The Compost Pile or Yesterday's News or VSET Archives

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Probable New Case of Mad Cow Disease in US An American beef cow has tested positive for mad cow disease reports the New York Times (one-time free sign-up required), but additional tests will be done at a British laboratory in hopes of repudiating those results. In an frantically arranged conference call Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says the diseased beef did not make it into the food supply and people should continue to consume beef. "There is no risk whatsoever," he reassured the nation. This is the nation's second known mad cow disease case, assuming the British lab confirms the earlier diagnosis.
The discovery came only a day after Mr. Johanns held a roundtable discussion in which he gave assurances of the safety of the American beef supply and called for the reopening of the border to Canadian beef imports. The loss of that source of cattle, together with a relatively undiminished demand, has led to unusually high beef prices in American supermarkets. An American cattlemen's group has sued to keep Canadian beef out, questioning its safety. As vegetarians we might applaud the cattlemen's efforts; perhaps high prices coupled with new health concerns will give American consumers one more reason to question whether they really need beef in their diet.

And, Verily, If the Creatures I Have Placed in Thy Care Amuse Thee Not, Eat Them  Hardee's, rapidly becoming the sleaziest of all the cardioburger joints, is currently running a commercial mocking the noble chicken for not being able to do tricks or collate. One wonders: many of us cannot do tricks or collate; if these soulless shills and their corporate masters could get away with eating us, would they? Of course they would. But, in fairness, Hardee's is only putting into words what the other burgerdoodles - and, I fear, most of our culture - are practicing. Better learn to collate.

Low-Fat Diet Helps Fight Breast Cancer   A study of breast cancer patients at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute has found that a low-fat diet improves their chances of avoiding a recurrence. Women in the study who significantly reduced fat in their diet had more than a 20 percent reduction in their rate of recurrence over five years., Of the women who made no change in their diet 12.4 percent saw their cancers return, but of the women assigned to a low-fat diet only 9.8 percent, had recurrences. The study's principal investigator, Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski, said the results were dramatic enough to be the equivalent of finding an effective new drug treatment for breast cancer. The results also bring up additional health concerns about popular high-fat diets such as Atkins and South Beach.

As a bonus, women on the low-fat diet also lost weight. It is not clear whether the difference in cancer risk was the result of the reduced dietary fat itself, the lost weight, or other factors. It is known that women in cultures that consume less fat have fewer breast cancers and better recoveries when they do develop them. It should be noted that the fat restrictions were quite rigorous; Dr. Chlebowski described it the diet as being so low in fat that it was about as low as possible without being a vegetarian diet.

Cat Poisoning Charge Points up Weakness of Penalty A dentist charged with attempting to poison feral cats near his office at the Riverview Crossing mall faces, at worst, if convicted, a $50 fine. The Knoxville Journal reports that Knoxville police have served a warrant on dentist Dr. Charles Fisher based on a complaint by Trina Jones that she witnessed the alleged attempted poisoning. The KPD has not conducted any investigation of the charges. Walker and the group Knoxville Feral Cat Friends has been working on a spay-and-release program with the colony.

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.

The Slaughter of Innocents There are those can't be bothered with the slaughter-line agonies of homely pigs or comical chickens, and there are some who smugly mock those who do care. But perhaps the sight of baby harpseals being brained will move even them.

Join and the Sea Shepherd in their fight against this unconscienable massacre of baby seals. The cruelty is even greater than that in slaughterhouses since there is no real supervision. Check the links above if you really want to know how bad it is. If you prefer not to have your sleep troubled by images of some of nature's most endearing creatures being flayed alive by some of nature's least endearing creatures, just accept that it's very bad indeed and send money. They really need it; the fur industry has plenty of cash to use against them..

Tyson Defeats Workers' Union Struggle With no more concern for their workers than for the live chickens dangling from their assembly line of death, and using tactics as dirty as the fecal broth in which the birds' carcasses are "cleansed" for public consumption, and with the backstabbing assistance of the US's most tainted union, "one of the biggest, meanest, most anti-union corporations in the nation" narrowly defeated their spunky workers in decertifying an activist union chapter fighting for fewer human parts in the nation's Sunday dinners. See our new Meat and Labor section

Virile Vegetarians   Our new Manly Vegetarian section is intended to counteract the attempts of both the meat industry and parts of popular culture to identify vegetarianism as a purely feminine thing, like soap operas. Nonsense, of course, and a new entry helps to make the point. So who were the most macho men in history? Certainly these tough guys would be near the top of the list. And new evidence indicates they were vegetarian. No surprise to us.


McDonald's to Pay $8.5 Million for McStalling on Healthier Food On Valentine's Day McDonald's agreed to stop clogging our hearts with trans-fatty acids, and to pay out $8.5 million for not living up to agreements to do so sooner. Trans-fatty acids are unnatural fats created in the process of hydrogenating vegetable oils to make them more like fats from animal flesh and are even more unhealthy than cholesterol, enabling McDonald's to sell chicken every bit as bad for you as beef. Except for Mad Cow Disease, of course. A few years ago McDonald's agreed to pay out a similar sum for lying to the public about animal fat in its French fries, though the proposed recipients of those funds have stirred controversy. Gee, if you can't trust McDonald's, what giant food corporation can you trust? You'd almost think they were willing to put profits above our health.

As is often the case with animal abusers, Sawyer also has a lengthy history of domestic abuse. The killing of the puppy was part of his long campaign of tormenting his ex-wife.This fiend in more-or-less human form was also convicted of threatening his wife in an attempt to make her drop the animal cruelty charges and sentenced to an additional two years. Unfortunately, as part of a plea bargain, the two sentences will run concurrently. You can sign a petition urging the authorities not to lessen this wretch's sentence by a single day. I don't know whether parole boards heed such things, but Attorneys General do.

Congratulations to VSET Animal Rights Coordinator Cindy McDaniel and to all who contacted their legislators urging them to support this legislation. Sawyer has expressed consternation that he could face jail time for killing "just a dog." Let's not forget, though, that more than a thousand animals a month in Knox County's Animal Shelter alone die deaths just as senseless, though far more humane, because citizens of our county are too lazy and cruel to spay and neuter their animals, or greedy enough to breed their animals in hopes of easy money. And animals that are allowed to run loose often die deaths every bit as horrible, mangled by cars, convulsing in agony from drinking anti-freeze, or torn asunder by other animals. Let's let this Sawyer thug represent ALL the forms of animal cruelty we must fight to stop.


Vegetarianism & Health

Americans Already Getting Mad Cow Disease? More Evidence. Author and researcher Janet Skarbek has discovered another in a growing roster of clusters of Creuzfeld-Jakob Disease, the incurable disease known as Mad Cow Disease in cattle. The form of CJD thus far known to affect and kill humans in the US has been dismissed by authorities as a rare, spontaneous anomaly that "just happens" in one person in a million (see earlier article, below). So why has Ms.Skarbek discovered eight fatalities from CJD, so far, in a population of 124,121, all of whom ate at the same racetrack? Are the CDC and USDA more concerned in protecting us, or the meat industry? Read this article in the March 28 New York Times (one-time free registration is required) and decide for yourself.

What I Learned in School Today This is from the Merck Manual, a reference book we use in Physiology class and not exactly a fringe publication (color emphasis mine). DM is diabetes mellitus:
In white populations, a strong association exists between type I DM diagnosed before age 30 and specific HLA-D phenotypes (HLA-DR3, HLA-DR4, and HLA-DR3/HLA-DR4). One or more genes that convey susceptibility to type I DM are believed to be located near or in the HLA-D locus on chromosome 6. Specific HLA-DQ alleles appear to be more intimately related to risks for or protection from type I DM than HLA-D antigens, and evidence suggests that genetic susceptibility to type I DM is probably polygenic. Only 10 to 12% of newly diagnosed children with type I DM have a first-degree relative with type I DM, and the concordance rate for type I DM in monozygotic twins is <= 50%. Thus, in addition to the genetic background, environmental factors affect the appearance of type I DM. Such environmental factors may be viruses (congenital rubella, mumps, and coxsackie B viruses may incite the development of autoimmune -cell destruction) and exposure to cow's milk rather than maternal milk in infancy (a specific sequence of albumin from cow's milk may cross-react with islet protein). Geography may play a role in exposure, as the incidence of type I DM is particularly high in Finland and Sardinia.

