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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

It's the Law

Powdered wigs, the Council of Trent and Beowulf aside, something out there wants our hides and we're not counting on the gen-Xers to save us. Evolution has a nasty penchant for doubling back to clean up its' messes, and humanity has created one helluva mess.

The onset of this year's influenza season has turned All-Hollows-Eve into an all too real nightmare for many Americans. The young, 3-6, the elderly, 65 plus and those at risk due to health factors have been put in harms way by the unfortunate but predictable failure of an English firm's inability to produce a "safe" vaccine. American foreign policy, bent on rewarding Tony Blair's hapless allegiance to the Bush administration's war in Iraq, leaves us woefully bereft of "Homeland Security" where it counts, the health of our citizens.

SARS, influenza, mad cow, Asian bird flu loom as starkly terrifying reminders that we are, after all, what we eat. When in fact was the last time anyone accused a vegetable of threatening our very way of life?

This Halloween might be a time to consider which is scarier a future of "Franken- Food" a-la-Micky Dees and factory farming laboratory experiments or a bowl of your great grandmother's pumpkin soup.

Have a hoary Halloween and a very ghoulish nightmare.

By the way, for those of you wondering, Jude Law is just one of our favorite vegetarians.



Saturday, October 23, 2004

Charlize Theron - "No fur" spokesperson

PETA announced the selection of Charlize Theron as their new "No Fur" campaign spokesperson and our reaction was an overwhelming "at-a-girl."

Ms Theron has been a constant friend to animals since her early childhood growing up on a South African farm. Her mother taught her respect for all living creatures and that lesson has obviously stayed with her to this day.

The award winning actress, who has three dogs, agreed to pose for a billboard campaign starting this fall sponsored by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Theron says that "Fur isn't necessary. It doesn't make sense to me to let these animals suffer for fashion."

We at ABN applaude PETA and Charlize Theron for continuing this highly effective campaign on behalf of animals everywhere, and so we reprise this 1999 Esquire cover and trust that Esquire will not be too embarrassed - if there is one thing men love more than a beautiful woman it must surely be their best friend, their dog.



Monday, October 18, 2004

Human evolution and diet

Two health and diet studies

First this This article from Fuchsia Shockz

"Human evolution can't cope with fast food"

Calorie-packed fast food encourages over-eating and weight gain because it is out of step with human evolution, scientists have said.

They pointed out that humans are designed for conditions in which food is relatively scarce and low in energy.

But fast food from take-aways and convenience stores is typically energy dense. You do not need to eat much of it to consume a lot of calories.

The result is people accidentally over-eat without feeling particularly full.

Nutrition experts Professor Andrew Prentice and Dr Susan Jebb highlighted the problem by combining British and African diet study data with information on the ingredients in fast food.

Professor Prentice, head of the Medical Research Council's International Nutrition Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "We all possess a weak innate ability to recognise foods with a high energy density. We tend to assess food intake by the size of the portion, yet a fast food meal contains many more calories than a similar-sized portion of a healthy meal.

"Since the dawn of agriculture, the systems regulating human appetite have evolved for the low energy diet still being consumed in rural areas of the developing world where obesity is almost non-existent.

"Our bodies were never designed to cope with the very energy dense foods consumed in the West and this is contributing to a major rise in obesity."

The World Health Organisation estimates there are 300 million obese people worldwide.

In England, obesity rates have trebled in the past 25 years. Experts predict that by the end of the decade three in 10 UK adults will be obese.


Next this Report on long term diet and health study from Europe from the The Naked

"Study design, the team should be able to make precise comparisons of how food intake can increase the risk of disease or – more interestingly – reduce it..."



Saturday, October 16, 2004

FTC labels drug manufacturer out of control

"The Federal Trade Commission has charged marketers of two dietary supplements with claiming, falsely and without substantiation, that their products can cause weight loss and reduce the risk of, or prevent, serious health conditions. According to the FTC's complaint, Los Angeles-area marketers Window Rock Enterprises, Inc. in California and Infinity Advertising, Inc....have sold "CortiSlim" and "CortiStress" through a number of widely aired infomercials and short TV commercials..."

The hormone cortisol, sometimes called the "stress" hormone is released in the body during stressed or agitated states. When cortisol is secreted, it causes a breakdown of muscle protein, which releases amino acids (the "building blocks" of protein) into the bloodstream. This process raises blood sugar levels so the brain will have more glucose, more energy. Cortisol also leads to the release of so-called fatty acids, an energy source from fat cells, for use by the muscles. This is the process we all experience with vigorous exercise which "burns" fat to produce energy.

