Note from the Coordinators

The Glass Remains Half Full

One of Charles’ mother’s favorite expressions was that the glass is half full rather than half empty. In this issue, Jeanne Yacoubou remains positive as she looks at a United Nations report about water pollution and animal agriculture titled Livestock’s Long Shadow. We hope the world can understand the damage that excessive animal product consumption causes and take steps to ensure clean drinking water for generations to come.

In September 1982, five people met and started The Vegetarian Resource Group. One of those individuals was Ernie Kopstein, a vegan doctor. Though he was Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and later Chairman of the Otolaryngology Department at Sinai Hospital, Ernie helped lug boxes for us at dozens of VRG outreach booths. We remember him letting us stuff literature into his car trunk and driving us to an exhibit at a physicians’ conference at the Washington Convention Center. We also recall him shivering in the cold while we were doing a table outdoors at The Johns Hopkins University Spring Fair.

Recently, Ernie passed away. He was a man who certainly saw the glass as half full, making it completely full. Even while very sick in his hospital bed, Ernie kept his sense of humor, saying to the nurse who was turning him over, “What do you think I am, a pancake?” Though at a point where he was unable to swallow, he was still able to smile and say to us, “Will you bring me some vegan food, please?”

Ernie was a child Holocaust survivor. He wrote, “Before dawn on Kristallnaucht in November of 1938, our apartment door was smashed with axes, and my father was arrested by men holding pistols … I remember my mother screaming and literally tearing her hair out.” In spring of 1939, Ernie was placed on a train and sent to a rescue society in France and moved again when German armies invaded. In 1941, 100 children were selected to be sent to America. Ernie landed in an orphanage in Cleveland. Though on his own, his inner drive pushed him forward to continue his education and eventually go to medical school.

Ernie’s father was a furrier. Amazingly, with so many unimaginable horrors thrown at him by the Nazis and others, Ernie became an ardent vegan and a doctor helping others. What better way to show that the Nazi darkness didn’t win?

We send our sympathy to Frada, his loving partner, who brought balance to so much prior loss in his life.

Finally, we greatly appreciate Vegetarian Journal Senior Editor Keryl Cryer for keeping this magazine on schedule and taking on other tasks in the VRG office while hurricanes were hitting her family’s home in New Orleans, forcing them to flee. When some have not met publication deadlines (despite much less of an excuse), Keryl has always managed to keep this publication on track. Also, thanks to Cathy Conway, RD, and Christina Niklas, RD, for their assistance at our outreach booth during the American Dietetic Association annual meeting in Chicago.