Forget the Bowl of Total; Eat the Four Bowls of Vegetables. Or, Take Two Broccoli Florets and Call Me in the Morning. Nutritionists aver that there are no more vitamins in food to be discovered. Maybe not, but there seem to be undiscovered health benefits aplenty to be found in vegetables and fruits. Perhaps we need a new word for some factors of certain foods that seem able to heal the afflicted. How about "Nutrimedicines?" A few examples follow. Check out the links, just in case my headlines might be the tiniest bit imprecise.
Orange Peels Lower Cholesterol Better Than Drugs. Well, compounds in orange and tangerine peels do. See article.
Brocolli Stops Herpes. Early studies using human and monkey cells indicate cruciferous vegetables may be useful in controlling both genital and oral herpes. See article.
Salsa Slays Salmonella.
Cilantro, one of the main flavorings of salsa, has been found to be twice as effective as the most commonly used pharmaceutical treatment in destroying the deadly Salmonella bacteria. See article.
Grapefruit Helps Control Diabetes and Obesity. See our earlier article further down this page, under the heading, "Lose Weight Without Exercise through Fruit."

Deconstructing the Pyramid   The trouble with pyramids is they're so... pointy! There's less at the top than the bottom. Which is why the US Food industry objects* to the USDA Food Pyramid introduced in 1992: it might give some people the idea that some foods are better for us than others. Perish the thought! Shrillest among the pained outcries against such food slander are our old friends of the Sugar Industry, fresh from their war against the World Health Organization. You'll recall the Sugar Industry believes we should be getting about a fourth of our calories from sugar, not a tiny little capstone's worth! Joining Mr. Tooth Decay in his indignation are such stalwarts of good nutrition as the Snack Food Association, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, the U.S. Potato Board, the Atkins "Diet" people, the National Dairy Council, and, of course, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

The current pyramid recommends 6-12 servings of bread, cereal and pasta, which may seem excessive if you don't realize that USDA servings are really small. And probably they should specify unrefined grains, not the all-too-ubiquitous white bread, rice and pasta (see the Harvard Nutritition version, below). But it could get a lot worse if the Sugar and Oil people get their way and succeed in fattening up the top of the pyramid. For its part, the beef industry would like to see legumes moved back to the vegetable category lest some folks get the idea you can get your protein from non-meat sources.

[You can see some of the food industry's typical, oily double-talk at the Grocery Manufacturers of America page, where, among other complaints, they lament the fact that the USDA bases its recommendations on sedentary Americans, instead of just telling Americans to get up off their lazy lard-butts and aerobicize so that they can eat more chips!]

Those defending good nutritional standards at the USDA are up against a large part of the 500 billion dollar a year food industry. Will they have the courage to stand their ground, especially under the Bush administration? Perhaps you'll be reassured to know that the USDA has hired Porter Novelli International, a public-relations firm, to come up with a new Food Guidance System, including a new symbol. Or perhaps you won't. Porter Novelli's Dan Snyder says, "Theoretically, we don't refer to it is as the pyramid. We refer to the project as the new Food Guidance System, so it's not prejudiced that it's going to be a pyramid." Maybe it should be a sphere, a shape that increasingly resembles the average American consumer.

*Wall Street Journal article; VSET takes no position on the products or opinions offered at this site.

Farm Subsidy Pyramid Upside Down  Always vigilant in protecting the health of Big Agribusiness if not the health of American consumers, the USDA has turned its own pyramid on its head. In the Bizarro world of the USDA the foods they urge us to eat the least of get by far the biggest subsidies, the wealthiest farm corporations get most of the aid, and payments are most generous when profits are highest. These are your tax dolllars at work, enriching Agribusiness CEO's who have in recent years enjoyed dramatiac cuts in their own taxes. The Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy Database details who is getting your hard-earned tax dollars, and provides some insights as to how Farm Subsidies may actually be helping to drive family farms out of business. Also see a related NY Times article.

Save Garden Burger (Thereby Saving Your VSET Webperson) It seems Gardenburger is going through a period of financial upheaval. They make the tastiest meat analogues available in your supermarket, and the best veggie dinners anywhere. Even if you cook everything from scratch, please be kind to those vegetarians who don't (like Yours Truly) and buy lots of their products during this difficult time. Not only will your support help keep your Cooking Challenged colleagues fed (and in the fold), the dinners also make great transition food for those trying to change over. So buy lots of Gardenburger stuff, especially their yummy dinners. Don't send me back to eating only lasagna! Even if you don't happen to care for meat analogues, this might be a good time to convert your dog to vegetarianism.

Bi-Lo entrées are available at Ingle's and Bi-Lo. Bi-Lo also has those truly yummy complete dinners (even the side dishes are good). And those are on sale right now!

Bi-Lo is also, as far as I know, the only grocery chain in Knoxville that gives a discount for bringing your own grocery bag. I just use my Food Co-op bag in place of the store's carry basket. And a cloth bag won't rip on you while you're fishing for your door keys.

See many other meatless microwave meals in your market in our Lazy Vegetarian section.



The Manly Vegetarian™

The food industry and television sitcoms would have us believe that only anorexic 16 year-old girls are drawn to vegetarianism, and that no real man would eat like an herbivore, any more than he'd watch figure skating. This section aims to destroy that myth with facts replacing assumptions.

Vegetarian Tush-Hogs New archaeological evidence further supports the fact that vegetarian men need yield to none as far as virility is concerned. Who would you say were the toughest guys in history? Certainly the gladiators would have to be near the top of any list of macho men and, yes, they were vegetarians. In fact those of us who have chafed under the epithet of "granola crunchers" will delight in learning that gladiators were called - probably not to their faces - a similar nickname, "barley crunchers." Forensic Anthropologist Karl Grosschmidt tested the bones of more than 70 gladiators recently discovered in a graveyard near Ephesus, the ancient Roman capital of Asia Minor, and learned the fighters relied on a diet of mostly barley and beans to grow strong. Also, it seems they weren't overly lean, actually were a bit on the pudgy side, sort of like... well, Russel Crowe.

Eat Like a MAN! In keeping with the growing trend toward attempting to feminize the vegetarian image, Swanson's has been running a series of commercials for their Hungry Man* dinners that slyly imply that our nation's growing ranks of obese men should glory in their girth, throw their weight around, and pity the wimps who eat skimpy sissy meals and might be blown away by a gentle zephyr for their lack of gravitas. Now Hardee's is chiming in with "Little weeny burgers are for... little... weeny... guys." A glance at the Hungry Man dinners in your store will show that Swanson's lives up to their position by scrupulously eliminating almost any trace of girlish green from the product. Yet Dr. William White, in a report pubished in European Urology, cautions that those masculine meals are likely to make our big guys a lot less manly. While cereals, nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables and especially onions and garlic can substantially reduce prostate risk, meat and dairy products have the opposite effect. So careful, guys; the "It's good to be full" campaign is full of it. Load up on meat and your virility could be gone with the wind. Not to mention your life.
*Here is an amusingly detailed but scatologically vulgar description of a Hungry Man breakfast by Matt.

* * *
Bulk Up Without Beef. Just because you're vegetarian doesn't mean you can't pack on some muscle if you've a mind to. We hope to add some strength and fitness info to our site but, meanwhile, here's the first of a number of vegan strongmen - and women - we'll be featuring: Mike Mahler. He looks substantial enough. Remember, you are what you eat.

Vegan Shooting for Mr. Olympia. Kenneth Williams intends to become the country's first vegan pro body builder, setting his sights on the Mr. Olympia championship - the most prestigious natural bodybuilding competition in the world (we can assume vegans also don't use steroids). One look at Kenneth should be enough to convince you that a vegan diet is no impediment to building muscle. In fact his wife, Evelyn Molina-Williams, also featured on this site, feminine though she plainly is, looks like she, too, could probably kick the average Hungry Man's lardbutt. First Ken has to win some qualifying rounds; write him to wish him well or to seek his advice on building strength without meat. For information about veganism, and how your dietary choices affect animals and the environment, visit the IDA website.

