News – January 2009
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Table of Contents
- Update from Austria
- VUNA Advocates for Vegan Diets and Against GMO Foods
- Interview with the Founders of VegSource
- News from the Czech Republic: Good and Bad
- New Website for IVU Member Society
- Veg History
- “A Delicate Balance: The Truth” - New Video on the Many Ills of “Processed People: What Are We Becoming?”
- “What’s Feeding Our Food”: New Booklet Online
- Eating Less Meat Makes Readers’ Digest
- “One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom”
- Upcoming Events
- Vegans and Calcium
- Welcome to Organisations That Have Recently Registered with IVU
- Other Online Sources of Veg News
- Please Write for IVU Online News
Update from Austria
In May, 2008, 10 Austrian animal protection activists were imprisoned by the government of their country. In Sep, they were released, but their freedom may be temporary. Here’s an update from our friends in Austria:
At the end of Oct, the Austrian Supreme Court made its ruling on the appeals against the remand custody of the 10 animal protection prisoners held for over three months this summer. Despite the authorities’ serious misuses of power and the absence of any evidence against any of the suspects resulting from the intensive and protracted surveillance, the verdict says that the remand custody was justified! The Supreme Court ruling states that there is clearly a large criminal organisation active and that those who were on remand must be suspected of being part of it.
As yet there is no date set for a trial. Of course, it is hoped that the case will be dropped, but it is feared that the authorities cannot allow themselves to lose face.
The positive news is that Austria is buzzing with debate about the case and the threat of state repression against NGOs and freedom of speech. Public debates are taking place every week in different cities with politicians, representatives of NGOs and law academics leading the discussion. The only ones unwilling to engage in debate are the conservative party politicians, whose continued absence puts them in an increasingly bad light.
Media coverage is also strong with an Austrian women’s glossy magazine making the female prisoner from the repression wave "woman of the year"!
For regular updates: www.vgt.at
VUNA Advocates for Vegan Diets and Against GMO Foods
In October and November of 2008, the Vegetarian Union of North America (VUNA) submitted formal, public comments on two separate issues to different US government agencies. The first was to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding various federal nutrition assistance programs scheduled to be reauthorized in 2009. The second was to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on genetically engineered animals being brought further to market.
VUNA’s comments strongly encouraged the USDA to offer fully plant-based, vegan alternatives every day, as part of the subsidy programs offered to school students via the National School Lunch Act and Child Nutrition Act. Specifically cited were the need for full accommodation for vegetarians and vegans for all meal options, health promoting and nutritious non-dairy beverage options wherever cow’s milk was provided, and steering of federal subsidies for farmers towards plant-based ‘commodity foods‘ like fresh fruits and vegetables. Detailed support materials were offered that emphasized the benefits of plant-based foods over animal foods.
VUNA’s comments to the FDA clearly discouraged the use of genetically modified animals for all use, and especially when destined for the food supply. VUNA emphasized that genetic engineering was risky, still in experimental stages, and the long-term impacts unknown for people, the animals, and the environment. VUNA indicated that the decision to allow GE (Genetically Engineered) animals on the market was being rushed, an insufficient period of time for public discussion on the ethics of such an action was being given, and that all animals involved in GE experiments need to be protected and their potential for suffering to be considered.
VUNA has endeavored to stay abreast of issues related to diet, health, and related areas when US government agencies have public comment periods. These are important opportunities for individuals and organizations to weigh in on major potential decisions and initiatives. In this way, VUNA strives to advocate for responsible, plant-based diets and join with other progressive-minded groups to affect policy decisions.
Interview with the Founders of VegSource
Sabrina and Jeff Nelson founded and maintain VegSource – www.vegsource.com - a huge veg website that houses, amongst its voluminous treasures, the IVU website.
1. How and when did you become vegetarians?
We became vegetarians in 1990 after reading John Robbins’ book, “Diet for a New America.” The health arguments in the book really made a lot of sense to Jeff; Sabrina was moved by the appalling treatment of animals. So, we initially came at it from different directions. In 1996, Sabrina was diagnosed with a potentially fatal autoimmune disease called Relapsing Polychondritis (see relapsingpolychondritis.com ) and after suffering for a year, taking prednisone and other drugs, we came across a John McDougall MD book revealing the role of dairy in many common autoimmune diseases, and so we decided the family would go vegan. Within a month, Sabrina’s autoimmune disease went into remission where it has since remained, thankfully.
