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In Brief
IVU News 2-97

New president for German Vegetarian Union.

After twenty years of active work in the Vegetarier-Bund Deutschlands, Rudolf Meyer stepped down as president at the end of 1996. Thanks to his efforts, the Vegetarier-Bund is now accepted by the media and by society as a competent body in all questions of healthy nutrition, animal welfare, ethics and environment. In particular, Rudolf Meyer supported three important studies on vegetarianism in Germany and organised the 1982 World Vegetarian Congress in Ulm, which attracted almost 800 participants. He leaves a well managed organisation and a well equipped office in Hannover which will provide a good start for his successor.

Thomas Schoenberger, a 38-year-old tutor and organiser of seminars and classes, was elected president of the Vegetarier-Bund at the AGM, held in Oberwesel. He has been active for a long time in the Vegetarische Initiative, a group in Hamburg with plenty of striking ideas for informing people about vegetarianism. Vegetarier-Bund members are confident that he will be a worthy successor to Rudolf Meyer and that, together with the many younger people on the board of the society, he will be able to promote the sort of ideas that young people need and lead the Vegetarier-Bund successfully into the new millennium.

More Ethical Politicians

Further to our previous article on the UK elections, a landslide result has brought into Parliament a large number of new members who gave positive answers to the National Alliance for Animals questionnaire. The original ethical politician, Tony Banks, has become Minister for Sport and it is hoped that a few so-called sports e.g. foxhunting will be dealt with in short order. Meanwhile, the outgoing Secretary of State for the Environment overruled the local councils nefarious plan to clear Trafalgar Square of its famous pigeons. Thanks to all who wrote in protest.

Ships of Shame

Public feeling in Australia against the live export of sheep has grown ever stronger in the light of the appalling cruelty involved. The run-down old cargo ship Uniceb had been used to transport 5 million sheep annually to the Middle East to face barbaric slaughter methods long since outlawed in Australia. Finally, in the latest of a series of horrific accidents, the vessel caught fire in mid-ocean and 67,000 sheep were left to burn. This was just one of a chain of disasters in which thousands of animals were left to suffocate, burn or drown as worn-out vessels failed to complete the three to six-week journey with their cargoes of misery.

Italian Vegetarians on Prime Time TV

Well known Italian vegan doctor and former IVU Council member Riccardo Trespidi, his wife Immanuela and his three children Carlotta, Tommaso and Alessandro recently starred in a 20-minute documentary on vegetarianism and animal issues on Italy's main television channel. Scenes from the daily life of the doctor, his lawyer wife and their obviously extremely healthy family were interspersed with horrific examples of the cruelty of the meat and dairy industries and Riccardo was given free rein to comment on the suffering involved and on the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle.

logoBullfighting: Spain is Ashamed, but Subsidies Continue

According to a recent television survey, the majority of Spaniards now regard bullfighting and cruel fiestas as shameful and a blot on their countrys reputation. However, there is still a long way to go before the ritualised torture of animals in the name of entertainment or even religion is actually abolished. The European Parliament has stated that breeders of animals for torture in the bullring are not entitled to subsidies, but the way in which the payments are made still allows unscrupulous breeders to pocket substantial sums of taxpayers money from countries where such spectacles have long been illegal. Moreover, instances of cruelty of the most degraded kind are still all too common at so-called religious celebrations. A group of young bullfight supporters faced a fine after being questioned by police, following the death of a cow that was forced to swallow four bottles of whisky during the feast of Corpus Christi.

Meanwhile, on World Animals Day in Masaya, Nicaragua, there was the annual ritual of tearing the heads off chickens in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi! So far, the Vatican has said that there is no specific policy on the abuse of animals at religious festivals, but if enough people demand one they will have to move with the times. [Write to His Holiness Pope John Paul II, Vatican City, asking him to condemn wanton cruelty to animals in the name of religion.]

UK Vegetarian Society 150 years old

A number of events are planned to celebrate a century and a half of campaigning by the world's oldest vegetarian society, whose meetings have in the past been graced by luminaries such as George Bernard Shaw and Mahatma Gandhi.

