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IVU Online News
supplement to December 2001 issue

- press release from Jashu Shah, Secretary - The Vegetarian Society Reverence for Life; President-Asian Vegetarian Union

Report on the 1st Asian Vegetarian Congress held in Goa between 14th to 20th October 2001 at Hotel Dona Sylvia, Goa.

Asian Vegetarian Union came into existence while the 33rd World Vegetarian Congress was held in Chiang Mai in January 1999. The European Vegetarian Union being the apex body of the Vegetarian Societies of Europe and Vegetarian Union of North America known as VUNA being the apex body of the Vegetarian Societies of North America are in existence. There is no apex body for the Societies of Latin America and similarly there is no apex body for the Societies of Asia to guide the societies to vegetarian cause and to form society to promote vegetarianism in the region. For promoting vegetarianism through Societies Asian Vegetarian Union came into existence.

The First President has been named one Mr. Jashu Shah and the Joint Secretary is one Dr. Phichai Tovivich of Thailand.

The Vegetarian Society - Reverence for Life having its office at Mumbai decided to host the First Asian Vegetarian Congress. After scouting several places like Mumbai, Jaipur, Delhi, Goa, and Ahmedabad etc. it was decided to have the First Asian Vegetarian Congress at Goa.

Then the scouting for hotels started and ultimately it was decided to have the first Asian Vegetarian Congress at Resort Dona Sylvia, Cavelossim Beach, South Goa, which is near the beach. The dates were fixed between 14th and 20th October 2001.

There were total 180 delegates out of which majority of them came from Mumbai but there were some from USA, UK, Bangladesh, Kenya, Switzerland, Sri Lanka and some came from outside Mumbai.

The opening ceremony of the Congress was done by His Excellency Shri R. Venkatraman, former President of India and the congress started with his blessings. We also opened the Goa Chapter of the Vegetarian Society. Reverend Dada Vaswani who in his keynote address stated that instead of talking about saving animals we must talk about the right of the animals as they also have the right to live. There were about 450 persons present at the opening ceremony of the Congress.

Throughout 15th to 20th October in the morning there were Yoga and Meditation classes starting at 6.30am.

On 15th October 2001 after breakfast at 9.00 a.m. the session started. After lunch everyday in the afternoon between 3.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. after lunch there were workshops where several people gave their ideas on different alternate medicines. There were well known doctors, Advocates, Literary persons, who came and delivered the lectures in Goa.

On 15th the session started with the lecture of Sports enthusiastic Dr. Kinjal Suratwala and he said that the human body is fit to be vegetarian. He also emphasized on exercise to be carried out by human being. Rohit Ganatra outstanding Architect also a well-known Vastu Shastri gave lecture on "energy of life" through slides, which showed what is the effect of food on human being and human mind. Dr. Kothari who came from Brussels also talked about food and philosophy.

The second day i.e. 15th October Bittu Sehgal talked about the Tiger Project and which led to the environment. Mrs. Kunda Ganatra talked about how to take care of eyes. Shantanu Chakravatory talked about magnetic therapy and how it can be used for the benefit of human being, Mr. Bittu Sehgal said that water is important portion in the life of the human being; if water vanishes the jungle vanishes and if jungle vanishes tiger vanishes and ultimately human being will vanish. In the afternoon Dr. Shailesh Divecha talked about how to look after your teeth, Dr. Arun Chande talked on Sujok therapy showing actual practical with human body. Pujya Chitrabhanuji talked about religious principles and vegetarianism.

On 16th October Shri O. P. Tiwari in charge of Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla talked about Yoga and vegetarianism, which was received well by everybody. Shri Narain Bhatia of Chinmaya Mission talked about Rudraksha and its effect on human body. Sigrid De Leo, Secretary of the European Vegetarian Union who had come especially from Switzerland talked about effect of food on children. She emphasized that the children who take vegetarian food are always with better temperament than those children taking non-vegetarian food. She also talked about her own experience as a teacher. Dr. Rosemary Turner talked about the history of American vegetarianism. David Pye Treasurer of International Vegetarian Union talked about International Vegetarian Union and gave a review of the 35th World Vegetarian Congress to be held in Edinburgh, Scotland and invited everyone. He gave a very good presentation about Scotland and Edinburgh Vegetarian Congress.

