Vegetarian

First Annual Veggie Fest
Food For All
Nov 22 1992

Credits:

Thanks to:
Golden Temple (2322 North Charles Street in Baltimore, 235-1014) for their contribution of Nature's Burgers and a generous discount on groceries.
Kousouris Organic Grocers, for the teriyaki burgers and vegetarian hot dogs, and other meat substitutes. (Belvedere Square in Towson, 345-8918)
Memorial Episcopal Church, and Father Lyman Farnham, for the use of their parish hall.




Food For All is:

Hillary Banachowski
Mike Gurklis
Amy Nelson
Nicole Pare
Chelsea Porter
Chris Speer
Tom Swiss
Jesse Turner

Good evening --

Thanks for coming. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, thanks for showing up, and if you're not, relax; the goal here is not to convert anyone. Just explore the possibilities of increasing your consumption of vegetarian meals. For those of you who are "interested" or "on the path", we present tonight as an opportunity to shift your relationship to your diet. We hope you all enjoy the opportunity to share good food and useful information.

We've put this potluck together mainly as an opportunity for non-vegetarians to learn more about the vegetarian diet from their vegetarian friends. So before discussing the matter further, we should define what a vegetarian diet is.

A vegetarian is a person who eats no meat. That means no red meats (any meats derived from a mammal -- pork is a red meat), fish, or poultry. Many vegetarians also avoid the use of non-meat animal-derived food products, such as gelatin, which is made from the boiled bones of animals. Most vegetarians are either ovo-lacto vegetarians or vegans.

A vegan is a person who eats no animal products at all -- no meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy products. Some vegans also avoid the use of honey.

Ovo-lacto vegetarians eat no meats, poultry or fish, but do eat eggs and dairy products. A few people are ovo-vegetarians, eating eggs but not dairy products, or lacto-vegetarians, eating dairy products but not eggs.

Much confusion has resulted from the fact that some people who don't eat red meat, but still eat fish or fowl, call themselves "vegetarians".

There are three questions that vegetarians are constantly asked. The first is, "What do you eat?" Well, look around! The vegetarian diet includes a great diversity of foods. It definitely isn't just salads, tofu, and bean sprouts.

The next question is, `Don't you have to be careful to get enough protein?" (Iron, calcium, and vitamin B-12 often take the place of protein in this question.) Its a common belief that meat contains some nutrients that aren't found in plants. Not so. Remember that all of the nutrients in a piece of meat had to be in the diet of the animal that produced it. The vegetarian just skips the middleman, getting his or her nourishment right from the plants. And, as in any transaction, when you eliminate the middleman, you get a lower price -- in this case, both a lower monetary price, and an lower price in terms of environmental impact. Of course, there are some vegetarians who don't eat a healthy diet. Potato chips and beer may be vegetarian, but a diet centered around them would not exactly be healthy. But for the most part, vegetarians are at least as healthy, if not more so, than the general population.

People who think that vegetarians can't be healthy and strong should be aware of such vegetarian champions as Dave Scott (six time Ironman Triathalon winner), Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Paavo Nurmi, and Murray Rose (Olympic Gold Medalists), Andreas Cahling (1980 Mr. International), Roy Hilligan (former Mr. America), and Ridgely Abele (U.S. Karate Association World Champion). Or consider the Japanese baseball team the Siebu Lions. They finished dead last in the 1981 season. Then a new manager put the whole team on a vegetarian diet.

The Siebu Lions won the League Championship, then the National Championship, in both 1982 and 1983.

The third question, and the one that requires the most complicated answer, is `Why?" Everyone has their own specific reasons for adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. But most reasons fall into one of three categories: health, environment, and ethics. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the different reasons for vegetarianism is to give some personal opinions on the subject. So, we present our own personal statements about vegetarianism:

Mike Gurklis:

I have been a vegetarian for about three years now. Before that time, I was an avid meat eater; didn't see how people could go without it. Vegetarianism wasnt an option -- I thought (like most Americans) that meat was not only necessary but healthy. That belief would change.

A few years ago, I started getting active in the environmental movement. I read about how rainforests were being cut down to make land for cattle grazing -- cattle that would be made into fast food burgers. Seeing the relation between my diet and the Earth, I took burger off my list. But a friend (and longtime vegetarian) informed me that I had just hit the tip of the iceberg.

I soon read about the abundant use of water, food, and fuel needed to drive the meat industry, and the great amount of pollution and topsoil loss generated. I read on.