"CortiSlim" and "CortiStress" are just two of the latest so called patent herbal supplements to hit the market which claim to naturally stimulate this process with out actually invoking the active exercise cycle involved in the process of burning fat.

Dr Shawn Talbott who formulated "CortiSlim" is a PHD in nutritional biochemistry and has a masters degree in exercise science. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Utah.

Stress or, put another way, lack of exercise as we grow older is one of the leading causes of weight gain in modern society. The average American saddled with a poor, fat-laden diet and lack of exercise faces weight gain and a myriad of health complications ranging from heart disease to diabetes.

Virtually all medical professionals advise a proper diet with restraint and modest physical exercise as necessary for sustained fitness and good health: The makers of "CortiSlim" are no exception, along with there daily dose of herbal stimulants they too advise that diet and exercise are fundamental to their regime.

The FTC's complaint is not so much with the product's efficacy, although they do question its scientific substantiation, but rather with the fact that the company uses deceptive advertising, promoting a series of "infomercials" to appear as though episodes of a talk show called "Breakthroughs" that aired on a number of television channels, including Access Television, Travel Channel, and the Discovery Channel. In the commercial Talbott plays the roll of guest while his partner at Window Rock assumes the roll of host. At the time of this report Windows Rock spokesperson Susan Shelton was unavailable for comment.

Diet supplement products have proliferated in the wake of escalating health concerns and weight loss formulations have only added to the decision burden imposed on us in the market place. We are glad that the FTC can occasionally intervene on behalf of consumers. We'll let you know the result of the legal action as soon as it becomes available.

CortiSlim list of ingredients
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Chromium
  • Magnolia bark extract
  • Beta-sitosterol - plant compounds with chemical structures similar to that of cholesterol) commonly found in wheat germ, soybeans, and corn oil
  • theanine - a non-protein amino acid in green tea
  • Bitter orange peel
  • Banaba - also known as Crepe Myrtle, used in Ayurvedic medicine for diabetes and weight control.



    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    They Came From Outer Space

    Howard Stern on satellite radio! We can't come up with anything scarier this Halloween than the prospect of getting shock-jocked from orbit. Well, almost nothing; we couldn't find a picture of the FCC.

    Like him or not, Stern's outspoken style and single-minded defiance of censorship in all its forms is once again changing the landscape in a way that will challenge and at the same time benefit all of us.

    In 1979 the DJ quit his job at WCCC over a $25 a week raise and hasn't looked back since. Picking fights with every management he ever DJd for Stern has quit his way to the top of the profession. His most recent falling out with giant Infinity nets him a $500 Million contract with Sirius Satellite over a 5 year period.

    The Howard Stern juggernaut with its estimated 12 million listeners was hired to literally boost the first serious challenge to regulated, ground based radio and the FCC; the stodgy quasi-Federal governing board which has "regulated" the public airwaves until it's nothing more than an oligopoly, a windfall for a handful of giants like Clear Channel. Along the way they have managed to creep censorship into the mix to such an extent that radio today is more about advertising and playing the oldies than news, comment and free speech.

    Stern's admix of trash talk, sex and heavenly bodies will cost Sirius Satellite radio listeners serious bucks, as much as $12.95 a month for the package; but at least for that they'll be able slip the surly bonds of the FCC and 22 minutes of advertising every hour.

    Satellite radio is not the only change on the horizon however, "Podcasting" figures to be an even greater revolution than orbiting radio with thousands of independent and unregulated RSS feed webcasters expected to bid for play time on an iPod near you. Imagine having your own webradio station and broadcasting from your desk top to 12 of your best friends and audience, I could drown in my soup radio, a Stan Freberg moment if we ever heard one, this could get exciting.



    Friday, October 08, 2004

    The body politic

    Contemplating this season's emphasis on the Presidential race with its' subsequent politicization of everything from soup-to-nuts it occurred to us that it would be interesting to briefly trace the history of politics and vegetarianism.

    History is fraught with references that link religion (read that politics) in the ancient world and vegetarianism beginning with the food of the Gods, "Ambrosia", a legendary blend of honey with coconut, and encompasses virtually every major religion.

    Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician, was a vegetarian (vegetarians were called Pythagoreans up until the 1800s) as was the poet Percy Byce Shelley, a fervent detractor of social political patronage. George Bernard Shaw, socialist reformer, playwright and public critic, was a vocal proponent of a meat-free diet and the list of notable vegetarians both famous and infamous throughout history is nearly endless.

