Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vegan options

On the May "Start a new post" Annette Werner wrote:

The issue of healthier school lunches has come up frequently lately and is part of Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity.

Vegan options would be healthy and just as important, cruelty free. An introduction to vegan choices is being offered tomorrow in Shadyside by Voices for Animals:

What It's All About!

Come see the original "Peaceable Kingdom," (2004) a powerful movie about animal agriculture and the animals affected by it (77 minutes), enjoy a FREE delicious vegan meal, and hear and participate in discussions about veganism and animal sentience. There will also be a question and answer session after the movie.

Sunday, July 11th, 12 PM-2PM
First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh
(Schweitzer Room)
605 Morewood Avenue
Pittsburgh (Shadyside), PA 15213

Admission is free but donations are greatly appreciated.
Everyone is welcome!

Note: Movie may not be appropriate for children. Parental discretion is advised


Annette Werner said...

As expected, this film was really difficult (but necessary) to watch.

It depicted thinking, feeling living beings- with the same intelligence and capacity for emotion as your cat or dog- living out short, miserable lives in cramped, dark enclosed spaces before being kicked, screamed at and prodded by stun guns to a gruesome slaughter. Animals too sick to stand are left to suffer and die slow deaths. This is factory farming and this is the source of 99% of the meat consumed in this country. Our government institutions including our school districts are accomplices to this horror. Vegetarians are not off the hook, as dairy cows are forced to produce 10 times the natural amount of milk and then sent to slaughter where they become the source of most hamburger meat. It is simply wrong, and yet students relying on meals provided at school in most cases have no way to opt out of the system.

Curious Tim said...

I wasn't there, didn't see the movie, but I've seen others like it, and based on what Ms. Werner said...

...I'm going to make an educated guess...that the movie was a propaganda piece.

That doesn't mean the message was wrong or had evil intent! It just means that the message should be viewed with some scepticism.

The purpose of a propaganda piece is to present one side ONLY, and to present that one side with great energy, great emotion, and force.

Anything that supports the thesis is exaggerated.

Anything that contradicts the thesis is ignored.

So perhaps the issue should be looked into. But let's not turn the whole school meal program upside down just yet.

Annette Werner said...

A propaganda piece would present facts selectively.

What facts might be missing? Agribusiness has not responded with evidence of kind or humane treatment of animals, and has strongly resisted even the most basic standards for humane treatment (why resist if these standards are being met?).

Anonymous said...

I agree with curious Tim, it is a proganda piece. Young children, especially pre-school to eighth grade, need the amino acids (protein builders) provided in red meat. Nuts and legumes cannot provide all the essential amino acides necessary for growth.

In addition, the fatty acids provided in meat aid in regulating bodily functions along with the necessary enzymes.

Lastly, children raised on vegan diets are more susceptible to infections and diseases because of a weaken immune system. Also, there is a correlation with vegan diets and some mental illnesses as indicated in medical/nutrional research.

Anne, I understand your concern with the treatment of farm animals. I am an animal lover myself. However, not all farms treat their animals poorly. The conditions shown in the movie are most likely at large, industrial farms filmed in the 70's. Small farms are much more humane, and the conditions have improved over the years.

With that said, children need meat to grow properly and to strenghten their immune system. Options are nice to have, but in moderation. Red meat once a week for adults is required for good health. Considering that the majority of the PPS population come from low income families, these children are at higher risk of health problems and need a nutrionally well balanced diet. These children most likely never ate a thick, juicy portion of steak.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that you would convince any of the vegetarian cultures around the world that have been thriving on a healthy non-meat diet for centuries that red meat is necessary.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that you would convince any of the vegetarian cultures around the world that have been thriving on a healthy non-meat diet for centuries that red meat is necessary.

Annette Werner said...

Clearly there are a range of opinions; there should also be a range of food options. Low income families have a much higher rate of caridovascular and kidney disease, both of which are highly correlated to high cholesterol diets. Indigenous Asian, African and South American diets are much lower in animal products and are associated with much lower rates of "Western" diseases. My family's personal experience over many years has been that these high cholesterol foods are not necessary (I did also consult with a nutritionist to be sure that all dietary needs are being met).

I wish it was true that conditions have improved, but much of the footage in the film was recent. Economic pressures in farming have only gotten worse. I was however planning to suggest disclosure of specific locations and dates of filming to address the very concerns raised by Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but find me a long-practicing vegan who has not had a Vit B-12 deficiency at one point - which can ultimately lead to pernicious anemia, a very serious medical condition. We are omnivores, period. The last thing children need is this kind of propaganda shoved down their throats. Yes, discourage our kids from consuming Pop Tarts and the like, but teach our children that we are supposed to live without any animal products? Please.
Plus, have you considered how much it might cost the average family to live such a lifestyle? Again, please.

Annette Werner said...

Well, I'm an example- tested and no B-12 deficiency! A cup of Silk soymilk has 50% of the daily B-12 requirement. Other sources such as nutritional yeast are also readily available. As for cost- protein sources such as chickpeas, corn, tofu, lentils, etc. are much less expensive than proten from meat sources.

Anonymous said...

I must say I've been a long-standing supporter of this forum and what it represents but I'm a bit dismayed seeing this subject being offered up as if it really has some merit. I fully support those who feel they have a moral obligation to this type of cause, but to try to push this as something that is natural for every and anyone, and something that our public school system should focus on - well, sorry, I don't buy it.
I'm trying to see what pushing vegan ism has to do with improving the Pittsburgh Public school system. Some of our local families are lucky if they can get their children out the doors with a decent meal - now some are proposing that if we feed our children with animal products (which, as mentioned earlier, we are as a species omnivores) that we are somehow doing an injustice?
Don't we have bigger fish to fry? (Pun intended!)

Annette Werner said...

The percentage of students choosing animal-free diets, or concerned about inhumane farming, is growing rapidly. Do we tell them sorry, no lunch for you?

And with high cholesterol a growing problem among children do we look the other way as surplus meat and dairy products are funneled into the school meal program?

Anonymous said...

Again, that percentage of students who choose such a lifestyle would probably be used having to accommodate themselves. Ultimately, they could pack a lunch. Problem solved. It's not about "no lunch for you", it's merely about getting our priorities straight. I think the common ground of the supporters of this forum is public education, not veganism.
My guess is that such a lifestyle represents a very limited percentage of students/families in the PPS system.

Annette Werner said...

Public education has always encompassed topics such as nutrition, lifestyle choices and kindness. The more difficult the option, the lower the percentage choosing that option will be.

Anonymous said...

Was the question ever answered on how this issue, at the end of the day, really affects and influences the quality of our public education system? I too have been a supporter of this forum and the ideals of it's members, however, this vegetarianism/vegan push came out of nowhere.
Are we pushing for the greater good of public education or does someone out there have an agenda?

Annette Werner said...

Seeking better public education, for sure.