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Vegan Outreach is a 501(c)(3)
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reducing the suffering of farmed animals
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Vegan Outreach Enewsletter  •  June 18, 2002

 

I love your Web site. I've been looking for information like this for a long time, specifically regarding how to approach people who don't see themselves as doing anything wrong, who think very conventionally about nonhuman animals.
LK, Chicago, IL, 6/13/02

Announcements & News

More on the ARMEDIA Report

For those unfamiliar with the focus group of vegetarians and non-vegetarians in Seattle, Vegan Outreach previously passed along an analysis.

In short, the middle-aged non-vegetarians interviewed said they weren't going to go vegetarian, but if they did, it wouldn't be because of graphic pictures, it would be to help their health. The vegetarians said they were vegetarian for animal cruelty reasons. From this, ARMEDIA concludes that the health argument is the way to go. We disagree that this is the correct conclusion to draw.

You can read ARMEDIA's reply to our analysis here.

 

Turkeys Boiled Alive

Imagine how often this doesn't make the news?

"Edmonton-based Lilydale Co-operative Ltd. was fined $2,500 after 284 live turkeys at a plant in British Columbia were "immersed in a scalding tank while conscious," according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency."


Once again, I am reminded why I LOVE Vegan Outreach. Thank you for your comments in the latest issue of Vegan Spam regarding setting priorities. (I have caught some grief for posting positive reviews of the veggie burger at Burger King on my vegan website, so I can really relate to this article.) Thank you for always encouraging people to look at the big picture!
KN, Paradise Valley, AZ, 6/13/02

 

Upcoming Event

Events for factory farmed animals!

On Saturday, July 13 Viva!UK, along with a number of other animal and green groups will be having a huge march in London to protest factory farming.

Here, Viva!USA is calling on activists around the U.S. to join in solidarity on behalf of the animals by organizing an event in your town. The 10 billion animals (not including sea creatures) killed yearly for food in the U.S. need your time and voices.

For more information and ideas, see Viva!USA's website.


I wrote you some time ago and asked for your advice on being a healthy vegan in a cafeteria envireonment. i just wanted to say that your advice is paying off big. I think my metabolism is a fast one and lack of dairy makes it all the faster. The olive oil you suggested has helped so so much. Thanks so much for caring enough to email a person you don't even know and give them thoughtful advice. that is really very admirable. It really reenforces my whole vegan descision.
AW, 6/14/02

 

Robert Cohen and Integrity: Summary Statement

by Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

June 12, 2002 – I suspect a lot of people have been confused by the voluminous exchanges between Robert Cohen and his critics. In my opinion, the most important issue, Cohen's trustworthiness, has been lost among some tangential issues and angry exchanges. Cohen frequently analyzes medical reports and offers nutritional advice, which activists have accepted as truth (in part, I think, because of his compelling, dynamic speaking and writing style).

Can Cohen be trusted?

Stephen Walsh first questioned Cohen's analysis of the Hjartaker et al. report (www.vegsource.com/articles/walsh_openletter.htm) . Walsh could not understand how Cohen could make the remarkable claim that Hjartaker et al.'s data revealed the exact opposite of the authors' conclusions. Walsh suspected that Cohen had fabricated data as the only possible way that Cohen could arrive at the amazing statement that moderate or high milk consumption leads to a 6.4 times greater breast cancer risk than low milk consumption.

Specifically, Hjartaker et al. found that those who consumed "low" quantities of milk in combined childhood and adulthood had less than the expected number of breast cancers, given the numbers of women in the "low" group compared to "moderate" and "high" groups. For no apparent reason, Cohen claimed that the number of expected breast cancers in the "low" group was roughly equal to that of the "moderate" group plus the "high" group. However, this made no sense, because the number of women in the "low" group was far lower than those in the "moderate" plus "high" groups. With his evidently fabricated data, Cohen then concluded that the Hjartaker et al. group had perpetrated a fraud and that the number of breast cancers among low milk consumers was much less than the expected number.

Walsh asked Cohen to justify these calculations, and Cohen refused (on the dubious grounds that Walsh is an "infiltrator" and a "stalker"). I carefully reviewed the study, and it seemed clear that Cohen must have indeed fabricated data. Trying to be fair, I privately asked Cohen to explain his calculations, but Cohen initially evaded my questions and then cut off communication on the grounds that I had an "agenda."

