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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 - Summer 2008 Issue

Reaching Out With Roberta

By Roberta Schiff

Even thought I am no longer serving as president of MHVS I wanted to continue writing for our newsletter. Jim said that was good and to come up with a name for the column. I like alliteration, so considered Robbie's Rambles (too casual) Revelations from Roberta (too grandiose) Robbie Remembers (not a memoir). As outreach to the community and in reach to our members is an important part of our mission at MHVS I have decided to use Reaching Out as a title.

For sometime I have been wanting to submit an essay to the ongoing "This I Believe" call for personal essays hosted by National Public Radio. I am double dipping and making it my first column as your prime minister (oh sorry, the board wasn't keen on that, so I remain vice president and events coordinator).

I don't eat meat, dairy or eggs. I believe that I have less chance of cancer, heart disease or diabetes. I know I am reducing cruelty to animals and helping our environment. People ask; "Are you a 'vay-gan'? "No, I am a vegan (vee-gun). Veegans are people who live in Las Vegas. I ate the Standard American Diet (SAD) for most of my life; I started making changes. By 2000, I was vegan. Vegan food is healthful, varied and delicious.

The Poughkeepsie Journal printed a photo of a man tending a grill. In addition to the usual slabs of muscle tissue there is an entire head of a pig, skin, eyes, ears and nose. It appears to be looking at the camera. Many people, vegetarians, vegans and carnivores find this objectionable, my first reaction also.

Now I hope it will help some people realize that the meat they eat was part of a living, breathing and feeling animal. Thousands of unhappy pigs are raised in confined spaces - their waste goes into so-called lagoons, which are major polluting sources.

Cows care tenderly for their calves, but even on organic farms they are separated, mother and baby bellowing for each other. "If she is nursing, she holds back on her milk", a dairyman said when asked if the calves were allowed to nurse. I believe that many people don't realize that nature provides every mammal with milk specifically tailored for the needs of its infant. I believe that we humans are better off without a food designed to grow a calf to 800 pounds. "But they don't kill them", people say. Actually, they do. A cow can live 20 years, but dairy cows are so spent after four years they are sent to slaughter, then their flesh makes great mystery meat for prisons and school lunches.

It is not only beef that is high in cholesterol; chicken is too. Most of the ten billion animals we slaughter each year in the USA are chickens. McDonald's is now advertising chicken for breakfast, as if people needed to eat more of it. Chickens raised for meat have such large breasts that they can hardly stand. Ninety-five percent of all eggs come from caged chickens who have the same space as the piece of paper this is printed on.

Seventy percent of grain goes for animal feed. We could end world hunger.

I believe if more people knew about these things they would change their behavior. However, a friend said to me recently, that she knows most of this but has "compartmentalized" it so that she can continue to eat the foods that she enjoys. Consider stepping out of your box. A simple way to think about it - Eat nothing with a face, a mother or a liver. Every time you forgo a pound of meat you save as much water as if you stopped showering for a year - and you get to keep your friends. I believe that this is a good thing.

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