29 March 2006

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re "Firefighters Gone Vegan? Even Austin Is Impressed" (news article, March 26):

Cancer made me a widow at age 33 and robbed my 4-year-old and 1-year-old of their daddy.

While there are many factors that cause cancer and other serious, often terminal, health problems, diet is a big factor and one that we can control.

Study after study links the consumption of animal products (dairy products, eggs and meat) with heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, obesity and other serious health problems.

The Agriculture Department has acknowledged an 80 percent increase in the number of chickens contaminated with salmonella.

Government warnings advise that eating certain fish can cause mercury poisoning.

Then there are mad cow disease, growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and now bird flu to worry about.

Bravo to the Austin, Tex., vegan firefighters for choosing to improve and protect their health with every delicious meal.

May we all choose to stop killing ourselves slowly with our food before it's too late, not to mention causing unimaginable suffering to billions of animals on factory farms and at slaughterhouses.

Monica Ball
Peoria, Ill., March 27, 2006

27 March 2006


One of my readers asked me to link to this.

Addendum: If you'd like to send a message to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, go to this site.

26 March 2006


Here is a story about hunting from today's New York Times Magazine.

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re "Studies Suggest Pandemic Isn't Imminent" (news article, March 23):

Avian flu is already a pandemic: for avians. Human transmission is a global risk, but bird flu is already harming wildlife, poultry, food security and livelihoods.

Worldwide, more than 200 million birds have been killed or culled. In Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Egypt, primary protein sources and livelihoods have been lost.

In France, where the extreme Eastern European winter may have short-circuited east-west bird migration, its $7 billion poultry industry is experiencing losses.

Control is a quandary: the animal vaccine may render birds better viral carriers and negate the role of antibody testing used to track the spread.

Migrating birds, backyard fowl and intensified livestock farming are all undoubtedly involved. Funds are needed to prepare for a human pandemic. But preventing its spread will require real money to support nations suffering economic and nutritional losses, and to clean up industrialized poultry practices.

Paul R. Epstein, M.D.
Boston, March 23, 2006
The writer is associate director, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School.

23 March 2006

From the Mailbag

Dr. Burgess-Jackson,

Thank you for interviewing Professor Darian Ibrahim on your blog. What a refreshing read! It’s always nice to hear clear sanity in such a nasty and confused world.

All the best,
Dan Cudahy

22 March 2006

Animal Law Blog

Here is a blog that's devoted to animal law.

Factory Farming

Peter Singer will lecture tomorrow at The University of Minnesota. To promote the lecture, he wrote a short essay for the school newspaper. (Thanks to Khursh Mian Acevedo for the link.)

20 March 2006

Singer's Argument Against Certain Uses of Animals

Here is the latest version of my student handout on Peter Singer's argument against certain uses of animals. Two things are noteworthy. First, although Singer is a utilitarian, his argument does not presuppose utilitarianism. It is, however, consistent with it. Singer wants to persuade everyone, not just utilitarians. If he asserted or presupposed utilitarianism as a premise, then only those who subscribe to that theory would be persuaded by his argument. Second, as I explain on the handout, Singer is not categorically opposed to harming animals, any more than he is categorically opposed to harming humans. Utilitarians aren't categorically opposed to any action, even the killing of innocent humans. Whether harm is justified, in Singer's view, depends on how much harm is prevented thereby (or how much good produced). This must be determined on a case-by-case basis. What Singer insists on is that the interest of animals in not suffering be put on the scale. Many people, sadly, don't take animal suffering into account at all. They assign more weight to their gustatory pleasure than they do to horrific animal suffering.

15 March 2006

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

I'm very disappointed that The Times would run an article glamorizing bullfighting ("Matador for a Day," Escapes, March 10). Just because an activity is a tradition should not relieve us of basic decency.

Bullfighting is an extraordinarily cruel act toward another species. Remember, it is not a sport if the other team does not know it's playing. And especially so if the other team routinely ends up dead.

Jennifer Shorey
Miami, March 11, 2006

11 March 2006

Animal Experimentation

Law professor Darian M. Ibrahim has written an essay about animal experimentation. If you would like to read it, click here, scroll, and download.

10 March 2006


I lifted the following from the website of the American Heart Association:
Your total blood cholesterol level
Your total blood cholesterol will fall into one of these categories:
Desirable—Less than 200 mg/dL
Borderline high risk—200–239 mg/dL
High risk—240 mg/dL and over
Here is some more explanation about each of these categories.

If your total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL, your heart attack risk is relatively low, unless you have other risk factors. Even with a low risk, it's still smart to eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and also get plenty of physical activity. Have your cholesterol levels measured every five years—or more often if you're a man over 45 or a woman over 55.

Borderline high risk
People whose cholesterol level is from 200 to 239 mg/dL are borderline high risk. About a third of American adults are in this (borderline) group; almost half of adults have total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dL.

Have your cholesterol and HDL rechecked in one to two years if:
Your total cholesterol is in this range.
Your HDL is less than 40 mg/dL.
You don’t have other risk factors for heart disease.
You should also lower your intake of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol to reduce your blood cholesterol level to below 200 mg/dL. Your doctor may order another blood test to measure your LDL cholesterol. Ask your doctor to discuss your LDL cholesterol with you. Even if your total cholesterol is between 200 and 239 mg/dL, you may not be at high risk for a heart attack. Some people—such as women before menopause and young, active men who have no other risk factors—may have high HDL cholesterol and desirable LDL levels. Ask your doctor to interpret your results. Everyone's case is different.

High risk
If your total cholesterol level is 240 or more, it's definitely high. Your risk of heart attack and stroke is greater. In general, people who have a total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL have twice the risk of coronary heart disease as people whose cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL.

You need more tests. Ask your doctor for advice. About 20 percent of the U.S. population has high blood cholesterol levels.
I received the results of my annual physical examination today. My total cholesterol is 115. My doctor wrote "fantastic!" I attribute it to two things: first, lifelong aerobic exercise (mainly bicycling and running); and second, a demi-vegetarian diet. As I've said many times in this blog, if you care only about yourself, and don't give a damn about animals, you'll eat very few animal products. I've had no dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream, butter, or yogurt) since 1972. I've had no red meat (i.e., meat other than chicken and fish) since 1981.

03 March 2006

Chimpanzee Society

Because individual interests diverge, conflict is inevitable. Because individual interests converge, cooperation is possible. See here.