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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/6/14

Can We Judge a Country by Its Food Choices?

Message Suzana Megles
A Care2 post inspired my query -"Can we judge a country by its food choices?"  
For me the answer is a definite yes. It made me also recall Gandhi's timeless
reflection: "You can judge a country by the way it treats it animals."  The two  thoughts are related because all countries sadly rely too heavily on animals  and animal products for food.
I am happy to note that  Professor Colin Campbell's China study contends that a  plant-based diet is much healthier than a meat diet and that those who rely  on it will probably not easily succumb to health problems such as cancer,  strokes, diabetes, and heart disease.  And it certainly would lead to a greater  reduction in animal products that cause so much suffering to our food animals  forced to live in cages, crates, and factories.       
The title of the Care2 post that I disagreed with asserted dogmatically -
"Butter Has Won the War, Margarine Has Converted" by Kara - selected from
Tree Huggers.  I thought I liked Tree Huggers. Now I'm not so sure. 
The title irked me though it probably is accurate that most people prefer butter  to margarine.  The author noted that at one time in the recent past butter was  looked upon as unhealthy because of its high fat content, but she notes that  even Unilever, a giant margarine maker, now incorporates real butter into a  popular margarine spread used in Germany and Finland. 
Sadly, the reason for adding butter to its spreads was probably financial. 
Investors were unhappy with the low numbers and some were calling to sell the  company.  Obviously, there aren't too many vegans or people of compassion in  these countries - though it can probably be said of most countries as well  as ours.
Nutritionist Marion Nestle, whose observations mean absolutely nothing to me,  opined: "Margarine has become a marker for cheap, processed, artificial, unhealthy  food, while at the same time butter's reputation has greatly improved." She  sounds like a clone of Paula Dean.   
I won't even argue with some of her claims except questioning the "unhealthy"  assertion.  I have used margarine since 1983, and since then have basically enjoyed  good health. At present I have no serious illness and use no prescription drugs.
And then when she knocks margarine for being processed and artificial - she obviously  has not noticed that there are probably hundreds of food products  that  are also  processed and artificial in our grocery stores.  I think that's the reason we are  counseled to principally shop the periphery of our grocery stores instead of the  inner aisles overflowing with processed items.          
Well then - is there anything to commend the use of margarine? For ethical vegans  there certainly is.  Using margarine and other non-dairy products cause no suffering  to calves and cows.   Anybody who is the least bit concerned about farm animal  suffering knows that all of them "raised" on a CAFO farm know only lives of  boredom, misery, and suffering. 
Of the 150 comments I read - practically all of them agreed with Nestle and the  writer.  Sadly, they were completely uncaring about how the eating of dairy impacts  the millions and millions of cows and calves who are required to indulge their  "needs."
Yes, I purposely used the word "indulge" because dairy is not a food essential for  our health though we have been brainwashed to believe it is.  As a teacher way back  when - we would get copious amounts of material (posters and flyers) from the  government  that  extolled the benefits of not only dairy but meat as well.
I remember a fellow teacher telling her students that milk was a perfect food.  Maybe for calves and babies - but for the rest of us?  No other animal feels the  need to drink the milk of another animal except man. I for one would not object  to dairy use except for the inherent cruelty to cows connected with it in these  modern times.  
Vegans have done immeasurably well without butter. Yes, we do use margarine and  find  it is a good alternative to butter.  There is also available a variety of  healthy oils like coconut and olive to  mention two  that  greatly enhance and flavor  our vegan foods. 
I will have to admit though that baking without eggs, milk, and butter at first
seemed challenging but soon found that using Egg Replacer, soy milk, and margarine  I can make delicious cookies, cakes, and pies. 
There are many good vegan recipes on the internet and one vegan baker even got  the prize for her vegan cupcakes over those who used animal products.       
There were all too many comments on this post that extolled the virtues of butter.   One said- oh, it tastes so good on toast.  Another said it is natural while  margarine is just one step from being plastic. I couldn't resist and responded  that plastic never tasted so good because I know that I do not cause any cow  to suffer. And for many ethical vegans - that is exactly why we are vegan. 
In keeping with the theme - judging a country by its food choices - this topic could  really open up a Pandora's box of animal cruelty.  But in the interests of time and  space, I am only bringing up this horrible food choice of perhaps a good number of  S. Koreans. 
While I sadly discovered that there are quite a few other countries guilty of dog  and even cat eating, I was reminded just how horribly they are treated in S.Korea  because of a petition from Change. 
For those of us who have had and loved a dog(s), the accompanying picture of the  petition was horrifying to view.  Two dogs were pictured in a boiling vat.  Both  already had no hair on their bodies and both were trying desperately to climb out  of the vat. But the dull expression in one dog's eyes were those of futility and  perhaps even resignation. He or she knew there would be no escape from this hellish  torture  that  these two poor dogs and the thousands and thousands like them who  suffer so cruelly at the hands of these S.Koreans.  I have lost a lot of respect  for the people of S.Korea and all the other countries who kill both dogs and cats  by boiling them alive. This action shows a lack of sensitivity and compassion.  And yes, they have heard from us.  This has been an ungoing concern of those of us who  belong to In Defense of Animals.
I believe that anyone who is so hungry that they need to kill a dog or a cat - should at least first humanely kill them.  Sadly, that just too often is not the case  especially re the Oriental countries who believe that the torture has medicinal or  enhanced taste value.  I pray somehow that they will become more enlightened and  compassionate. 
I firmly believe that what we eat tells a lot about us.  It shows whether we care  about animal suffering or not.  And yes, we can judge a country by the way it treats  its animals.  Surely, the picture of a dog trying to climb out of a boiling vat in  S.Korea should haunt any caring person. We pray that this cruelty will stop. It  certainly does not picture S.Korea or any other country who similarly kills dogs  or cats so cruelly in a good light.  
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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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