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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarianism in the News

February 1, 2011 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Houston Suffers Fat Fit;
Clogged Artery Causes Turmoil

Clogged Artery. That dreaded phrase usually indicates a condition that could result in a massive heart attack or stroke. Clogged arteries result from a diet loaded with saturated and trans-fats. But how could a city possibly end up with a clogged artery or a colossal fat fit? Houston did it with a slippery splash.

Houston Fat Spill Houston started the New Year with its own big fat celebration when 15,000 gallons of beef fat quietly sloshed into the Houston Ship Channel from a storm drain. This mile-long stream of oozing fat instantly congealed into a picturesque, cream-colored solid slab the moment it hit the water in the channel, like what happens in human blood vessels after a juicy cheeseburger, large fries, and milkshake lunch.

Don't blame BP for this one. Their oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico only polluted by depositing a shiny black layer of oil on the surface of the water.

This 15,000 gallons of fat was only a part of the humongous 250,000 gallons that flowed from a ruptured rendered fat storage tank operated by Jacob Sterns and Sons. A company official had the greasy gall to say the leak was due to an "employee error."

Sterns and Sons specializes in rendered slaughterhouse waste that is turned into "value-added oleochemicals" used in making soaps, lubricants, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and animal feed. "It's all the stuff that we don't eat," declared one company official. "Value-added oleochemicals" is just another way of saying greasy, yucky fat.

Called in to make rescue efforts, the US Coast Guard deployed six vessels, not to rescue people, but instead to use pitchforks to chop the massive, creamy slab into one-foot chunks that could be fished out of the channel with nets.

Houston Fat Spill Three cheers to The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for recognizing a carpe diem moment and seizing on this unnatural disaster to launch their Clean Up Your Arteries Go Vegan campaign with a generous offer to sponsor a beef fat cleanup--ugh!-- in exchange for an ad promoting a vegan diet. The offer included an impressive gift of 100 pitchforks to help clean up the unsightly slabs of spilled fat. The organization cited statistics from the World Health Organization that showed more than 5,000 people died of heart disease in Houston in 2004 alone.

"Our ad would help support your cleanup effort--and it would help residents of Houston recognize the benefits of a healthful diet," said Susan Levin, M.S., RD., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Our bet is that Sterns and Company probably still has enough fat left in those storage tanks to create a walkway across the channel if the company succumbs to another "human error."

The hardening of beef fat in the Houston Ship Channel is a reminder of what happens to this same fat in human arteries. It becomes a solid way to create sludge in the arteries that will lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Instead of "drill, baby, drill," one blog commenter made the perfect statement: "Ban drilling of animals now!" Fat chance that will happen soon.

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