I discovered the gruesome origins of the meat I ate: not from picturesque farms, but from factories, where animals were treated cruelly, treated like machines; animals that were overcrowded, distressed, ridden with disease and pesticides, fed antibiotics and hormones, then painfully killed.

Though I had always been compassionate to animals (never hunted or fished, loved dogs...) it wasn't until I saw pictures of these poor suffering being that I awakened.

That piece of meat on my plate was actually a slab of flesh/muscle of an animal who had suffered and died on my behalf.

Without even wondering about right or wrong, what I would eat, whether or not I would miss my favorite meals, I simply stopped eating meat altogether.

To my surprise, I found that our greatest health problems -- heart attacks, stroke, cancer -- are all linked to a meat-centered diet.

Vegetarians overall enjoy a healthier, longer life.

I continue reading and discovering more facts about the meat industry's lies, and the benefits of vegetarianism.

I now encourage everyone who cares about the environment, who cares about animals, who cares about themselves to experience vegetarianism.

Amy Nelson:

I've always had a "thing" for animals of any breed or species. Call it mere fascination, call it "soulistic kinship". Their preservation and rights I've always believed should be protected with utmost respect and kindness.

So naturally, when I had to choose a term project for my "Conflict vs. Non-Violence" class, I jumped at the opportunity to research Animal Rights with burning fury and vigor. Now, I thought, I am finally given the key to help open the doors of perception and insight with the knowledge I'll acquire.

My first step was to visit PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) headquartered in Washington, D.C. Throughout the semester, this resource proved worthy by offering me a multitude of information and film footage which I personally shot, edited and organized (i.e.; interviews, special events, daily agendas). During my explorations I was not prepared for the gruesome discovery of the inhumane brutality and neglect inflicted upon these helpless victims of which a vast majority of our society either is directly involved in or indirectly, unconsciously supports. I'll spare you the details -- they're both startling and horrific and are better left for you to disclose yourself.

After leaving PETA, the visions and facts I found began wrestling with my consciousness. I had finally come to the realization that the longevity or termination of these animals which I claimed I loved and cherished so dearly was determined by my desire to consume them. Needless to say, I was very disappointed in my hypocrisy. So I continued on with my research only this time to educate myself on how to create and maintain a healthy cruelty-free diet -- vegetarianism.

Since my move to turn vegetarian, I am left with not only better health but better peace of mind in knowing I'm not a contributor in the higher food chains which call for the demand of animals as a staple food source. Further, in knowing that if people like myself increase in number, less land will be excavated, water supplies will increase and the general quality of our society's health will improve.

Your opinions may not parallel with mine. In fact, the congregation of people which made tonight a reality all hold diverse and interesting explanations for becoming vegetarians. I simple feel we should give aid to those who can't defend themselves. Given this, the animal kingdom is looking towards us. Just give it a moment of thought.

Nicole Pare

I don't remember exactly why I became a vegetarian. For me, it's been a process that began some years ago when I stopped eating all read meats. I think it was for health reasons. I continued eating poultry and fish, though, feeling they were nourishment with lower fat than red meats.

Then, as I was becoming more aware of the processing of these white meats - through reading of various books on nutrition and spirituality - I became less inclined to have them as a part of my diet. At the same time I was being turned on to different kind of wholesome, filling vegetarian-type foods by both vegetarian and non-vegetarian friends: cous-cous, rice and bean dishes, falafel and Nature's Burgers, etc. They were -- are! -- wonderful foods.

I stopped eating flesh altogether for ethical, environmental and health reasons. I still eat some dairy products, but the more I learn of their effects on my health and the animals from which they came, and from listening to my own body, the less I want them as a part of my diet, too.

My process of becoming a vegetarian was gradual and natural for me. I never felt deprived or craved meat once I'd ceased to eat it. My process is continuing into veganism -- eating no animal products at all -- and I am enjoying fine health and more energy.

Tom Swiss:

It's difficult for me to recall exactly how I became a vegetarian. It was, after all, about a decade ago. I was eleven or twelve when I told my parents that I didn't want to eat meat anymore. Probably believing that it was just a "stage", they agreed to let me adopt a mostly vegetarian diet, although my mom convinced me to keep eating seafood "for the protein." (Later, as I learned more, I gave up seafood, as well as eggs and dairy products.) But, you may ask, what was it that prompted me to make this choice?

I can remember that, over a period of time, I came to feel that there was something not quite right about eating meat. I couldn't really put it into words; it was just a vague uneasyness. But what made it come together was when my dog was hit by a car. It happened at dinner time, and to this day I remember how they brought him in and laid him in the kitchen, waiting for someone (I don't remember who) to come and take him to the vet. And I remember looking at my roast beef, and losing my appetite. I couldn't have told you then, but now I know that somewhere in my brain I realized that the roast beef on my plate was not so very different from the injured flesh of the dog I loved. Here I was, crying over the injury of one animal; how could I possibly choose to kill some other?

