animals as crackpots. But one particularly unpleasant campaign of Ms. Newkirk demands comment: her crusade to wipe out a breed of dog she doesn't care for. We are pleased to add a page devoted to defending the noble and loving pit bull from PeTA and other hysterics. We call this section PeTEY, in honor of the first pit bull ever registered in the US, the Little Rascals’ dog.


Veganism/Global Warming Connection Gaining Attention  As concern over global warming at last begins to grow, one of its leading causes, meat-eating - the number one cause as far as consumer action is conerned - is also attracting new scrutiny. Common Dreams columnist Bruce Friedrich gives a pretty good synopsis of the issue.


Standing Up to Amazon  Having grown up on a farm I never understood how “chicken”Grit & Steel came to mean cowardly. I’ve seen roosters stand up to my Dad, a man six feet tall, while, as they thought, attempting to protect their flock. (Actually, I guess the danger was not illusory; we did, after all, kill their wives and eat them.) Now we must stand up to mighty Amazon in protecting roosters from corporate indifference and private viciousness. Vegetarians, I fear, are few in number, but the numbers of animal-lovers who have not yet made the veggie connection are great. If we can call to their attention the fact that Amazon, by being the only national vendor of cockfighting magazines, promotes animal cruelty, I think our combined numbers may force Amazon to reconsider. (To add injury to insult, they’ve also begun selling pate de foie gras.) Amazon does not make their Customer “Service” number easy to find, but your crusading VSET editor has it for you, along with an account of my own frustrations in trying to communicate my displeasure to them.

It’s important to note that I am opposed to censrship in almost all cases; I don’t think the government should forbid such magazines from being published. But I also don’t think that  a private entity like Amazon has any obligation to facilitate the promulgation and practice of cruel and criminal activities, any more than… well, you get the idea.

By the way, the largest cockfighting bust ever took place here in EastTennessee a short while back, ironically enough, in Cocke County; cockfghters refer to the event as Black Friday, the End of an Era. One hopes. East Tennssee’s famous forensic anthropologist Bill Bass and his cowriter (as Jefferson Bass) decribe a major cockfight in the novel Carved in Bone, in fictitious Cook County.


Banana OilFish Oil  In the 20’s “banana oil” was another word for “nonsense.” (I know I don’t look old enough to remember the 20’s, but I’m a vegetarian.) Could “fish oil” acquire a similar meaning. An acquaintance once informed me ruefully that his doctor had advised him that he could thrive only on omega-3 oil from fish, never from flaxseed. The American Heart Association, which, in spite of recent findings, says “Keep eating those omega-3’s anyhow, for now,” reports that plant sources may be even better, walnuts, for example, having a significant effect on cholesterol in addition to the other benefits more commonly ascribed to omega-3. But the British Medical Journal questions whether we really require omega-3’s at all and whether it might actually be harmful. We must wait, now, for others to become motivated to further this research.

Judging by our cousins the bonobos, which are 98% us, our ancestors probably got on with very little oil in their diet. One source pointed out (sorry, I forget who) that three boxcar loads of normal chimp diet would not have the fat content of a single Big Mac Double. And, clever as they are, no one’s ever observed chimps in the wild fishing.


The Vicious Circle of Meat  Every vegetarian knows that meat is an extremely wasteful way to produce protein; meat production takes 10 to 20 times as much land, includiing pasture, as a plant-based diet, and about half the world’s grain and soy beans are fed to cattle instead of people. It is estimated that even a decrease of 10% would mean food enough for everyone, at current population levels. Ironically, a new estimate by an umbrella group of international agricultural researchers has released estimates that show that meat production, through its massive contribution to global warming (as previously reported on ABC and, more recently, in a study by the University of Chicago), actually will reduce the world’s grain harvests at the same time as more grain is required to produce more meat for increasingly affluent countries. And, of course, to create ethanol to reduce global warming. If nothing is done to reverse our direction the future looks very bleak (see last year’s Time article on Global Warming titled “Be Worried! Be Very Worried.”) In a sense, we’re devouring our children.


Please, sir... may I have some meat?
Apologies to Classics Illustrated

Vegan Villains?  Suddenly, a number of news items in the US and abroad have depicted vegan parents as heartless lunatics willing to sacrifice the lives of their own children to advance their irrational theories that a plant-based diet is healthiest. Headlines such as "Vegan Couple Starves Child” and “Vegan Parents Convicted of Child Cruelty” ignore the fact that these parents, at least some of whom seem to have been irrational indeed, practiced dietary strictures that went far beyond those of veganism. In some cases “authorities” have confused soy milk with soy formula. And never do these news items point out the future health problems that the feeding of cow’s milk to one’s infant is almost certain to cause, though this is well-known to pediatricians. Even vegetarianism has been condemned in such articles as “Vegetarianism as a Form of Child Abuse.” The most recent attack came in an editorial in the New York Times* by Nina Planck whose expertise, it seems, comes not from academic studies in nutrition but from the fact that she sells “free-range” and “grass-fed” beef and other meats in her chains of markets in the US and England. Whether this sudden flood of anti-vegan venom is simply a matter of a Brandolina-weary press jumping on a new bandwagon, or a concerted disinformation campaign by the nation’s meat producers is open to question. See a response to Planck’s diatribe in the Houston Chronicle, or my own  >ahem <  humble efforts in my honors paper for my obstetrics and neo-natal course.
Creative Commons License Is Vegetarianism a Form of Child Abuse? by John F. Mayer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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Meat Candy  I have remarked that Americans are so convinced that they are entitled to meat that they not only require that meat be added to traditionally vegetarian dishes like pasta primavera, they also demand that meat be added to their deserts. But I thought I was joking. Now the British maker of Mars, Snickers, and Milky Way admits that they are adding parts of cow stomachs to their chocolates. So now you've got a good reason to give up candy bars, too. You know it's bad for you; elsewhere on this site I opine that excessive sugar is probably almost as bad for you as meat anyhow, and the sugar industry almost as ruthless.

