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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.

Newsletters - Winter 2006 Issue

President's message

Can one plagiarize one’s self? I hope not because my message for this issue is a letter I sent to an area hospital about their food choices.

The autumn issue of Good Medicine magazine www.pcrm.org/magazine/ , published by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine has an article about hospital food. I had already decided to write this before the magazine arrived, but after reading the article it became a must do. If you are inspired to do something similar, please contact me. Here is my letter:

“As I write this I am looking at your menu for one Thursday in October. Hypocrates (author of the oath taken by all new physicians) said ‘Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.’ Your selections make this difficult to do.

“Dairy abounds, and no alternatives such as soy, rice or nut milks are offered. Yogurt, cream cheese, milk, half-and-half, ice cream, pudding, cottage cheese, as well as cream of tomato and cream of mushroom soup are on the menu. All of these foods are unsuitable for patients who are lactose intolerant. Dairy products also contain casein (a gluey substance that causes mucus production and constipation); animal fat (which, of course, is the source of cholesterol); and animal protein (that is designed to nourish baby calves, not humans). Moreover, dairy products are implicated in arthritis, menstrual problems, allergies, asthma and diabetes. Although most of us were brought up to believe that dairy is a “perfect food” for people, we are the only species that consumes milk after having been weaned and also consumes the milk of another species.

“All the cereals on the menu are made with refined grains, as is the only hot cereal choice. The margarine offered in the breakfast selections does not state that it is non-hydrogenated. The only fresh fruit offered is banana. All of the lunch and dinner entrees feature animal products. Chicken broth is the alternative to the creamed soups.

Mashed potatoes are listed, and they no doubt contain butter or margarine and milk. Along with white bread and bagels, rye and wheat bread are offered but, judging from what I saw in the cafeteria, they are not true whole grains. As a vegan who consumes no animal products and avoids refined grains, it would be impossible for me to choose any well-balanced meals.

“Much research exists connecting the consumption of animal products with heart and circulatory problems, diabetes, arthritis and other chronic health conditions. The main dishes of pot roast, beef cubes, chicken, turkey and tuna all contain cholesterol and no fiber. No vegan dishes are offered. There are side dish vegetables of beets, carrots and green beans but I do not know if these contain added fat.

“I saw this menu while visiting a patient in your hospital. Although vegan meals were ordered, pasta with cheese was brought for dinner and cereal with milk and white bread and butter for breakfast.

“When I went to the cafeteria there was a large sign on the door extolling the heart disease program. Yet the food offered was much the same as the patient menu. There were many dairy and meat dishes and no vegan entree or alternatives to dairy. All of the pasta dishes contained cheese. I heard someone order a veggieburger. It was not on the menu board and I asked about it. I learned that it was prepared on the same grill as the meat items and there was no other method of preparation available.

“There was a salad bar with several kinds of vegetables and some non-dairy dressings, the only truly healthful choice.I did not see any nutrition information offered.

“It seems to me that a hospital cafeteria that offers some truly healthful food choices could also have education materials available. A low-fat, high-fiber vegan diet has been shown to be helpful in both preventing and reversing many conditions. Hospitals ought to be more involved in this important aspect of health education.

“I am enclosing an article entitled ‘Hospital Food: A prescription for Change’ from the Autumn 2005 issue of Good Medicine, published by The Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine.

It concludes, “By making a few simple changes, U.S. hospitals could take a leadership role in promoting good health. As the Hippocratic oath begins ‘First, Do no Harm.’

Re-cap of recent events:

The fall of 2005 was productive and energizing. In September we had a dinner at Cafe Gabriel in Kingston, a relaxing evening allowing us to gear up for a busy October and November. In October, we sold vegan food in honor of World Farm Animals Day at the Milan Community Day, which was organized by Judi Gelardi. We held the second annual chile dinner at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Kingston to commemorate Vegetarian Awareness Month. Our Activity Day at the Milan Town Hall featured a cooking class with Maribeth Abrams and readings of Rynn Berry’s original plays about vegetarian heroes and heroines. We also tabled at the Rhinebeck Farmers’ Market.

November found us at the Dutchess Community College Health Fair (thanks Louella and Earl Prochaska). For Thanksgiving, we had our potluck at the Milan Town Hall. Once more, as she has for more than ten years, Jean Daniels organized, shopped, and worked from early morning to night getting everything together but she could not have done it without the efforts of many others. These include Connie Young, Pat Valusek, Andy Grimm, Carol Popp, Judi Gelardi, Gib Hauge, Michael Hauge, Rae Schlecht, Leif Erich, Luella Winne, Jen Van Alstine, Carol McCarron, Nancy Furstinger, and Lisa Rickerman. Thanks to Mother Earth’s Storehouse and Rhinebeck Health Food for their donations.

2006 opened with a sold-out event at CJ’s Italian restaurant in Rhinebeck. Our many guests enjoyed a sumptuous feast of Italian favorites gone vegan and a stirring reading by Roberta Kalechofsky from her book, “Job Enters a Pain Clinic.”

Thanks to everyone who attended recent events. We invite you to be part of our upcoming events.

Roberta Schiff, President

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