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Fortunately for those wishing to become vegetarians the path is nowhere near as difficult and confusing as Dave Riley's article "Does meat make the meal?" (Green Left 11/8/93). In fact the most difficult part about becoming a vegetarian is peer pressure from family and friends who themselves refuse to face up to and take responsibility for an ailing world. As converted vegans, let us attempt to simplify this topic, remembering that to escape from our carnivorous habits is not necessarily a quick process but is better done over a length of time. A good way is to plan on one meal a week and to acquaint yourself with the likes of Professor Peter Singer's book titled Animal Liberation.

Whether we have evolved as meat eaters, omnivores or vegetarians is not at all relevant. All credible studies on vegetarian and vegan lifestyles conclude that the adherents are far healthier in all respects than are their meat eating counterparts. Food variety, taste and enjoyment are all greatly expanded and enhanced.

It follows from the above two statements that flesh eating is only a preference — not a need. We are killing and paining animals en masse, out of choice. Of course not many of us would consciously make that choice i.e. to hurt other creatures unnecessarily, but we emphasise that we are, and not only in food production but with our clothes, cosmetics, medicine etc. and it turns out the real culprit is our culture. Indoctrination from an early age can be a terrifying weapon easily recognized in other cultures but sadly not in ones own. We have been sucked into eating meat!

Also it must be remembered that a big contributor to world starvation is feeding cattle rather than feeding humans. Meat is an inefficient way of producing protein, in fact twenty times less efficient which also means twenty times more land, which was once forest, is needed. If we consider then the desertification of huge regions of the world because of cattle and sheep, it becomes easier to make the vegetarian jump. It has been estimated that the stopping of flesh production in America tomorrow would provide enough extra grain to all those in Third World countries who are now starving.

Although jobs in the meat industry will be lost, other food industries will develop to replace them.

As Humans, one of our greatest fears is that of being under a tyrannical system in which we have no rights. Yet, we lose no sleep in placing animals under that cruel rule. They feel hunger, pain, cold, heat, thirst, loneliness, fear etc. as do we. Our morality in this area is indeed wanting and inconsistent. Might does not make right!

Above all else, when humanity finally realizes that our survival choices are limited to and only vegetarianism, then that is what will be chosen. That may well be too late!

You are an important and integral part of the ecology ake effect all else. To freely choose to be a vegetarian will be the most important and profound statement you can possibly make. Others may wait till it is trust upon them — don't be one of them!

Vegetarianism is not difficult. It is exciting, enjoyable and fun. Good luck and happy eating.
David Nicholls and Lee Holmes
Weetulta, SA

East Timor

This letter is to announce the formation of the Sydney branch of the Australia East Timor Association (AETA).

AETA has existed in Melbourne since Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in December 1975. The time seemed right, in fact overdue, for an allied group of actively committed people in Sydney.

AETA believes that only when East Timor is released from its 18 year forced domination by the Indonesian regime will the continuing crisis in Indonesia end. With every year that passes, with every new atrocity (most are hardly reported in the mainstream media here) the suffering caused by Indonesia's morally bankrupt policy is revealed. The Australian government seems to have no qualms about the forced integration, save that there should not be conspicuous "human rights abuses" that reflect badly on Australian complicity.

We must work for a change in Australian foreign policy, to bring it into line with the United Nations position, refusing to recognise Indonesian rule as legitimate. We must work for a review of "defence" ties with Indonesia, and work for a review of the illegal Timor Gap treaty that divides up the spoils of the invasion between Indonesia and Australia.

We declare solidarity with many other groups with similar aims as ours. Many of us have friends and connections with other solidarity organisations and the East Timor Talks Campaign.

All who agree with a chance for freedom for East Timor are invited to join AETA. Please send $10 ($5 for students and unemployed) to AETA, PO Box 121, Clifton Hill, VIC 3068. There are already ATEA members in all the states and in the NT.

The Sydney branch meets each month. For details see the GLW calendar of events or phone me on 331 5986 or Gil Scrine (interim chairperson) on 716 6354. All are welcome to join or just come along.
Stephen Langford
Paddington, NSW

Seeking friendship

I am a death row inmate in Texas and in July of this year I lost my mother to death. Not only was she my mother and dear friend, but also the only member of my family who cared I was here. I am seeking friendship and assistance with my simple needs here. My age is 38 and I am white, if that matters to anyone. I enjoy reading, writing long letters and music is my passion. Please write to:
James E. unit
Huntsville, Texas 77343


As a bona-fide animal lover and devout vegetarian I was shocked and sickened after reading the article Intensive Pig Farming (GLW #111). Shocked in the sense that I had no idea that five million pigs a year were butchered, and sickened that they have the nerve to call the way the pigs were slaughtered humane. I believe that every human being and animal has the right to a full, pain-free and happy life. If only people would give vegetarian lifestyle a chance they would find that it is for one, especially in these times, a lot cheaper and healthier, plus you'll also have a clean conscience. I know I have.

Its a shame most meat eaters have the nerve to just dismiss the life of an animal in order for themselves to survive. It's nothing more than cannibalism. But I suppose "another dead animal" is just another fat businessman's lunch.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't hate meat eaters and I'm not trying to preach but think about vegetarianism while you sit down to your Sunday roast dinner. It won't kill you.

Capital punishment

We all feel angry about the death of John Ashfield but did we learn nothing from the Lindy Chamberlain case? We do not yet know all the facts, and acording to civilised law anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Calling for capital punishment will do nothing to prevent these crimes. One has only to look at the USA to realise this. The USA has the highest murder rate in the world.

The whole community and governments would do better to devote more resources to welfare agencies that could help people who are under emotional and mental stress. This is the real answer and the only way we can prevent further tragedies. Killing is always wrong — whoever does the killing — and it is irreversible if the person is later found to be innocent, as has happened in several court cases recently. Besides, who would want to give the Government the power to kill people?
Stephanie Wilkinson
Seven Hills, NSW

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