Over the summer, the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society moved to create three
new standing committees and an Advisory Board.
The Advisory Board consists of friends and colleagues of MHVS who have
unique expertise and experience in several distinct fields related to
choosing and living a vegan lifestyle. Members of the new Advisory Board
have backgrounds ranging from animal sanctuary work to medical and
health expertise and spirituality. All have also demonstrated
friendship, accessibility and a great willingness to share their wisdom
The members of the Advisory Board will aid MHVS through their sharing of
knowledge, experience and good-counsel as needed. To a large degree,
creation of this board formalizes collegial relationships that already
exist between MHVS and the individuals named to the Advisory Board.
The Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society Advisory Board now includes:
Harold Brown, outreach coordinator, Farm Sanctuary; Jenny Brown,
director, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary; Frank and Mary Hoffman,
proprietors, All-Creatures.org; Matt and Mary Kelly, co-founders,
Berkshire Vegetarian Network; Milton Mills, MD, internist and advisor to
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; and Kathy Stevens,
director, Catskill Animal Sanctuary.
Brief biographies and photos of the Advisory Board members will run in
the Winter edition of Vegetarian Viewpoints.
In an effort to answer concerns and engage the interests of Mid- Hudson
Vegetarian Society members, the board voted over the summer to create
three standing committees: Health Committee, Environmental Committee,
and Animal Advocacy Committee. The committees were created to recognize
and respond to the specific interests of members at large and members of
the board as well. The creation of the committees is intended to empower
members with a specific, focused interest in any one of the three areas
of committee concern to work specifically for the advancement of those
concerns within the wider community (as well as among the MHVS
It is hoped that the committee structure will foster focused, consistent
issue-based advocacy. The three-committee design encompasses, broadly,
the three most-commonly sited categories of reasons for which people
choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. In most individual “vegetarian
journey” one of these concerns led to a lifestyle transition, with
awareness and interest of the other reasons following along later.
For instance, Rae Schlecht and Roberta Schiff (foundress and current
president respectively) each sited health reasons for their transition.
Each later came to appreciate and advocate for animals and the
environment with time. Conversely, Jim Van Alstine, vice president,
became vegetarian with the dawning of his animal rights ethic while in
his twenties. As his twenties have given way to his forties, Jim has
noticed the health reasons for being vegan are pretty important, too
(total un-medicated blood cholesterol level: 175).
From “Diet for a Small Planet” through “Beyond Beef” and “Diet for a New
America” advocates of plant-based diets have long lamented livestock’s
impact on the environment and urged revolutionary changes in diet as a
key to saving the planet. Mainstream media and the culture at large
seem, lately, to have suddenly awoke to the challenges of global
warming. While the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization
seems to have reached some understanding of the meat and environment
problem in its report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow”, other wouldbe
environmental advocates remain largely deaf to the issue. For instance,
Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth” avoids any mention of meat’s
Such national and international discourse points to an opportunity for
organizations such as the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society to engage the
broader community in a discovery of animal agriculture’s impact on the
Similarly, the Health Committee will be well-positioned to engage
regional health and wellness professionals, non-profit organizations,
and government entities to encourage greater awareness and support of
healthful plant-based diets that have been shown to favorably impact
health concerns including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The Animal Advocacy Committee will be charged with goal of being a
consistent voice for those animals who are most commonly considered
ingredients, rather than beings. The Hudson Valley is home to
compassionate people, culturally progressive communities, great local
produce farms and vegetarian, vegan and veg-friendly restaurants who use
the local harvest. The Hudson Valley is also home uncountable pig-roast
fundraisers and a growing number of so-called “grass-fed” beef and
“freerange” chicken producers; the latter of which strive daily to put a
friendly face on the enslavement, slaughter and dismemberment of
sentient beings in the guise of boutique meats.
In an effort to be a more consistent and effective voice for change in
all three of these key areas of concern for vegetarians, the MHVS is
inviting interested members to join any of the three committees.
Currently, Jim Van Alstine, vice president, and Alyse Dietrich are
serving on the Environmental Committee, Roberta Schiff, president, is on
the Health Committee and Judi Gelardi, membership coordinator, is on the
Animal Advocacy Committee.
Any member interested in serving on any of the committees may send an
email to the following addresses:
Committees@mhvs.org or phone
the office at 845•876•2626
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