Pumping Iron Naturally. Sure vegetarians get enough iron. And sometimes we like to toss it around a little, too. Whether you're into strength training for its own sake, or to augment another sport, here at the Pumping Iron Naturally page are some links to vegan athletes who are building muscle while keeping their most important one free of cholesterol.

And Don't Forget Popeye. We are reminded that Popeye derived his great strength, upon which his self-confidence and courage were based, from the healthy vegan source Spinach, whereas his hamburger-loving friend was Wimpy.

Popeye and Wimpy © King Features Syndicate

"One farmer says to me, 'You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with'; and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with
the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle." Thoreau, Walden

Vegans may be at a bit of a disadvantage in strength sports, not because of their diet, but because most athletes who don't do meat probably don't do steroids either. But many would argue that steroid-produced muscles have an unnatural look anyway. As bodybuilder Jerry Weintz has said, "Do you want to look like you're carved out of marble, or do you want to look like you're carved out of styrofoam?"

Vegetarianism and Animal Welfare

Photo of Sophie by Patricia Sawyer
Knoxvillian First Alleged Man Convicted of Felony Animal Cruelty in Tennessee Timothy Sawyer, 40, of Knoxville, will become the first alleged man to go to jail for animal cruelty under Tennessee's new statute which makes extreme animal cruelty a class E felony; he has been sentenced to two years in jail. Sawyer killed his stepdaughter's eight week old Jack Russel terrier Sophie by crushing her in a door and then, in what was a doubtlessly unwitting imitation of the cosmetics industry, pouring liquid make-up down her throat, choking her to death.

Wild and Free on the Open Plains...
Or Specially Priced on the Blue Plate Menu

The tragic plight of American horses cruelly slaughtered for foreign tables and domestic dogfood - or dogs and cats slaughtered for supper in Asia, for that matter - is really no sadder than the plight of hundreds of thousands of meat industry animals who live lives of misery before being "harvested," often painfully. But Americans are more fond of horses than of cattle, and horses, at least, have a defender in the Doris Day Animal League. Scroll down our Advocacy page.

And Now for Some Good News: Horse Slaughter to End  Thanks to the effort of thousands of individuals and many animal welfare groups, the senate has joined with congress in essentially outlawing the slaughter of horses for sale as food overseas. Happily, both Tennessee senators voted with the majority, even Frist who brags in his memoirs about his frugality in dissecting cats he got for free in response to "Free to Good Home" ads during his college days. We must give the devil his due; write both our honorable gentlemen and thank them. Of course, they know most folks love horses, and few Americans eat them. We must hope that the day will come when the country will compel our leaders to similarly act against the cruel slaugher of less handsome but much smarter animals like pigs.

Unfortunately, our congressman, Jimmy Duncan, earlier voted against protecting the west's wild horses from slaughter for food, and voted against the Sweeney-Spratt Amendment, the House version of the Senate bill stopping horse slaughter altogether. Not that he would necessarily chow down on horses himself; Free Market Jimmy just thinks everything in our Great Nation should hae a price tag. A herd of wild horses galloping across our western plains are breathtakingly beautiful, but not as beauiful as cold, hard cash.

Sic the G-Men on Animal Cruelty. VSET Animal Welfare Coordinator Cindy McDaniel urges all Americans to make three phone calls to bring the FBI into the fight against Animal cruelty. Not only is the crime of abuse against animals repugnant in itself, it is often a precursor to crime against human beings (see below). VSET joins with the Doris Day Animal League in this worthwhile effort.

The FBI already collects data on these crimes, however, the data is filed under a "miscellaneous" heading where it cannot be retrieved for analysis. If the FBI helps make available animal cruelty crime statistics to law enforcement and social service agencies, these agencies can track crime trends and develop more effective prevention and intervention programs.

TAKE ACTION: Please ask the following subcommittee members to support a separate FBI category for animal cruelty offenses: Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) at (202) 224-6121; Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) at (202) 225-5136; and Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) at (202) 225-4361. Be sure to mention this category can be added at no extra cost, as the FBI is currently revamping its crime reporting system.

Fare Well, Marvelous Beast Five of the few remaining Northern White Rhinos on earth are, at last, being moved to a sanctuary. It is estimated that fewer than ten remain in the wild with another ten in captivity. This makes the Northern White Rhino the most endangered large mammal in the world. Recovery prospects look bleak as, it seems, this animal only breeds in a herd setting and the ten in captivity are not reproducing. This preservation effort, though laudable, would appear to be a case of too little too late. The Rhinos are slain by marauding bands armed with heavy weapons; the horns are hacked off and the carcass of this rare creature is left to rot. The horns are sold in the East to superstitious men with more money than sense who believe the powdered horn will cure their Erectile Dysfunction. The latest butchers to seek to exterminate the breed for profit are of the same ethnic group as the Janjaweed Arab militia, the group that has raped and murdered millions of blacks in the Sudan, an even greater tragedy than the Tsunami disaster, but one that doesn’t seem to merit a telethon. I think it was Frederick II who said, “The more I know people, the more I love animals.”

Here’s my suggestion: develop a powder chemically indistinguishable from powdered rhino horn and flood the market with it. Since any inert substance will have the same non-effect as powdered rhino horn, who’s to know? You’ll note I’m refraining from urging it be laced with a slow-acting but lethal poison. Meanwhile, begin a campaign to tranquilize as many wild rhinos black and white (the "white" actually derives from the Afrikaaner word “weis,” meaning wide) as possible and replace their horns with chartreuse fiberglass or something.

Many vegetarians - though certainly not all - are also fans of “alternative” medicine. Some herbal remedies and other traditional nostrums have value, others don’t (your correspondent confesses to being homeopathophobic). But to anyone who’s ever asked what harm a folk remedy could do: this is one example.

Compassionate Commercials It's about time! At last someone is running vegetarian ads. Compassion Over Killing to be precise. We're a long way from having the air time that Wendy's or Hardees enjoys, but it's a welcome start. Take a look.  

The LonelyBuffalo   The people of the Department of the Interior are the "stewards and guardians of our nation's natural resources and cultural heriatge." Or so they say. Nonetheless, our noble stewards felt obliged to kill a lone female buffalo who was trespassing onto the land of the Church Universal and Triumphant, despite having been warned repeatedly not to do so, reports the Buffalo Field Campaign. Certainly the CUT was Triumphant over this particular creature. It seems cattlemen are annoyed that buffalo are eating grass that could be fattening their cows, and have pressured the DOI to take drastic action. Another good reason, though we already had a sufficiency, not to eat beef. Increasingly, the Interior Department has become the Interior Department Store for Agribusiness and the Meat Industry, placing corporate profits over national heritage. Look closely at the bison on the DOI's seal: is that a spot of blood over its heart?

   Sea Shepherd

Dolphins Save Humans   Since ancient times sailors have regarded it as unforgiveable folly to harm a dolphin; dolphins were known to guide ships through treacherous waters. Dolphins have saved people from drowning. And dolphins have saved people from sharks. In November, near the town of Whangerei in New Zealand, lifeguard Rob Howes was swimming with his 15 year old daughter and two of her friends when he was suddenly alarmed to discover they had been encircled by dolphins who would not permit them to swim away. His alarm turned to astonished gratitude when he realized the dolphins were protecting them from a three meter [about 10'] great white shark which was circling about two meters away from the swimmers, just beyond the dolphins; "They had corralled us up to protect us, " he said. The event was also seen by another lifeguard Matt Fleet who was patroling on lifeboat and confirmed Howes' account. Throughout history there have been frequent reports of dolphins helping and protecting humans who have entered their world and found themselves in danger there. So how do we repay them?          

