Attention: Sevanandah Members, your vote is needed

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Sevananda is now holding its annual Board of Directors election (thru next Sunday, May 10).  Altho I have been a Sev member-owner for 2 or 3 decades, I have never voted in the annual elections before because there never seemed to be any big issues on the table.

 

This year is different.  Over the past year, the general manager floated a plan to sell meat and alcoholic beverages, which would be a sharp departure from Sev’s 35-year vegetarian tradition.  This proposal has divided the coop membership and caused a good bit of upset.  [NOTE:  As used in this statement, “vegetarian” means “lacto-ovo vegetarian”; Sev sells egg and dairy products, but no animal flesh foods.]

 

I strongly favor keeping Sev vegetarian.  Each of us has a right to eat whatever we prefer, of course, but we also have a responsibility to ask how our choices affect others, both within and outside our species.  I believe it would be a retrograde step for Sev to start encouraging meat consumption at a time when a mountain of evidence links meat consumption with numerous health problems and implicates industrial meat production as a major factor in climate change and global warming.  Clearing land for cattle farming is a major source of deforestation and species extinction.  Methane gas produced by cows in enormous quantities is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, much worse than carbon dioxide; the UN Food & Agriculture Organization estimates that methane causes 1/7 of the global warming effect.

 

Meat consumption is also a factor in world hunger; a given amount of grain will feed many more people directly than if fed to livestock which are then eaten by people.  In addition, there are the questions of animal cruelty and periodic human epidemics inherent in industrial meat production; the current swine flu outbreak is believed to have begun in a Smithfield Farms hog city in Mexico.

 

Then there are the intangible factors, like the vibes in the store.  I think the vibes would be very different if Sev sold meat.  Many long-time customers would probably stop shopping there, and maybe would even start a new vegetarian coop which would compete with Sev.   Meat-eaters have hundreds of places to buy meat in Atlanta, but Sev is unique as a vegetarian coop.  Since meat-eaters can already get organic meat at Whole Foods, which is just a mile or so from Sev, it’s hard to see how Sev could attract many new customers by selling meat or how it could compete with Whole Foods’ meat prices.

 

In response to the GM’s proposal, a group of member-owners formed “Keep Sevananda Healthy” and organized a petition drive (I signed) dedicated to keeping Sev meat-free   Altho the GM recently withdrew the proposal, the issue has become a factor in the Board elections.  KSH endorsed several Board candidates who have indicated a commitment to preserve Sev’s founding vegetarian principles.  There are 4 open Board seats, so each member can vote for 4 candidates.

 

Based on KSH’s recommendations & presentations made by the candidates at Sev’s general meeting Saturday, I recommend ALICIA SIMPSON, DAVID FRAYNE AND RANDI CHAPMAN as the three candidates who appear most committed to continuing Sev’s vegetarian tradition.  KSH also supports a 4th candidate whom I am not recommending because of serious allegations made by two long-term Sev employees whom I respect.  Instead, I am casting my 4th vote for JEN KATO.  She didn’t speak directly to her position on meat, but gave a very principled, seemingly heartfelt answer to a question by one of the meat proponents, saying essentially that she would never compromise principle for profit.

 

You can vote at Sev from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. any day thru Sunday.  Last year, fewer than 10% of Sev’s members voted, so your vote carries considerable weight.

 

Keep Sevananda healthy,

Bob

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