His Excellency the former President of India Shri R. Venkatraman also opened the Goa Chapter of the Vegetarian Society and they arranged one evening where Shri Jashu Shah Secretary of the Vegetarian Society gave information about how vegetarian movement is going round the world. Other speakers were Shri Chitrabhanuji, D.I.G. Karnal Singh of Goa, and Smt. Tarla Dalal gave a Cookery demonstration with the help of Smt. Sylvia Albuquerque.

On the 17th October Dr. Anil Kadakia spoke on achievement and achievers. Dr. Fernandes talked about Accu-pressure and Aromatherapy. Kitchen queen Tarla Dalal talked about her own experience and how she changed her husband from non-vegetarian to being a vegetarian. In the afternoon David Boje talked about vegetarian capitalism and Mahinda Paliwanda talked about Buddhism and vegetarianism in Sri Lanka. Shri Navinbhai Shah a Naturopath practicing since 40 years gave 5 principles of naturopath. He insisted that everybody must laugh for 3 to 5 minutes without any restriction. This laughter will remove the stress from the body.

In the evening Suresh Dalal outstanding poet of Gujarat and Saurabh Shah Editor of Midday Gujarati talked about Reverence for Life.

In the evening there was another function whereby vegetarian of the year National Award was given to Dr. Bhamgara, Vegetarian of the year International was given to Dr. Rosemary Turner and the best vegetarian Restaurant of Mumbai was given to Samrat Restaurant by the President of the Vegetarian Society.

On 18th Swami Tejomayanda head of Chinmaya Mission talked about vegetarianism in most common language and stated that if the people talked about eating animals than why not eat human beings. His lecture had a profound effect on the audience. Ajit Grewal talked about organic farming and Biodynamic and invited everybody to his farm near Alwar. Dr. M. M. Bhamgara, Outstanding Naturopath and crusader of vegetarianism talked about vegetarianism in detail and gave good information. President of the Goa Vegetarian Society Dr. Pande talked about the vegetarian in Medical Science.

The end of the Congress was coming nearer. On Friday the 19th Dr. Ghanekar of Goa who is a cancer specialist and now yoga teacher talked about yoga and vegetarianism. Dr. Kulin Kothari renowned eye surgeon from Mumbai talked about eye donation after death and enlightened the people about the growing awareness of Eye Bank and donation. Smt. Pramodaben talked about vegetarianism and its approach for life. Smt. Pramodaben is a member of the vegetarian society since its inception. In the afternoon a Parsi Priest Dr. Rooyintan Peer talked about vegetarianism in Zoroastrian religion. The congress concluded with the lecture of Child specialist Dr. Pankaj Parikh who gave dos and don't about children and tips to parents.

Everyday there was a musical entertainment programme. Mandira Tracy gave a Bharat Natyam recital at the opening ceremony. There were one programme or the other like Goa Folk dance, Goan dance and twice Gurudutt Shirde made the people feel at home by singing Gazals and old songs and entertained everybody with his music. Pushpaben Jain also gave some Bhakti Geet and Linimaben, Pramodaben and Pushpaben recited prayers.

What started has to come to an end. The closing ceremony was headed by His Excellency Mohd Fazal Governor of Goa who is also a vegetarian he delivered a valedictory speech quoting Manu and other old scriptures. President Pujya Chitrabhanuji gave his blessings and the entire congress came to an end.

The Speeches were so effective that one Mr. Felix a resident of Goa heard the speakers and decided not to kill any animal for food. He became a vegetarian. Mr. Michael who had come to do video coverage of the entire congress on behalf of Astha Channel also became a vegetarian and they were honoured. This was the effect of 7 days profound hearing of the speakers talking about the Reverence for Life and vegetarianism. Every life is precious and every life is required to be preserved was the ultimate message given at the Congress.

Mr. Jashu Shah, President of the Asian Vegetarian Union said that the people came, people read the souvenir, people heard all the speakers. People who came will spread the message of Reverence for Life.
Vote of thanks was proposed by Deepak Shah.

