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Update Newsletters
27 May 2007 Issue

1. CVA Sustaining Membership

2. New York Times Controversy Over Vegan Children

3. Prayer Request

4. Christianity and Violence: Environmentalism and Sustainability

1. CVA Sustaining Membership
The CVA offers Sustaining Membership to those paying our $25 annual subscription. In addition to the weekly e-newsletter available to all members, Sustaining Members receive the Take Heart! daily e-messages, which include inspirational comments, biblical commentary, health tips, an advice column, and recipes.

To become a Sustaining Member, go to our Membership Page, www.christianveg.org/freemembership.htm, fill out the form, which will take you to the dues-paying section. Or, you can send a check to CVA, PO Box 201791, Cleveland, OH 44120. Donations to the CVA are tax-deductible.

2. New York Times Controversy Over Vegan Children
Human “babies are built from protein, calcium, cholesterol and fish oil,” states food writer Nina Planck in an opinion piece entitled “Death by Veganism” that ran in the May 21st New York Times. Planck, who touts lard and other animal products as health food (www.ninaplanck.com), wrote in response to the recent conviction of a vegan couple whose 6-week-old child, Crown Shakur, died of starvation from being fed primarily soymilk and apple juice (see: http://tinyurl.com/2vur35). She asserts: “…a vegan diet is not adequate in the long run.

Protein deficiency is one danger of a vegan diet for babies. Nutritionists used to speak of proteins as ‘first class’ (from meat, fish, eggs and milk) and ‘second class’ (from plants), but today this is considered denigrating to vegetarians.” Planck warns: “…even a breast-fed baby is at risk. Studies show that vegan breast milk lacks enough docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, the omega-3 fat found in fatty fish….A vegan diet is equally dangerous for weaned babies and toddlers, who need plenty of protein and calcium.”

The Times ran six letters in response, including one by Amy Joy Lanou, a nutritionist who testified at the trial as an expert witness for the prosecution. She noted that the lead prosecutor told the jury that it was a lack of food and not a vegan diet that killed Shakur. Lanou notes that a large body of scientific research confirms that vegan diets are healthful for infants and other children [see: http://tinyurl.com/djodu and: http://tinyurl.com/2mkhv6 ], and contests Planck’s claim about DHA. In her letter, Zoe Weil wrote: “Yes, vegans need to ensure that their children get proper nutrition, including vitamin B12 and omega-3s, but this is easy to do. What's harder is having a child who eats the typical American diet stay healthy.”

Nicole Speer states: “Generalizing from a handful of ignorant vegans to the entire vegan population does a disservice to those of us who have spent years educating ourselves on human nutritional needs and how to meet them on a plant-based diet.” On his website, John McDougall, MD., has posted a lengthy response to Planck’s piece: http://tinyurl.com/2j6fpv 

“Death by Veganism” The New York Times, Op-Ed, Nina Planck, May 21, 2007 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/opinion/21planck.html 

”The Vegans and Their Children” (6 letters). The New York Times, May 23, 2007 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/23/opinion/l23vegan.html 

3. Prayer Request
Barbara writes: I lost my job and am a stone’s throw away from being homeless. I have eight cats of my own, not fosters. I don’t even want to think about what it would do to me to lose them. I haven’t worked since March 29. I am having an extremely difficult time finding another job. I moved 6 months ago to a lovely apartment home (rental) with trees everywhere. It’s my dream home and my kitties all love it here. If I don’t find a job soon, I will lose EVERYTHING!

4. Christianity and Violence (essay series): Environmentalism and Sustainability
[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It is being archived at http://www.christianveg.org/violence_view.htm.]

The psalmist wrote, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (24:1). This is why God’s instruction to Adam to till and keep the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15) is a sacred calling. However, humans have not been responsible stewards of God’s Creation.

While industrial interests generally favor “further studies” rather than action on critical environmental issues, pollution and resource depletion are clearly world problems. World temperatures are rising; land, water, and energy resources are diminishing; and species are becoming extinct at alarming rates. Many people, troubled by these developments, have favored modest lifestyle adjustments, such as driving smaller cars, recycling, and using renewable energy resources. Rarely do we hear environmentalists call for plant-based diets. This strategy may be politically wise in that it does not “scare away” meat-eating people from the environmental movement, but failure to encourage plant-based diets profoundly undermines environmentalists’ campaigns.

First, animal agriculture tends to significantly deplete land, water, and energy resources. Most calories and proteins are lost when farmed animals convert feed into animal products, though some animals are more efficient than others at this conversion. Moving toward a plant-based diet almost always reduces our footprint on the earth.1 A major report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that animal agriculture is a leading cause of global warming and air pollution; land, soil, and water degradation, and biodiversity loss.2 The report concluded that the livestock contributes more to global warming than all forms of transportation combined. Farmed animals and their waste emit huge quantities of the potent greenhouse gasses methane and nitrous oxide. Animal agriculture is a major impetus behind deforestation, which releases the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Second, those who eat animals in order to satisfy their taste for meat are choosing to live according to their sensual desires rather than according to environmental-friendly practices. One of the main reasons that we face a growing environmental crisis is that people have sought to satisfy their own desires rather than abide by environmental imperatives.

Third, when environmentalists show disregard for animals’ needs, they display an attitude that is spiritually dangerous for people as well as animals. The practice of selectively (and quite arbitrarily) ignoring the needs of weak and vulnerable animals makes it easier to discount or ignore the needs of people during times of stress or crisis, such as when resources appear scarce.

1. Robbins, John. The Food Revolution. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 2001.

2. Steinfeld, Henning, Gerber, Pierre, Wassenaar, Tom, Castel, et al. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. Rome, FAO, 2006, www.virtualcentre.org/en/library/key_pub/
longshad/A0701E00.htm .

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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