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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 From the Spring (1st quarter) 2001 Newsletter
Message from the President

Environmental Cost of a Hamburger
News Briefs
Calendar of Events

President’s Message:

Throughout our lives we go through many changes – some good, some not so good. For most vegetarians (except the fortunate few who were born vegetarians), changing our eating patterns can be difficult. Food is not only a necessity, but eating is also a social event. Family and friends cannot ignore the foods we eat when in their company and oftentimes they look upon us as odd. When pot roast or breast of chicken is your choice for dinner, stir-fried tofu seems weird.

Because of our changed lifestyle, many of us find ourselves drifting away from our non-vegetarian friends and making new friends among people whose diet and vegetarian lifestyle is more like our own. Because of this need to be among people of like mind, vegetarian societies like ours are sprouting up all over to spread our important knowledge about health and diet with others.

The Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society has gone through many changes since its inception in 1994 and we continue to change (for the better). As you can see, our newsletter has gone through another change. We have a new newsletter editor, Connie Young. Thank you, Connie. We also need a new graphic designer. Please contact me or Connie if you are interested. We also have a new recording secretary, Linda Rydant. Thank you Linda. Linda is also going to chair the vegan Thanksgiving dinner this year. She will need lots of help, so please call her or e-mail her to volunteer. She will tell you about the kind of help she needs. (Her e-mail address and phone number are on the masthead.)

We also want to thank our former newsletter editor Jane Riley for doing a great job for two years. We can’t blame her for wanting to move on and we thank her for all the hours she put in. We also want to thank Linda Brandt for having served as recording secretary for 4-1/2 years. Linda’s work responsibilities no longer allow her the time to put to this job so she is moving on. Thank you both again.

Our Great American Meat-out was a great success as usual. The potlucks were stupendous. We have a great group of vegan cooks in our group We also thank Karen Davis for coming all the way from Virginia to speak to us about poultry concerns. We received lots of good feedback from her talk. Thank you also Gregory Anne Cox of Feelbetter, Robbie Schiff, and the Rhinebeck Health Food Store for their very generous donations to our successful raffle.

We look forward to even greater success this summer and the remainder of the year.

With love,

Rae Schlecht.

Environmental Cost of a Hamburger
by Constance Young

It takes 12, 009 gallons of water to yield one pound of beef (or one large hamburger.) Compare this to 60 gallons needed to grow one pound of potatoes -- or 108 gallons to grow one pound of wheat. That’s 200 times more water needed to produce a pound of beef than a pound of potatoes. According to Newsweek, "The water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a destroyer."

These and other statistics showing the destructive environmental impact of meat and dairy farming are from the recently released scholarly work called Ecological Integrity: Integrating Environment, Conservation and Health, edited by renowned Cornell University professor and ecologist David Pimental, Ph.D., along with a team of 22 scientists. Dr. Pimental has published more than 500 scientific papers and 20 books and has served on many governmental organizations including the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Other statistics appear in the landmark book Diet for a New America by John Robbins.

Consider next the threat to maintaining freshwater supplies from overdraft of surface and groundwater resources owing to agriculture and our expanding population. Agriculture consumes more fresh water than any other human activity, claims Pimental. About 80 nations in the world already experience significant water shortages, he adds, and in our country a major aquifer, the Ogallala, will become nonproductive in about 40 years if overdraft continues at its present serious rate.

Robbins puts the amount of topsoil lost in the United States at 75% of the original. He estimates that each year soil erosion results in a loss of four million acres of cropland in the U.S. -- about the size of Connecticut. Roughly 85 percent of this loss is directly associated with the raising of livestock. Add to this the 260 million acres of forests in this country that have been cleared to produce a meat-centered diet. This amounts to an acre of trees disappearing every 8 seconds, Robbins claims. On the other hand, if one person switches to a vegan diet, he estimates that this will save one acre of trees each year.

Then consider what your average hamburger would cost if the meat industry was not subsidized by taxpayers. According to Robbins, the meat would cost $35 per pound.

Taxing according to food rank

According to Dr. Pimental’s food chain rankings, a diet consisting of mammals (such as cows, pigs, goats, sheep, and dairy) is the worst of all types of foods for our environment. Birds (turkeys, chicken, etc.) rank as the second most environmentally-destructive foods, followed by other vertebrates, followed by invertebrates. The foods with the least impact on the environment are plant foods -- including legumes, grains, vegetables, starch crops, fruits, nuts, and algae.