Cow's milk linked to Breast Cancer

Women who drink cow's milk run a far greater risk of contracting breast cancer than those who do not. according to research by a group of American scientists. The finding. which is likely to provoke widespread alarm. was published in Good Medicine the journal of the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The committee is well known for advocating a vegan diet, which avoids meat and animal products, including milk. Writing in the journal, Neal Barnard, the committee's president. describes cow's milk and other dairy products as "veritable cocktail of cancer-causing chemicals". Dr. Barnard writes: "It is not just the grease dripping out of a cheese pizza that is under scrutiny. Even skimmed milk is implicated".

According to the report, based largely on research by Jessica Outwater, a nutritional scientist at Princetown University, breast cancer is caused by two contaminants present in cow's milk oestrogen and a growth-promoting peptide known as IGF-I. The report continues: "Excess oestrogen is well known for making breast cancer cells multiply, which is why doctors avoid prescribing oestrogen supplements to cancer patients. A pregnant cow has high oestrogen levels, which filter into the milk.

Of even greater concern, says Dr. Barnard, is the ICF-l, of which there are 30 microgrammes in every litre of cow's milk. This peptide, which is not destroyed by pasteurisation, encourages breast cancer cells to multiply. There is more ICE-I in milk than is good for women.

Current Trends in Banqueting

According to a special report on catering printed by the Coniference and Incentive Travel magazine. vegetarians represent around 10 per cent. of dinner guests and are being catered for with a wider and more imaginative choice of dishes than the melons and nut cutlets of ten years ago. The new trends are being influenced by growing consumer knowledge of nutrition. citing the fact that the more food magazines and health-conscious eaters there are, the more food will find new fashion catwalks. Mediterranean flavours and stir fries are replacing the "nouvelle cuisine", which has had its day, and currently there is a big Asian influence in trendy restaurants.

Over and above budgetary concerns, dietary restrictions still represent the greatest constraint to conference organisers: "pork has traditionally been a non-starter. beef is a nervous choice, offal is unpopular and veal is environmentally sensitive because of its association with factory farming leaving just lamb, poultry and fish". the report says.

World Health Organisation warns of New Diseases

The 1996-97 annual report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that in the 21st century cancer cases will increase by between 40 and 50 per cent in industrialised and non-industrialised countries, reaching 15 million people in 2020, compared with the current 10.3 million cases. Chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular problems, currently responsible for half the 52 million annual deaths in the world, will affect hundreds of millions of people.

Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and cholera. which currently kill more than 17 million people, haemorrhagic fever and the new variant of Kreutzfeldt-Jakob ("Mad Cow") disease are set to increase and it is estimated that diabetes and cancer cases will double by the year 2020. Lung cancer, regarded as the most agressive form of cancer and currently linked to 20 per cent. of all deaths in Europe. is set to increase by 33 per cent. in women by the year 2005 while prostate cancer cases in men will increase by 40 per cent.

A non-smoking lifestyle together with a healthy fruit and vegetable diet, plus a weight contml programme and more excercise are regarded as the key elements of health.

photoEU subsidises Mass Slaughter of Pigs

The European Union has set aside huge amounts of subsidy to cover up to 70 per cent. of the cost of a mass slaughter of pigs affected with swine fever. Over two million animals are being killed in Holland, and more than 300,000 pigs imported from Holland have so far been killed in Spain.

New Animal Welfare Legislation in Switzerland

The Swiss Federal Council has approved a new animal protection directive bringing Swiss animal welfare laws more closely into line with the more progressive legislation already adopted by other countries. The main beneficiaries of the new directive are dogs, veal calves and sows: tail docking has been prohibitied for dogs. and veal calves and sows should no longer be restrained. There is also a provision to ban holding preenant or nursing sows in pens to be implemented only after a transitional period of ten years.

Stricter measures will also be applied to the housing, transport and slaughter of animals. including the stunning and bleeding techniques used in slaughterhouses and a ban on fully perforated floors in housing enclosures for cows and pigs.

Penalties for contravening the law will not be increased. The current maximum sentences are three years imprisonment or a fine for mistreating animals and three months detention or a fine for negligence. In 1995. however. the majority of the 200 penal legal proceedings notified to the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office carried a fine of less than 500 Swiss Francs (about $300).

Contributions to IVU News are welcomed. Material published does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or the policy of the International Vegetarian Union.