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
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
Return to 14 May 2000 Issue
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