Humans Slaughter Dolphins   Dolphins are the only creature on earth with more brain surface (thus more wrinkles [gyri]) than humans. Does that make them smarter than us? Or only more humane. The pictures here from Sea Shepherd show Japanese fishermen taking part in Japan's annual slaugher of thousands of dolphins (the crimson water has not been retouched, giving new meaning to the term "bloodbath"). Many fisherman believe dolphins are responsible for declining fish stocks in the oceans, apparently making no connection to the Japanese driftnet fishing trawlers (and those of other nations) which can tow nets up to 90 miles long. The dolphins' bodies are also sold for meat. Dolphins are highly intelligent beings that are fully aware of their own excruciating deaths and the deaths of their family members.

But there are some humans as noble as the Dolphin. Members of the Sea Shepherd Society, among others, have risked and endured physical attack and imprisonment to interfere with the massacres and to free captive dolphins. They deserve your support as much as any animal welfare group. How about giving someone a membership or something from their gift shop? Perhaps a Sea Shephred pendant instead of roses for Valentien's Day this year for that certain someone special enough to care. Here in the Smokies you're not likely to see any dolphins, but, someday you may visit the ocean, and wouldn't it be good to know there are still dolphins frolicking in the seas beneath your excursion boat? Especially if you lean out too far to point at something and fall overboard…

Save the Chickens!  See, already some of you are smiling with tolerant amusement at the idea that anyone could become exercised over cruelty to chickens. Most of our culture regards the misery of chickens as of no importance, treating these noble birds - if you've ever seen a handsome chanticleer welcoming the sun, or attempting to defend his flock against a full-grown man, you'll not dispute that adjective - as though they were inanimate objects. Or worse, as recent footage secretly recorded in a slaughterhouse documents, some deliberately torture them for sport. And yet chickens have the same capacity for pain that we do. Some will say that without a higher consciousness that pain is irrelevant; we say that makes the pain all the worse: without a mind to rationalize the pain or look forward to a blissful hereafter, they know only the agony of the moment.

If these birds were being prepared by great French chefs - oops; sorry! I forgot we can't say French anymore - great Freedom chefs, it would be bad enough, but to die to make Chicken Fingers? Well, as someone has said, these birds died in vain, ending up ignominiously in a vat of grease at Kentucky Fried Chicken - oops, sorry! I forgot we can't say Fried anymore - KFC. Their only consolation must be that at least they're taking those who eat their fat-laden carcasses with them.

With billions of birds haphazardly killed in this country every year surely the air is thick with their anguish. VSET member David Schaefer hopes to increase awareness of the hellish existence chickens live on their way to being processed into McNuggets. Since KFC policy is to make a report to national headquarters any time there is a demonstration, he hopes to demonstrate at as many KFC's as possible. The First Saturday of each month from 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. David will be demonstrating at the KFC at 4200 Chapman Highway, about three miles South of the Henley Street bridge, speaking out for the animal he calls "the most abused creature on the planet." Please join him; you can reach him at 609-1809. At least go by and give him your moral support; you know he's going to need it since he's sure to be mocked by those who find the idea of caring about the pain of chickens... amusing.         Photo © Compassion Over Killing.         See COK exposé of CFK breeder.

Atrocities at Kosher Slaughterhouse  Just after Thanksgiving PeTA released footage of cows slain according to Kosher law staggering and languishing long after their throats were cut, according to an article in the November 30 New York TImes (free registration required). "On the 30-minute tape, each animal is placed in a rotating drum so it can be killed while upside down, as required by Orthodox rabbis in Israel. Immediately after the shochet, or ritual slaughterer, has slit the throat, another worker tears open each steer's neck with a hook and pulls out the trachea and esophagus. The drum rotates, and the steer is dumped on the floor. One after another, animals with dangling windpipes stand up or try to; in one case, death takes three minutes," the article says. "Virtually all defenders of kosher slaughter, called shechita, insist that the prescribed rapid cut with a razor-sharp two-foot blade is humane because it causes instant and painless death. Jewish law also forbids killing injured or sick animals, so they may not be stunned first, either with clubs as in ancient times or with air hammers, pistols or electricity today." (Our VSET Animal Rights spokesperson, Cindy McDaniel, advised us of these cruel practices only days ago. Cindy... you were right.) Defenders of Kosher slaughter contend that once the throat is cut the brain, deprived of oxygen, is without consciousness and the anguished thrashing and bubbling attempts to scream are mindless reflex. My own observation as a practitioner of judo, which makes use of the "sleeper" hold, is that a person rendered unconscious by cutting off blood to the brain does not move about at all until consciousness begins to return. Until overturned on technical grounds in 2001 Switzerland outlawed Kosher slaughter. The practice which many consider barbaric, has been linked to a rise in anti-semitism in some countries. The Muslim method of halâl slaughter has raised similar concerns. Learn about Jewish and Muslim Vegetarianism on our Links page.

Vegetarianism and The Environment

Simple Step Reduces Childhood Obesity: Reduce Soft Drinks in Schools A recent study in Britain showed modest reduction in childhood obesity in six public schools that did nothing more than educate students about the negative effects of sweetened soft drinks with four special discussions during the school year. A control group of students of the same age who received no such nutritional instruction got fatter, the number of overweight and obese children increasing by 7.6% over the same year. Derrek Yach, head of the World Health Organization's anti-obesity campaign, called the results "promising" considering the small scope of the corrective measures. "We would hope to see larger studies with more intensive interventions," he said. "What happens when you combine this with the removal of [soft drink] vending machines [from schools}?" The soft drink industry has expressed outrage at such socialistic notions and declared the study "flawed." As flawed as the tooth enamel of soft-drink-swilling school children.Perhaps the soft drink industry will form an alliance with the American sugar industry, now in the second year of their war against the World Health Organization (see below). Sort of an Axis of Treacle


Meat and Labor

Here begins a new section devoted to the toll the meat industry has taken on its employees. They are treated very like the animals they process: chewed up, often literally, and treated like excrement. Like the rest of this page, this section will grow as I find time.

Meat Workers Denied Right to Organize. Voice at Work tells us of a report from Human Rights Watch titled  "Blood, Sweat and Fear: Workers' Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry," details the widespread repression in the meat industry of workers' rights to organize, including harassment, general intimidation, bribing workers to spy on one another, threats of firing and the fulfillment of those threats, and, as the meat industry is one of this country's major exploiters of illegal immigrants, threats of deportation. Of course, the availability of cheap illegal labor also makes it easier to intimidate American citizens with loss of their job if they get out of line. The industry has also threatened to shut down plants that unionize and to move elsewhere, a threat that is all too easy to believe. Additional laws are needed to protect workers' rights to unionize, but even existing laws are being ignored.

This on top of the fact that meatpacking has been called the "most dangerous job in American." More on that soon. See Human Rights Watch report.

Tyson & Teamsters Team Up to Suppress Meat Workers Described by labor journalist Eric Schlosser as "one of the biggest, meanest, most anti-union corporations in the nation" Tyson Foods whose cruel factory farms exterminate millions of birds each year to produce one of the "dirtiest foods in America" (that story here soon), have applied that same cruelty to gutting the local Teamster's meat packing union. They had a lot of help from Hoffa's national Teamsters' Office, which is annoyed and threatened by locals that exhibit too much independence and real activism. The workers had been campaigning for, among other things, the elimination of the sorts of dangerous practices in Tyson plants that had cost one of their fellow employees his arm. One more good reason not to eat meat; let's build more meat analogue plants. Far cleaner and no dangerous slicers and deboners to worry about. Read more about the fecally foul tactics used to silence these workers' concerns.

Murder in the Meat Industry No, trust me; you really "don't want to know "how the sausage is made"… if ya know what's good for ya. San Leandro sausage facory owner Stuart Alexander, 43, was sentenced to death on February 15 in Oakland for the murder of two United States meat inspectors and a California meat inspector. What a thankless job meat inspection must be: obstruction from the USDA and death threats and violence from the industry you're policing. How bad must conditions in packing houses be that their owners will kill to keep us from learning of them! Of course, many exposés have long ago demonstrated that meat producers have no scruples. The only surprise is that the victims' bodies were ever found.

