Howdy, check this out,
The USDA is considering soy products as a meat substitute. While it may
end up more as a filler or extender, the options for vegetarian students
is increasing. For more see:
In other news:
FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND CONSIDERATION (with references)
Well, is this sustainable agriculture and beneficial for all? And
perhaps this is a boon for vegetarians?
"B12 Breakthrough: Missing Nutrient Found in Plants" - T. Colin
Of all the nutritional concerns that can plague vegetarians - and
especially complete vegetarians or vegans - I doubt any is more daunting
than the specter of vitamin B12 deficiency. This is especially so
because conventional wisdom has it that this essential vitamin is
virtually unavailable from plant foods.
Because I have often wondered how valid this thinking is, I've asked
myself why, if the health benefits of a plant-based diet are as
comprehensive as contemporary research suggests - meaning that Nature
did the packaging for us during our evolution and that a plant-based
diet is our natural diet - then why did she leave out this one very
important piece of the puzzle? Having paid attention to the research
literature and having questioned clinicians who treat vegan patients,
I've reached the following somewhat unorthodox conclusions and
1. Contrary to the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines,
B12 can be found in plants.
2. Organically grown plants contain higher levels of B12
than plants grown non-organically with chemical fertilizers.
3. Plant roots are able to absorb certain vitamins produced by
soil microorganisms, thus suggesting that plants grown in
healthy soil, full of microflora and microfauna, are more
4. Vegans - and anyone else - should be able to obtain B12 by
consuming organically grown produce.
5. Evidence that plants obtain vitamins from the soil has been
available for several decades.
To understand what has brought me to these conclusions, let's ask three
(1) Are vegans really at greater risk of B12 deficiency?
(2) Does a vegan diet provide all the B12 that we need?
(3) Assuming that there is at least a good chance that we
evolved on this type of diet, how did we get our B12?
Are vegans really at greater risk of B12 deficiency? Some evidence says
yes; some invites skepticism. Clearly, vegans do generally have lower
blood concentrations of B12. A number of studies have shown this. But
these low concentrations mean little unless there is a higher incidence
of the accompanying blood (megaloblastic anemia) and nerve (parathesia)
disorders, for which there seems to be little or no evidence. What
should be acknowledged is that the concentrations of other blood
factors, such as cholesterol, also are very different among vegans, and
for very good health reasons at that. Why should we expect the lower B12
levels to be an exception?
A Look at the B12 Biases:
I must say that I feel some of the confusion surrounding this issue is
due to the biases of the early B12 researchers who, over the years, made
their beliefs very clear that vegetarianism and any other alternative
approach to good ol' Western nutrition and medicine bordered on health
fraud. Yet one of the more renowned of these investigators, Victor
Herbert, reported that "inadequate absorption [in the digestive tract]
accounts for more than 95% of the vitamin B12 deficiency cases seen in
the United States." 1
The strong implication here is that the real problem in these cases is
not due to an insufficient intake of B12 brought on by a vegan diet but
that something is wrong with the so-called "intrinsic factor" which is
secreted in the stomach and which is required for B12 absorption.
Acknowledging this possibility, let's move on to our second question:
Does a vegan diet provide all the B12 that we need? To consider this
question, we must keep in mind the prevailing view that B12 is only
found in animal-based foods. It's worth noting this point has been so
prominent that the latest USDA dietary guidelines, while allowing for
the possibility that vegetarian diets may be reasonably healthful,
nonetheless admonish vegans to "supplement their diets with a source of
this vitamin." According to the Victor Herbert position, "There is no
active vitamin B12 in anything that grows out of the ground; storage is
found only in animal products where it is ubiquitous and where it is
ultimately derived from bacteria."2
He also states that vegans thus can get adequate B12 from their food
only if it is fertilized with human waste, or if they "ingest some of
their own feces" or fail to observe hygienic practices.3
What a prospect Herbert and the USDA folks have given to the poor
I have naturally found this view to be highly constrained and, indeed,
illogical, especially if one assumes the strong possibility that humans
survived on a plant-based diet in our evolutionary past. I do believe
there is overwhelming evidence that this is so even though it has not
been scientifically proven. Please understand that I say this approach
not better or worse than that of Herbert and the USDA, I'm simply saying
it's worth serious consideration.
The B12 Breakthrough
So, on to my third question, based on the assumption that we did evolve
on a plant-based diet, and then asking, how did we get our B12? To
begin, let's examine an exciting new research paper from Switzerland
that was recently brought to my attention by my colleague, Dr. Jeffrey
Gates.4 (Please see related story). Dr. Mozafar, the investigator,
wanted to know if plants fertilized with organic matter (cow dung in
this case) rather than those grown in control soils might acquire higher
levels of B12. He was relying on a considerable amount of older research
going back to 1926. Plants grown in soil fertilized with organic matter
contained more of some B vitamins than plants grown in chemically
fertilized soil, thus yielding plant products better able to sustain
growth in experimental animals. Mozafar hypothesized that B12 produced
by soil microorganisms might be absorbed through the roots into the
He investigated the question in a couple of ways. First, he showed for
soybeans, barley and spinach - his three test plants - that those grown
on soil fertilized with cow dung showed substantially higher levels of
B12 than those grown without cow dung, the increases for barley and
spinach being statistically significant. Then he examined the B12
content of soils that had been routinely fertilized over the previous 16
years either with inorganic or with a mixture of organic plus inorganic
fertilizers, and found that those receiving organic fertilizer had
significantly higher levels of B12.
