Part I: Judith Haskins, Spiritual Meaning of Disease and Science
Judith Haskins, younger daughter of Shirley and Morris Hyman, grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City. She attended Music and Art High School and earned her degree in comparative literature from City College of New York and masters degree from City University in writing. Judith lived in La Jolla, California as well as on the Riviera Maya, in the Yucatan in Mexico. She has taught at various alternate and regular high schools in Manhattan, teaching English Literature and has been a vegetarian for 40 years and in the last five and a half years, a vegan. She decided, along with her mother and sister, Sally Laura, to publish her late father Dr. Morris Hyman’s manuscript, “Congenital, Alterable, Transmissible, Asymmetry: The Spiritual Meaning of Disease and Science.”
Part II: Élise Desaulniers, Cash Cow
Élise Desaulniers is an independent scholar and animal rights activist who published her first book on food ethics, Je mange avec ma tête (“I Eat With My Head”), in 2011. She co-authored two articles in the Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics (Springer 2014) and won the Quebec Grand Prize for independent journalism (opinion), for a piece on feminism and anti-speciesism in 2015. A frequent lecturer and presenter at colleges and universities, she lives in Montreal.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me today.
I’m actually here in the Progressive Radio Network studio, and I haven’t been here since they did the big move. It looks fabulous. I’m really happy to be here, and I think it will sound a lot better. So I’m excited about that. Unfortunately, you probably won’t hear the Mister Softee truck passing through [chuckles] like it always does when I’m recording from home. We’ll have to make that up later.
I wanted to let you know –I mentioned this last week– we finished our Happy Halloween or Swingin’ Halloweegan food show. It’s a fondue party we were finishing up last week, and it’s ready for you to view at the responsibleeatingandliving.com website. Part 1 is up, and part 2 will likely be up by tomorrow. It’s really fun. I want you to watch it, okay? So visit responsibleeatingandliving.com, and then after you watch it, let me know what you think. You can find me at inforealmeals.org.
We had a lot of fun making it, and I hope you have fun watching it and trying out the recipes; we’ve gotten a lot of great response from our cashew cheese fondue. We made a lot of it, which is great because I’m getting to eat it a lot now. One of the things that’s great about this recipe is you can freeze it. We made a bunch of it, put it into different jars, and, whenever we need a little cheese, we take it out of the freezer. It’s really, really good.
I also wanted to mention we were out on a road trip this weekend, and it’s always fun to do a little traveling. One thing that really helps is to plan ahead and pack a cooler of fun little things to eat along the way. Whether or not you’re able to find restaurants or stores that have healthy food, it’s good to bring some along. If you visit my What Vegans Eat blog post, you can see some of the things that we enjoyed this weekend.
I want to bring on my first guest: Judith Haskins. She is the younger daughter of Shirley and Morris Hymen. She grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City and attended Music & Art High School and earned her degree in comparative literature from City College of New York and a master’s degree from City University in writing.
Judith lived in La Jolla, California as well as on the Riviera Maya in the Yucatán in Mexico. She has taught at various alternate and regular high schools in Manhattan teaching English literature, and has been a vegetarian for four years. And in the last five and a half years, a vegan. She decided along with her mother and sister, Sally Laura, to publish her late father Dr. Morris Hymen’s manuscript Congenital, Alterable, Transmissible, Asymmetry: The Spiritual Meaning of Disease and Science.
Welcome to It’s All About Food, Judith. How are you?
Judith Haskins: I’m great. Thank you so much, Caryn, for having me on. Although I’m sorry that I can’t be in your beautiful new studio because I’m with my 92– my 102-year-old vegan mother. She was 100 when the Shirley and Moe YouTube video was made of her. You heard about that?
Caryn Hartglass: I did. I just watched it earlier, and I posted it on my Facebook page. It was really something and very inspiring. I especially loved –I’m not going to get it right; maybe you can quote it– when your mom asked your father how she could possibly go on without him after he died.
Judith Haskins: Right, right. Would you like me in a few minutes to explain how this video came about?
Caryn Hartglass: I would. Sure!
Judith Haskins: Which is quite interesting, actually. Three years ago, when my mother was 99 on a very rainy February at Columbus Circle, a young man came up to my mother. She was under an umbrella, and she was heading to the swimming pool at my sister’s apartment building on 57th Street. This young man turned out to be Brandon Stanton who is the author of Humans of New York, the best-selling book that has been all about amazing New Yorkers and their candid comments.
Anyway, he took a very close up photograph of her because he got under the umbrella with her, and he asked her if she had something inspiring to tell people. At which point my mother said that when my father was dying, she said, “Moe, what will I do without you?” And my father said, “Take the love you have for me and spread it around.”
