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
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
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.
Go on to Next Topic
Return to Summer 2008 Issue