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by Candi Phillips

Marilyn vos Savant, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame for “Highest IQ”, writes “Ask Marilyn”, a column in Parade Magazine. A recent exchange was of particular interest. Someone asked, “I had a friend who adopted animal rights as a personal cause. He dropped all friends who ate meat, saying that they condoned cruelty to animals. I argued that I think it’s possible to give an animal a good life right up to the time you make him part of your dinner. My friend did not buy this argument, and I haven’t seen him since. What do you think?” Ms. vos Savant’s reply was “I think your argument is…ah…how shall I phrase this? OK: sort of disgusting. Not that I’m a vegetarian myself. But one cannot say that one is completely against all cruelty to animals and then voluntarily harm them seriously in any way. If you eat meat (or have leather in the house, etc.) you must admit that although you may detest cruelty to animals, you were brought up in a society that forgives most behaviour that was not considered cruel in the past, and you have not developed a passion for change.”

The HBO show, “Real Time With Bill Maher,” is a must-watch in our household. His biting wit and ability to synthesize circumstances into a simple yet insightful sentence are hallmarks. HBO televised one of his stage shows. Maher was discussing the issue of obesity in America. I hastily scribbled down his statement but the direct quote has apparently escaped my search through stacks of paper. Basically Maher talked about “Cattle too sick to stand are fed to people who are too fat to walk”.

The spring 2005 issue of Good Medicine, published by the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, noted a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, involving nearly 150, 000 adults since 1982, “the group with the highest meat intake had an approximately 50 percent higher colon cancer risk compared to those with lower intakes. Although previous studies have shown the same association, the large study population and the long duration of the study provide compelling evidence of the link between meat and colorectal cancer.” Parade Magazine, May 8, 2005 issue, echoed the study results with an additional warning, “Here’s a good reason to eat more fruits and vegetables: Consuming lots of red meat or meat products such as salami, pepperoni, bacon or sausage may increase the chances of developing colon cancer. And that’s not all: It also may increase the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers in Britain studied more than 25,000 men and women ages 45 to 75. They discovered that a high intake of red meat predisposed the subjects to rheumatoid arthritis independent of any other risk factors, such as smoking. They also concluded that a diet low in fruit further increases that risk.”

Kathleen Kastner, in Kansas City Wellness Magazine, wrote about being a vegetarian in the Midwest: “…For years, I have pondered the following questions: Is having reverence for animals something that one is born with, or is it something that is acquired, or taught, over the years of a lifetime? Why would a person want to eat an innocent animal? A person wouldn’t eat his cat or dog, so what is the difference between a dog and a cow and a chicken and a cat? Why do human beings think they are superior to animals, when animals are the ones who are so spiritually evolved in their ability to love unconditionally, forgive and be loyal? …I appreciate you being open minded to my suggestions and for allowing me the opportunity to be a voice for the animals that cannot speak for themselves. I feel it is our responsibility as human beings to take care of the animals who cannot depend themselves, as we would care and protect a baby, a puppy, or a kitten. I hope and pray that you will open your hearts to acknowledging the divinity within all living beings and the practice of ahimsa (nonviolence), by adding more vegetarian and vegan dishes to your current lifestyle…”

David Brubaker of the Center for a Liveable Future said, “The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous.” If you, dear reader, are still eating animals – please try – TRY! – some vegetarian alternatives. Instead of purchasing a sanitized, shrink-wrapped package of ground beef, go to your grocer’s frozen food area and look for Boca, Morningstar Farms or Gardenburgers. These are all soy-based alternatives that are delicious. My husband, still a “partial carnivore” especially enjoys the Boca bratwursts. We’ve found them at our local Hy-Vee stores as well as at Wild Oats and Whole Foods. “Consuming kindly” is much easier these days with vegetarian alternatives available not only at the grocery store but at most restaurants. And soy is so good for you! Hy-Vee has take-away brochures entitled “Healthy Bites”. The paper on soyfoods notes, “Soybeans are an excellent source of high-quality protein. They are rich in calcium, iron, zinc, several of the B vitamins and fiber. Soybeans also have fat, but don’t let that scare you away. The fat from soy is low in harmful saturated fat, yet rich in the ever-so-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to these nutrients, soybeans contain a wealth of phytochemicals and natural plant estrogens. These are substances in foods that are active in your body helping to reduce your risk for disease. One potent group of phytochemicals called genistein is virtually unique to soy.”  Hy-Vee has plenty of soy recipes for you to try and enjoy. Go online to and look in the “Soy Delicious” recipe section.

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