|Enewsletter • April 23, 2001|
You Lookin' at ME?
Erik Marcus has made his entire book "Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating" available as a free download at Vegan.com. See the Vegan Outreach review of the latest edition of Vegan, from the March 1 newsletter, as a postscript below)
Of course, the book form is the best way to share this honest and compelling discussion of veganism. But having the entire book available in electronic form will be a great boon to activists everywhere!
Send your shot, get free stuff!
Free Stuff! – If you send Vegan Outreach a photograph(s) of how you use our materials (displays, leafletting, tabling, etc.), and we use the picture in our newsletter or on our website, we'll send you any item from our catalog that you choose free of charge.
I want to thank you all so much for what you do. Your public education, your
handouts, your actions – I'm so appreciative! The Why Vegans you sent have
reached many people from NY to CO, and a lot of people are changing their
This contribution is made at the behest of a young man from Port St. Lucie,
FL. He pulled my car out of the sand and refused any compensation, but he
did give me some material of yours to read. I am now seriously considering
a vegan way of life.
On Earth Day, I tabled and gave several workshops at Slippery Rock University. The "highlight" [sic] was showing the latest version of PeTA's videotape, Meet you Meat. Given the gasps, averted eyes (one teacher got up and left the room), and tears, I would think those were the longest 12 minutes in many of the students' lives.
Vegan Outreach is now carrying the single-play (i.e., not looped for tabling) version of Meet Your Meat in place of the Humane Slaughter / Pig Farm Investigation compilation tape (footage from each is included in Meet Your Meat. We are selling them for $5 + S/H, to get this footage displayed as widely as possible!
The veg crew at PeTA is hard at work on the next version of Meet. When it is done, we will also be carrying the looped version as well.
For this week's featured article, I want to emphasize the entire ongoing report from the Washington Post / Dateline / MSNBC, which was touched on last week. This is quite probably the most powerful and comprehensive look at animal agriculture by a "mainstream" media outlet ever offered to the public. It clearly sets the stage for increased awareness and more public outreach (e.g., I read excerpts from the different reports as part of my workshops; we will also incorporate parts into the next revision of Why Vegan).
I suggest everyone take the time to read through the articles and to "advertise" them as widely as possible.
Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating
reviewed by Matt Ball
As quickly as society is changing, it is a challenge to remain up-to-date about the variety of issues that surround veganism. It is especially gratifying that Erik Marcus has released the second edition of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating in 2001, not long after the first version was published in 1998. It is also heartening that Erik has made an overt commitment to relative objectivity:
I have tried to consistently avoid exaggeration or misstatements. Hyperbole is unnecessary when the facts come down so strongly in favor of being a vegan. And that is why I can state here my belief, which I think is amply justified by the evidence presented in the following pages: A vegan diet is most in harmony with our bodies' needs, our innate sense of compassion, and our ability to survive on earth. Moving to a plant-based diet is comparatively easy and it opens the door to a gentler, healthier, and happier way of being.
The book starts with an exploration of the health implications of the standard American diet and the possible benefits of a vegan diet; specifically as they apply to heart disease, cancer, weight control, and osteoporosis. Erik doesn't fall into the trap of quoting only the positive side of the equation. For example, vegan advocates often point to the China Study as "proof" that the vegan diet is optimal. But Vegan points out that those poor, "near vegans" are not living in perfect health: "The less affluent, rural populations in China succumb more often to diseases that in many Western countries are no longer so great a threat. Among these diseases are pneumonia, parasite-caused ailments, and tuberculosis." He also makes similar points about the tenuous relationship between diet in the U.S. and world hunger.
A key benefit of a book-length treatment is the ability to cover issues through stories. Erik takes full advantage of this, discussing everything from reversing heart disease to rangeland/grazing wars through the eyes of those directly involved. For example, Vegan leads off with the stories of several people who have had various health problems. The individuals took different paths to changing their diets, but all tell of how their lives have vastly improved since going vegan. This ordering makes Vegan a good book to offer to older or ill relatives.
The stories are especially moving when it comes to the treatment of animals by industry, and the lives of the handful rescued by Farm Sanctuary. However, Erik sets the tone early on that this isn't going to be merely an animal-lover's book: "I don't spend a lot of time around animals, and I didn't feel particularly sentimental toward the animals I met at Farm Sanctuary. ...My morning at Farm Sanctuary left me with no wonderful stories, no touching anecdotes." He was open, encouraging us to be so as well: "[W]ith no purpose other than to be there, I gained the unmistakable impression that at least some of these animals were as aware of themselves and their surroundings as my beloved and intelligent dog."
For greater impact on readers, Vegan could have used many more pictures, although this may have limited the book's readership. However, the stories alone are very effective at revealing the nature of animal agriculture. For example, Marcus cites Dr. Bernard Rollin:
[A] veterinarian who, when visiting a large hog operation, noticed that one of the pregnant sows in a farrowing crate had a broken leg. Nobody had contacted him about this pig, so the vet approached the farm's manager and offered to put the leg into a splint. The manager said that they intended to let the sow give birth, and then send her to slaughter. He told the vet they did not want to pay for treatment because it would be cheaper to slaughter the sow after she gave birth and replace her with a new sow.
When presented without proper explanation, certain pro-veg claims are often dismissed by the general public because they seem to defy common sense. In contrast, Vegan succeeds in explaining the reasoning behind seemingly illogical actions:
Why would any farmer starve his calves? Many veal calves today are owned by big corporations. The farmer who raises them neither owns the calves nor pays for their food. He receives a payment to raise the animals on his property, and the feed company provides the animals, their food, and supplies. This particular veal farmer was unhappy with his feed company. He felt that they had cheated him, so to retaliate he stopped caring for the animals he had under contract. By the time the police arrived to investigate, 51 of the barn's 64 calves had died of starvation.
Other stories are just as powerful:
In general, Marcus' research is thorough and balanced, instead of extreme and one-sided, and his conclusions all the more powerful because they aren't emotionally manipulative, as summarized by his conversation with Gene Bauston of Farm Sanctuary:
For every animal we rescue, I watch tens of thousands continue on down the line to the blade. And every year, with the corporate consolidation of this industry, the conditions the animals endure get worse. [N]one of these deaths need to happen. Not one. I mean, if people ate [vegan] dinners like this, not one animal would ever go to slaughter. If the human body needed meat, milk, and eggs to survive, that would be one thing. But there's no need to eat animal products – and there's now so much evidence that vegan foods are the healthiest choice. So we're killing ten billion animals in the U.S. every year for no reason whatever.
This edition of is available from our catalog.