The dog, by the way, made a full recovery.

Many years have passed since then, and being the analytical sort of person that I am, during that time I've tried work out in rigorous, logical terms, exactly why it is that I feel as I do about the ethical consideration that is due animals. It's always difficult to make an ethical argument. An ethical argument has to be based on some fundamental ethical principals or axioms; if someone else doesn't accept those principals, no amount of argument will sway them.

What we can look for, however, is consistency. It seems to me that it is somewhat irrational to one hold act as, if you will, "wrong", and another fundamentally similar act to be not "wrong." I also hold that I do not wish to be harmed. (Again, we generally consider those who wish themselves harm to be irrational). Now, I observe that other humans are fundamentally similar to me. (More on this in a minute). Therefore, an act which (unnecessarily) harms another human is fundamentally similar to an act which harms me. I therefore judge such an act as `wrong".

What do I mean by ``fundamentally similar?" Is is just appearance? No. I do not find the destruction of a mannikin to be in any way evil. Is it sameness of behavior? No; people of other cultures may have behavior that is radically different than my own. Or to take an extreme case, a person afflicted with severe mental retardation exhibits behavior that is almost nothing like my own. Yet I would find anything that harms such people to be ``wrong".

Is it genetic similarity that makes for this similarity? No; if it were, I would feel free to make ethical distinctions based on racial heritage. What I'm left with, then, to consider for this fundamental similarity is is the similarity in our minds - or, more precisely, in the functioning of our brains. Knowing that my brain is what experiences my thoughts and sensations, and knowing that other humans have similar brains, I conclude that other humans have similar experience of thoughts and sensations.

Ok. What does this have to do with vegetarianism? Other vertebrates, especially mammals, have brains that are fundamentally similar to those of humans, in form and in function. (I should note that it's function that concerns me more - a conscious computer, or a extraterrestrial with completely different physiology, should receive ethical consideration independent of the physical strata of their minds.) We can also observe this similarity in the behavior of such animals. I therefore hold that it is wrong to unnecessarily kill these ``higher" animals. Now, as the similarity weakens, so does my concern. I feel only a small twinge at smashing a roach, or swatting a fly. (So I ain't the Dali Lama.) But there's no way I'll kill a fellow animal for food or skins, or imprison and mistreat one for its eggs or milk. Their suffering is too much like my own.

A lot has changed since I made my choice. Ten years ago, the response to "I'm a vegetarian," would be a funny look and a smart, insulting remark. Today, the response is more likely to be, "Gee, I'd like to know more about that." If that sounds like you, heres your chance. Enjoy!

Jesse Turner:

We all think of our food as the key to our survival -- and it nurtures us beyond survival. We have gourmet food, snack food, fast food and everyday food. And we have traditions all centered around our food. We don't always think about the food we eat as a larger picture with implications and consequences which we don't generally know that much about.

The choices we make in everyday life, not only in our diet, but in the clothing we wear, the products we buy, the amount of water, fuel, and other natural resources we consume in the maintenance of our lives are very powerfully impacting the future of our environment -- and not only our health but the viability of all species! The global awareness of these issues is increasing and we are all noticing that we, as individuals, can make a difference. We know that it all adds up.

Love your mother. Find your place in the ecosystem and love it and nurture it back. Eat organic food. Consider vegetarianism as an expression of love - not just for the animals, but for yourself, your family, your community and the Earth.

There is plenty of information here tonight to support that. The possibilities that come with that shift are not only that your diet will sustain and nurture you in the ways we discussed earlier, but you'll also have the inner joy of knowing that you're giving back.

Your survival does not require that other creatures give up their lives. Consider giving that up and creating new traditions for celebrations. Take a chance tonight to look into the health and ecological benefits for yourself and your family and grant them reality for the awhile. Picture a world of vegetarianism like it was the tradition that prevailed in our world instead and consider all the wonderful dishes that can come from that.

Enjoy yourselves, and taste as much as you can. Pretend you are a vegetarian tonight -- we're here to support you if it fits.
Those are our opinions. Here's what some other people have had to say about vegetarianism and related issues:

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Health:

"A vegetarian diet can prevent 97% of our [society's] coronary occlusions." -- "Diet and Stress in Vascular Disease," Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 197, No. 9., 1961, pg 806.