Urgent Action to Protect Tennessee Animals! VSET Animal Welfare Coordinator Cindy McDaniel urges all Tennesseeans to write, call or email Governor Bredesen to ask him to sign SB 3209 & HB 3458 into law. In the words of the letter she submitted to the Governor: "These bills are designed to strengthen the current cruelty law by defining aggravated cruelty to include 'the failure to provide food and water to a companion animal resulting in death or a substantial risk of death.' A first conviction under the newly passed legislation will be a Class A misdemeanor, subject up to an eleven month, twenty-nine day term of imprisonment, and/or up to a two thousand dollar fine. Subsequent convictions would be Class E felonies, subject to a one to six year term of imprisonment and up to a three thousand dollar fine." We lost the effort to outlaw scattering unrestrained dogs down the highway from open pickup trucks, but we can win this one if you will please take just a moment to let the governor know there are a lot of Tennesseeans who care about animal suffering. Thanks.

Governor Phil Bredesen, Office of the Governor, Tennessee State Capitol, Nashville, TN 37243, (615) 741-2001,

The Atkins DIEt: Diet of Death? We're not going to say we told you so... but we did, didn't we? According to an AP article in the May 28 Knoxville News-Sentinel, the first lawsuit has been filed against the Atkins Diet promoters by Florida businessman Jody Gorran who says the meat-heavy diet almost cost him his life; his LDL cholesterol level, healthy before starting the diet, skyrocketed after he began following the Atkins guidelines and he ultimately had to undergo angioplasty and the insertion of a stent. Mr. Gorran says his lawsuit is not about the measly $15,000 he's seeking; he wants to send a warning to other eager dieters and see to it that caveats about health risks are required on all Atkins products and literature. He is being assisted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. We at VSET are opposed to restricting free speech, but we do think that all products should be prohibited from making inadequately confirmed health claims and that possibly harmful prodcuts should be labeled. It sets one's teeth on edge to see fat-laden Low-Carb Dinners side by side with vegetarian dinners in the health foods section of your grocer's freezer.

Obesity is a national crisis and we applaud those who are struggling to attain a healthier weight, but it is important to take time to really study the complex issue of nutrition and not rely on a high-fat fad diet that is focused on fat profits. Forget the shortcuts; cut calories, get more exercise, and be patient. Attend the next VSET Potluck Dinner - this coming Sunday at 6 - for some healthy cooking tips, plenty of healthy food to sample, and lots of folks ready to offer advice and moral support. Please come.

The Meatrix. Urge your meat-eating friends to take the red pill.The Resistance needs them. Perhaps one of them is the Chosen One. Not specifically a vegetarian site, but nonetheless recommended.

Super Size Me. In this amusing but frightening documentary our hero looks into the face of Death, who turns out to be a clown with bushy red hair. The director sets out to eat for a full month only at McDonald's across the nation, and discovers America's soft underbelly. And his own mortality. VSET is     hoping to see this one as a group. Cinema 8

Study: Cruelty to Animals Becomes Cruelty to People. Criminologists have long known that animal cruelty is a good indicator that the perpetrator is also capable of vicious cruelty against people. Now a new book, Animal Cruelty: Pathway to Violence Against People, details research that confirms this. The authors are Linda Merz-Perez, former Humane Society Executive Director in Alabama and Animal Cruelty Investigative Officer, and Kathleen Heide, Professor of Criminology and a licensed mental health counselor. Theirs is the first study to present qualitative and quantitative data clearly establishing a link between childhood animal cruelty and violent crime in adulthood. The researchers found that more than half of violent offenders had committed acts of animal cruelty in their youth, as compared with only 20 % of non-violent offenders. The authors said their study showed the importance of early intervention in cruelty cases, and the urgency of prosecutors taking animal abuse cases seriously.

The authors broke animal abuse cases down into four categories, violence against strays, violence against pets, violence against wildlife, and violence against farm animals. Of course, farm animals are not accorded the same protections agains cruelty in our society as are companion animals. The suffereing of meat animals is regarded lightly, often even joked about. Reviews of this book do not indicate whether the national indifference to the agonies of factory-farmed animals makes us as a culture more willing to tolerate the cruelty toward human beings...

How's Your Heart? If you're a vegan, or even a prudent vegetarian, chances are your heart is pretty healthy. But how big is it? Food Not Bombs is sorely in need of a few big-hearted folks willing to spend just a little time assisting them in providing vegetarian meals to the homeless and the less fortunate. And you get a free meal out of it, too! Food Not Bombs distributes food, most of which would otherwise have been discarded by local businesses, to the hungry on Market Square on Saturdays. These meals are special treats and mean a lot to the recipients, and scarcely less to the distributors. The event has been taking place for about three years. But some of the volunteers have moved away, others have new responsibilities to deal with, others just need a rest. Please help if you can. To lose FNB now, after so much work and devotion, would be heartbreaking.

Food Not Bombs public library (Lawson McGhee)
500 Church Avenue room A. Wed. 6:00 pm
Call Martin Stephens, at (865) 237-2344

FNB is guaranteed to make your organ larger

Mad Cows and Mad Chickens

Meat animals have a lot to be mad about. So do those who consume them, and those of us that don't but just have to live with the economic and environmental harm the meat industry does.

United Poultry Concerns is pleased to invite you to sponsor and attend "Mad Cows to Mad Chickens: What Insiders Can Tell You About Agribusiness, Animal Liberation, and Your Diet," August 21-22, 2004, at the Hilton Airport Norfolk Hotel, in Norfolk, Virginia. Inspired by former Tyson chicken slaughter plant worker, Virgil Butler, our featured speaker, and by growing public awareness of the deplorable treatment of animals exploited for food and its link to human and nonhuman animal suffering and diseases, our Forum brings together experts from behind the scenes of the meat, poultry, egg, dairy, medical, and alternative animal production industries.

United Poultry Concerns, Inc., PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150

Brain-boggling! USDA FORBIDS Mad Cow Testing! Some public interest groups have complained of the lackadaisical and inadequate testing of the nations's cattle supply for signs of Mad Cow disease, restricting tests only to those cows so sick they are unable to stand, despite evidence that seemingly healthy cattle can harbor the deadly prion. Now the USDA is responding by prohibiting Kansas beef producer Creekstone Farms Premium Beef from testing all its cattle for Mad Cow. Creekstone had hoped thereby to regain part of the lucrative Japanese market; the USDA objected that such extensive testing would "unnecessarily" alarm the beef-eating public. Exactly what point of law permits the USDA to restrict voluntary consumer protections is not made clear in the New York Times article (one-time free sign-up required). Quite brain-boggling. Not as brain-boggling as Mad Cow disease, of course.          More on prions: If cows contracted BSE (Mad Cow Disease) from scrapie-infected sheep, why can humans contract BSE from cows but not sheep? Does the Wasting Disease form of BSE in wild Ungulates in the American West pose a threat to meat-eaters? Learn about prion transfer among species in Science Daily.

The Vegetarian Village

Going Vegetarian: The Christian Thing to Do There are many diverse reasons for going vegetarian: compassion, environmental concerns, enlightened self-interest or religious conviction. Ellisa Cooper, a University of Tennessee student, a member of the START environmental group there, and a Christian, explains her choice from a Christian perpective: "...evangelists who scream at you and tell you you are going to hell if you do not accept Jesus as your Savior (etc..) probably mean well and want you to seek a relationship with God ...but their method isn't the best way to reach people.  Spreading the word about vegetarianism is very similar; though it is a black and white issue, I realize people would simply just not listen if I begged them to stop eating meat. So I decided to make a website where Christians and non-Christians can view my silent plea." Elissa does not pretend to any special wisdom, but she welcomes letters and questions from those who are weighing the merits of vegetarianism. Find other faith-based vegetarian groups on our links page. You may also find the Vegan 2000 page Religious Reasons for Vegetarianism of interest.

Were the First Christians Vegetarians? Yes, or so this site on Christian Philosophy from the Universal Life movement maintains. Based on texts from the Bible and from contemporary writings of the Apostles and early church leaders.

