VSS eNewsletter 28 December 2009

Vegetarian Society (Singapore)
28 December 2009
In This Issue

Editor's Note


Food Outlet Page Updates
Another 10,000 VCDs
Thanks for a Great Decade
Searching the VSS Web
Letter Appears in The Sunday Times
VSS Greeting Cards

Video Shows What We Already Knew
Chinese Language Video Promotes Vege Mondays
Another Vegetarian Top Athlete
New Video from PETA
Cartoon Video on Why We Aren’t Made for Meat
Interview with the Founder of
‘Vegetarians at Microsoft’

ONE Planet: Animals and Us,
on the BBC World Service – from Dec 31

Not Too Late to Register for
Asia for Animals Conference

Life in Sg Keeps Getting Better for Vegetarians

This issue includes 4 videos for your viewing pleasure. Compliments of the Season!
Dr George M Jacobs

If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to drop us a line here.
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Visit us at www.vss.sg

Food Outlet Page Updates

One of the most popular pages on the VSS web is the Food Outlets page:
Recently, we’ve done a lot of updating of the list of outlets, thanks to people who have written in: info@vss.sg, in particular Thomas Tay. However, there’s still a huge amount of info that needs adding. Every little bit helps. Thanks.


Another 10,000 VCDs

Last Sun, VSS had a party to pack another 10K of our VCD, ‘SEEDS for a Better World’, complete with a complimentary lip-smacking veg dinner when we had finished.
As you probably know, we do free distribution of the VCD and our flyers at our events and exhibitions. This batch will put us over 100K VCDs distributed. Donations are much needed so that we can continue this crucial education effort: http://www.vegetarian-society.org/support_vss

Thanks for a Great Decade

As the first decade of the 21st century closes and the second begins, VSS, born in 1999, can say indisputably that 2000-2009 was a time of unprecedented advance for vegetarianism. There are so many people to thank for that: everyone who gave the time and/or dollars, the (underpaid) staff, all the people at the veg eateries and food products companies and everyone else who helped people understand and do meat reduction and vegetarianism.
At the same time, 2000-2009 was a decade of escalating meat consumption and escalating damage due to that consumption. Thus, we need to expand our numbers and increase our efforts. Find out more about VSS.


Searching the VSS Web

Last week, someone wrote to VSS asking where to find vegetarian roast pig to serve at a wedding. Actually, all that person would have needed to do was to go to the Search box of the VSS web and type ‘roast pig’, and they would have been directed to Miao Yi Vegetarian Restaurant, 587 Bukit Timah Road, #03-01/02, Coronation Plaza, Tel: 6467.1331.
Isn’t the internet great? However, it costs money to maintain and upgrade the website. You can help: http://www.vegetarian-society.org/support_vss

Letter Appears in The Sunday Times

A VSS Exco member published the following letter in The Sunday Times of 20 Dec.
Giving Up Meat Can Have Many Benefits
I refer to Mr Wu Guanglong’s letter, “Eat less meat? Leave it to consumers” (Dec 13).
While agreeing that meat production harms the environment, Mr Wu questions the wisdom of a campaign to spur people to eat less meat. Three of the arguments Mr Wu makes are: (1) meat production provides vital income to the people involved in this sphere of economic activity; (2) meat prices might increase if consumption falls; and (3) meat consumption provides enjoyment. I would like to raise counter arguments to these three points.

One, yes, meat production does provide livelihoods for many people, but so does the production of tobacco, yet society promotes voluntary reduction in the consumption of tobacco products. As meat consumption declines, consumption of plant based foods can increase. People currently involved in meat production can be helped to shift to production of more environmentally friendly foods.

Two, as to possible increases in the price of meat, perhaps higher meat prices would be in society’s best interest. Society pays a steep price for meat consumption due to the environment damage such production causes, but the costs of this damage are not reflected in the price of meat. Nor does the price of meat include the costs of the health problems arising from humankind’s increased meat consumption, such as higher rates of heart disease and diabetes. Thus, just as higher cigarette prices benefit society by encouraging voluntary reduction in smoking, so too might higher meat prices provide a net benefit to society.

Finally, what about the pleasure people derive from tucking into a juicy burger, a tasty chicken breast or a hearty bowl of bah kut teh? For about half my life, I too enjoyed eating meat every day, but I gradually reduced my meat consumption when I realized the consequences, just as many people have given up or cut down on cigarettes because of the harm cigarette smoking causes to themselves and others. Fortunately, after giving up meat, I found so many other greener, healthier foods to savour. Thus, reducing meat was not reducing enjoyment; it was finding that same enjoyment in other foods.