"The average age (longevity) of a meat-eater is 63. I am on the verge of 85 and still work as hard as ever. I have lived quite long enough and I am trying to die; but I simply cannot do it. A single beef-steak would finish me; but I cannot bring myself to swallow it. I am oppressed with a dread of living forever. That is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism." -- George Bernard Shaw

"...A considerable body of scientific data suggests positive relationships between vegetarian life-styles and risk reduction for several chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, such as obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, colon cancer, and others. The high incidence of such diseases in industrialized nations, as compared with other cultures, warrants special attention to diet and other factors in life-styles that may vary between vegetarians and nonvegetarians.

"It is the position of The American Dietetic Association that vegetarian diets are healthful and nutritionally adequate when appropriately planned...

"Vegetarians are at lower risk for noninsulin-dependent diabetes and have lower rates of hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney stones, gallstones, and diverticular disease than nonvegetarians..." -- "Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets -- technical support paper", Suzanne Havala, R.D. and Johanna Dwyer, D.SC., R.D. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, March, 1988, Volume 88, Number 3, pp. 352-355.

"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of real food for real people, you'd better live real close to a real good hospital." -- Neal D. Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington, D.C.

"All red meat contains saturated fat. There is no such thing as truly lean meat. Trimming away the edge ring of fat around a steak really does not lower the fat content significantly. People who have red meat (trimmed or untrimmed) as a regular feature of their diets suffer in far greater numbers from heart attacks and strokes." -- Michael Klaper, M.D., Medical Director, EarthSave Foundation, Santa Cruz, California

"Meat contains approximately 14 times more pesticides than do plant foods; dairy products 5 $1/2$ times more. Thus, by eating foods of animal origin, one ingests greatly concentrated amounts of hazardous chemicals. Analysis of various foods by the FDA shows that meat, poultry, fish, cheese and other dairy products contain levels of these pesticides more often and in greater amount than other foods." -- Lewis Regenstein

Environment:

"The impact of countless hooves and mouths over the years has done more to alter the type of vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, strip mines, power plants, freeways, and subdivision developments combined." -- Philip Fradkin in Audubon, National Audubon Society, NY, NY

"A meat-fed world now appears a chimera. World grain production has grown more slowly than population since 1984, and farmers lack new methods for repeating the gains of the green revolution. Supporting the world's current population of 5.4 billion people on an American-style diet would require two-and-a-half times as much grain as the world's farmers produce for all purposes. A future world of 8 billion to 14 billion people eating the American ration of 220 grams of grain-fed meat a day can be nothing but a flight of fancy." -- Alan B. Durning and Holly Brough, Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C.

"There can be no question that more hunger can be alleviated with a given quantity of grain by completely eliminating animals [from the food production process]. About 2,000 pounds of concentrates [grains] must be supplied to livestock in order to produce enough meat and other livestock products to support a person for a year, whereas 400 pounds of grain (corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, etc.) eaten directly will support a person for a year. Thus, a given quantity of grain eaten directly will feed 5 times as many people as it will if it is first fed to livestock and then is eaten indirectly by humans in the form of livestock products..." -- M. E. Ensminger, Ph.D., former Department of Animal Science Chairman at Washington State University, currently President of Consultants-Agriservices, Clovis, California

Ethical:

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." -- Gandhi

"True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude toward those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it." -- "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", Milan Kundera

"I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men." -- Leonardo Da Vinci

"Animals are my friends, and I don't eat my friends." -- George Bernard Shaw

"To be a vegetarian is to disagree -- to disagree with the course of things today. Nuclear power, starvation, cruelty -- we must make a statement against these things. Vegetarianism is my statement. And I think it is a strong one." -- Isaac Bashevis Singer

"It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind" -- Albert Einstein, from a letter to "Vegetarian Watch-tower", 27 December 1930

"We don't eat anything that has to be killed for us. We've been through a lot and we've reached a stage where we really value life" -- Paul McCartney, in a McCall's Magazine interview (Aug, 1984)

"I know, in my soul, that to eat a creature who is raised to be eaten, and who never has a chance to be a real being, is unhealthy. It's like...you're just eating misery. You're eating a bitter life." -- Alice Walker

"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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And to complete this discussion of reasons for vegetarianism, we offer some excerpts from Edgar Kupfer's Animals, My Brethren, one of the most eloquent statements of a vegetarian ethic ever written. (These excerpts were reprinted in the postscript of the book "Radical Vegetarianism" by Mark Mathew Braunstein (1981 Panjandrum Books, Los Angeles, CA.)) Edgar Kupfer became a vegetarian while imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp during the Nazi Holocaust.

