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Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.
38 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York 12572 USA -  845-876-2626
Vegetarian - Vegan - Animal Rights - Health - Nutrition - Environment

The mission of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc. is to promote the vegetarian ethic in the Mid-Hudson (New York) region, educate the community and aid anyone in the pursuit of a totally vegetarian (vegan) cruelty-free and healthful lifestyle.

Articles - Letters - and More


Contacts: Jim Van Alstine (518) 678-2003 or Joan Zacharias (518) 828-0972

January 6, 2004 – With news of the first known confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), there is renewed concern about the United States’ beef supply. It is the sincere hope of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society (MHVS) that no person will be afflicted with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), nor any other cow will fall ill with BSE in connection with this incident. However, given the industrial practices common in livestock feed, slaughter and meat processing, there may well be a risk to both animal and human health.

The United States tested for BSE only 12,500 times in 2002, from a market of over 36 million slaughtered cattle. Although testing should have doubled in 2003, the rate remains a fraction of Europe’s, which tests over 120,000 animals each week in a far smaller market. Almost all cattle tested in the U.S. are “downer” animals who already show symptoms of BSE. Animals not yet displaying symptoms are not identified for testing. BSE can be present for years before symptoms show, just as humans suffering from vCJD can carry the degeneration-causing prions for decades before falling ill.

Imprudent feed and slaughter practices leave the U.S. susceptible to a BSE outbreak and a subsequent vCJD pandemic. It is permitted in the U.S. to use chicken litter (a blend including manure, feathers and wasted feed) from the floors of chicken houses as a cattle feed ingredient. Cattle and other animal remains are ingredients in the chicken feed, which through the litter may be reprocessed into cattle feed, resulting in the known dangerous practice of feeding cattle remains to cattle.

Following the BSE and vCJD outbreak in Britain during the 1990s, the U.S. enacted some reforms to feed industry practices and implemented a testing regimen. Although the reforms were far less stringent than those implemented in Europe, the USDA repeatedly assured us that beef was safe and the risk of a BSE case was insignificant. Now the USDA, under the direction of former beef industry lobbyist Ann Veneman, again assures us that the beef supply is safe. Is the USDA to be trusted this time?

As frightening as the prospect of a BSE outbreak and vCJD pandemic may be, other diseases common to U.S. beef eaters remain far more likely. Heart disease, obesity, colon cancer, diabetes and food poisoning all claim far more victims than would any likely vCJD outbreak.

The Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society recommends that the best way for consumers to improve the safety of their food supply and stave off meat-related disease, including vCJD, is to choose a vegetarian diet, based on locally grown and preferably organic foods. Know where your food comes from: Buy a share in a local organic farm, shop at local farmers’ markets, join a food buying club or co-op, or grow your own. Ask local supermarkets and school cafeterias to offer more locally grown organic produce.

MHVS, a volunteer community nonprofit organization, has been active in the Hudson Valley for over eight years helping individuals and families transition to a meatless diet. To request a free vegetarian starter kit with recipes, e-mail goveggie@mhcable.com or visit www.mhvs.org  


Jim Van Alstine – MHVS member and Greene County resident…former employee of Farm Sanctuary, an organization that called for a ban on using downer cows for meat as early as 1998 – (518) 678-2003 (no e-mail).

www.vegforlife.com – Watkins Glen-based Farm Sanctuary’s website, with click-throughs to recent articles on Mad Cow, including a NY Times feature (1/2/2004) on Farm Sanctuary.

www.madcowboy.com – Howard Lyman’s website…Howard was a co-defendant in the famous Oprah Winfrey “meat defamation” trial in 1998…fourth-generation cattle rancher from Montana turned vegetarian.

www.veganmd.org – Dr. Michael Greger’s website…graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts School of Medicine…long history (since 1993) of public speaking on mad cow disease…has contributed to many books and articles on the subject and currently coordinates the mad cow disease website for the Organic Consumers Association http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm

www.vegsource.com – a comprehensive source for vegetarian news and views, with links to experts.

We look forward to hearing from you

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