First Asian Vegetarian Congress in Goa- India

- personal report from Sigrid De Leo

The first Asian vegetarian congress was a great success. There are three main purposes for vegetarian congresses:
A To meet like minded people
B To learn new things
C To spread the vegetarian idea in the country/continent, where the event takes place
All three purposes where met as you may read in the following.

Nearly 200 like minded people from 4 continents ( only Australia was missing) and 8 or 10 countries had followed the invitation of "The Vegetarian Society of Mumbai" to pass a week together in Goa, south west India. Unfortunately a delegation of 40 members from Thailand had cancelled their participation due to fear of war. The war in Afghanistan was also the reason why some speakers had preferred to stay at home. Jashu Shah, long term vegetarian promoter, General Secretary of the
Vegetarian Society in Mumbai had together with his organizing staff carried out an event which will be in the memory of all participants as a well organized and interesting meeting. Most of all though the friendly and relaxed atmosphere of the weeklong congress was much appreciated by all

Jashu and his friends had visited a couple of nice places and finally decided for the Goan Dona Sylvia resort, a little village in a beautiful surroundings of palm trees, white beeches and lovely warm weather. I already miss the long walks on the beach accompanied by my friends the friendly stray dogs. Soon we discovered that the owner of the resort, Mr. Victor, was a vegetarian for 16 years, which was a very pleasant thing to know. The programme was well balanced and all aspects of a vegetarian/vegan/ raw food lifestyle were discussed. I was specially impressed by the talks of
Bittu Sahgal, who dedicates his life to saving the Indian tiger. In a professional way he approaches school children in order to make a change of mentality.

Another very interesting lecture was about the project of bio-dynamic farming which is much felt in India too. Several lectures about reverence for life , yoga, health and nutrition for children completed the great number of informative lectures by competent speakers. The very last lecture was held by a paediatrician, which was a good omen for the time to come as children are our future.

The organizers had taken a lot of trouble to install a rich exhibition on all subjects of vegetarianism. I wasn't too sorry that the exhibition was on the upper part of the congress hall, where only few people found their way to: There was too much emphasis on dairy products for my opinion.

The food was very good and tasty, with a lot of spices as everybody would expect from an Indian kitchen. My regret was that there was only a small choice of raw food in a country where you should think that there must be an ample choice of fruit and vegetables. The staff of the restaurant and kitchen was extremely nice and helpful. You couldn't think of something you wished and the nice young men already served you with it.

The conference alone would not have been enough to make the event known in a huge country like India. Thanks to very prominent guests the First Asian Vegetarian Congress got all the same a very good media coverage. The congress was indeed inaugurated by India's former president, R. Venkataraman who at the high age of 91 had flown 4 hours from Delhi to honour the vegetarian event in Goa. Goa's governor was as well present as several other highly decorated guests from the public, religious or science world. The local newspapers and a TV channel interviewed speakers and participants and reported about the event in a country where 60 % of the population is still vegetarian and where even an Italian restaurant like "Little Italy" inMumbai is completely vegetarian.

On occasion of the Asian Vegetarian Congress a new chapter of the Vegetarian Society was opened in Goa to make sure that the vegetarian Idea will revive in a country where more and more people are taking to meat eating. Following the inauguration of the new Goa chapter an invited guest was impressed by the speeches and decided spontaneously to become a vegetarian. The same can be said of the TV camera man Micheal, who followed the whole sessions and thus was initiated to vegetarianism.

Jashu Shah and his collaborators organized and carried out a wonderful event, and if there is one thing I wished, it is that more young people could have taken part. Of course a weeklong congress is rather costly which not many young people can afford. Maybe the second Asian Vegetarian Congress in one of the other Asian states can make a change. I look forward to meeting all my old and new friends again. Compliments and a big "Thank you" to Jashu and his team.

Sigrid De Leo

Secretary of the European Vegetarian Union
Bluetschwitzerweg 5 9443 Widnau Switzerland

Club Veg Nature Tour of Costa Rica

Feb 15 - 24, 2002

You will sense it the minute you arrive in Costa Rica: a feeling of physical and mental well-being. Costa Rica is synonymous with contentment and relaxation. Few nations in the world combine such a friendly population with such beautiful natural surroundings. The purpose of this 10-day tour is to immerse you in Costa Rica's natural beauty while offering ample opportunities for healthy activities and excellent vegan cuisine.

