|Enewsletter • August 17, 2001|
Nothing like family
The Never-Ending Saga of Vegan Outreach's online Donations
We are again in the process of reworking how we handle online and other credit card donations. None of the solutions offered to nonprofits are optimal – Vegan Outreach is charged either a fee, registration is required, or a high rate of rejection of people's cards. We'll keep trying to get it right, although it may become more complicated.
I just recently went to a Moby concert. While walking to the snack bar to buy a hot dog, I saw your Why Vegan? brochure. I was literally overwhelmed by what I read and saw, and have been a strong vegan for a week now. I don't miss meat at all ... in fact, I hate even saying the word. Not only that, but the last two times I walked through the meat section at the market, I cried. My heart broke at the harsh reality of what goes on behind the scenes. I had no idea it was that bad ... but I do now.
I've showed your brochure to several of my friends and to my family. You'll
be happy to know that my sister has now given up meat, and so has my best
friend. Your words and pictures have really made a difference, and now we
are doing the same! PLEASE, PLEASE send me more copies of your brochure so
that I can pass them out and spread the word. People need to know, and they
don't because they're afraid of the truth and turn their backs on it. Society
should know what people are doing and not allow it. Send me how ever many
An ongoing series:
“Millions of people get sick every year from food-borne pathogens. The cause is usually some form of bacteria, and antibiotics take care of the worst cases. But correspondent Danny Zwerdling of American Radio Works and NPR has discovered that new forms of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming more common. The cause is widely believed to be the common practice of feeding antibiotics to farm animals. For more on food bacteria, visit our feature page, How Safe is the Food Supply?”
Nature's Path Foods' Optimum Power Breakfast cereal – 100% B12, 100% folicacid, 500 mg omega-3s, organic, non-GMO...
Recent question on VegRD: Do Canned or Frozen Veggies Lack Nutrients?
I have been a vegan for about a year now. I originally made the decision because of the treatment of animals on conventional factory farms. However, my experience with organic farms has shown me that there are methods in dairy and egg production which are responsible towards both animals and the environment. Although I¹ve actually become fond of vegan food and am psychologically uncomfortable with a lacto-ovo diet, I¹m left with only an appeal to health-oriented reasoning as an explanation for why I¹m still a vegan. I¹ve noticed that most of the material on your web site is defending the fact that vegan diets are adequate, rather than proactive statements about the relative benefits of these diets. In particular, you note that the healthiest diet is ³plant-based.² You don¹t say that it is necessarily vegan. If I have no problems now with responsibly-produced dairy and eggs, are there health reasons that I should avoid occasionally adding these to my diet?
Thinking back on what I ate growing up makes me shudder. Velveeta and bologna on Wonder bread, Fritos, Oreos – the lunch of champions! Burgers fried in 1/2" of their own fat, scrambled eggs and bacon (again in its own fat), “round” steak, etc. Other than potatoes (fried in salvaged beef and pork fat), corn on the cob was the extent of my vegetable intake.
As vegans, however, Anne and I have made a concerted effort to be up-to-date on nutritional information. This has been a key refrain of our work at Vegan Outreach, given the experiences of Jack Norris during his travels around the country. While leafleting over the course of two years, Jack was told by many people that they had once been veg, but didn't feel healthy and thus went back to eating meat. Jack felt then that, for every one person who went vegan, another person quit. Thus, we believe it is ethically imperative that each vegan be well-informed on health and nutrition (which is why we encourage everyone to read Vegan for Life, the most current and thorough book on the subject to date, with excellent chapters on vegan pregnancy and vegan children and adolescents).
When Anne was pregnant in 1993, however, nutrition took on a whole new importance. The health care profession, which normally places very little importance on nutrition, tries to make up for this failing with pregnant women. Eight years ago, there were very few mentions of “vegan” in mainstream literature (this was before Dr. Benjamin Spock came out in favor of a vegan diet). The one reference we did find indicated that a woman had to eat an unbelievable amount of food to get the appropriate nutrition.
Of course, building an entirely new human (zero to seven pounds in nine months) requires a different diet than required by a non-pregnant woman. However, the availability of fortified foods and multivitamins in today's society makes this far less of a problem than pregnancy would have been in, say, Thoreau’s time. (Those who claim that this is “cheating” or “unnatural” have obviously never eaten food bought in a grocery store, quite possibly the most “unnatural” institution in our society.)
So as far as nutrition and pregnancy / childhood go, the best advice we can offer is to be as well-informed as possible. Knowing nutrition as thoroughly as possible won’t silent all the critics, but nothing will (you can always ask what specifically it is that meat (cheese, etc.) will provide).
The other concern is the social aspects of being a vegan.
Shockingly (to me, at least) more people have asked us about birthday parties over the years than anything else concerning our daughter. After many parties (and visits to relatives, etc.), I can still say that I don’t understand the fuss. Of course, this would be a significant problem if I believed that the purpose of veganism was personal purity, to never let any animal product / byproduct into contact with your body. However, this isn’t why we are vegan. Rather, we are vegan to do our best to reduce the amount of suffering in the world.
Given where our society is currently, the individual choices anyone makes during the course of a single day have no direct consequences to the fate of animals. Where each action does matter, however, is in the example that we set for others. This, in turn, influences their attitudes towards veganism and the potential for change (their own and others under their influence) in the future. Unless veganism spreads beyond the current cadre of converted, where the “fallen” are replaced for a time by new recruits, the number of animals suffering will continue to increase.
Our opinion is – what does a piece of cake at a 4-year-old’s birthday matter? Are the consequences of her eating it (as opposed to it being thrown out) worse than the impression it makes on 20 other children (and parents) if the Vegan Police grill everyone about the nature of everything with which Ellen comes into contact?
In short, we aren’t out to raise an ideologue. Rather, we want to raise a thoughtful, practical, and happy person who enjoys life and is able to have an impact on the world for the better.
The birthday party question is not as big of an issue today as it would have been had I been a vegan child (close to 40 years ago). Nowadays, there are many more children with diagnosed food allergies (dairy, peanut, gluten, etc.) and thus many more parents have to “screen” the birthday party food. Some send a “special” cupcake along that their child can have, some simply inform the parents of the birthday child of the food allergy. Ellen has learned to say: “No, thank you. I’m not hungry,” when offered something that is obviously not vegan, like pizza. (This works well because I have her eat before she goes to birthday parties.) She has learned not to make a big deal of it and enjoy the rest of the party. Usually there is so much commotion that no one notices anyway.
School lunches are another issue. She takes her own lunch almost all of the time, but should she forget, the school cafeteria always offers peanut butter and jelly as an option. (Ellen is the only one, I’m sure, who regularly brings seitan for lunch.) Everyone knows she is vegan because she talks about it often with her friends, asks them why they eat meat, etc. She has a strong sense of who she is, and even if she is teased occasionally, she isn’t bothered by it. Now, many of the meat analogs look so much like meat anyway, that sometimes kids claim she is eating meat!
I think it is important to give your child the (age-appropriate) reasons for your actions; “Animals are our friends and so we don’t eat them” works well for pre-kindergarten children; preventing suffering is something that every child who’s ever had a stomach ache or an ear infection can relate to.
Most important, though, is teaching your child to take joy in life, as you do.