VSS Greeting Cards

With 2009 coming to a close and New Year just round the corner, it's time to send eGreeting Cards to friends and loved ones. Here are some from VSS.
If you'd like to create one for VSS, we'd love to hear from you. Just drop us a line at info@vss.sg

Video Shows What We Already Knew

Here’s a video that shows the mistreatment of calves on a U.S. factory farm. The video apparently received extensive press coverage, but what is depicted doesn’t seem to be exceptional; the meat industry treats non-human animals as though they were objects, when anyone who knows anything about them knows that the cows, chickens, pigs, etc. are thinking, feeling fellow beings: http://www.vegnews.com/web/articles/


Chinese Language Video Promotes Vege Mondays

Here’s an energetic 5min video in Chinese about Vege Mondays.


Seems like there are many names for the idea of going veg once a week: ‘Vege’, ‘Meatout’, ‘Meatless’, Meat Free’, ‘Veggie’, ‘Eat Green Day’. If VSS tries to spread the idea of such a day, what should we call it and why? For instance, mentioning ‘meat’ seems negative, but mentioning ‘Veg’ might lead people to think that they have to be full-time vegetarian. Putting ‘green’ in the name of the day tells one of the reasons for the day, but eating green has other meanings, such as eating only organic food grown in or near Sg, which some people might find daunting.
Suggestions? Pls send them to info@vss.sg



Another Vegetarian Top Athlete

Here’s news of another plant-powered athlete.

Appearing in the pages of Men's Fitness, Rich Roll was deemed one of the world's 25 most fit men in the world. A devoted husband, father, full-time lawyer, and personal coach, Roll recently completed his training for the 2009 Ultraman World Championships - a grueling race comprised of a 6.2-mile swim, a 261.4-mile bike ride, and a 52.4-mile run. "Fit" might be an understatement.

Read the entire article at http://www.vegnews.com/web/articles/



New Video from PETA

PETA’s video ‘Meet Your Meat’ is a well-known tool of veg activists with its graphic depiction of the horrors of factory farming. Now, PETA has sort of an update of ‘Meet Your Meat’, titled ‘Glass Walls’ and narrated by Paul McCartney, a long-time veg who has recently been promoting Meat Free Mondays –

The title ‘Glass Walls’ is from a McCartney quote, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”. Glass Walls extends Meat Your Meat buy adding such topics as fishes and the environment. View and download Glass Wall (also available in 3D), Meet Your Meat and other videos at http://meat.org



Cartoon Video on Why We Aren’t Made for Meat

The veg creator of the Bizarro comic strip - http://www.bizarro.com/ -which used to appear in The Straits Times, has a 5min video explaining why humans aren’t designed for eating meat:

Interview with the Founder of ‘Vegetarians at Microsoft’

Mark Aggar is the founder of ‘Vegetarians at Microsoft’ at the corporation’s main campus near Seattle, USA. Approximately, 40,000 people come to the campus on a daily basis. Below, Mark answers some questions.
1. How long have you been vegetarian?
I became vegetarian over 15 years ago, and officially declared myself as vegan in 1999, coincidentally just before I started at Microsoft.

2. What is Vegetarians at Microsoft? When did it form?

MSVeg (as it’s known informally) is a group for vegans, vegetarians and anyone looking for veg-friendly food choices at Micrososft. I formed MSVeg in 2004, but didn’t start promoting it until 2005. After an article in our weekly internal ‘newspaper’, we grew to about 350 members. We now have about 650 active members, but I estimate that at least a couple thousand people have been part of the group over time.

3. What was it like to be a vegan at Microsoft 10 years ago?

Very hit and miss. I got to know the café staff very quickly, and even had some folks making special items just for me. But if I needed to eat at another café, there was no guarantee I’d find something to eat. And don’t get me started on food preparation practices!

4. How did the idea arise to form the organisation?

It was formed out of frustration of not having very good or consistent vegan choices in the MS cafeterias and the suspicion that there were a lot of folks at MS who felt the same. Basically I formed it to create a loud voice for better food choices for veg*ns.

5. Do you receive support from Microsoft?

Initially it was purely grass roots. However, after a particularly vociferous discussion on the DL (Distribution List, similar to a Listserv) following an incident involving a mislabelled soup, our VP of Human Resources instructed our food service provider (Eurest, part of Compass Group) to ‘fix it’. She apparently understood the significance that one places on being veg*n. After that. things started getting a lot better, and Eurest were very good about reaching out to us to understand our needs and concerns. They now hold a quarterly meeting with members of the MSVeg where we discuss issues, suggest improvements and review progress and upcoming changes.