Great efforts have been by tour organizers to assure participants not only quality vegan meals on this tour, but delicious meals, prepared under hygienic conditions. Our Costa Rican hosts have worked closely with Club Veg representatives in meeting all the club's dietary requirements. Everyone involved with the tour is excited about preparing meals you will truly enjoy.

Sawtelle Travel Service has organized the trip. In creating the itinerary, Sawtelle has drawn on experience gained during more than a dozen nature trips to Costa Rica by its agents. Sawtelle's objective in choosing destinations for this trip has been to find comfortable lodges in beautiful, biologically
diverse locations. Diverse locales will insure you the opportunity of viewing hundreds of different birds and animals. Sawtelle also will handle air travel arrangements for the tour. Rick Marsi and Ann Silvernail of Sawtelle will be the agents in charge. Rick is a veteran naturalist and Costa Rica traveler. Ann's 25 years of experience have made her an expert in obtaining convenient, economical flights for her clients.

From the coolness of the cloud forest to warm sand on an uncrowded beach, the locations on this tour promise incomparable scenery and immediate stress reduction. Take this tour and you will agree that Costa Rica offers the treasures of life.

The Tour

Day 1 - Feb. 15
Trip participants will be met at the San Jose, Costa Rica airport and transferred to Hotel Punta Leona on the Pacific Ocean. Surrounding this beachfront hotel is one of the most important private nature preserves in Costa Rica's Pacific Zone. Consisting of 750 acres of primary and secondary forest, the preserve hosts more than 200 bird species, including the rare scarlet macaw.

The preserve also is home to white-faced capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, coatimundis and many butterflies. You'll have the rest of the day to enjoy the reserve at Punta Leona. Dinner and night at Punta Leona.

Day 2 - Feb. 16
You will spend a free day in and around Punta Leona Hotel and Preserve. The hotel features three private white-sand beaches that offer excellent swimming and snorkeling in the warm Pacific Ocean. Well-marked trails on the hotel grounds present excellent opportunities for hiking and birdwatching. Every morning at Punta Leona, the resident naturalist leads a walk over portions of these trails. You may decide to join him. In addition to the scarlet macaw, other birds frequently encountered at Punta Leona include colorful parrots, parakeet and motmots.

Dinner and night at Punta Leona.

Day 3 - Feb. 17
After a free morning at the beach or walking forest trails, we will enjoy lunch at Hotel Punta Leona. Then, we depart for our next destination: Bosque de Paz Cloud Forest Lodge. Located just 90 minutes from San Jose, Bosque de Paz (Peaceful Forest) is situated in one of Costa Rica's most ecologically significant areas. This 1,200-acre reserve forms a natural corridor between two national parks: Poas Volcano and Juan Castro Blanco.

Accommodations in Bosque de Paz are clean, comfortable and quiet. The dining room is beautiful, featuring skillfully carved wooden furniture and a lovely view of cloud forest slopes out the window. Dinner and lodging at Bosque de Paz.

Day 4 - Feb. 18
A full day to enjoy nature at Bosque de Paz. More than 286 different kinds of birds have been observed on trails at the reserve. With a skilled naturalist as our guide, we will see brilliantly colored toucans, trogons and tanagers. We'll also have an excellent opportunity to see troops of howler monkeys and lounging three-toed sloths.

At 5,000 feet above sea level, Bosque de Paz is always cool and refreshing. Eleven well-maintained trails meander for miles through forests rich with orchids, ferns and bromeliads. In a large clearing outside the tastefully appointed lodge, hummingbird feeders often attract as many as 6 different kinds of hummingbirds at once.

An orchid collection and butterfly garden enhance the reserve's bio-diverse appeal. Two optional guided walks are scheduled during the day, as well as a fascinating night tour.

Meals and lodging at Bosque de Paz.