The following pages were written in the Concentration Camp Dachau, in the midst of all kinds of cruelties. They were furtively scrawled in a hospital barrack where I stayed during my illness, in a time when Death grasped day by day after us, when we lost twelve thousand within four and a half months.

Dear Friend:
You asked me why I do not eat meat and you are wondering at the reasons of my behavior. Perhaps you think I took a vow -- some kind of penitence -- denying me all the glorious pleasures of eating meat. You remember juicy steaks, succulent fishes, wonderfully tasted sauces, deliciously smoked ham and thousand wonders prepared out of meat, charming thousands of human palates; certainly you will remember the delicacy of roasted chicken. Now, you see, I am refusing all these pleasures and you think that only penitence, or a solemn vow, a great sacrifice could deny me that manner of enjoying life, induce me to endure a great resignment.



You look astonished, you ask the question: "But why and what for?" And you are wondering that you nearly guessed the very reason. But if I am, now, trying to explain you the very reason in one concise sentence, you will be astonished once more how far your guessing had been from my real motive. Listen to what I have to tell you:

I refuse to eat animals because I cannot nourish myself by the sufferings and by the death of other creatures. I refuse to do so, because I suffered so painfully myself that I can feel the pains of others by recalling my own sufferings.

I feel happy, nobody persecutes me; why should I persecute other beings or cause them to be persecuted?

I feel happy, I am no prisoner, I am free; why should I cause other creatures to be made prisoners and thrown into jail?

I feel happy, nobody harms me; why should I harm other creatures or have them harmed?

I feel happy, nobody wounds me; nobody kills me; why should I wound or kill other creatures or cause them to be wounded or killed for my pleasure and convenience?

Is it not only too natural that I do not inflict on other creatures the same thing which, I hope and fear, will never be inflicted on me? Would it not be most unfair to do such things for no other purpose than for enjoying a trifling physical pleasure at the expense of others' sufferings, others' deaths?

These creatures are smaller and more helpless than I am, but can you imagine a reasonable man of noble feelings who would like to base on such a difference a claim or right to abuse the weakness and the smallness of others? Don't you think that it is just the bigger, the stronger, the superior's duty to protect the weaker creatures instead of persecuting them, instead of killing them? "Noblesse oblige." I want to act in a noble way.



It is quite natural what people are telling you. How could they do otherwise? I hear them telling about experiences, about utilities, and I know that they consider certain acts related to slaughtering as unavoidable. Perhaps they succeeded to win you over. I guess that from your letter.

Still, considering the necessities only, one might, perhaps, agree with such people. But is there really such a necessity? The thesis may be contested. Perhaps there exists still some kind of necessity for such persons who have not yet developed into full conscious personalities.

I am not preaching to them. I am writing this letter to you, to an already awakened individual who rationally controls his impulses, who feels responsible -- internally and externally -- of his acts, who knows that our supreme court is sitting in our conscience. There is no appellate jurisdiction against it.

Is there any necessity by which a fully self-conscious man can be induced to slaughter? In the affirmative, each individual may have the courage to do it by his own hands. It is, evidently, a miserable kind of cowardice to pay other people to perform the blood-stained job, from which the normal man refrains in horror and dismay. Such servants are given some farthings for their bloody work, and one buys from them the desired parts of the killed animal -- if possible prepared in such a way that it does not any more recall the discomfortable circumstances, nor the animal, nor its being killed, nor the bloodshed.



I think that men will be killed and tortured as long as animals are killed and tortured. So long there will be wars too. Because killing must be trained and perfected on smaller objects, morally and technically.

I see no reason to feel outraged by what others are doing, neither by the great nor by the smaller acts of violence and cruelty. But, I think, it is high time to feel outraged by all the small and great acts of violence and cruelty which we perform ourselves. And because it is much easier to win the smaller battles than the big ones, I think we should try to get over first our own trends towards smaller violence and cruelty, to avoid, or better, to overcome them once and for all. Then the day will come when it will be easy for us to fight and to overcome even the great cruelties. But we are still sleeping, all of us, in habits and inherited attitudes. They are like a fat, juicy sauce which helps us to swallow our own cruelties without tasting their bitterness.

I have not the intention to point out with my finger at this and that, at definite persons and definite situations. I think it is much more my duty to stir up my own conscience in smaller matters, to try to understand other people better, to get better and less selfish. Why should it be impossible then to act accordingly with regard to more important issues?

That is the point: I want to grow up into a better world where a higher law grants more happiness, in a new world where God's commandment reigns:

You Shall Love Each Other

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