6. Tell me about the types of changes you’ve seen since meeting with Eurest.

Change has been significant and very much appreciated. Aside from increases in choices (the primary goal), there is a much greater awareness of veg issues among all levels of the dining staff. Food preparation is much better: there are green handled serving spoons and spatulas, green cutting boards and training for the staff on how to use these. Additionally, there are many specialty items such as vegan cheese and mayo. The most recent highlight has been a Eurest operated vegetarian ‘café’ that serves items such as mushroom and root vegetable flatbreads and oven baked sweet potato ‘fries’.

7. Have you tried to reach out to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to encourage them to promote vegetarianism in the charitable work in health and education?

No. Thought about it, but frankly, being at Microsoft doesn’t make it any easier for me to do this than anyone else outside the company. There are two very distinct organizations.

8. What types of people are members of Vegetarians at Microsoft?
Everyone and anyone. We have everyone from committed vegan raw foodists to folks are who looking for help in becoming vegetarian.

9. Do you sense that more people on your campus are moving towards vegetarianism? If so, why?

Having veg choices out there in plain view is definitely moving people to eat less animal products. I’ve had lunch with many omnivores that eat a lot more veg food now than before, because of the choices that are available. Some are even on a journey to becoming completely veg.

10. Has there been any kind of backlash, for example, a ‘Carnivores at Microsoft’ organisation?

Funny you should ask. When MSVeg was first getting broad exposure, I think someone did create that very group. It didn’t last long though. However, there is a ‘Bacon Fans at Microsoft’ group. We even had an on-going thread about ‘bacon bits’ that had both groups on the to: line. Some good natured banter between the two groups but nothing really adversarial.

11. What are the purposes of the group? What ideas do you have for the future of the organisation?
The group has achieved its initial goal (getting the food service company to provide better options), so we’re generally in ‘maintain and improve’ mode. On the improve side, I’m trying to drive the notion of ‘vegan by default’. That is if only one veg dish is available at a catered event, make sure it’s vegan so it is suitable for everyone.

12. Do you know of similar organisations at other IT companies?
No, but maybe with this article we can start a coalition of corporate veg groups and drive the food service industry everywhere to cater to vegans.



ONE Planet: Animals and Us, on the BBC World Service – from Dec 31

Why do humans continue to exploit other species?
Are we capable of changing our ways?

A global radio documentary series by Victor Schonfeld (maker of The Animals Film) will explore these and other thought-provoking questions.

When: From Thurs Dec 31 2009, 09:32, 16:32 21:32
Whatever your preconceptions, be prepared for astonishing insights.

Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/
for daily programme schedules

Email reactions to BBC forum “World Have Your Say” http://worldhaveyoursay.wordpress.com/



Not Too Late to Register for Asia for Animals Conference

Asia for Animals (AFA), the largest most representative Asian animal protection conference, will be held here, 15–19 Jan.

Hosted by ACRES, AFA Singapore 2010 – "Achieving long-term positive change", will focus on developing and implementing concrete long-term solutions for ongoing animal protection and cruelty problems.

Register now and join more than 300 delegates representing 169 organisations. Come and learn and share your experiences about achieving long-term positive change for the animals!

Register now at http://www.asiaforanimals.org/
to enjoy the special rates of only SGD$160 for the 5-day conference. Special rates close on 31 Dec.
Conference day passes are now available, please download the registration form at:



Life in Sg Keeps Getting Better for Vegetarians

Here are yet more signs that it continues to continue to be easier to be a healthy vegetarian in Singapore.

1. Here’s another very useful veg eating blog: Sunny’s Veg Food Hunt: http://vegefoodhunt.blogspot.com

2. The Sunday Times on 20 Dec had an article in the Lifestyles section on raw vegan food. What stood out was that the journalist didn’t treat being raw or being vegan as something weird. VSS Director of Education and Outreach, Loh Yeow Nguan, was quoted.

BTW, VSS warmly welcomes vegetarians of all types: lacto-ovo, lacto, vegan, etc. Although people who eat fishes or chickens are not vegetarians by definition, anyone regardless of their diet is most welcome to be a VSS member and participate in VSS activities.

3. Several of you wrote in following the call in our last issue for people to learn to teach others to make the VSS smoothie. It’s great to see people coming forward to help others be happy and healthy on a meat reduced or meat free diet.

4. Our previous issue listed a new veg place on Orchard, this one at Lucky Plaza. Soon afterwards, we heard about another Orchard veg eatery, this one at Orchard Towers, Level 4: http://www.vegetarian-society.org/node/1187

5. An Indian veg stall just opened close to me next to Tanjong Pagar MRT:

6. Michelle, one of the main people who did the SG Veg Food Guide, and I had a nice visit this week with a vegetarian from France (you don’t meet so many of those, but there are more and more these days) who recently moved here to run a non-veg Japanese/French restaurant, Shibaken (in Gallery Hotel). Previously, she had veg restaurants in BKK and Hanoi. She plans a veg menu at Shibaken for early next year.



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