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August 2000

GREETINGS

Following our delightful July potluck picnic, we are still trying to collect enough cheap-from-rummage-sales plastic plates to serve up to 200 attendees at the Pre-Thanksgiving Feast, so donít stop rummaging, those who rummage! We can also now report that we have secured the same site as the last few years, the North Shore Presbyterian Church, to hold the Feast at.

No one has yet come up with any ideas about doing anything for World Vegetarian Day on October 1. Itís now pretty much too late to plan an event for that date, but we could still do a concerted letter-to-the-editor writing to observe it: this would simply involve as many of us as possible writing letters to the editor(s) of our local newspaper(s) pointing out the positive rewards of vegetarianism with reference to the fact that it has its own Day, in the hope that if the papers get a couple of dozen letters, they might actually print two or three of them. What do people think? Call (414) 962-2703 with feedback and/or come to the August 19 potluck.

MARV once planned potlucks just for ourselves. Then we started trying to avoid conflicts with the macrobiotic potlucks which, like ours, tend to be on mid-month Sunday evenings. But this now often means two potlucks on one weekend, which is still a problem for people who want to do both. The most obvious solution is to have one groupís potlucks in the middle of the month and the other groupís at the beginning or end. Should we consider changing ours, at least until winter when the next macrobiotic schedule gets put together? Come to the next potluck and/or call with your comments.

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, Aug. 6, CUFA Picnic in Grant Park, site #7, noon to 4:30 or so. See enclosed flyer.

Saturday, Aug. 19, 6 PM, regular potluck Elissa and Ricís, 2503 E. Olive St., Shorewood, (duplex on SE corner of E. Olive and N. Stowell, 2 blocks W of N. Lake Dr. and about 3 blocks N of E. Capitol) 332-0095

Sunday, Sept. 10, Outpost Wellness Fest, 11 AM-5 PM, in Hart Park in Wauwatosa. We really need some volunteers to help table! Call 962-2703 to help. These things are fun!

Saturday, Sept. 16, 6 PM, regular potluck at the Quigley place in Shorewood.

Sunday, Oct. 8, 6 PM, regular potluck. Who wants to host this one?

Saturday, Nov. 18, Pre-Thanksgiving Feast

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Macrobiotic Potlucks

Sunday, Aug. 20, 3 PM, Ron & Judy Strampe, S63W15025 College, Ave., Muskego, 262- 422-1370

Sunday, Sept. 17, 5 PM, Pat OíNeillís, 2431 N. Bartlett, Milwuakee, 964-9759

Sunday, Oct. 15, Melodie Rossenís, 3850 S. Miner St., Milwaukee, 281-0586

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QUOTE OF THE MONTH

" ĎRaising children as vegetarians has the advantage that we as adults tend to continue the diet weíre raised on,í said Dr. David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell. ĎI find it almost impossible to make a nutritional argument against ití"

-- from a NY Times article, 7/25/00

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NEWS

This monthís quote came from a really odd NY Times article about families with vegetarian children. The focus was on the problems of feeding a family when one or more members wonít eat meat while others do, and the concerns about properly nourishing growing children without meat. The reporter undoubtedly thought she was being objective by quoting both those who support vegetarianism for children and those who worry that these children may lack needed nutrients, but she clearly lacked enough information to realize that, as the American Dietetic Association position paper states, appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful Ė and in fact much more healthful than the inappropriately planned omnivorous diets which many children are eating.

And animal foods do continue to be bad for people. An outbreak of e. coli poisoning right here in Milwaukee has been traced to a Sizzler restaurant on W. Layton; at least 40 cases have been reported including one child dead and another in critical condition. Japanís biggest dairy apparently sickened over 11,300 people with bacteria-tainted milk by failing to properly clean equipment in its plant. And in Ontario, Canada, where an e.coli outbreak killed at least 7 last month, the town is planning to replace 5.5 miles of water pipes that cannot be cleaned adequately. Meanwhile, scientists in British Columbia report some success in analyzing just how e. coli does its dirty work. They hope this discovery will help develop a vaccine against e.coli infection. No one seems to be talking about keeping cow flop out of the water or dropping animal foods from the diet, though the US FDA is talking about possible health risks from aged cheeses made from non-pasteurized milk. This is panicking those who make and sell raw-milk cheeses, particularly the specialty imports that are often produced in small operations by family farmers; people who make and love these cheeses point out that even if there is some indication that nasty bacteria can survive the aging process, no one has ever gotten sick from eating these products.

Then there is new data on the clogging of arteries. One study published in the American Heart Association Journal reports on autopsies of 760 teenagers aged 15 to 19 and adults age 30 to 34. Not only did 20 % of the men in their early 30s have arterial blockages severe enough to cause heart attack or stroke, but 2 % of the teens had arteries already that seriously affected (and it is deducible that many not yet at risk for immediate heart attack were well on the way). Girls 15 to 19 were not as bad off, but 8% of women between 30 and 34 were. Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that even men under 40 with high cholesterol levels are at increased risk of heart attack, and insisted on the need for regular cholesterol testing for all adults from age 20 onwards. The accompanying editorial called heart disease largely preventable, while downplaying the value of cholesterol-lowering drugs and diet changes when these donít start until later in life.

