Meatout (cont’d)

with others who share a deep sense of compassion for all living things. It was great to catch up with old friends as well as make new ones. It was a glorious first day of spring, perfect for a Meatout, as well as a "meet out"!

Sponsored jointly by The Vegetarian Society of South Jersey, The Try-State Vegetarian Singles, The American Vegan Society, New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance and Vegetarian Neighbors, this 15th observance of the Great American Meatout was a delicious success!

Thank you to our gracious hosts, Singapore owners Peter and Ivy Fong, who prepared a huge buffet spread of sumptuous Chinese favorites for us to sample and savor: Steam Li Dumplings, Spring Rolls, Curried Dumplings, General Tso Chicken (wheat gluten), Lucky Family Vegetable Dish, Shanghai Noodles, brown or white rice, tea and dessert. An old favorite of mine, but something that was new to quite a few in attendance was the Chinese pizza (no tomatoes or cheese) -- delicious dipped in ginger sauce!!! A big thank you also to Bonnie Leigh on dulcimer and vocals for her delightful addition of music by which to dine and chat.                                                                                                                                                                                                In the works is a monthly vegetarian buffet for VSSJ members and guests at Singapore. Watch the newsletter for details.



Racism in U.S.

dietary guidelines?

By Neal D. Barnard

and A.R. Hogan

Not all racism spews from hateful people wearing white robes and burning crosses. Surprisingly, at times it comes from well meaning people wearing white lab coats and holding stethoscopes.



The adage “you are what you eat” notwithstanding, few doctors know beans about nutrition. Unfortunately, medical schools still put little emphasis on the powerful role foods exert on our health - let alone the specific dietary needs of minorities. The current federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in 1995 and now being revised by an 11-member advisory panel for release in mid 2000, does not make it any easier.



In recent decades, immigration and demographic patterns have made those of Hispanic, Asian, Caribbean, African and Middle Eastern heritage fast-growing segments of the


U.S. melting pot. Yet, the guidelines and the related Food Guide Pyramid ignore these realities. For example, they recommend that American adults consume at least two to three daily servings of cow’s milk or other dairy items. However, lactose intolerance, the inability to break down the milk sugar lactose, affects more than 90% of Asian Americans, more than 70% of Native Americans, more than 50% of Hispanic Americans. Additionally research going back to the mid-1960s revealed lactose intolerance is also commonplace in those of Jewish, Arabic, Greek and Italian ancestry. Actually, about 75% of the world’s population beyond childhood are lactose intolerant.



Ironically, far from being lamentable, lactose intolerance actually turns out to be a good thing. Call it nature’s warning against “doing dairy”. Or the dietary equivalent of yanking a hand back from a hot stove: a protective reaction. Researchers have tied dairy's fat and cholesterol with a roster of illnesses: heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, colic, cataracts, and asthma.


Eventhough only an estimated 15% of Caucasians are lactose intolerant, milk in truth does no body good. Dairy’s big selling point is calcium. Calcium-rich food sources

exist without dairy’s heavy health baggage. Include green leafy vegetables, broccoli, fortified orange and apple juices, beans and calcium-set tofu.


Dairy isn’t the only problem. Diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, digestive tract cancers and prostate cancer - all closely linked with high-fat, animal-product-centered diets - hit minorities disproportionately hard. Yet, all too few doctors steer their patients toward vegetarian diets.


The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has asked that the 2000 Dietary Guidelines be much more

responsive to the health needs of minorities. This call has been endorsed by an array of prominent individuals, from Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King III to U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, and major organizations, such as the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, the National Hispanic Medical Association and the Association of American Indian Physicians.


No matter how many celebrities pose for milk-mustache magazine ads or do voice-overs for beef-promoting TV commercials, and no matter how many big political contributions meat and dairy interests make, the truth about unhealthy dairy - and other animal products - will not go away. Racial justice is one more reason we need the Dietary Guidelines revised to emphasize foods that will foster wellness and fight illness.


Neal D. Barnard, M.D. founded the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in 1985. A.R. Hogan is a Maryland-based science writer.