Day 5 - Feb. 19
This morning we depart on a two-hour drive north to the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. Before reaching the refuge, we will stop in a small village where a bridge crosses the Iguana River. From the bridge, we will look down at basking iguanas, which have climbed to the tops of trees overhanging the river. These are huge creatures, some measuring four feet long. They are just a few feet away and completely unconcerned with our presence. Leaving our iguana friends, we'll arrive shortly in the town of Los Chiles, where we will board safe, canopied boats for a water tour of the Cano Negro Refuge. As we motor slowly down the Rio Frio inside the refuge, we will see an impressive variety of storks, spoonbills, herons, egrets, kingfishers and other waterbirds. We also will have an excellent opportunity to spot monkeys, sloths, river otters and caymans.

Cano Negro offers a truly exceptional concentration of wildlife, viewed in a pristine setting.After lunch, we will return to Bosque de Paz, where we'll have plenty of time to rest and clean up before dinner. Dinner and night at Bosque de Paz.

Day 6 - Feb. 20
After breakfast at Bosque de Paz, we transfer to the airport for our 45-minute flight south to Drake Bay Wilderness Resort on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Facing the Pacific Ocean, backed by untouched tropical forest, Drake Bay offers a number of wonderful outdoor activities. After lunch at the hotel, we will experience one of them: a walk through the Rio Claro Preserve. The Rio Claro is a cool, clear river (a large stream, really) which flows through dense forest before opening into a lovely lagoon within sight of the ocean. Flowing gently through the lagoon, the river then spills across the sand and empties into the Pacific.

On this walk, we'll have a chance to swim in the lagoon, or in the Pacific - fresh or salt water within 100 yards of each other. The beaches around Drake Bay are as scenic and unspoiled as any you will find anywhere.

Dinner and night at Drake Bay Wilderness Resort.

Day 7 - Feb. 21
Today will find us exploring another attraction near Wilderness Bay: Cano Island Biological Reserve. Lying 10 miles offshore from Drake Bay, this pristine, uninhabited 6,000-acre island features five coral reefs that are a snorkeler's or scuba diver's delight. A trail on the island climbs to high cliffs above the Pacific. The island also features a prehistoric cemetery and mysterious round stones sculpted by ancient people who once walked here. We'll spend the day, including lunch, at Cano Island before returning to
Drake Bay Resort for dinner. Dinner and night at Drake Bay.

Day 8 - Feb 22
Following breakfast at Drake Bay, we'll set out by boat for nearby Corcovado National Park. Encompassing more than 100,000 acres of land and 5,000 acres of marine habitat, Corcovado represents one of Costa Rica's most remote and impressive natural treasures. Eight different ecosystems exist in the park:
everything from mangroves to montane forests. Five hundred species of trees have been identified within park boundaries. Jaguars, harpy eagles, giant anteaters and other endangered species have found one of their last safe refuges here. Arriving at the park, we will enjoy a guided walk on its trails, followed by
a picnic lunch. We'll conclude our visit with a tour of the Sirena Biological Station, where researchers from throughout the world conduct tropical studies.

Dinner and night at Drake Bay.

Day 9 - Feb. 23
After breakfast at the Drake Bay Resort, we will transfer to the airport for our return flight to San Jose. Arriving in the capital city, we will enjoy lunch at Tin-Ho, an Asian restaurant unanimously praised by previous Vegan Tour participants. Following lunch, we will transfer to the Heredia Mountain Hotel. Just 30 minutes from the San Jose airport, this lovely property is a world away from the noise and congestion of city life. The hotel's lovely surroundings will provide a perfect setting for our last evening in Costa
Rica. Dinner and evening at the Heredia Mountain Hotel.

Day 10 - Feb. 24
After breakfast, our trip ends with a short drive to the International Airport for our flight home.

Vegan Nature Tour of Costa Rica

Trip Details

Cost for this tour is $2,620 per person, double occupancy, from San Jose, Costa Rica. Single supplement is $600. Sawtelle Travel will be happy to work with any single in finding a compatible roommate for the trip. Tour cost covers all food, lodging, transportation, park admissions and guide services in Costa Rica. Not included: airfare to and from Costa Rica, airport departure tax, tips and commercial beverages.