Now convinced that Cohen had fabricated his data, I publicly challenged Cohen to explain his calculations. As I expected, he continued to obfuscate, claiming that his essay at notmilk.com clearly explains his analysis and demanding that those who question him answer unanswerable questions. These open exchanges encouraged other people, including vegan journalist Syd Baumel, to request an explanation. If Cohen could provide an explanation, it would have been easy to do so. He hasn't provided an explanation because he can't.

Why should we care?

1. Cohen has made many dubious scientific claims posted at his web set and distributed to his 4400 member (moderator only post) nonmilk@yahoogroups.com. Though he generally makes authoritative claims, they are in fact poorly documented (at best) and people must accept his claims largely on faith. His fabricated analysis of the milk/breast cancer study, alone, demonstrates that he cannot be trusted. The articles, letters, and emails regarding Cohen published at vegsource.com reveal a pattern of unfounded, misleading claims. Many of these dubious claims evidently serve primarily financial concerns, promoting his soy milk machine over competitors. (See http://www.vegsource.com/articles/061399.notmilk.htm and www.vegsource.com/articles/walsh_cohen1.htm).

2. Cohen portrays himself as scientific. Yet, the essays at vegsource.com and my own analysis betray the falsity of Cohen's assertion, written in response to the Walsh critique, that "The 1000+ columns that I have written contain real science, and my analysis of scientific fraud have continuously withstood the rigorous scrutiny of peer review." (www.notmilk.com/forum15.txt, 2/8/02 message "True Evil Is Exposed"; www.vegsource.com/articles/cohen/ "The Sad Truth About Robert Cohen").

3. Cohen has maligned Hjartaker and colleagues, claiming they are perpetrators of "THE FRAUDULENT STUDY OF THE CENTURY." In fact, Hjartaker et al. themselves readily acknowledge their study's limitations and advise caution in interpreting their data. Hjartaker kindly answered my questions about the study, and I have no reason to believe that she and her colleagues are not honest, decent people. However, Cohen goes farther than raise doubts that milk protects against breast cancer. He accuses the authors of fraud and says that their data shows that milk causes breast cancer. In fact, Cohen's claims are the fraudulent ones.

4. Cohen's campaign against Stephen Walsh has been ugly and false. Walsh is a dedicated vegan advocate who has raised valid objections to Cohen's writings. Cohen has responded with a vicious hate campaign (see, for example, www.notmilk.com/forum15.txt, 2/8/02 message "True Evil Is Exposed"), prompting some people to call for Walsh's dismissal from his position as a trustee of the Vegan Society.

5. We have no control over Cohen's private web site and email list, but giving him 10 presentations at AR2002 tells the world that the AR movement stands behind him.

6. Fabricating data, particularly when done to denounce somebody's academic work, is sufficient grounds for dismissal from an academic institution (e.g., college, graduate school, teaching staff) and to be ostracized by colleagues. These are the standards of academia. If the animal advocacy movement is to be taken seriously by thoughtful, educated people, we must have standards of integrity. Similarly, we do not deserve the respect of anyone of who values truth in advocacy, truth in advertising, or journalistic integrity if we countenance dishonesty within our own ranks while denouncing dishonesty among our opponents.

I have had no axe to grind with Cohen. Prior to Walsh's revelations, I had some respect for Cohen's work (admittedly I had not examined it closely) and my few personal interactions with him had been pleasant. However, I now find his behavior outrageous. I'd like to think it's not just me. While I am academically oriented (I am an Assistant Clinical Professor at both Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Northeast Ohio Universities College of Medicine and I have several published papers and a chapter in the ophthalmology literature), I think integrity should transcend the walls of academia. How can we hope to win the hearts of minds of thoughtful people if we don't show high standards of integrity?

I dread the prospect of Cohen being a prominent speaker at a conference for hundreds of young AR activists anxious to learn how to be more effective advocates for the cause.


Dr. Kaufman is a long-time animal advocate who runs the non-profit Justice for Animals Fund and the website BioSpirituality. He is medical director of the Christian Vegetarian Association, president of the Cleveland-area group Vegetarian Advocates, and co-chair of the Medical Research Modernization Committee. He edits Perspectives on Medical Research. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Northeast Ohio Universities College of Medicine.

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