Now, we had no idea that my mother had said this to anybody on the street. She didn’t come home and tell us anything about this. This happened in February. The following June, a friend of my mother’s –and she has many, many friends– said, “I was American Airlines and I opened the American Way magazine. There is a picture of your mother and the quote: ‘Take the love you have for me and spread it around.’” We thought, “What in the world is this all about?”
Several weeks later, some other people called. “Oh! This guy called Brandon Stanton is on TV, and he’s talking about this 80-year-old woman that he met.” He was on MSNBC; he was on the Ali Wentworth show; he was Person of the Week for Diane Sawyer. Finally, we thought, “Well, he’s going around town describing an 80-year-old woman.“ He didn’t know her name, and he really didn’t know anything about her.
But what had happened is, when he went home that day, he looked at his blog and he posted the photograph. 81,000 people responded. I believe what happened, we knew nothing about– I don’t know what a blog looks like basically. Way after my generation. Anyway, he was getting I think 200 or 500 hits a day when he would post these photographs. All of a sudden 81,000 people responded.
So when we emailed him and said, “Hello, Brandon. This woman that you’re describing as an 80-year-old is actually our 99-year-old vegan mother. Can we invite you over for some vegan cupcakes?” So he did come over, and that was the following January of 2014. We had a wonderful time, and he took some beautiful photographs of my mother. We gave him some stories, and he put them on his website.
Then he said, “I’d like to make a video of your mother.” So that video was made the following February. February 2014. It came out in April, and apparently it’s been very popular.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it has. I really enjoyed it. It has hundreds and thousands of views, which is wonderful.
Judith Haskins: Well, that exemplifies the spiritual part of my father. The “Take the love you have for me and spread it around.” Many people interpret that as a romantic comment. But, in a way, he was saying, “Transcend the romantic love that you have for your dying spouse, and once they’ve died, take that love and give it to all kinds of people that are not your spouse or your children or your mother. But go beyond that.”
And he always did that. He was full of love. He was a doctor who practiced on the Upper West Side at the Belnord, which I think is very close to where your former studio was. Maybe I’m wrong about that.
Caryn Hartglass: Upper West Side. We were between 83rd and 84th Street.
Judith Haskins: Well, we’re on 86th Street.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, there you go.
Judith Haskins: As I said, I would’ve loved to have come to your studio but… because it’s getting through traffic at this time of the day, and I have to be home to give my mother dinner. Her vegan soup, etc.
Caryn Hartglass: [laughs]
Judith Haskins: She’s eating very well; she has a wonderful appetite. Anyway, she’s two years older than she was in that video. She’s not exactly the same, but she has –my sister and I like to say– she has 98% of her marbles, and my sister and I got the other two marbles.
Caryn Hartglass: [laughs] Well, I want to talk about this book.
Judith Haskins: Right, right.
Caryn Hartglass: And I want to say– first let me repeat the title because it is a–
Judith Haskins: Should I explain the title?
Caryn Hartglass: Why not? Congenital, Alterable, Transmissible, Asymmetry: The Spiritual Meaning of Disease and Science.
Judith Haskins: Okay. First of all, the book was written in 1970 and my father never made any attempts to publish it. The first four words are his definition of true disease, or rather disease. Then the spiritual meaning of disease in science. My father was a deeply spiritual man but not religious. He didn’t ascribe to any religion or practice; any religion whatsoever. He makes that kind of clear in the first page of his only 144-page book, which, by the way, is very, very dense. But I think it’s a wonderful read. [chuckles]
Anyway, the first four words describe disease. Now, if you read the New York Times or if you watch television, the word disease is used interchangeably with virus. For example, someone will say Ebola virus and, in the next sentence, they’ll say, “this disease.” Well, which is it? Is it a virus or a disease?
My father makes the distinction, and it’s not a semantic one. A virus is something you catch from outside, marauding bacteria. He used to call them “the microscopic lions and tigers.” In other words, you’re being attacked from without.
Whereas disease has, first of all, the inherited component. Disease is like lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. Although there’s one– one of those four words he felt did not apply to cancer, and that was the alterable. But that’s in the book; he explains each of those four very clearly. But disease has that inherited component. For example, you can be in a room with a thousand people that have cancer; you’re going to catch cancer. You’re not going to catch heart disease or lung disease.
Why is this distinction important? Well, we’ve made a lot of strides with the infectious conditions. With AIDS, with Ebola virus. They’re a lot of strides that have been made: vaccines and all that. Although the more vaccines that come about, the greater the problem arises. And the more microbes — he mentions that in the book too. By the way, I didn’t write the book, and I’m not a doctor. So if I sound a little bit less as sharp as I’d like to be, it’s because it’s not my book. Even though I’ve read it many times.
But with heart disease, lung disease, and cancer, we haven’t made those strides. At all. I mean, the war against cancer. Look where it’s going.
