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Vegetarian Journal Cover

Vegetarian Journal


Jul/Aug 1997

Volume XVI, Number 4

Note from the Coordinators

Answers Aren't Always Simple

Debra Wasserman
Charles Stahler

Seven hundred Vegetarian Journal readers took time to fill out the survey we printed in our March/April 1997 issue. We appreciate your responses and comments. We'll report our findings after VRG's interns have gone through all the paperwork.

One remark we received deserves response on this page since a few other readers brought up the same point. Those of you who read the letters to the editors we've printed in previous issues of Vegetarian Journal may have noticed that occasionally readers are upset that we can't give them black and white answers to some of the topics we've researched. A case in point was the article "Why is Wine so Fined?" which ran in our January/February 1997 issue. Several readers felt that we left them up in the air by reporting on our research which indicated that some brands of wine may have had animal products (such as egg whites, milk, casein, gelatin, or isinglass) used as clarifying or fining agents. Some of you were disappointed that we didn't immediately present a list of wines that are definitely vegan. As we stated in our March/April 1997 issue, few wine companies are willing to specify certain brands which they guarantee to be vegetarian or vegan. Thus, we could only make broad generalizations. Unfortunately, this is often the case when we've tried to research whether or not certain foods are truly vegan or even vegetarian. Many companies are not willing to reveal all the ingredients and processes they use to produce their product(s). Our goal is to research issues as far as we can and report the findings we obtain. As a result, we cannot always offer simple answers.

VRG staff and volunteers do extensive research for the articles we run in this magazine. For example, research for the two-part aquaculture article (see page 17) occurred over an extended period of time. Jeanne Bartas started her preliminary research at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore where she read past issues of Aquaculture Magazine. These magazines gave her a general orientation to the subject. At the University of Maryland, Baltimore County library, she found a microfiche of congressional hearings regarding aquaculture. She learned about regulatory issues concerning aquaculture from these proceedings. Jeanne's search also led her to the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD. Here she located books, scientific journal articles, and proceedings of governmental and professional conferences on this subject. Jeanne also interviewed Mr. Tom Bell of the FDA's Division of Therapeutic Drugs for Animals; Mr. Dan Turlizzi, a water quality specialist with the University of Maryland Sea Grant Program; and Mr. Bradley Powers, the Assistant Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Office of Marketing and Aquaculture Development. Mr. Powers provided the author with a four-hour tour of an active aquaculture facility in Maryland. All these individuals had an opportunity to review and comment on this two-part article before it went to press. The net result is a well-researched piece based on facts. What makes Vegetarian Journal and The Vegetarian Resource Group unique from many other activist groups is that we do not simply report on what the "movement" perceives as the truth, rather we endlessly search for the facts. New and changing information will always appear. We hope readers appreciate our efforts.

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler

Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone wanting to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

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September 20, 1997

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