2. What exactly is VegSource?
VegSource is a news, information and community resource for vegetarians, vegans and anyone else who enjoys hanging out with a great crowd of people. VegSource is our form of “kitchen activism.” We could contribute something positive to the planet without leaving our house. We give web hosting to a few hundred vegetarian and animal rights organizations, and look for ways to promote plant-based eating. VegSource is one way we try to give back for our good luck in saving Sabrina’s life through the vegan diet.
3. When did you first start working with IVU? How did your collaboration come about?
It must have been in 1996 or 1997. I think maybe IVU was being hosted by a non-profit called Envirolink, which went under. I may have contacted several orgs who were losing their hosting to offer space on our server; in the case of IVU, perhaps John Davis contacted me first, and we offered to give him hosting. The more we learned about IVU, the more we wanted to be there for them if they needed it. Over the years, John has introduced me to some wonderful folks who are part of the organization, and being a supporter of IVU is a source of pride. IVU.org is also one of the largest and busiest sites we host.
4. You’ve just completed a film titled, “Processed People”. Tell us a bit about it, please. What does the title mean?
Fast food, fast medicine, fast news and fast lives have turned many people around the world into a sick, uninformed, indebted, “processed” people. This documentary – available January 2009 – features insightful interviews from nine preeminent health and environmental experts/advocates. They discuss how and why we got into this mess, and what we can do to break the “processed people” cycle.
Processed People examines these topics:
* Why are we so fat?
* What is health?
* Health care or sick care?
* Are we what we eat?
* Do we need to eat animal products?
* What's the role of exercise?
* What's a processed person?
* Can you "de-process" yourself?
* What happens if we don't change?
Watch trailers at www.processedpeople.com
5. Why did you choose that theme for your film?
We believe this is one of the most urgent issues that people on the planet are facing today. Tragically, many in the world are victims of a system and way of life which are devastating to our overall well-being. To those running our system, the bottom line on the money we're able to spend is more important than the bottom line on our health. Many – particularly here in the US, where healthcare costs are responsible for 50% of all personal bankruptcies – are caught in a perpetual grinding machine, unable to escape.
It’s nearly impossible to be liberated when there's so much confusing, conflicting information, and when the “authorities” giving you advice -- be they the government or industry-controlled organizations like the American Dietetic Association -- don't necessarily have your best interests at heart.
6. What are your future plans for the VegSource site?
To keep on growing and expanding and turning more and more people on to the healthy vegetarian lifestyle.
7. You also do an annual event. Please tell us about that.
In 2001 we started our annual Healthy Lifestyle Expo, which is a conference where we bring in top experts in the world of healthy living for two and a half days of cutting-edge presentations. We videotape the presentations and make them available on VegSource after each event. We also have exhibitors of healthy vegan products during the weekend, and have put on the event in a convention center here in Southern California, attracting around 9,000 attendees. It’s a lot for the two of us to put on, and we took a break in 2008, but we’ll be announcing the schedule for our 2009 Expo soon.
8. What is one thing that other veg activists could learn from your experience?
We tend to think of ourselves as people first, rather than activists. Sticking a label sets you apart from others, which we’re not interested in. We always look for ways to connect with other people, not to judge or disconnect. Being judgmental or disdainful turns people off, and is ultimately unproductive – not to mention it’s just more fun to make friends and focus on the positive. You know, that old Gandhi saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We may not always succeed, but we try.
News from the Czech Republic: Good and Bad
Jan Stastny of the Czech Vegetarian Society (Vegetarian & Vegan magazine www.vegspol.cz ) send the following news items. Let’s start with the good news.
A new book has been published for kids about vegetarianism and animal rights: Andele Zvirat (Animals’ Angels), by Eva Linhartova. The book discusses rescuing animals, vegetarianism and other topics, and contains many nice illustrations. Currently, the book is only available in Czech, but if there is sufficient interest, it can be translated into other languages.