Although I think it’s very interesting that for us vegans just yesterday: big news that the World Health Organization is finally conceding that, yeah, there is a link between meat-eating and cancer.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, yeah. It’s such old news, but it’s new news, which is so crazy.
Judith Haskins: My father became a vegetarian in the 1950s, and he was convinced that there was a link between meat eating and cancer. He also was convinced that we evolved upon this planet as herbivores. And he wasn’t talking about the teeth or the intestinal tract, but something else. That’s in the fourth chapter of his book, Physiology of Man, which he talks about the things that we manufacture in our body, the things that we require that we don’t manufacture. Which creates evidence of what our diet has to be.
I’ll give you an example. We don’t manufacture vitamin C in our body, and yet it is a crucial vitamin. Absolutely crucial. Linus Pauling did groundbreaking research decades ago on vitamin C and said we need very large doses of that. My father was in agreement. Vitamin C, by the way, is not toxic because anything that your body does not utilize will pass out when you urinate. Vitamin B complex and C; my father was very big on those two.
So we don’t manufacture vitamin C in our body, and yet it is absolutely crucial. That means that we had to evolve in a place on Earth –and he believed the tropics– where we had access to fresh fruits and vegetables right off the tree, the branch, right out of the ground. The minute you pick a fruit or vegetable it diminishes in the vitamin content.
Now, what’s interesting– and would also explains why we’re not dairy-eaters. Why we should stay as far away from the milk from any animal as possible. What’s interesting is that mother’s milk (female human breast milk) has a lot of vitamin C in it. Did you know that?
Caryn Hartglass: Hmm, I did. Well, when I read the book, I found that out.
Judith Haskins: Oh! Okay.
Caryn Hartglass: [laughs]
Judith Haskins: All right. [14:09]. So you read a book. I’m so happy. Anyway, cow’s milk because cows manufacture vitamin C in their body, a calf has no need –when it is nursing on a cow– has no need for extra vitamin C. On the other hand, we manufacture cholesterol in our body. No carnivore manufactures cholesterol in its body. So you read the book. I hope you found it interesting.
Caryn Hartglass: [chuckles] What I wanted to say about it was number one: when I first got it, I thought, “Oh, it’s a thin little book. It won’t take me long to read it.”
Judith Haskins: Ah, right.
Caryn Hartglass: And I read all the books by authors or people who are representing the book that I speak about on my show. I started reading it maybe Thursday or Friday, and I went, “Oh my goodness. This is very difficult to read.” It’s very difficult, and some of the sentences are long. They may have double negatives in them. They have a lot of concepts and not all of them are the same in the same sentence. So you have to digest a little bit at a time before you continue it.
Judith Haskins: Right, right. You really have to pay attention.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Normally, I just zip through reading books.
Judith Haskins: It is not a zipping book.
Caryn Hartglass: No, it is not. But I found it very poetic.
Judith Haskins: Oh yes. I think it’s beautifully written.
Caryn Hartglass: Beautifully. Once I could digest something, I relaxed and end up thinking, “Oh. Of course. This is obvious.” Somehow, like my soul knew or my consciousness knew.
Judith Haskins: That’s very nice of you.
Caryn Hartglass: And it made sense. So I ploughed through.
Judith Haskins: Well, I think that people might get nervous that it’s not a typical book. Today, typical books are books of one idea. Like that guy Gladstone who wrote Blink and a few of them. He had one idea or the tipping point. I brought those books, and I read them. You can zip right through them, and they’re fun to read. He would have one idea and then he would take a million anecdotes –some interesting, some not so interesting– and squeeze everything to make it fit to make it like, “Ooh.” But when you finish the book, it’s like, “What was I really reading? Was it really of any consequence?”
I have to say, I believe in my father’s book there’s so many ideas that people might never have read before, and yet –as you say– their soul might say, “You know, this is absolutely true. This is real.”
For example, the part about smoking. How he explained the effects of smoking on your body. Just recently, doctors have said, “Well, smoking doesn’t just cause emphysema and lung cancer; it affects other cells.” Well, my father explained that when you put a cigarette in your mouth, every cell in your body is defending against this poisonous intruder. Now, you said in a much more poetic way than I did. You remember that, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Judith Haskins: And I thought it was beautifully written. The thing is I think people need to relax when they read the book. “Okay, so I didn’t quite get that. Let me move along.” First of all, it’s a book where you have to turn off all other devices; you can’t be multitasking. You can’t be watching TV, talking on the cell phone, looking at YouTube videos. Would you agree with that?
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. Now, this requires 150% of your concentration. [chuckles]
Judith Haskins: Let me ask you a question: will you read it again? Do you find it-
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I would like to. The thing is I’ve always got these different books thrown at me for this program.
Judith Haskins: Oh, okay.
