Animal Writes
14 May 2000 Issue
Mother's Milk


by [email protected] 

Today, as I write this, we had a special presentation for any employees who could attend from 2 to 4pm on health and nutrition. About 18 of the rangers at my park attended. The head of the El Paso County Health Department said hello and a few more words (such as "feel free to ask questions or interrupt us at anytime" -- giving me free rein for my purpose there, which was to insure that no misinformation was given about needing meat in the diet) and then Dr. Whathis-name left. Two of his assistants gave a talk. The first was about exercise, the second was about nutrition.

She gave out food pyramid fridge magnets. Looking at it I wondered why dairy got a group of it's own and meat had to share it's group with beans and seeds. I mean, there wasn't a milk or soymilk option. It was just milk, cheese and yogurt in the dairy box.

I listened to the meat things she said (but grimaced) and I didn't comment because it was mostly "cut back on meat and include 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day." (I realized I certainly couldn't survive on only 5 servings a day)

When the presenter said "You have to drink milk everyday to get the calcium you need" -- I Had to speak right up.

"Or a calcium rich vegetable source," I said. "Milk is actually a bad source of dietary calcium. The sulfur bearing amino acids of animal proteins such as dairy turn the pH of the blood acidic, and calcium is leeched out of our bones to neutralize it. Milk takes calcium out of the body faster than it absorbs it."

"What is a better source of calcium?" she asked me.

"Rolaids," I said. A few snickers in the room. "Broccoli and Kale both have more available calcium than dairy."

"Who here eats Kale?" she asked the room. No hands went up. I heard a mumbled "What's Kale?" A few more snickers.

"Dark green leafy vegetables and supplements is how we should be getting our calcium. I hate to see misinformation given."

"I'm not a nutritionist," she said "I'm just a presenter who says what the state tells me to say."

"Oh," and then I went probably too far for the time and place. "It is racism for the government to tell Hispanics, who are mostly lactose intolerant, that they need milk."

Over half the room was Hispanic including the presenter. There was a lot of rolling of eyes. And I reinforced my image as a radical gringo weirdo to the rest of the rangers I work with. Well, hell, I can't believe that so many supposedly environmentally concerned rangers don't have a clue and don't want to hear about how their diets impact the environment. It seems like they would at least be concerned about health problems but SHeesh, even getting the correct information to them seems to be a problem. Perhaps I'll have to bring my local Veg society's annual "How and Why to Go Vegetarian" workshop to the park.

And it is of course, a very unlikely and difficult prospect of convincing my coworkers or any one of our coworkers of the rights due animals. And yet we keep trying, and we use all the information in our arsenals about health and the environment but it often seems to me that mankind is not headed towards enlightenment anytime soon.

But hopefully you are.

As this newsletter is sent out, it is Mother's Day and also Boycott Veal Day, a project started by Farm Animals Reform Movement in the early eighties and coordinated this year by Farm Sanctuary. We animal advocates and activists who are not yet Vegan should take a moment to consider that the veal industry is a byproduct of the Dairy Industry. Dairy cows are kept pregnant year after year to keep them producing milk and more than half those offspring become veal.

Don't be a part of it. Let's go vegan.

Go on to Open Letter to Supervises
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