In the days leading up to Christmas, peaceful demonstrations were held in Prague, Czech Republic against the selling and killing of carps on the streets. Carps are the unwilling guests at the traditional Christmas meal in the Czech Republic. Approximately two million of these fishes are killed in the street every year during the few days before Christmas. See www.bloodychristmas.eu
On Sunday 21 Dec. one of these demonstrations was attacked by three people. The organizer of the demonstration, Marek Vorsilka, a long-time vegan activist and law student, was taken to the hospital with serious head injuries. Another demonstrator suffered a concussion.
Support letters for Marek and his colleagues can be emailed to email@example.com Here’s an abridged version of a reply that Marek sent to one such letter:
Thanks so much for your email. It's so refreshing to read so many letters of support from all around the world.
I'm quite okay now. The condition was not as severe as you might have thought - it was a badly broken nose with bleeding complications which required two operations and five days in hospital.
I got a lot of support from my fellow activists, including on Christmas Day, when my friends stayed with me at the hospital until 11pm, so it was quite a nice Christmas after all.
Thanks again for your words of support and care, and I wish you the best of luck in your campaigning activities and personal life.
New Website for IVU Member Society
Oxford Vegetarians and Vegans, an IVU member society, has a new website - www.oxveg.co.uk
What about your society? Do you have a new url? Have you revamped your website? Does your website have any features that other societies might like to emulate? If so, please share your news and ideas via IVU Online News.
Veg History: Percy Bysshe Shelley
Here’s the latest update to the History pages of the IVU website.
The diary of George Bernard Shaw, October 12, 1890 records: ". . . I wrote some stuff for The Star about Salt's forthcoming lecture at the Shelley Society."
The diaries editor added an extract from four unsigned paragraphs . . . The Star, 14 October 1890:
"It is an open secret that the bulk of the members [of the Shelley Society] hold Shelley's opinions in abhorrence, and, indeed, regard the Society as a genteel conspiracy to maintain that the poet was a devout upholder of the Church of England and a strict monogamist. One of the most awful blows the society ever received was at one of its earliest public meetings [March, 1886], when Bernard Shaw, with an ingenious air of having something particularly acceptable to communicate, got up and began, 'Mr. Chairman: I am a socialist, an atheist, and a vegetarian, and therefore feel that all true Shellyans will welcome my presence here this evening.' &c. &c.
Whenever a lecture is delivered to the Society by anyone whose opinions in the least resemble Shelley's the committee invariably stays away, with the exception of William Rosetti, who never flinches from his place in the chair, the indomitable Furnivall, and Mr. Salt . . . . the mildest-mannered man that ever defied society."
Shelley's character had indeed been whitewashed, since his death in 1822 at the age of 29, by those who liked his poetry but couldn't cope with the views of Shelley himself. The problem, as his widow made clear in her posthumous publication of his poetry, is that much of it needs to be read in the context of his life, and his views, to make real sense.
The Shelley section of the IVU website has now been considerably expanded to include:
- items about his vegetarianism, his life and philosophy (he almost became a philosopher but decided on being a poet instead)
- a complete collection of his poetry and much of his political prose writing.
- a large collection of articles from the time of the Shelley Society in the 1880s and 90s, mostly by Henry S. Salt, GBS's friend.
“A Delicate Balance: The Truth” - New Video on the Many Ills of Meat
An Australian filmmaker has produced an 84-minute video titled, “A Delicate Balance” www.adelicatebalance.com.au/trailer.html
You can view the trailer or order the DVD online or pay per view to watch the entire video. The video features interviews with such experts as T. Colin Campbell, Howard Lyman, Neal Barnard, John McDougall, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., Maneka Gandhi and Peter Singer. Two sequels are planned.
“Processed People: What Are We Becoming?
Here’s a film from the people who do the VegSource website (see interview with them above) - www.vegsource.com - the same people who host the International Vegetarian Union’s website – www.ivu.org
The film is titled, “Processed People”. It features John Robbins, among others. To find out more, view trailers, order, etc., visit www.processedpeople.com/
“What’s Feeding Our Food”: New Booklet Online
Friends of the Earth has produced a new booklet available online, entitled “What’s Feeding Our Food: The Environmental and Social Impacts of the Livestock Sector”: www.foe.co.uk/.../livestock_impacts_summary.pdf
Eating Less Meat Makes Readers’ Digest
This article, by a non-veg, Mark Bittman, who also writes for the New York Times and who wrote How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, appears in the current issue of Readers Digest. The author describes how he lost lots of weight and cleared away most of his ailments, other than bad knees, by eating less meat. Below are excerpts from the article’s final paragraph plus the url for the entire article.