Caryn Hartglass: But I’ve [17:56] many pages.
Judith Haskins: Okay. Can I ask you what your favorite insight was in the book?
Caryn Hartglass: There were a number of things. One of the things– he kept referring to the cell and how important it is to nourish all cells. They all need to get the right nutrition.
Judith Haskins: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: What I felt was fascinating at one point was talking about… when one part of the body is… has a problem –and I can’t use all of his correct terminology, but let’s say you have a heart failure or you have a problem and you’re treated. He described how the whole body kind of goes down to that minimum functioning level.
Judith Haskins: Right, right, right.
Caryn Hartglass: And so your body– when you have an issue somewhere, your whole body is going to drop. You’re not able to work at maximum efficiency, and some of our drugs actually encourage that operating at minimum.
Judith Haskins: I think his point was that the drugs don’t bring up the weakened cells: they weakened the other cells to recreate a symmetry. Because disease is asymmetry. It’s off-balance where not everything is functioning equally. So the drugs– you take an aspirin and people think, “Oh, it’s curing my headache. It got rid of the pain.” No, it didn’t get rid of the pain. What it did is dull some of the sensations in your brain. It weakens the cells in your brain that would perceive the pain. That’s really not such a great thing, is it?
Caryn Hartglass: [chuckles] No.
Judith Haskins: The pain is there. Pain is there to let us know that something is wrong. So good.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. There were a few other things that I wanted to bring up. Looking to see if I could find it. He was very diplomatic I think in expressing his discontent with current science and current medical practice. [chuckles]
Judith Haskins: Not always. I think he referred to it as dismal sometimes.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. So at one point he was talking about how physicians… Oh! Here it is. Can I read it?
Judith Haskins: Please.
Caryn Hartglass: Page 93: “There is a similarity between physician and psychiatrist, which would be astonishing if we did not recognize that each originates from a comparable spiritual immaturity. For notice how identical is their confusion of shadows with reality, as well as therapeutic delusion, which seeks, on the one hand, to halt disease without restoring nourishment of the breadth cell; and, on the other, to disperse the anxieties of the mind without inspiring the contiguous soul to that creation of beauty, by which it descends once more into its spiritual heavens.”
That’s a big mouthful, but what I got from that is that there are many mental illnesses and mental issues where people are in therapy forever or they’re given drugs, whatever. But perhaps if they were encouraged to be of service to others, they would find ways to heal themselves.
Judith Haskins: My father used to take out his prescription pad. He made sure that he had a half hour for every single patient. He used to take out his prescription pad and write down, “Take care of the sick animal. Do some volunteer work in a hospital.” For him, spiritual was being concerned with the needs of others. Being not a material person, but a person of concern for others who didn’t put themselves first or wasn’t part of the “me” generation, or the greedy generation.
In fact, my father– he couldn’t certainly if he were alive today, would never be able to do it. But because my mother was a teacher, it was a two-income family. He charged $5 a visit throughout his thirty-year practice. He never raised his fees, and, if you never paid him, he continued to see you. He said, “I don’t want to get rich on the backs of other people’s suffering.”
You can hear about doctors like this in small towns in the Midwest and everything. But when you’re on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where all the doctors were driving Cadillacs and their wives were in minks, my father was making house calls with his VW Bug. Now that I look back on it, in the 60s and 70s, he was putting his life at risk because New York City was more violent prone place; it was also more interesting in those days. People used to regularly break into his car when he was making house calls at 3 A.M. in the morning to get the syringes. Full of drug addicts in the neighborhood and the prescription pads. He probably was the only doctor in New York City that had the MD license plate removed; he didn’t want MD on his car anymore after they broke it. That’s a pretty good story.
He also would be horrified at the amount of drugs that Americans are taking today. Absolutely horrified. My sister and I grew up probably the most drug-free Upper West Side middle-class people in New York that there are. I took no doctor prescribed medications whatsoever. Maybe an occasional antibiotic but very rarely. Today, people are taking drugs.
Look at the side effects. Look at the side effects. Look at the side effects of the drugs people take for mental illness. One of them is suicide. And we don’t ask the questions, “What drugs?” Look at Robin Williams. It’s very distressing to me. They said he was on some psychiatrist prescribed drug, but they don’t make the link. How many people have put things around their neck and killed themselves? There was a Kennedy girl… The number of people who’ve done this-
Caryn Hartglass: It’s too many.
Judith Haskins: What’s that?
Caryn Hartglass: It’s too many. Way too many.
Judith Haskins: But it’s– you’re depressed and now you might have thoughts of suicide. Where does it go if you’re depressed, and you start thinking about suicide? [chuckles] It doesn’t go well, does it?
Caryn Hartglass: Not at all.