Pimental makes a case for vegetarianism, and proposes a taxation system based on a particular food’s impact on the food chain. The highest taxes would fall on the least efficient food sources, namely hogs and cattle. In his scheme there would be no taxes required for the most efficient foods -- grains, starches, legumes, and only modest subsidies on coarser grains like millet.

This article was compiled from data on www.vegsource.com. For further documentation, read John Robbins’s book, "Diet for a New America" or contact EarthSave Hudson Valley at 845-472-7392 or at gleaf@westnet.com.

News Briefs:

MHVS member Joan Zacharias wins lots of media attention over vegetarianism and another chance to have a booth at the Columbia County Fair. Last year Joan financed and ran the first vegetarian table ever at the Columbia County Fair under the aegis of MHVS. Though the table was excellent, it caused controversy and media attention when a band of people stole some of her "anti dairy" literature and burnt it in a bonfire. Joan was castigated by the Fair for her "inflammatory" literature (no pun intended).

This year she applied again to have a table and was initially turned down. But the media hoopla and many Letters to the Editor from concerned citizens caused the Board to relent and allow her a table – provided that the Board retain the right to censor the literature. This has generated more controversy as well as support due to violation of her (our) First Amendment rights. Many have written letters decrying this violation, some saying "I am not a vegetarian but…." Right now the ACLU is interested in the case and Joan has a wonderful vegetarian attorney who has been advising her. She has asked for a meeting with the Board to discuss our concerns – foremost among these, free speech and protection from vandals. We’ll keep you posted on this in the next newsletter. Let us know if you want to see Joan’s impressive press package with dozens of clippings.

Vegetarian Baby Boom

The U.S. is experiencing a boom in vegetarian babies, claims an article on the web (www.enn.com/news/enn-stories/). The article attributes this boom to the late childcare guru Dr. Benjamin Spock’s new 7th edition of his famous 1946 work. The 1998 edition of Spock’s Baby and Child Care is encouraging more and more parents to raise their children as vegetarians or vegans, the article claims. This edition for the first time recommends a vegan diet as the optimal diet for children.

Dateline’s Brave Expose on Canned Hunts

An expose by NBC’s newsmagazine Dateline a month ago caused me to cancel my subscription to the Smithsonian magazine and to add another outrage to my list of governmental affronts. The article showed the prime benefactor of the Smithsonian, big game hunter and Safari Club member Kenneth Behring, kill an elephant in Africa in the only country for which killing this endangered animal is not outlawed – with the help of the Smithsonian. It showed George W. Bush accept an award from the Safari Club – an organization that holds contests for the most and " best" animals killed (rhinos – you name it – the rarer the better). President Bush’s father was also a Safari Club member and an avid hunter. The NBC documentary also showed footage of a tiger held in a trailer and shot through the window. The purpose of this carnage was solely for a trophy and an award. This from people who could afford a Renoir to hang on their wall.

By Constance Young

Summer Calendar of Events

June 16, Saturday Restaurant outing. Time: 5:00 PM. Place: New World Home Cooking, Saugerties (one of our favorites). Call Virginia at 845-338-4990 by Thursday June 14th for reservations and directions.

July 28, Saturday Returned by popular demand. Authentic Indian home-prepared meal in Rhinebeck. If you like Indian food, we assure you this is a gastronomic delight. There will be potato and other curries, assorted fried Pakora, dessert, non-alcoholic beverages. You may BYOB. Time: 5:00 PM. Cost: $20.00. Call Virginia at 845-388-4990 for reservations before July 14th. When we receive your check, you have a reservation.

August 18, Saturday Vegan Pot Luck Picnic. Time: 12:00 Noon. Place: Ulster Park. Cost: $3.00 for members; $5.00 non-members. Complimentary corn and watermelon. Call 845-338-8223 or 845-338-4990 for information and reservations.

August 4-5 (Saturday – Sunday) Hoe-down at Farm Sanctuary, Watkin’s Glenn, New York. This is fun for adults and kids alike. You can hug a pig, talk to a turkey -- get up close and personal to all kinds of farm animals. We’ll car pool it, so let Rae know as soon as possible if you want to join us. It will be a most memorable weekend.


Please welcome our newest vegetarian, Tai Marie Julia Furlong, daughter of Bob and Angela, born March 7, 2001. She is a lover of milk of mother and a bit of soy.

Thank you to:
John Hockler
Earl Prochaska,
Barbara Post,
Robbie Schiff,
 Alan and Gina Mandel
 for your kind donations.

We look forward to hearing from you

This site is maintained by:
The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation

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