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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.


Winter 2002-2003 Edition

Putting Our Money Where Our Activism Is
By Rich Conte

Can you recall the last time a major corporation or political party radically changed their ideology? Have the major automakers ever made cars safer, less polluting, and more fuel-efficient voluntarily? Did the tobacco companies stop targeting their products towards young people on their own, or were they forced to stop targeting them? Are you seeing political parties that, by and large, are not strong on environmental protection suddenly changing their views on alternative energy, wildlife habitat protection, clean air issues, mass transit, forest protection and so on? Maybe Iím missing something, but I certainly havenít seen any great one hundred eighty-degree turns.

There have certainly been great victories won for the environment in the past century through political lobbying and grassroots activism. There have also been many great defeats. In the world we live in today, the stakes are higher than ever. Global warming is a real threat to the climate stability of our planet; you donít need a science degree to see whatís going on; just go to "The Weather Channel." Does the word "drought" sound familiar to anyone? The rate of extinction due to human activities is at an unacceptable all time high. Do you think nuclear power is a safe way to make electricity? Letís ask the people in Chernobyl.

Real change at the corporate level is, for the most part, market-driven, not morally-driven --and real change that takes place in the political arena is painstakingly slow and usually fraught with compromise. I make these arguments to highlight the need for us to include in our arsenal the most potent ally we have in our struggle for substantive change, and that is our purses and our wallets. If we can grow an economy based on environmental sanity for the planet and all its inhabitants, then just buying the right products will do most of our work for a cleaner, greener world. Of course, most of the population needs to get on this bandwagon, but making sure we are spending our own money to support companies that share our values will increase the momentum that is already building in this movement. Who knows, maybe this growth will become exponential!

One of my favorite examples of exponential growth in the right direction is the growth of the organic food movement. I can remember about twenty to twenty five years ago when I would go into health food stores to look for produce that was grown without pesticides or herbicides. There on a shelf would be three shriveled zucchinis and a few wilted heads of lettuce. But, I didnít give up, and neither did many other people; we decided we wanted our food free of harmful pesticide residue and we were willing to pay the price for the more labor-intensive produce.

The selections slowly grew, and along came the four-dollar heads of broccoli and other expensive staples. But as the demand grew, the prices came down. Today, the organic food movement is now an industry with sales in the billions. Yes, the government came along and tried to weaken the guidelines for food to be labeled organic, but the people rose to the occasion and the weaker guidelines never came to be.

We are lucky today to have so many companies that are already established and doing business with a commitment to animal rights, justice, peace and the environment. One of the greatest resources I have found to locate these companies is the "National Green Pages" published by Co-op America. In this comprehensive directory you can find products and services by companies who share a green vision of the future. You can contact them at: Co-op America, 1612 K Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20006 (202) 872-5307 or (800) 58-GREEN or www.coopamerica.org .

Another powerful web site that no activist should be without is www.ResponsibleShopper.org . If we all get out there and use our buying power effectively, just imagine the world we can create.

For all the creatures of this planet,


We look forward to hearing from you

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