Are We Natural Born Killers? This is one of the most critical points for vegetarians to contemplate: are we willingly sacrificing a bit of our human nature in order to make the world a better place when we give up meat, or are we realigning ourselves with our true natures? In response to popular request (depending on your definition of popular), I am posting my article on that topic from a 2004 copy of Vegetarian Voice*. It's linked to the entry We did not evolve to eat meat on our Vegetarianism 101 page. (I hope that title doesn't spoil the surprise as to my conclusion.) And, no matter what my detractors say, I don't think it's a bit like a text book...

*Originally with the slightly less compelling title Of Vegetarianism, Meat Eating, and Potato Washing

Creative Commons License    Of Men and Monkeys, Memes and Meat by John Mayer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


Animal Tests Don't Work This is the assessment of Dr. Jarrod Bailey of Corbridge, Northumberland, project development coordinator for the University of Newcastle's School of Population and Health Sciences. And he's not one of your namby-pamby, bleeding heart, oh-please-don't-hurt-the-fluffy-little-whale do-gooders so despised by medical researchers; no, Dr. Bailey's objections are far more pragmatic. He says the tests just plain don't work, are a waste of time and money, lead science down too many blind alleys, and have, in fact either harmed humans or set research back by decades. Speaking as scientific director of Europeans for Medical Progress he said, "We want an end to vivisection because of its lack of relevance to human medicine. There are historic examples, like penicillin, the introduction of which was delayed by 10 years because it was given to a rabbit and didn't work. Even after thalidomide had harmed about 15,000 people, they still struggled to show similar birth defects in animals."

Dr Bailey urges researchers to move into the 21st century with more reliance on new technology that would allow the same experiments to take place using human tissue rather than mice or apes. Dr. Bailey seems to be suggesting that animal experiments are nothing but work-fare projects for unimaginative scientists.


But SURELY you eat FISH...  Vegetarians are informed by a variety of philosophies and motivations. If avoiding the high mercury content in fish isn't reason enough to exclude them from your diet, how about saving the oceans from mass extinction? Scroll down our Advocacy page. Another good reason to suppot Sea Shepherd.

Mercury, King of the Sea  Turns out tuna's not a health food after all, and our own TVA is part of the reason. High methylmercury concentrations are sickening women and children and have even caused deaths. Though the FDA has the data, no warnings are issued. Surely profits are not being placed above public health! Surely. See Bill Moyers' NOW and The Mercury Policy Project.

Vegetarianism in the Media

BonesAn episode of this season’s Bones had the lead characters considering a possible murder weapon, a bolt gun used to kill hogs. "How could anyone do that to another human being?" Agent Booth asks. "How could anyone do that to a pig?" the title character, Dr. Brennan, responds, "I just may become a vegetarian." The character is a forensic anthropologist, so a meat-free diet seems a good idea. I worked with human cadavers last year and, yep: the human gluteus maximus (and minimus) is pretty much identical to a pot roast.


Veggie Spiderman  Spiders are obligate carnivores, but humans, and Spiderman actor Tobey Maguire are not.Black Spider Tobey, though, had no trouble maintaining his spider strength through the three instalments with a vegetarian diet. For example, he says he had no problem buffing up for his Spiderman role, trimming down again for Seabiscuit, then muscling up again for the first Spiderman sequel. "I'm a vegetarian so I did have to concentrate on eating enough protein and I would get that through soy and nuts and beans and shakes." Tobey Online

Since the slaughter of horses is back in the news, I thought it might be intersesting to consider how Hollywood has handled this subject over the years.

Come On, Tarzan, 1932.  Owlhoot Steve Frazer is rounding up wild horses to slaughter Ken & Tarzanfor dog food, and rustling a few to make the task easier. Wild stallion Tarzan frees the Alpo on the hoof and an outraged Frazer persuades the sheriff to declare the horse a dangerous renegade. Cowboy Ken Maynard gets lady rancher Pat Riley to help him prove Tarzan's innocence. Tarzan stomps horse butcher to death in highly satisfying ending. [In the More than You Wanted to Know Dept.: Ken Maynard was one of the first of the western stars, a trick rider who had actually toured with Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull. Tarzan played himself in this movie, and, yes, ER Burroughs did sue for trademark infringement, but lost because he, himself, had suggested Maynard name his horse Tarzan. This is generally regarded as Maynard's best movie.]

The Misfits , 1961.  A moody piece abouty the dying of the old west, this was the last film completed by Clark Gable and by Marilyn Monroe, and one of the last for Montgomery Clift. Gable and friends are rounding up "misfit" mustangs to sell as dogfood. Marilyn is able, in the end to bring out their better natures. Written by Arthur Miller, directed by Walter Huston.

Billy Jack, 1961.  A venal bunch of cowboys round up a bunch of wild horses on an Indian reservation to slaughter them for dogfood, but half-breed ex-green berét and current bad-ass Billy Jack interevenes; he prevents the varmints from turning the horses or the hippies in the nearby free school into dogfood. Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor.


The Compost Pile or Yesterday's News or VSET Archives

Those articles which are less than timely, but which, none-the-less, are written with the wit and panache characteristic of this page, have been moved to our archives to, as the food industry puts it, "preserve freshness." Like the good stewards of the land that we, as vegetarians, are inclined to be, these articles are set aside to ripen and, all too often, to be recycled as the food industry and its government lapdogs - er, sorry, watchdogs - repeat the same mistakes. Please visit our Compost Pile. You might find the occasional gem unwittingly tossed there.


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