    Society's vegetarian origins date back much farther than one might suspect. Western history depends largely on scholarly interpretation of texts relating to ancient eastern mythology and religion. Christianity has been said to have its' origins linked to the grace in abstinence from a meat diet and evidence suggests that Jesus was a vegetarian. It is commonly believed, if only partially true, that Buddhists are vegetarians. Buddhists believe in reincarnation and therefore, logically, it would be impractical to eat animal flesh since the soul of a human may inhabit an animal.

    An argument for vegetarianism in Buddhism comes from the following text in the "Udana" in which Buddha recounts a parable of self love:

    I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi, in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Now at that time King Pasenadi Kosala was together with Queen Mallika in the upper palace. Then he said to her, "Is there anyone more dear to you than yourself?"

    "No, your majesty," she answered. "There is no one more dear to me than myself. And what about you, your majesty? Is there anyone more dear to you than yourself?"

    "No, Mallika. There is no one more dear to me than myself."

    Then the king, descending from the palace, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "Just now I was together with Queen Mallika in the upper palace. I said to her, 'Is there anyone more dear to you than yourself?'

    "'No, your majesty,' she answered. 'There is no one more dear to me than myself. And what about you, your majesty? Is there anyone more dear to you than yourself?'

    "'No, Mallika. There is no one more dear to me than myself.'"

    Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

    Searching all directions
    with one's awareness,
    one finds no one dearer
    than oneself.
    In the same way, others
    are fiercely dear to themselves.
    So one should not hurt others
    if one loves oneself.

    Vegetarianism since the 1800s has enjoyed a much less distinguished place in history being largely over-shadowed by the economic growth experienced during the industrial revolution. Subsequent advances made to modern farming technologies have made meat an affordable resource to so many during the later half of the twentieth century that today it has become a standard, widely held opinion that meat is necessary rather than an option to sustain life; omnivorous has come to mean that because we can eat almost anything, we are obligated to eat everything. Mass marketing and the ease of expanded international trade have combined to create a global standard, if not enjoyed universally, at least recognized; everyone shares the same understanding of fast food.

    Political choices being what they are today few would describe the economics of diet as political fodder and so there will not likely arise any time soon a political party of Vegetarians - any more than there could be a party of Catholics or Fortune 500 executives, and yet those are exactly the groups, along with many others, that establish political values and dictate the evolution of politics and society.

    PACS or political action committees are increasingly successful in prosecuting their minority agendas, but those goals are usually limited in scope and short term at best; electing a particular candidate, or passing some measured legislation are typical PAC incentives.

    The current rock tour Vote for Change is sponsored by MoveOn PAC, the newest take on American political activism. Featuring a score of popular rockers in what may be prove to be the highlight of this year's elections, Move On has captured the essence of political populism by addressing the WIIFM; what's in it for me? aspect of electioneering; folks wanting to effect change in their government banding together for a "feel good" event of hard rock and soft politics. If you have not seen the tour the final concert will be aired this coming Monday Oct. 11th on the Sundance Channel.

    There have been PACS for vegetarian causes as well, in fact one could say that IUV, the International Vegetarian Union to name just one group is such a PAC. Political action to vegetarianism is precisely the same as action to any cause, it must address the what's-in-it-for-me issue. Today, and for the first time in history, that question may have a clear answer: public health. Mad cow, avian flu, outbreaks of salmonella, foods irradiated and dehydrated, "franken-food" and food spiked with additives: hormones and anti-oxidants. The landscape is prime for a vegetarian body politic; human survival for the long term might well turn on that question public health and our ability to feed ourselves given the limits of earth's sustainable biomass.



    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Pamela Anderson, Advocate

    In a recent interview Canadian fashion model Pamela Anderson, vegetarian and star of Baywatch said, "I've found that going vegetarian is the best and easiest method of staying slim and sexy." Says Anderson, who's been a vegetarian since she was 16. "I hope to get the word out... that 'eating green' is good for animals and people."

    Anderson has been defending animals since she was a little girl growing up in British Columbia, Canada. She raised such a ruckus when her father brought home a deer he had killed that he never hunted again. Years later, as the special guest of Prince Albert of Monaco, she inadvertently held up dinner at a glamorous ball when she asked for a vegetarian meal.

    Anderson caught our eye last year when she posed for a PETA ad wearing a lettuce bikini, proclaiming "Turn Over a New Leaf, Try Vegetarian." Her considerable popularity, obvious talent for marketing and commitment to animals makes Pamela one of our picks for Veg Celeb of the year.