A $250 deposit per person is required to book space on the tour. Following receipt of your deposit, Sawtelle Travel Service will send you an information packet including a tour map, a list of travel tips and information on passports, what to wear, etc. Final payment is due no later than Dec.15, 2001. Major credit cards are accepted.

The lodges, restaurants and excursions on this itinerary are among Costa Rica's finest.

Tour Escort
Throughout the tour, participants will be accompanied by an expert Costa Rican guide, fluent in English, well-versed in Costa Rican natural history and familiar with all stops on the itinerary.

Transportation will be on a modern, air-conditioned mini-bus with comfortable seats and big windows.

Air Travel
Sawtelle Travel Service has been providing clients with efficient, cost-effective air travel service for 55 years. We would be pleased to help you make air travel arrangements to Costa Rica.

Trip Insurance
As a certified American Express Travel Agency, our agency offers American Express "Basic Vacation" and "Comprehensive Vacation" insurance plans. We strongly recommend travel insurance and will happily send you brochures explaining these protection programs.

To Learn More
Contact Rick Marsi or Ann Silvernail at Sawtelle Travel Service. Both have visited Costa Rica and can help you with questions about any aspect of your trip. Rick has escorted more than a dozen trips to Costa Rica. Ann is an air travel specialist with 25 years of experience. Phone: 607-729-6300 or 800-295-2222. Fax: 607-729-2904.


You can view photos from last year's tour on your computer at Under "visit albums" type

For additional information about vegan cuisine on the trip, contact Amie Hamlin at

A Note About Vegan Cuisine.
Vegan cuisine features plant products only. While non-vegans are welcome on this tour, they will be asked to maintain vegan dietary standards when eating meals with the group.

- from Emanuel Goldman, Ph.D. (patron / life member of IVU)

[note: views expressed in this debate are those of the individual contributors, not IVU -ed]

First, two URLs. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, while not a vegetarian organization, is highly sympathetic to the vegetarian viewpoint. They have, in the current issue of their newsletter, "Nutrition Action," considered the issue of genetic engineering from the safety standpoint, as well as benefits to society. The URL is:

The second is to an article I published several years ago in Satya Magazine, on potential benefits to vegetarians from genetic engineering. The URL is:
(Note that for unknown reasons, this URL crashes Netscape, but is accessible by Internet Explorer.)

Paul Appleby asks for examples. Here are several examples (a few of which were mentioned in the Satya article) of genetically engineered products that are, or could be, of great benefit to vegetarians (many more examples could be envisaged):

1. Insulin used to be derived from pig intestines. Ethical vegetarians would be in a quandary if that were the only practical way to obtain this life-saving medicine. Most (hopefully, all) of us certainly wouldn't condemn diabetics to death by denying them the ability to obtain insulin, even if a pig had to be slaughtered to get it. This is no longer a problem for vegetarians. Now, the gene for insulin has been inserted into bacteria. The bacteria are grown, and make insulin, which is purified from the bacterial culture and used medically. No more pig intestines, because of genetic engineering.

2. Many vegetarians who transition to vegan miss cheese. Meeting the demand, a number of vegetarian oriented companies market substitute cheeses. Many of these contain a protein called "casein," which is derived from milk. Those substitute cheeses which avoid casein usually do poorly on taste tests, from my experience. Even the casein-containing cheese substitutes do not fully replicate real cheese, but they're better, and make for a reasonable transition food en route to vegan. Enter genetic engineering. It is entirely possible to manufacture casein in bacteria (just like with the insulin example above), by putting the gene for this protein into a bacterial organism. The casein purified this way would not involve any passage through, or exploitation of, an animal. This genetically engineered casein could now be used in substitute cheeses, and would meet vegan ethical standards, while providing us with a tastier product. In this case, vegetarians would actually look for the label saying "Made with genetically engineered casein." (This example is still, regrettably, hypothetical; while genetically engineered casein made in bacteria has in fact been reported in the literature, there have been, as yet, no commercial applications of this product.)

