"What’s a nice vegetarian like you doing in a place like this?"
people asked when they saw our booth at last year’s Columbia
County fair – not exactly the perfect venue for human
herbivores. But this was exactly where we wanted to be: in the
midst of 65,000 hot-dog eating, monster tractor-loving
fairgoers. People took loads of vegetarian literature, signed up for our
mailing list and expressed interest in learning how to eat more
healthfully. Not everyone was thrilled to see us, however, as we
witnessed some of our literature being "barbecued" on a grill
over at the 4H dairy barn.
Despite living in one of the most beautiful rural areas in the
nation – with dozens of organic farms and abundant outlets for
fresh-picked fruits and veggies, people are fat and sick here,
like everywhere else in America, from eating the standard meat and
dairy diet. One look at their school lunch menus and it’s not
hard to track their eating habits – or to foresee what today’s
child’s arteries are going to look like in a few years.
We knew that we had a great challenge in spreading the word to
this community, but we wanted to start small and move slowly.
Despite this, we were surprised, and delighted, to see over 100
people who showed up from as far away as New York City and
Saratoga to our first event — a July 4th barbecue. They came,
proudly bearing delectable dishes – many made with homegrown
ingredients plucked from their own gardens. It was a perfect
day. There were people, and companion dogs, from every
generation. To a steady background of traditional Irish music
performed by local musicians, we played Frisbee and basketball,
participated in a watermelon seed-spitting contest, and
generally enjoyed the good food and happy vibes. By popular
demand, we’ll do this every year.
As this newsletter goes into publication, we’re back at the
county fair – a place that didn’t feel so welcome a few months ago when
fair organizers told us we were banned after the dairy and
cattle farmers complained about our "anti-agriculture" literature. With
the help of vegetarians everywhere, local free speech supporters
and a good lawyer, we made peace with fair officials and have
had our booth this year, just as last year: right across from
the American Legion Hot Dog Booth.
Some folks love us, others loathe or fear us, but we feel
strongly that people have a right to the full range of information they
need to make important decisions about their health.
Vegetarian societies like ours are akin to a great "nutrition
underground" – disseminating truth kits against the big fast-food
/ junk food empire. What’s frightening to the dairy and
cattle folks is that people are starting to see that the emperor
has no clothes – and he’s all blubber! People are tired of being
sick and tired. They want to get off their medications and start
living again. That means turning their backs on meat and dairy,
which strikes fear in the bellies of those who make a living
pushing these products.
In this rural area, we are told that we must choose between
animal agriculture and development. In other words, animals
must be killed in order to keep our open spaces. But farms like
Huguenot Street in New Paltz are thriving by using "green (plant
based) manure" and soybean meal instead of slaughterhouse
byproducts or animal feces. Not a single animal was harmed to
produce their vegetables. Vegan organic farming methods – as
old as the ancient Romans – must be taught once again.
Besides our cooking classes, restaurant outings, potlucks and
picnics, we hope to encourage dialogue in the community about
some of the "traditions" that foster unhealthy attitudes toward
animals, including pig roasts, 4H and fishing contests. We will
also enthusiastically support Farm Sanctuary’s new campaign for
recognition of farm animals as sentient beings.
See about the county fair in News Briefs!
MID-HUDSON VEGETARIAN SOCIETY
P.O. Box 166
Chatham, NY 12037
On Saturday, September 29, 5 to 10 PM, Little Brook Farm,
Old Chatham, NY: Join the Columbia-Greene Chapter,
other MHVS members, and guests in this century-old classic
barn to welcome autumn with the bounty of the harvest.
There will be foot-stomping music and a chance to
commune with all the rescued animals, including lots of
cats and horses who need good homes.
We will also honor the work of two of the community’s
most committed animal rescuers: Lynn Cross of B.I.T.S.
(Balanced Innovative Teaching Strategies, an educational
riding program to build positive self-image in children) and
Katrin Hecker of AnimalKind. (Shh, don’t tell Lynn, but
we will also be celebrating her birthday!)
Please bring a vegetarian dish (no meat, dairy, eggs or honey)
for 6+ people. No admission, but suggested tax-deductible
donation of at least $20 will go to raising funds for local
animal rescue work.
All are welcome, including children and non-vegetarians.
For more information, contact the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian
Society, Columbia-Greene Chapter at 518-392-VEGI