Putting the Nail in the Coffin?
These results not only confirm earlier results concerning other B
vitamins, but they seem to put the nail in the coffin of the
Herbert-USDA hypothesis, namely that plants do not contain B12. They
certainly do contain B12, and they contain even more of it when they are
grown organically. Having said all this, I am still left with two
questions: (1) Would other chemicals capable of killing soil microflora
(pesticides, herbicides) have an effect similar to chemical fertilizers?
and (2) How long will it take for our society to acknowledge the overall
health value of plant-based diets, thus altering the cultural bias that
leads Herbert and the USDA to "discover" problems such as that of B12
deficiency? I can say with some confidence that time will tell quite a
different story than the one we've been hearing.
1 Herbert, V. Recommended dietary intakes (RDI) of vitamin B12 in
humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 45:671Ü678, 1987.
2 United States Department of Agriculture, and United States Department
of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Fourth
Edition, p. 43. Washington, D.C.:1995.
3 Herbert, V. Vitamin B12 : plant sources, requirements, and assay.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 48:852Ü858, 1988.4 Mozafar, A.
Enrichment of some B-vitamins in plants with application of organic
fertilizers. Plant and Soil, 167:305Ü311, 1994.
Again, all feedback is welcomed, that is how we all grow.....
Still More News:
Environmental Groups Win Big Court Victory
Justices uphold use of citizen suits to
enforce federal pollution laws
Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times
Thursday, January 13, 2000
The Supreme Court handed environmentalists a
major victory yesterday, upholding the right of
citizens' groups to sue alleged polluters under the
federal Clean Water Act.
The decision is expected to have a major impact
because activists have frequently used citizen suits
as a means to enforce environmental laws -- often
winning court victories that go beyond the positions
that government agencies have been willing to
The 7-to-2 ruling ``is one of the biggest legal
victories environmentalists have won in the past 20
years,'' said David Beckman, staff attorney for the
Natural Resources Defense Council in Los Angeles,
which filed a friend-of-the court brief in the case.
MANY CASES AFFECTED
Because the ruling would apply not only to the
Clean Water Act but to more than 20 other
environmental laws that have citizen suit provisions,
it is expected to affect hundreds of cases nationwide
-- including many in the western United States,
Business groups and conservative legal
organizations had asked the court to throw out
citizen suits on the grounds that only government
agencies, not private groups or individuals, should
be allowed to enforce the law.
As a fallback, they also argued that courts should
be required to dismiss lawsuits if a company
stopped whatever action was alleged to have
harmed the environment.
Those arguments had prevailed in the U.S. Court of
Appeals in Richmond, Va., which hears cases from
Virginia and the Carolinas and is widely regarded as
the most conservative of the federal appeals courts.
But the high court disagreed on both points.
``Congress has found that civil penalties in the Clean
Water Act cases do more than promote immediate
compliance . . . they also deter future violations,''
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court.
``A would-be polluter may or may not be dissuaded
by the existence of a remedy on the books, but a
defendant once hit in its pocketbook will surely
think twice before polluting again,'' she wrote.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who
dissented, objected that the ruling improperly
permits ``law enforcement to be placed in the hands
of private individuals.''
``A Clean Water Act plaintiff pursuing civil penalties
acts as a self-appointed mini-EPA,'' Scalia wrote.
POLLUTER PAYS LEGAL FEES
The Clean Water Act, along with several other
environmental laws, includes a provision that a party
that prevails or ``substantially prevails'' in a suit is
entitled to have the polluter pay its legal bills. Those
provisions on legal fees have been a chief way that
advocacy groups finance environmental lawsuits.
The case began in 1992 when Friends of the Earth
and other environmental groups notified Laidlaw
Environmental Services, a South Carolina company
that operated a hazardous waste incinerator, that
they intended to file suit under the Clean Water Act.
The case will now return to the District Court.
The company's lawyer, Donald A. Cockrill, said he
is confident that the firm will now be able to have
the case dismissed on the grounds that there is no
reason to expect further violations.
The plant in question was closed while the case was
The case is Friends of the Earth vs. Laidlaw
Environmental Services, No. 98-822.
Drum In The New Century and Millenium!
Recycler Dave, Judy, Lucky, Charm, Shush
A remodeler, drummer, farmer, soapmaker
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