3. Continuing on the subject of cheeses, as a vegetarian, I applaud the recent introduction of genetically engineered "cheese-making enzymes" instead of the animal-intestines derived rennet used traditionally in cheese-making. Although I have been near-vegan for a number of years now, so this is pretty much a moot point for me personally, I know that for the many years that I was lacto-ovo, I was constantly looking for "rennetless" cheese, which was hard to find and often not very good when I did find it. Even "kosher" cheeses allow the use of rennet, to my continued amazement, since the kosher ethic requires no consumption of meat and milk together. (It's considered an extra insult to the animal to "cook the kid in its
mother's milk." The explanation I was given for the cheese contradiction was that the rennet was so extremely diluted from the original animal source, it was no longer considered of animal origin.) Because genetically engineered rennet, produced in bacteria, no longer comes from animal intestines, this need no longer be an issue for lacto-vegetarians.

4. Albumen is a useful protein derived from animal sources, and when used as a food additive, is usually from eggs. This is another very suitable candidate for a genetically engineered food product; a gene for albumen could be placed in bacteria, and the bacteria would produce the albumen. There would be no need to go to animals for this product anymore, and we would look for labels specifying "genetically engineered albumen." (This example is also still, regrettably, hypothetical.)

5. Some extremely strict vegetarians won't use photographic film or go to movies because of gelatin in the film. (I find this too extreme for the world which we happen to inhabit at this point in time; we should work towards and support technologies such as digital imaging that don't need the gelatin, but not disengage from society.) Here's another case how genetic engineering can actually be of great benefit to ethical vegetarians: gelatin is a form of the animal protein collagen, which can be easily manufactured in bacteria, by using the information in the gene for collagen and inserting that information (in the form of DNA) into the bacteria. Gelatin produced this way should be acceptable even to the strictest vegetarians, who could start going to the movies again (and maybe even eat vegan jello).

6. In my email some time ago, I received a posting from a vegetarian list: "I have had a thyroid disorder for several years, but never knew that there was a vegetarian substitute...I live in the U.K. and have never heard of it here, is it available by mail order... I couldn't possibly consider taking pig glands unless my life was at risk." This individual needs thyroid hormone, until recently, derived only from animals. Once again, genetic engineering to the rescue. The information for this hormone has been genetically engineered so that it is made in bacteria, and is ethically correct.

7. Another email posting described an article in the August, 1997 issue of Harper's Magazine, "The Inhumanity of the Animal People." A quote from the article reminded me again of how modern molecular biology, genetic engineering, and recombinant DNA has the potential to alleviate animal suffering in ways that the vegetarian movement is usually unaware of. Take the case of "premarin," quoted from the article: "Premarin, an estrogen drug for menopausal women, comes from the urine of pregnant mares. This is a whole new industry that results in the births of approximately 75,000 unwanted foals each year. Off to the slaughterhouses the little ones go, to be turned into...something else." I expect it would be relatively straightforward for a biotech or pharmaceutical company to clone the relevant gene or genes responsible for the synthesis of premarin in horses, so that premarin could be produced in bacteria or yeast or tissue culture, and no more unwanted foals would have to be "turned into... something else." I have heard that there is a synthetic form of Premarin available, but is not profitable to produce, so the drug companies continue to promote the "natural" form, generating those unwanted foals. But if the drug companies were to produce Premarin in bacterial cultures by genetic engineering, the profitability issue would likely be resolved, and those foals wouldn't have to be produced as a byproduct, destined for slaughter.

I could go on, but the "Nutrition Action" article describes many of the other potential benefits to society, though not necessarily because of our vegetarian perspective. Here's just one brief additional example that is not veg-related: Genetically engineered coffee without caffeine has been developed, so that the chemical treatments of coffee needed to make decaffeinated would no longer be necessary. Clearly, a benefit to coffee lovers and those who want to limit their caffeine intake.

The question I pose to Paul and all my other well-meaning ethical vegetarian comrades: do we really want to expend our political and ethical capital fighting things like GE coffee without caffeine, or do we want to fight our battles over the abuse and slaughter of animals? Especially when one considers that genetic engineering provides an alternative way to obtain products which are now derived from animal slaughter, for me the answer is very clear: we should, as a movement, back off this issue and stay rooted and focused on our core concern, the wanton and unnecessary slaughter and abuse of animals.