Isn't it Time Knoxville had a Real Vegetarian Restaurant? A recent visit to the Laughing Seed Restaurant made me envious of the residents of Asheville, NC (they also have a progressive radio station in their little Utopia). The food is some of the best I've ever eaten; I suspect many of the patrons are scarcely aware they are eating vegetarian food, which might help make a few converts. It is quite popular; reservations are advisable there. Knoxville's first vegetarian restaurant was the Vegetarian Cafeteria way back in the 20's. In the 70's Knoxville had three veggie eateries (Nature's Pantry, Jojo's Getback Café, and the snack bar at the Seventh Day Adventists' health food store). Now, though there are several restaurants that offer fine vegetarian fare (see our Restaraunt Guide; most offer a discount to VSET members), there are none that specializes in vegetarian dishes. If Asheville, with a third of our population, can support two, surely we can manage one. Some members of VSET are so hungry for a restaurant we can call our own that they have vowed they would bus tables for free to make it happen.

Here's your chance to put your money where your eager mouth is: Norris Dryer, popular radio personality and Green Party candidate for City Council, together with some associates, is considering a combo veggie restaurant and coffee house, possibly in the present Cup-a-Joe's location. If you would patronize such an establishment, let him know at <> Also, give him a little feedback as to the type of restaurant you'd like to see: elegant and haute cuisine like Laughing Seed or laid back and casual like Stone Soup? Here's your chance to help bring a Knoxville Vegetarian Restaurant into being, and even to help shape the form it takes. Write Norris right now - all you have to do is click on the link - and give him your input. And a little encouragement.

Mary's Vegetarian Hot Tamales to Remain Open Through Summer. Mary's Hot Tamales (operated by Ms. Clara Robinson, sister of the late Mary) will remain open throughout the Summer, though she will not be open on weekends. Ms. Robinson only started making the vegetarian version two years ago in response to popular request, the only vegetarian tamales in town as far as we know. This is the same recipe that former meat-eaters may recall buying from Mr. Green's pushcart years ago in Mechanicsville. You won't miss the meat. Ms. Clara also makes vegetarian chili so you can also have a veggie full house. I'm happy to report that Ms. Robinson has been surprised to discover the veggie tamales outselling the meat versions. She is considering putting Mr. Green's original pushcart back on the streets, but this time with a vegetarian alternative! Mary's Hot Tamales' status as VSET discount vendor is pending, but Ms. Robinson said she's willing to dicker with individual vegetarians.

MARY'S HOT TAMALE'S, 1931 East Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37917    •   423-637-2033


Skip a Burger, Save a Wolf.
Giving up beef will not only help save major predators, like the wolf; that dietary change can also help save whole ecosystems. At Yellowstone the recovery of the wolf has helped restore willow groves, since browsing elk now tend to eat and run. This, in turn, has led to the comeback of moose, beavers, minks, muskrats and ducks. Ecology, it seems, is a complex business, and chopping whole parts of it away for the benefit of special interests can have unanticipated consequences. Learn more at NPR.

No one will be suprised to find that ranchers are wolves' most implacable enemies. They were primarily responsible for the bounties that exterminated wolves from most of our country to start with. They are the group most resistant to reintroducing them. They are the ones who push hardest, once wolves become re-established, despite all odds, to re-exterminate them or at least to be allowed to shoot them on sight; beef producers are now urging that wolves be removed from Endangered Species protection. And some cattlemen, such as gentleman rancher and newscaster Sam Donaldson, advocate following the Triple-S wolf management program, thus avoiding government red tape. The three S's stand for: Shoot, Shovel and Shutup. Meanwhile the cattle of most major beef producers graze on your public lands, often causing substantial damage. Cattlemen don't much like wild horses roaming those ranges either, by the way.

The war against predators is only one of many ways ranching harms the natural wold. A few of the others: rain forest destruction, second-most source of greenhouse gas methane, the worst cause of non-point source water pollution, soil erosion - you really just can't be an environmentalist and still eat beef.

(I almost headed this "Shoot a Rancher, Save a Wolf" as a satirical take on the bumper sticker popular among cattlemen: "Shoot a Wolf, Save a Rancher." But beef producers and anti-environmentalists would be all over something like that - "Vegetarians Call for Slaughter of Ranchers" - so I resisted the impulse. See below for other examples of "Vegeterrorism.

More Health Nut Nonsense from Those Wackos at the Mayo Clinic. Vegetarianism: better for you, better for the environment, and definitely better for the animals. But the Mayo Clinic only weighs in on the first of those aspects. You know, the Mayo Clinic? No, not the lawn care experts; one of the most respected health care and research institutes on earth. It seems, despite the warnings of the cattle industry, that a vegetarian diet's really good for you. Live and learn. And vice versa.

Lose Weight Without Exercise Through Fruit. Remember the ridiculous grapefruit diet? Well, it really worked after all. And that's not the best part: it also may help control diabetes. Yes, we really expect you to believe us. Even if it is too good to be true. We know that there are some overly credulous vegetarians, eager to believe any good news about fruits and vegetables. But we've got the prestigious Scripps Institute to back us up. We await peer review and replications of the study, of course, but meanwhile it couldn't hurt to up your grapefruit intake.

Meat Strikes Back. We know that meat contributes to cardiovascular disease, making it, according to some authorities, as harmful as smoking, and that commercially produced meat is full of dangerous hormones that can have unexpected effects on our bodies such as gynecomastia in men (see below). And we know the profligate use of antibiotics in meat production is increasing the incidence of resistant strains of disease. But our meat of late poses more immediate and potentially even more dangerous consequences: a major vector of disease and a possible breeding ground for diseases man has never before encountered and against which we may have no defenses.

Kroger's, a grocery chain with a large presence in Knoxville has just recalled beef tainted with listeria, a disease best known for the serious contamination of lakes around North Carolina pig factories. Thousands of civet cats, a gourmet treat in China, are being slaughtered and discarded to try to stop the spread of SARS. There's Anthrax, Hoof-and-Mouth, and Mad Cow (below). And, possibly the most ominous: tens of thousands of chickens in Asian countries are being slaughtered, mostly by suffocation, to try to slow the spread of the Avian Flu, a virus that may, it is feared, be contracted by someone who already has a cold, causing that person, and humanity, a very bad time of it. It is feared the Avian flu virus and the human flu virus may exchange genetic information, producing a form of Avian flu that can be transmitted from person to person. If this happens, we are told, we may want to prepare by reading up on the Spanish influenza outbreak that took millions of lives back in 1918. Don't forget, disease has claimed far more lives than all wars combined.

Future CEO's of America. Good grief! Are fraternities still around? You may have thought fraternities were only cloistered refuges for the pampered sons of privilege, where they might find some respite from rubbing shoulders with the children of the Great Unwashed. But it seems they also learn there the mindset that will prepare them for leadership roles out in the real world. Like attitudes of cruelty and indifference to suffering. CNN picks up an AP story about the spread of animal cruelty in Animal Houses across our nation.

Roll Over, Dr. Atkins; Carbs are Good for Us. Your gut told you all along that the Atkins carbophobia was all wrong, and now a 12 year Harvard study confirms your gut's wisdom. Study leader Simin Liu's research revealed that those women who ate the most unrefined carbohydrates were half as likely to become obese as those who ate lots of refined carbohydrates . Could it be the Atkins studies focused on the refined carbs more common in the Amerian diet? It seems unrefined carbohydrates are more filling, release sugar more slowly - which may take the edge off our appetites longer - and may even have enzymes that make us burn more calories. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutirition. We in VSET are refined; our carbs aren't.

Knoxville's Meateaters Busted. Knoxville's status as one of the country's fattest cities has earned it the dubious honor of being the first to be chosen for PeTA's new manbreast campaign. Partial to breasts? The one you recently ate at KFC just might show up soon on your formerly manly chest. Not only does obesity, more common in meateaters, sometimes burden men with large breasts, not generally considered attractive in that particular gender, but the hormones in meat can also prompt the development of feminine breasts in men, a condition known to doctors as gynecomastia. (The excess estrogen also poses a health hazard for women.) Recently there has been a tendency in advertising and the media to feminize vegetarianism, suggesting that only women care enough about their health and animal suffering to consider giving up foods they're used to. It's great to have PeTA point out how meat feminizes men. Billboards are a blight on our community, but at least some good may come of this one. Remember: you can't spell "meateater" without "teat."