Judith Haskins: Since I’ve been a vegan –and you’ve been a vegan much longer than me– I’ve become convinced that aggression, depression, and anxiety can all be stilled by a vegan diet. It’s very interesting. I have my veterinarian for my dog –the dog in the video, Chuck-Chuck, who’s now fifteen– he just became a vegan recently.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, congratulations.
Judith Haskins: He was a vegetarian, and I had some talks with him about it. I’m not the one who influenced him, of course. I see him once a year or something like that. When I say him, he said, yeah, now he is a vegan and he seemed very cheerful. I said, “Do you feel any physical differences?” ‘Cause I did transitioning only from vegetarian to vegan. He said, “No, I always felt physically great. But I do feel emotionally better.” There’s an emotional component to it.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.
Judith Haskins: And now they’re talking about the gut, the bacteria of the gut which comes from the various things that people eat and how that affects mood and all this. They told the people who were mentally ill, “Oh, let’s keep guns out of their hands.” How about feeding them a better diet? How ‘bout every prison having a garden? How ‘bout every school having its own garden?
Caryn Hartglass: Amen to that.
Judith Haskins: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: So I just have one more question ‘cause we’re almost out of time, believe it or not. I know. So I’m thinking that most current doctors will not want to read this book.
Judith Haskins: No. They’ll be very angry about it.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. And I’m thinking that most of the public won’t even be able to understand it unfortunately. Or at least have the patience to take the time to digest it. I want to have everybody to read this.
Judith Haskins: You want everybody to read it?
Caryn Hartglass: I do. Of course, I do.
Judith Haskins: You don’t think it’s a bad idea that we published it, do you?
Caryn Hartglass: No! I think doctor should read this.
Judith Haskins: Of course, we don’t publish because I don’t think there’s a publishing house in this world at the moment that would publish it. And yet–
Caryn Hartglass: Well, Lantern Books might publish it. [chuckles]
Judith Haskins: Well, if half the things that my father said in this book are true, it’s an astonishing work.
Caryn Hartglass: I just know that a number of doctors that I’ve spoken to, and some of them are doctors that I’ve just gone to for medical reasons and some of them are the vegan doctors that I know and care very much about, really stay away from the spiritual portion of life and health.
Judith Haskins: Why?
Caryn Hartglass: Why. I don’t know! They’re afraid or they won’t be taken as seriously?
Judith Haskins: Exactly, exactly. I have to just say very quickly ‘cause we only have a few more minutes: my father throughout his life had what he would describe as mystical experiences. You’re absolutely right that people think, “Oh, what are you: a wacko? A crackpot? What is this?”
I would say that the closest thing you could say to that is he saw the face of God. He had absolute certainty that we are reincarnated, that we go through various incarnations, and that’s the point of being alive: to grow spiritually and to get further and further on to an enlightened understanding. In terms of health, he would advise two things: an herbivorous diet –I don’t even think the word vegan was used when he wrote this manuscript– and a spiritual life. With those two, you would be as healthy as you possibly could be.
Now, we’re all born with weaknesses, as he said in the book.
Caryn Hartglass: People will have to find out more about that when they read this, and I highly recommend that they do. Judith, maybe-
Judith Haskins: Well, I’m so happy that you recommend it and I hope I talk to you some more not on the radio.
Caryn Hartglass: I was going to say maybe we can talk off air, and maybe we can have you back. But I’m not done talking with you. [chuckles]
Judith Haskins: Oh, you still have another couple minutes left?
Caryn Hartglass: No, no, no! I have to go now, but I want to continue our conversation.
Judith Haskins: I just want to say first of all, thank you so much for having me on. And I’m also so happy that you read the book and that you got something out of it. That’s why we put the book out there because we think that there are many people, just like the 81,000 whom loved what he said, “Take the love that you have and spread it around.” I think there’s a spiritual vacuum. You can put the philosophy together with the science, and it works just fantastically. Thank you so much for letting me on.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. Thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food. We’ll talk soon.
That was Judith Haskins, and she was talking about her late father’s manuscript, which they’ve recently published, called Congenital, Alterable, Transmissible, Asymmetry: The Spiritual Meaning of Disease and Science. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food. Let’s take a very quick break, and I’ll be back with my next guest: Élise Desaulniers.
Transcribed by HT 6/3/2016
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, we are back and I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to Its All About Food. Thank you for joining me and that really was a mouthful, wasn’t it? That last part, I really encourage you to read the book but like we were saying before you need to turn everything else off and focus 100 per cent but I believe you’ll get a lot out of it, I know I did. Moving on to the next book that I want to talk about, Cash Cow, I have in the studio, Élise Desaulniers, she is an independent scholar and animal rights activist who published her first book on food ethics, Je mange avec ma tête (“I Eat With My Head”), in 2011 she co-authored 2 articles in the Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics and won the Quebec grand prize for independent journalism for a piece on feminism and anti-speciesism in 2015. A frequent lecturer and presenter at colleges and universities, she lives in Montreal. I’m like saying half French and half English, Montreal. Thank you for coming.
