Saturday, November 19


The current controversy at the Philadelphia Zoo over possibly ending their elephant exhibit may be a tipping point for the national debate on elephants and zoos. What I mean is that when one zoo courageously closes its elephant house out of concern for the animals, that's an anomaly. When a couple zoos do so, it's just mildly interesting. We're now at "mild trend" level with a handful of zoos wrestling with the elephant question, and if one of the nation's most venerable and high-profile zoos throws in with the rest, it could soon get to the point where the story now becomes the diminishing number of zoos that are still stubbornly hanging onto this anachronism of cruelty.

I really can't see this going any direction other than forward, with the only question being whether it will continue to gather momentum or whether there will be fits and starts over the next couple years. But let's face it, the case is incontrovertible. There's no true advantage to elephants in becoming slaves to human entertainment, and talk of "conservation" is an obvious smokescreen: As soon as the issue of "conserving" the elephants out of public view arises, it's clear that profit is the real concern. Note in this story on the Philly situation ("Philadelphia Zoo May End Elephant Exhibit Because of Shortfall"):

    Some zoo officials are resolved to keep their elephants. The Birmingham Zoo in Alabama, which has had Mona for more than 50 years, plans a $15 million expansion that will add waterfalls and tree canopies on 20 acres for more elephants. "Hiding them in a sanctuary doesn't do it,'' said William Foster, the zoo's chief executive. "They need to be seen.''
"Need"? In what way do the elephants "need" to be seen? How does being seen benefit them? Do you perhaps mean, "they need to be monetized"?

Similarly, in yet another example of the National Zoo cluelessness as to its animals' health issues, there's an elephant there now, Toni, who is receiving treatment for arthritis in her legs. "The zoo said in September that if the condition worsens, she might have to be euthanized -- a possibility that has prompted two animal rights groups to push to have Toni moved to an elephant sanctuary, where she would have more room to exercise and be on softer ground." Well, OK, sounds good, except a zoo official "said a sanctuary is not the answer for Toni, who needs constant medical care. He does not want to separate her from the only elephants she has known." Well, yeah, except "euthanizing" her is just about by definition separating her from them, as well as from other things. Besides, it's a false dilemma - why separate them? Send all the freakin' elephants to the same sanctuary. Problem solved!

Friday, November 18


"Cause of mad cow disease may be found in milk," blares this Globe and Mail article from Canada, and although that's a little stripped-down as a summary of a complex study, it gets to the point, especially for vegetarians who aren't vegan. Whether or not there's 'as much suffering in a glass of milk as in a pound of steak,' there just may be a soupcon of Mad Cow in there as well. Worth it?

Thursday, November 17


If by "carbs," of course, you mean carbon monoxide, a known hazard to human health. I was aware this gas was being used to artifially color some types of fish, but now it emerges that this is common practice for meat in general. And one food producer wants it stopped: "A food and spice company wants the FDA to prohibit the use of carbon monoxide in meat packaging, saying the practice, done to keep the meat fresh-looking, can hide spoilage." Note also that the FDA "accepted the practice as safe last year in response to requests from two other food companies. It is outlawed in Europe."

But gosh, why would anyone want to put such a noxious substance - even temporarily - on food we're about to eat? "The use of carbon monoxide in fresh-meat packaging produces an artificially intense, persistent red color in meat that can simulate the look of fresh meat and mask the natural signs of aging and spoilage that consumers depend on in making safe food choices, including browning and telltale odors." Ohhhhhh.

Wednesday, November 16


Relatively speaking, of course. I know there's a "no oil for blood" contingent out there, but if you're going to consume oils, it seems like olive oil is the way to go. And now there's science to explain why. A recent study suggests that "virgin olive oil may be better for the heart than seed oils because it is a natural juice that does not go through the processing needed to extract oil from seeds, such as sunflowers and soybeans. Therefore, the oil retains more of its original nutrients."

To put it another way: "'It could be that the beneficial effect of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease and arteriosclerosis depends on the synergistic effects of the different nutrients that constitute complete foods and, as an example, virgin olive oil is more than fat because it is a real juice with other healthy micronutrients,' says researcher Francisco Pérez Jiménez, MD, PhD, from the Reina Sofia University Hospital in Córdoba, Spain." Well, that makes sense, I guess. Click through to read more about the nitty-gritty of phenolic compounds and how they do that voodoo that they do so well.

Tuesday, November 15


Here's a recall I missed when I was busy with other things. If you're just hearing about this and you bought the beef in question, well, sorry I didn't get word to you sooner. But just for the record... Quaker Maid Meats Inc. on Nov. 1st said it would voluntarily recall 47 tons of frozen ground beef patties for possible E. coli contamination. The bad meat went to Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Monday, November 14


Funny thing - I wrote two pieces for Vegetarian Voice many months ago and got them to add a tagline referring people here. But the issue was delayed and delayed and just came out last week. So if you came here from there, be patient, as Meat Facts will return to hot topics about vegetarianism and animals later this very week. But in the meantime, be sure to check out something that wasn't even conceived back when that issue was planned - VEGCAST, the veggie podcast!

Thank you for your prompt cooperation in this matter.