[Late breaking news: PeTA has given in somewhat to Knoxville outrage; the billboard, now at Strawberry Plains exit on I-40, is to be moved to the Callahan Rd. exit where, presumably, the populace is more broadminded. Also, the breasts are to be covered. Shades of Ashcroft! I thought it was permissable to display a man's chest in our culture.

A Good Time to Go Veggie: First Case of Mad Cow in US. In the few days since Mad Cow Disease was discovered in the United States, our meat exports have dropped 90%. The USDA has a solution, though; loyal Americans are being urged to eat more beef. Check out that Atkins diet! You can do your part to help save the meat industry's profits. Of course, it's sobering that even the Japanese are refusing to eat American beef, and they eat the often deadly fugu fish! Read what Sea Shepherd's Captain Watson has to say (Mad Cowboy Howard Lyman is on their board). More on the subject from Compassion Over Killing.
* * *

It is pretty certain that some of the mad cow currently in the news entered our food supply: it was ground up and mixed with the flesh of about 20 other cows to make 10,000 pounds of hamburger, which was then shipped to several states. Recent reports on Mad Cow Disease, or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), have stated that, nonetheless, the danger to meat-eaters is low as the infectious agent, the prion, is found only in the brain and spinal tissue. This is not true; prions have been found in the muscle tissue of cattle, hamsters and humans, and, at higher levels, in the lymph glands of calves. Whether humans can be infected by these concentrations, lower than in the brain, is not certain, though currently thought unlikely.

So we're pretty much safe, right? After all, who eats brains? Actually, plenty of folks here in the Appalachians; as a lad I enjoyed many a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and brains. But, aside from us poor mountaineers, nobody eats those body parts, right? Well, did you ever eat a hot dog?

However, hot dogs and other mystery meats are not the only danger. According to Donald G. McNEIL Jr., writing in the New York Times, any part of the carcass can become contaminated. " is possible for brain tissue to be driven into or splattered on muscles in a slaughterhouse. Animals are usually killed with a blow from a hand-held jackhammer that slams a piston into the skull. The last few beats of the animal's heart can circulate the tissue. Also, sawing a carcass in half can splatter spinal cord tissue around, as can the use of high-pressure jets that strip meat from bone." Yummy.

But, truth to tell, your odds of contracting the human form of BSE, CJD, are slim, even from a diet heavy on meat and light on veggies. You're far, far more likely to die from heart disease, colon cancer or diabetes. And you'll probably just gain all that weight you lost on the Atkins diet right back. Some authorities have compared the dangers of meat eating, even before BSE, with that of smoking. Smoking helps people lose weight, too.

Or... IS IT the first case??. In humans BSE is called variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or vCJD. The addition of the word "variant" is to distinguish this form of this terrible affliction from far more common forms. One of the more familiar varieties is thought to be genetic in origin, but hundreds of cases appear each year for no known reason. This last form is, therefore, called sporadic CJD. Now researchers at University College of London have discovered that the same prion (pree-on) that causes vCJD in humans and a certain strain of mice can, instead, cause the sporadic form in a different strain of mice. Can it be that the sporadic form of CJD that kills hundreds in our nation each year is ALSO caused by eating beef and, possibly, other meats? Could be. Dr. Michael Greger discusses this chilling possiblity on the website of the Organic Consumers Association.

Finally, many in VSET are still seething over the decision of the Earth Day-oriented Earth Fest to invite meat vendors. What's next, a stripmining booth? Can we change Earth Fest's direction? Or should we join with Earth First and other dissatisfied groups in starting a new, real Earth Day celebration?

Our own Cindy McDaniel has sent the Earth Fest board an excellent letter, but many more are needed. You might also consider getting on the board yourself. Write the board members: John Homa, City of Knoxville Solid Waste Office, P.O. Box 1631, Knoxville, TN 37901 (215-2921); Mike Dahl, Knoxville Recycling Coalition, 1914 Ailor Avenue, Suite 206, Knoxville, TN 37921; Ms. Catherine Wilt, UT Conference Center, 600 Henley Street, Knoxville, TN 37996

(hate to send them any traffic, though). As for the Windows dumbness (referring to the award, not the system) you may read about this particular Microsoft chicanery here.

Boycott Iceland, Japan and Norway! And, oh yeah, Cookeville! Still pouting that more enlightened countries in the IWC won't let them kill Whales, Iceland has decided to thumb its frostbitten nose at the civilized world and kill as many whales as it sees fit. Japan and Norway at least are making the gesture of referring to their whale hunting as "research." So cancel your family's plans to visit the World Chess Championship in Iceland... er, boycott their fish... ummm... Okay, being vegetarians there really isn't a lot we can do individually to pressure Iceland. But you can help Sea Shepherd force the U.S. State Department and DOC to follow US law and evoke economic sanctions. See our Sea Shepherd update for details. And send Captain Watson and his hearty crew a donation to help them, once again, scuttle the Icelandic whaling fleet.
Meanwhile, have a word with the Japaese embassy at 202-238-6700. Drop a line to their UN office and tell their Prime Minister of your impressions of Japan. Is this really the country of Zen and Shinto and nature haikus? Or is it the land of street corner oxygen dispensers and anime porn?
Addendum: Whales are cockroaches, Japanese fisheries official says. (So why not eat roaches instead?). If it's any comfort, some Nipponese who just can't live without whale meat are really eating horse. That should help balance our trade deficit with Japan. Help even more; don't buy Japanese stuff.
Ignoring IWC Rules, Japan Shows Contempt for Law; Shocked that their Youth Does Same. O
nce Japan was considered one of the safest places on earth. Houses were not locked, purses were left unattended, and commuters slept on the train without concern for their briefcases. Now Japanese crime is skyrocketing. Of course, the nation of Japan routinely skirts international whaling laws. It's important to set a good example for your kids.

And About Cookeville... Let us not forget: the boycott of Cookeville, Tennessee, to protest their failure to discipline the cop who shotgunned an innocent family's pet as it approached him, wagging its tail, has not been lifted. The incident achieved national notoriety early last year after The Highway Patrol car's video tape - the one in the Cookeville prowl car was "accidentally" erased - was publicized. Officer Eric Hall's cowardly reaction to a non-threatening dog would have shamed the average paperboy (or papergirl). It is not clear from the audio whether or not Hall actually said, "Eeek!" before pulling the trigger. To express his gratitude to Cookeville for endorsing his pathetic lack of fortitude, Officer Hall is suing the city for giving out too much information about him. Serves them right. If you wish to email Officer Hall, be sure not to say anything that might be interpreted as a threat. It's illegal, and, besides, it seems he's gotten plenty of them already. And we know how easily frightened he is. A sample of what Mr. Hall has done for Tennessee's image can be seen at Cookeville Cops Comics.

Lazarus Dog to Represent Unwanted Pets.  The California group In Defense of Animals has chosen Quentin, the stray that inexplicably survived a trip to the Stray Rescue of St. Louis gas chamber with other, less fortunate or less hardy unwanted animals, to star in their campaign to reduce the number of unwanted pets in the US. They will donate $5000 to the St. Louis shelter to assist in eliminating their gas chamber in favor of more humane methods.

New Health Risk from Beef Reported!  Oh, wait... we don't care; we're vegetarians.  Well, of course we reallydo care, especially about poor, innocent children who trustingly eat meat fed them by unwitting parents. We all know about e. coli in hamburger; there are 20,000 cases a year. It's all those feces being ground up with the meat; hard to avoid, really. Now there is suspicion a juicy steak can also be a vector of this disease. See MSNBC to learn more about this and also about salmonella, listeria and campylobacter, other meat-borne diseases. To say nothing of what meat does to your arteries. That apple a day thing works best when you eat the apple instead of a hamburger.

Bush Environmental Report Card  We're very disappointed in W. He's just not perfoming up to his potential in protecting the environment. The non-partisan League of Conservation Voters Report Card gives our president a failing grade for favoring corporate interests over the public good. League president Deb Callahan says, “President Bush is well on his way to compiling the worst environmental record of any president in the history of our nation.”