The goal of eating sanely is not to cut calories; it will happen naturally. Nor is the goal to cut protein, though again, you'll wind up eating less. The goal is not to cut fat, either; in fact, you'll eat more of it, though different fat (the same is true of carbohydrates). And the goal isn't to save money, though you probably will. Rather, the goal is to eat less of certain foods and more of others -- specifically, plants, as close to their natural state as possible. Above all, this is a shift in perspective, one that means better eating for both your body and the planet.
“One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom”
This is the title of an article in the 23 Dec issue of Scientific American. The article is subtitled, “We are used to thinking of humans as occupying the sole pinnacle of evolutionary intelligence. That's where we're wrong.” Here are excerpts. Read the entire article at www.sciam.com/article.....
One of the most common misconceptions about brain evolution is that it represents a linear process culminating in the amazing cognitive powers of humans, with the brains of other modern species representing previous stages. Over the past 30 years, however, research in comparative neuroanatomy clearly has shown that complex brains—and sophisticated cognition—have evolved from simpler brains multiple times independently in separate lineages, or evolutionarily related groups: in mollusks such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish; in bony fishes such as goldfish and, separately again, in cartilaginous fishes such as sharks and manta rays; and in reptiles and birds. Nonmammals have demonstrated advanced abilities such as learning by copying the behavior of others, finding their way in complicated spatial environments, manufacturing and using tools, and even conducting mental time travel (remembering specific past episodes or anticipating unique future events). Collectively, these findings are helping scientists to understand how intelligence can arise—and to appreciate the many forms it can take.
World Day for the Abolition of Meat - 31 Jan, 2009
The first World Day for the Abolition of Meat will be held 31 Jan as a means of promoting the idea of abolishing the murder of animals for meat. The organisers write the following:
Worldwide, according to the event’s organisers, six million sentient beings are killed for their meat every hour! That figure doesn't even count sea animals, who of course are included in the demand for the abolition of meat. Meat consumption causes more suffering and death than any other human activity and is completely unnecessary.
On 31 January, conferences, street actions, leafleting and information stands will be organised to spread the idea that the consumption of meat cannot be justified ethically and should therefore be abolished – just as human slavery was in its time.
Here is the video of an original action for the abolition of meat, made by Swiss activists in 2007 (other groups are welcome to use the same format):
Your actions can be reported on this website: www.nomoremeat.org
Vegan Triathlon in New Zealand – 22 Feb, 2009
The 5th Christchurch Vegan Triathlon will be held 22 Feb, 2009. This event is open to all people who have been vegan for a minimum of six weeks prior to the triathlon, that is from Sun, 11 Jan 2009. The definition of vegan is "someone who excludes all animal products from their diet". The cost is $20.
For more: www.vegantriathlon.org.nz or join their email list; email Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org with a clear subject heading please so that your email isn’t mistaken for spam!
7th Annual Conference for Critical Animal Studies – 25 Apr, 2009
Theme: Transforming Higher Education Into an Ethical Space and Place for
Date: Sat, 25 Apr
Place: Yale University, Connecticut, USA
Hosted by: Yale Affiliates Animal Rights Network
Co-Sponsored by: Ecopedagogy Association, International Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Transformative Studies Institute, University of Connecticut Vegan
Huskies, Wooden Man Records, Outdoor Empowerment, Hartford Food Not Bombs, Hog River Collective
For more info: Deric Shannon, Conference Director, email@example.com
Asian Vegetarian Congress – 6-10 Nov, 2009
The 4th Asian Vegetarian Congress, organised by the Asian Vegetarian Union and the Indonesia Vegetarian Society, will be held on Batam Island, Indonesia, near Singapore from 6-10 Nov. People from everyone in the world are warmly welcome to enjoy delicious Indonesian vegetarian food.