In a different area, mad cow disease is growing. France is finding more mad cows this year than last, and British health officials now report an upswing in deaths this year from the human form of the disease. Itís beginning to be admited that as many as half a million Britons could die as a result of eating infected beef products if worst comes to worst.

Itís in this context that a drama is occuring in Vermont, where two or three farm families imported some Belgian sheep for making sheep milk. After repeated negative tests for disease, 4 of the almost 400 animals have now tested positive for something that may or may not be scrapie, and the government wants to destroy them all right away, just in case. The farm families point out that they had carefully checked the feed records for their sheep before buying them and felt that their histories precluded mad cow disease Ė nor is there any evidence of transmissability of any spongiform encephalopathies through milk. They love their sheep and feel that the government is overreacting, and a court fight is beginning. One can see both sides. Holding the sheep alive but out of production until more precise testing can be done does not seem like such a bad idea.

With all this anxiety, itís a relief to turn to the healthfulness of vegetarian foods.

Red wine and red grapes have long been suspected of being healthy for the heart. It has now been reported that the polyphenols present in wine, which are believed to block blood clots, are equally present in ordinary red wine and in dealcoholized red wines. In addition, researchers now believe that resveritrol, a substance which protects grapes from fungus attacks, may also help fight cancer and inflammation which is linked to arthritis and other diseases.

Prevention magazine reports on a USDA-affiliated study in which 12 women were first given a convenience-food diet for 4 weeks, then switched to a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, nut butters, dried fruits, and ginger tea and green tea, with just 3

ounces of optional meat per week. Not only did the womenís cholesterol levels drop significantly on the 4 weeks of plant foods, but all constipation disappeared and they all reported feeling better, lighter, and more energetic.

If olive oil is part of your diet, extra virgin olive oil seems better than other kinds at preventing bad LDL cholesterols from oxidizing; this is good since some researchers think that only oxidized cholesterol forms plaques.

A lung-research study of over 2500 men found that those who ate 5 or more apples per week had measurably better lung function than those who ate none.

And of course you have a much better chance of getting the fiber that you need to keep your gut healthy if youíre avoiding animal foods and refined flour while eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Recent studies have seemed to cast doubt on the usefulness of fiber-supplemented diets, but it still remains the case that, as Dr. Tim Byers put it in the New England Journal of Medicine, "Öobservational studies around the world continue to find that the risk of colorectal cancer is lower among populations with the highest intake of fruits and vegetables and that the risk changes on adoption of a different diet, but we still do not understand why."

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THE VEGGIE TABLE

If anyone has a restaurant they want to share, please let us know Ė you can do the review or just provide the information and Iíll write it up.

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CONNECTIONS

Once again, Youth For Understanding International Exchange has written to us looking for host families that will be compatible with vegetarian teenage exchange students. If youíre interested, call them at 1-800-teenage, or visit their website at http://www.YouthForUnderstanding.org/

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DIALOG

Iíve been thinking recently about people who could use some dietary improvements, and the obstacles they face, and the proper response of well-intentioned vegetarians.

One way this came up was through a friend who recognizes her meat-dairy-white bread-soda diet as the key to various physical problems and miseries. Sheíd like to eat better, but pointed out that just as many vegetarians would find a fast food burger so repulsive that we couldn't get it down if we tried, so the whole foods, beans, and vegetables that many healthy diets are based on are equally impossible to eat if you donít have a taste for them.

Another angle came from some recent secondhand exposure to some of the books promoting high-protein diets but arguing against soy. As far as I can determine, none of these books have behind them the kind of science that can be published in respectable peer-reviewed scientific journals Ė but they often have some doctorís name on the cover and are thus useful to anyone wishing to disparage vegetarianism. They thus powerfully enable people who eat unhealthily to justify continuing to do so, in ways that are hard to dispute without calling the authors liars.

This raises the problem of how militant one can or should be in promoting vegetarianism. MARV has always taken the stance that we do not go out and buttonhole people to try to convert them to our way of eating, no matter how right and preferable we find it. We avoid being judgemental, accepting that different people are at different places along their own paths. On the other hand, we do want to be accessible and available to anyone interested in eating less animal foods and more plants; we do have a lot of good nutritional science in our favor and do want to be able to help anyone seeking information on plant-based eating.

I think we need to keep things positive. We need to know the science behind plant-based diets and be able to state it clearly when challenged, without necessarily looking for challengers. And we also need strategies to suggest to those who need a way to begin eating differently. One might be to suggest starting with fruits, since they are sweet and tasty and least unlike what Standard American Diet eaters are used to; maybe after such people found some fruits they could add to their diets they might be willing to try some of the sweeter vegetables, then try corn chips and nuts instead of potato chips, then salad drowned in dressing Ė and so gradually work their way towards whole grains and beans. Except for breastmilk, no taste is inborn; all are acquired, and can change. We need to be resourceful, kind, and confident in helping others who are interested in acquiring new ones.