Élise Desaulniers: Your French is very very good; we should do an interview in French.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay I would love to do that, some other time I suppose because I don’t think my listeners would really appreciate it. But just to explain a little bit I have studied opera and musical theatre and I was singing quite a bit in France at the time so I really studied pronunciation, I probably gotten a little more relaxed since I’m not living there anymore and all speaking and pronunciation is related to muscles so when you’re not speaking the language your muscles get soft.
Élise Desaulniers: Well that’s the story of my life in English I understand English perfectly I can write fine but speaking is another thing, I’m sorry for your listening.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m sure many people have told you that Americans love French accents and British accents and versions thereof but we love those things so don’t lose that. I first noticed this phenomenon about the musculature in the mouth when I moved from New York to California and I lived in California for about 9 years and then whenever I would visit New York and go back to speaking New York, I felt this weight in my tongue well because New York is such a heavy language and I it just was so heavy on my tongue, it was a phenomenal thing.
Élise Desaulniers: So it’s not only me because when I speak English it hurts, I’m suffering right now ha ha.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s funny, I also tell people when they want to speak French correctly it’s all in the lips you must pout and look like you just want to kiss everyone and then everything sounds so much better. Alright let’s talk about milk. Milk is not a poison, you’ve said in your book although some of us have called it a poison but there’s a lot of things that are not right with dairy milk or milk from animals so let’s jump into Cash Cow. Right, so why did you write this book?
Élise Desaulniers: Well like you said earlier it’s my second book so the first book was about food effects in general and I gave a lot of lectures on the topic and while most people agreed with me at least you should reduce your meat consumption, I’m vegan and I’m talking about veganism they agreed on some principles but when it came to dairy especially, French and Quebecers are the same, we love dairy, we love cheese, we love yogurt so they agreed on the principle but don’t I want dairy, don’t I want cheese, don’t tell me to stop eating cheese, there’s something strange about dairy, there’s something strange with our relationship with cows, there’s something there that I should look in there so that’s why I started researching and I understood my relationship with dairy and our relationship with dairy is built on false beliefs and probably made from the industry advertising but also the fact that cheese is good and it doesn’t come direct well it’s not the animal flesh so maybe our job to see the link the animals suffering and being exploited and that thing we put on our bread, so it’s complicated.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s complicated, I’m not promoting dairy ever but I’m thinking that a long time ago hundreds thousands of years ago whenever we started consuming dairy products it probably wasn’t as detrimental to us as it is today, people are consuming far more dairy products than ever before and we didn’t feed the animals or take care of the animals the same way as we do today and I probably shouldn’t even use the word care because there’s no care involved today really but there’s a romance and I think it started a long time ago this romance with animals and believing that what they gave us was good for us.
Élise Desaulniers: Well I’m glad you bring that up, nobody ever ask me that question about that and during my research I interviewed Renan Larue, a French researcher, he works on the history of vegetarianism and he told me how well for most of our history being vegan was not something you could imagine we needed animals, we needed cows, cows were useful in the fields and in our lives so we were not always thinking about killing cows but using them we needed them and using a bit of their milk for our consumption was just fine so we couldn’t imagine living without cows so we couldn’t imagine being vegan for most of our lives history… its completely different today but that might explain why vegetarianism came before veganism because well cows were just part of life same thing for hens.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t think that when we started our relationship with cows we were artificially inseminating them or raping them which is what I like to say.
Élise Desaulniers: No we were not.
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s one of the worst things in my mind whenever, I don’t do this often, I don’t care to do it but when I go online and go to these university sites that describe how animals are artificially inseminated it’s just the most disgusting horrific thing and it’s all considered on board and perfectly acceptable but that didn’t happen then and the animals the babies.
Élise Desaulniers: They lived with their mother.
Caryn Hartglass: They lived with their mother it was a very different situation.
Élise Desaulniers: The industry’s still telling us that story which is a past.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes way past.
Élise Desaulniers: And even me, me I went to university, I’m educated I’m reading and I spent most of my life not thinking about it but when I became vegetarian and quickly after became vegan but in the in between a friend asked me how do you think milk is produced well by cows and she said well I think cows need to have a baby in order to produce milk, are you sure? I’m reading papers every day and I’m online I’m researching and I didn’t know that and I didn’t know the link between veal and dairy and it was all the same thing I just didn’t know that so for most people around us they just have no idea and when you look at the milk cartoon well you see a happy cow in the field with her baby and it makes us feel good to think that reality is that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah I think you mentioned in your book knowing that there is a way to treat animals relatively decently we somehow accept treating them horribly.