Among those who have agreed to speak are 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, R.K. Pachauri, well-known vegetarian crusader Maneka Gandhi, and IVU Regional Coordinators for India and for Asia-Pacific, Shankar Narayan and Susianto Tseng. For info: www.avc2009.org
IVU World Vegetarian Congress – 1-7 Oct, 2010
The 39th IVU World Vegetarian Congress will be held in Indonesia in two places, Jakarta, the capital (and the economic centre of the country) and Bali, the country’s most famous tourist destination. The Congress starts in Jakarta and then moves to Bali. An outline of the programme is available at www.ivu.org/congress/2010
Vegans and Calcium
Paul Appleby is an IVU patron and Senior Statistician at Cancer Research UK at their Epidemiology Unit in Oxford, UK. He has co-authored several papers arising from studies of the long-term health of vegetarians, including the Oxford Vegetarian Study, the Health Food Shoppers Study, and the Oxford arm of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) which includes 20,000 vegetarians.
In Sep, 08, Paul gave a talk to members of London Vegans on lessons for
vegetarians and vegans from the EPIC-Oxford study. You can hear
extracts from the presentation and an interview with a dietitian (with
particular emphasis on sources of calcium for vegans), and view Paul’s slides at
Society’s move away from meat is spawning new words to describe our eating habits. Examples of new terms are ‘flexitarian’, i.e., someone who is usually vegetarian but occasionally eats dead animal flesh, and ‘meat reducer’, i.e., someone making an effort to reduce their meat consumption.
Here’s one we encountered earlier this month: ‘vegaquarian’, i.e., someone who has chosen to eat marine animals, but for some reason chosen to spare other non-human animals. A similar term is ‘pescatarian’. Reasons we’ve heard (but don’t agree with) for being vegaquarian/pescatarian include:
a) Marine animals are the plants of the sea; they have no feelings
b) Eating marine animals exposes us to less of the harmful chemicals found in the flesh of land animals raised on factory farms
c) Foods derived from marine animals contain nutrients that can’t be found in plant foods
Here are some responses you might use the next time you meet a vegaquarian:
a) Marine animals are animals too. They feel pain; they want to lead their lives. Imagine aliens from who knows where coming to Earth to harvest humans for food.
b) A growing percentage of the marine animals we eat do not live in open water but on marine farms. These are similar to the factory farms in which lands animals are raised for food. These ‘farms’ cause pollution, the animals are crowded together and they are fed plant foods that could feed hungry humans.
c) Modern drift net fishing methods catch and kill huge number of animals, including those not intended to be caught, for example dolphins and turtles. Such practices wreak havoc on marine eco-systems.
d) Pollution of the seas means that eating marine animals is eating pollution.
e) All the nutrients found in fish, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, can also be found in plant foods; so, why cause all the mess listed above just for a few seconds of pleasure for our taste buds, pleasure which, with a bit of rethinking, can be gained from plant foods?
f) any others?
Some useful websites:
www.vegsoc.org/fish (Vegetarian Society of the UK has been running a Fishconceptions campaign for several years)
Welcome to Organisations That Have Recently Registered with IVU
Club Mondial pour la Spiritualité et le Végétarisme (CMSV) - spiritvege.affinitiz.com
Vegetarian China - vegetarian-china.info
Hare Krishna in Fiji - www.iskconfiji.com
Mangez Végétarien! - www.mangez-vegetarien.com
Manavatavadi-Group · The School of Humanitarian Thoughts - groups.yahoo.com/group/manavatavadi-group
B&B La Coccinella, Biella - www.cucinanatura.it
Nandgaon Vedic Society-Mauritius - nandgaon.terapad.com
LausAnimaliste - www.lausanimaliste.org
Abolition of Speciesism - AbolitionOfSpeciesism.tk
Green Light Flix - www.GreenLightFlix.com
Ms Pasarell's health education website - classjump.com/welcometohealtheducation
Holistic Nutrition/Ask Holistic Nutrition - www.AskHolisticNutrition.com
Other Online Sources of Veg News
There are many other places to go online for general veg-related news, rather than news mostly about one country or one organisation. Here are some.
1. Dawn Watch
2. European Vegetarian Union
3. Farmed Animal Net
4. Vegan Outreach
6. AnimalConcerns.org doesn't have a newsletter, but they post stories daily at www.animalconcerns.org/categories.html?do=shownews
Please Write for IVU Online News
Dear Veg Activist
Please use this newsletter as a way to share your knowledge, ideas and experiences with fellow veg activists.
Thx. -–george jacobs – firstname.lastname@example.org
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