Fast Food Vege Chain Launched  Two restaurateurs who cut their teeth vending meat have opened Mr. Goodburger, the first of what they hope will be an international chain of veggieburger joints. One advantage for franchisees: no expensive grease traps needed. They plan on 100 stores the first year.

Listen to TARA On The Air.  The elusive Jaguar hosts this program devoted to animal welfare, and the benefits of vegetarianism to humans, animals and the environment is a frequent topic. There are occasional expert guests, and call-ins are welcome. 90.9 FM Monday nights at 6 on KFAR.

YOU may be a Terrorist!  Ever said bad things about factory farms or animal experimentation? Brought to our attention by the show above, a proposed law, HB 433, would subject family farm and animal rights activists to jail time and a fine of up to $10,000 for taking pictures of penned-up animals on factory farms, joining an environmental organization involved in a corporate campaign, or even donating to a group involved in peaceful protests or civil disobedience against corporate farms. Shades of Saddam! Scroll Advocacy.

Vegeterrorists, Part 2 Maybe we can't track down Osama Bin Ladin, but we can sure put those furrin vegetarians in their place. Professor Rosalind Gruben of Sussex, England reports that, upon attempting to enter the US to deliver a series of vegetarian raw foods lectures, she was subjected to the sort of abuse we used to associate with the treatment American missionaries sometimes got when entering totalitarian countries. Her account. And don't forget: Tom Ridge and the FBI know when you check out vegetarian cookbooks from your library. And the packet-sniffing software they use to spy on your email is code-named "Carnivore."

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.

Organic Torture Perhaps you thought "organic" also meant cruelty-free. The USDA agreed with you until recently, but they've changed their minds. Guess who persuaded them. See Advocacy.

Sugar Industry Threatens World Health Organization How dare the WHO suggest that sugar is not a health food?!! It's a part of a well-rounded diet for well-rounded people! In a struggle of good versus evil as clearcut as any we've seen since the days when Bucky Beaver battled Mr. Tooth Decay, the powerful sugar lobby is threatening to urge congress to cut off funding for the WHO (the US supplies about 25%) for having the effrontery to suggest no more than 10% of our calories should come from sugar. Our Sugar Daddies figure 25% is about right. You know, Count Chocula is really a pretty good symbol for the sugar industry. See articles at Common Dreams  and Commercial Alert.

Rumbling Falls Cave Saved What would you do if you discovered a cave that contained one of the two largest chambers in America and at least 20 species of cave fauna, one of the richest cave ecosystems in the world? Well, if you worked for the Tennessee Water Quality Control Board or the Department of Environment and Conservation you'd empty sewage into it. Advocacy.

Vegetarianism in the Media

Vegetarianism is on Solid Ground, Health Experts Say. And it's well-composted ground, too. This USAToday Health and Science article's a couple of years old, but I just came across it.

Finding Nemo The new animated film from Apple Computer creator Steve Job's Pixar Studios and Disney, Finding Nemo, features a vegetarian shark. According to one online reviewer: "Bruce the veggie shark - 'fish are friends not food' - gobbles up the scenery whenever he's on screen."

Tobey Maguire says that his vegetarian diet was no impediment to buffing up for his Spiderman role, trimming down again for Seabiscuit, then muscling up again for the 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

Vegepiestarian Reci

weight watchers recipes

Membership InfoLow Fat Recipes
We need your ideas, your energy, and your excitement! This is your opportunity to participate in a social program that has tremendous validity and can fill a huge need in our local world as well as our universal world. Interested in better health, a cleaner environment, a better-fed world populace, and an end to violence and cruelty to our fellow species? Then this is the the organization for you. Go ahead and get involved, take a stance, represent your world in a positive and constructive way. "Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." ( Elie Wiesel) If these words ring true or strike a chord within you, then bring your compassion and your creativity and, at 6 PM on the first Sunday of every month, a vegan/vegetarian potluck dish to the Unitarian Church building on Kingston Pike.  [Jay Strozier, Outgoing President, VSET (Phone# 865-689-2446]

Thoughts from former VSET President, Jay Strozier (from Vegetarian Voice) "[W]e look forward to branching out and increasing our outreach through advertising, lectures, and nutritional education. We would like to increase our support for like-minded organizations. We would also like to file for our 501c3 status thereby facilitating the writing of grants. My dream is to write a history of ETVS. We know if we want to grow, we must involve more people, and work through committees, striving to achieve our goals. We extend the invitation to all East Tennesseeans to join us to promote good health, stewardship of our earth, animal rights, and eliminate world hunger. When you think about it, very few issues offer such powerful all-encompassing possibilities for supporting positive changes in our society. Vegetarianism/veganism is vital and important to our planet's resources and is compassionate towards its inhabitants. It would seem we should scream out our message from every rooftop. How are your vocal cords? Won't you join us in this valuable pursuit? If everyone helps just a little, we can accomplish a lot. "

On Sale Now! ! Our first VSET cookbook featuring 150 vegan and vegetarian recipes collected by the members of VSET. Price is $7.00 or three books for $18.00. This cookbook has details about our organization and our mission in East Tennessee. Proceeds from the sale of these books will be used to help us to continue to promote and educate East Tennessee about the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. These make great gifts and are nicely bound with a colorful laminated cover and category separators. Supplies are limited! Contact Jay Strozier at 689-2446 (or e-mail for more info on how to get your copy, or purchase copies at the next Cooking School, held the first Sunday of every month at the Unitarian Church on Kingston Pike.

This Unworthy Webgrasshopper Humbly Implores Your Forgivenss. My prideful self-satisfaction at having brought the moribund VSET (formerly ETVS) site back to life was dealt a severe blow when my computer went on the fritz thanks to the fact that I have no backup drive and I discovered too late my 40 gig hard drive was completely full. Turns out that's not a good thing for yourFile Allocation Table (or FAT; see how techie I'm becoming?) But thanks to the skillful work of two very clever fellows Hillary Mayer and Jonathon (Last Name to be filled in) I seem to have lost no files.Once again our poor webpage has fallen into neglect, but I have returned to weed and prune and to spread a little fertilizer. Drop us a line to let us know you're still dropping 'round.

Our former Webmistress, Jennifer, who created the site you see here, was unable to continue to devote the considerable time needed for regular updates and we have undertaken to educate ourselves in the Ways of the Web and to learn the arcane language of web wizardry, html. I cannot yet lay claim to the title of Webmaster; I am but a humble Webgrasshopper. Nonetheless, any blunders are mine and should be called to the attention of myself, John Mayer. While you're at it, kindly tell me how to fix them. JM

Thanks, Jennifer, for the greatSork you did here. Jennifer has her own terrific "Famous Vegetarians" website that you will want to visit: If you've tried this link in the past, it has been broken, but is now fixed. Here are a couple of similar sites I added before I figured out the problem:
And, for a list of Not-So-Famous Vegetarians: therefore

By the way, it turns out Hitler wasn't a vegetarian after all. Nyaah, nyaah.

VSET Needs You!

VSET is a nonprofit organization that relies heavily on volunteer support, as well as material and financial gifts.  If you would like to help out, call Jay Strozier 689-2446.

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Nature Lovers Confront Mountain Destroyers  In scenes remniscent of Tiananmen Square, protestors from many states are at this moment, blocking massive machines of destruction with their own bodies at Zeb Mountain, about 40 miles north of Knoxville. They're trying to save the very mountains that define our region from a process the coal companies call Mountain Top Removal. VSET applauds those brave souls willing to risk imprisonnament and their very lives; the coal mining industry isn't noted for restraint nor for playing by the rules. Send these heroes money to help with legal and other expenses, or at least send them your love. It's another David and Goliath struggle. But the Appalachians have their own giant-killing folk hero, Jack. And, in the stories, Jack always wins.
Confronting Death Machines

Mountain Top RemovalAn earlier mountain top removal

Confronting the MachinesProtesters confront massive machines of destruction with their bodies

National Coal Truck ThreatensCoal vehicle threatens protesters


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