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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Essays

Vegetarians in Paradise regularly presents informative articles by guest contributors on subjects of interest to vegetarians and vegans. This month we feature Greg Lawson, President of the Vegetarian Society of El Paso.

While many of us receive telephone solicitations and telephone market surveys with annoyance, Greg took the experience in a creative direction. To Greg, this was the perfect opportunity to educate his interviewer about the vegan point of view. In a pleasant and even humorous manner, he enlightened the unsuspecting caller.

We express our appreciation to Greg for allowing us to share his experience originally printed in the Spring 2002 issue of Life-Giving Choices for Humans, for the Planet, for the Animals, a publication of the Vegetarian Society of El Paso. Information about the group can be found at http://utminers.utep.edu/vsep

A True Story About a Dairy Marketing Call

By Greg Lawson

Ring! Ring!

TELE-RESEARCHER: Hello sir, my name is Kay, and I am doing research for the dairy industry about certain dairy products. If I could have a few minutes of your time to ask you some questions?

GREG: OK, but I'm a vegan. I don't use dairy, but I would love to answer your questions.

KAY: Oh, OK. Which of the following brands have you heard about before? Breyers?

GREG: Yes.

KAY: Dannon?

GREG: Yes.

KAY: Stony Field?

GREG: Yes.

KAY: Mountain High?

GREG: Not in the context you are asking about. No.

KAY: (giggle) Yoplait?

GREG: Yes.

KAY: And sir, which of the following brands of yogurt have you bought in the past three months?

GREG: I have been a vegan for five years. Unless Silk brand Soy Yogurt is on your list, then, none.

KAY: OK, let me type that in. It's not on my list. Silk?

GREG: Yes. S-I-L-K, soy yogurt. However, I stopped using Silk now and usually make my own soy yogurt by putting tofu in the food processor with some berries and a little sweetener.

KAY: Oh, really?

GREG: It's pretty good.

KAY: What brand of cheese have you used in the last three months?

GREG: Before you go down the list, I use soy cheese, VeganRella brand, Soymage and Follow Your Heart brand. All pretty good vegan soy-based cheeses.

KAY: Oh, really?

GREG: You know, most people don't know that to keep dairy cows producing milk they have to keep them pregnant, and so they impregnate them on what those in the industry call a "rape rack" once a year. The females that are born replace their mothers in the dairy factories. The males become veal.

KAY: Oh, my God!

GREG: When you have time, you should go to http://www.notmilk.com, You will find a lot great information there about dairy products. Next question?

Greg Lawson KAY: Do you remember seeing the following commercials? Construction workers are at a site and the lunch whistle goes off, and they sit down on a beam, open their lunch boxes, take out yogurt, and stir in time to music.

GREG: Yes.

KAY: Have you seen this commercial?.A man at a dinner table asks his maid to bring dessert, and she places a container of yogurt on his plate, and he asks, 'Is it creamy?" And the maid in a French accent answers, "Very creamy." And she places her lips close to his cheek, "Creamy."

GREG: Oh, My God!

KAY: And then she sits on his lap and spoon-feeds him the yogurt. Have you seen that commercial?

GREG: No, but can you tell me where I can get the video? (We both laugh for a few moments.)

GREG: You know, if I can interrupt your questions for a minute, that reminds me of the book The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams. It's about how the meat and dairy industries use sex to promote their products. You should check it out. You can find the book at amazon.com (Learn more about Carol at http://www.triroc.com/caroladams/home.html)

KAY: I will.

GREG: You know what? I bet when the analysis is done, the data received from my answers will be way to one side of the bell curve.

KAY: (laughs) I suppose so. You don't do any dairy products at all?

GREG: No, I have been a vegan for 5 years. I did some nonfat dairy for the previous twenty years that I was a lacto-vegetarian. But I fight against dairy now. This is really amusing. I am going to have to write this up-- the dairy industry interviewing me. (At this point I find it hard to stop laughing.)

KAY: (laughing, too) What is your opinion of store brand yogurts?

GREG: Most cheap yogurts, like store brands, use gelatin as a thickening agent. Did you know that gelatin is made by boiling down the hoofs and tendons of cows, pigs, and even horses?

KAY: Oh, my God, I am never eating gelatin again. Yuck. Next question: Have you seen the commercial where a certain yogurt company says they are giving money to breast cancer research if you mail back the lid, and at the end a group of women throw the yogurt lids in the air?

GREG: No, but have you seen the research linking dairy products to breast cancer?

KAY: No.

GREG: It seems the least they can do, give a tiny bit of their profits to research for a disease they cause, as long as it isn't animal research, of course. If I can take a few more moments of your time, I'd like to tell you that I recently met one of the world's leading authorities on vegetarian nutrition, Brenda Davis, former chair of vegetarian nutrition for the American Dietetic Association. And she is pretty knowledgeable.

KAY: I'll bet.

GREG: You should check out her books at amazon.com Becoming Vegan really gives some great information on living without dairy and other animal products.

KAY: OK, I will.

GREG: She was an advisor on John Robbins last book. You know of John Robbins?

KAY: No.

GREG: He was heir to the Baskin-Robbins empire, but he gave it up because of his veganism. Check out his web page at http://www.FoodRevolution.org One other thing I wanted to tell you about Yoplait, if I could.

KAY: Sure.

GREG: Yoplait makes containers that are small at the top and lead to bigger bottoms. Animal-rights activists like me have been complaining to the company for years that their containers trap the heads of small animals who try to crawl inside them at dumps to lick at the remaining yogurt. But Yoplait is afraid that a redesign will negatively affect customer recognition of their container, causing a loss in profits.

KAY: Oh, My God. You are so right. I am going to have to examine my life tonight. You've given me so much to think about. You are really going to love this next question.

GREG: (laughing) OK, great. Go on.

KAY: (snicker) Which of the following companies do you consider to be concerned with people's health, beyond those companies' efforts to produce a quality product.

GREG: HaHaHa Ha ha ha ha ha (rolling on the floor laughing)

KAY: (laughing, too) Breyers?


KAY: Dannon?


KAY: Stony Field?


KAY: Mountain High?


KAY: Yoplait?


(A lot more questions followed and most of my answers were "no." And when the interview ended, I could tell I had opened her eyes a bit.)

KAY: You know what? I have really enjoyed talking with you.

GREG: And I have with you, too, Kay. You gave me a lot of laughs.

KAY: And you did me, too.

GREG: I hope you will look at those web sites I mentioned.

KAY: I will. It was a pleasure talking with you. Bye.

GREG: Bye.

Click here for past Words from Other Birds Articles

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