Élise Desaulniers: because there’s this slight possibility.
Caryn Hartglass: there’s this slight possibility that it could be that way.
Élise Desaulniers: Every talk I give about dairy there is always somebody sitting in the back is answering but what if I have a cow in my backyard, yeah sure your living in Montreal come on but what if I have a cow in my backyard and I treat her nicely and she stays with her baby and that idea always comes up what if and yes of course but it’s what if like it could be that way. Every talk I give about dairy there’s…
Caryn Hartglass: I had Dr David Katz on the show a few years ago, he’s a medical doctor and an expert in nutrition at Yale and he’s had some great work he wrote a book Disease Proof something or other anyway his wife is French and I once visited her blog and she was talking about organic dairy and I just very politely mentioned some of the issues that I thought she’d like to know about and she was very polite and very gracious and said she has to find out more about this well she got her milk from some local organic dairy went to that farmer and came back feeling better somehow that it was ok and then I came back again do you see how he inseminates the cows by the way and the conversation was done but there are lots of people not just French people that really have a hard time with this.
Élise Desaulniers: There’s also a long part of the process that we don’t see, like you mentioned we don’t see insemination and we don’t see the slaughterhouse so yes especially in France where cows go outside it’s not the case in Quebec where 94 per cent of the cows are just inside and with chains and everything they’re not free at all but in France you see cows outside so you imagine well it’s fine and it looks good in the fields and all of that so because we don’t see all the process and we don’t think about it because it’s going to make us feel bad thinking about it, it makes it easier to consume dairy but your right organic dairy is the worst because you pay a lot more so since you pay a lot more you feel a lot better and people that buy organic dairy want to do good things so it’s hard to tell them well no it’s as bad, I don’t know for American organic milk but in Quebec well it’s cold during the winter and sometimes even during the summer so cows go outside only once a week during summer the rest of the time its exactly exactly the same as conventional and the slaughtering is exactly the same.
Caryn Hartglass: So there are so many issues this is the most important issue to me which is the ethical portion the cruelty portion the reason why I became vegetarian and vegan is because I don’t believe in causing pain and suffering I don’t want to kill animals period and I was very happy delighted to learn that there are all these bonuses for not eating animals, it’s better for the environment, it’s best for the environment and it’s the best thing for my health so yeah for all of those good things so let’s just touch on the health and the environment for a moment.
Élise Desaulniers: It’s important because when we question the dairy consumption people will tell you well but what about your calcium and what about that so it’s normal natural and necessary to consume dairy you need to cover that you need to explain well no you don’t need well you need calcium of course but you can find it in your green leafy and we all know that but there’s also health problems related to dairy consumption and for some people that’s the extra argument that we are of them at least look at their dairy consumption for instance since cows are pregnant where they give milk there is hormones in their milk natural hormones I know in a stage your adding hormones but in Canada we don’t do that we are really really proud we’re Canadians we don’t put hormones in our milk well yes but your cow’s are pregnant so since they’re pregnant there is pregnancy hormones in your milk and you consume that and that consumption is linked to breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer and well it’s somethings you need to look at it it’s an allergen, we talk a lot about food allergy but all those autoimmune reactions are reactions to the milk protein these are facts if at Harvard School of public health agree with me on that and they’re not vegan they’re not promoting veganism but they say well you should consume less milk and find other sources of calcium and vitamin D that is added to milk and protein and stuff yes.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s nothing good about milk.
Élise Desaulniers: No and in terms of environment, well we talk about meat, about meat and stuff, but of course your cows are also livestock, so it’s the same problem and with water you need three times more water to produce one gallon or litre or whatever of cow’s milk than you need for soy milk. In California if you have listeners there who are turning off their water and being careful in restaurants and not taking glasses of water to save water, well good, but they should only switch from cow’s milk to soy milk in their latte and it would do so much more for water consumption.
Caryn Hartglass: Drink soy latte’s in California folks or almond latte’s I know the almonds are getting a bad press because they take a lot of water to.
Élise Desaulniers: But it’s still better than cow’s milk.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Élise Desaulniers: But soy is so efficient in your latte in the morning switch to soymilk and it’s good.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s good and you don’t have to worry about those phytoestrogens in the soy milk they’re not the same as the hormones that you find in cow’s milk which are so much more detrimental, when you’re eating the whole, minimally processed soy food those phytoestrogens that you get there are you’re friends.
Élise Desaulniers: That is an issue addressed; if you’re concerned about breast cancer, like I am, my mother died from breast cancer; it’s actually doing good for you there’s only one source that says that soy is bad for you and it comes from the meat industry, so only one source, it’s the meat industry and of courses we’re against them.
Caryn Hartglass: So how did you get so smart?
Élise Desaulniers: I don’t think I’m that smart, I don’t think so, maybe by drinking soy milk, no but I’ve spent my life doing tons of things, I’ve worked in advertising, worked for an airline. A few years ago I met a book on animal ethics, philosophy book, like serious book with a lot of footnotes that my boyfriend ordered because he’s a philosopher like he’s French and he likes cheese and everything not anymore but at that time like he did a speech in philosophy never heard about animal ethics but he ordered that book because he was teaching an ethics class and like we heard it was like this new topic and I had the book in my bag I started reading it and like my first thought was I have cats I love them and I’m eating animals that suffer. I felt stupid so I don’t think I’m right but I felt stupid not thinking about that by myself like where do animals meat are coming from. So I started reading and reading you know the basic stuff like Peter Singer and (Tom) Regan and blah, blah, blah, and I was like how come that happened around me and I never heard about it and well I put the fault on the case that I’m French and in French we don’t have that much literature on animal ethics; so it’s probably because I’m French, but I started reading in English about the topic and writing about it, for me it was important to read and write at the same time just to share my knowledge with people that needed that information. So I started blogging and the more you write the more you have to think and inside I was vegetarian and vegan really quickly I tried to find ways to continue eating meat and cheese but the more I was reading, the more I was convinced that I was wrong. It was the same for the boyfriend. He became vegan to and we met a lot of people around us that were also starting to think about those issues and right now in Montreal. I don’t know if it’s the climate that gives us a lot of time inside to read and think, but there are a lot of people working on those issues. We might be late, we’re catching up. The young people in universities and college, I feel like half of them are vegetarian or vegan or thinking about it. The intersection of the issues; the exploitation of animals linked to women exploitation, for them they all agree with that and it’s simple there’s something going on right now and it gives me a lot of hope for the future.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s very encouraging to hear, I just took a little road trip with my partner Gary this weekend. We like to see the autumn leaves we drove up north to Ithaca and then back down to Lewisburg Pennsylvania near Bucknell where I went to college a long time ago. So we spent some time at the university and number one I found a little restaurant that served tofu scramble which was amazing, it wasn’t very good but I’m glad it was there. It was there and they served soy milk for my tea, no I was in heaven and this is all new and then you were mentioning reading ethics and philosophy. I met up with Dr Gary Steiner who’s a philosopher at Bucknell and he’s written a number of books on animal ethics and he’s come up with the “vegan imperative”. That’s kind of his catchphrase and he explains what the vegan imperative is. I spoke to him on this show a few years ago. He and his wife made a lovely lunch for us this weekend which was all vegan and fun because we do a lot of cooking and I post a lot of recipes all the time, we do food shows and people are afraid to have us over. Not just because we’re vegan, but because we cook a lot. So it was really nice for people to make us meals. But I wanted to talk a little bit about France because I did live in the south of France from 1992 to 1996 as we were talking earlier. Nobody talked about vegetarianism and I never met another vegetarian at that time. I was delighted years later to discover the Veggie Pride Parade which originated in Paris, they came out of the closet, literally. But I have to give my friends a lot of credit because they did go out of their way whenever they had events to make sure that there would be food for me, which was really lovely. But I remember one man would talk about the foie gras and he was absolutely convinced that the birds were delighted to be in their situation, how they would run for the food, they would run to have the tube shoved down their throat and they were very happy.
Élise Desaulniers: Yes well I worked for an airline for many years as I told you before this airline was air France. So when I became vegan I was still an air France employee and spending a lot of time in Montreal of course but also a lot of time in Paris and first day being vegan I used to travel business class so I was really really happy I can try the vegan meal in business class well it was terrible the first serving was only veggies second serve were the same veggies but cooked with rice and the dessert was fruit so and the morning after at the air France cafeteria there was nothing I could eat, except for a baguette, maybe rice, but it was tasting like chicken so it probably had chicken broth, so it was terrible. It was like eight years nine years ago and now I go back once or twice a year and it’s changed a lot. Paris is the capital of gastronomy in the world but it’s becoming the capital of vegan gastronomy. There’s really really good restaurants and like a new restaurant every week, there’s a lot of really really good cooks there and that are writing books and like amazing books, I mean they know what good food is so when they cook vegan food it’s good. It’s changing a lot and because of a few really influential people, people who have a huge influence the group L214 in Lyon did amazing work they are like Mercy For Animals but in France but they don’t have much money but they’re doing huge things.
Caryn Hartglass: In Lyon.
Élise Desaulniers: In Lyon but also all around France and so there is things going on all over France to teach what veganism is what vegan food is the arguments but they also do campaigns against foie gras around Christmas time. They did an undercover investigation in a slaughterhouse and that video went all over the place in France. France suddenly realized what a slaughterhouse was and they did headline all the news. There is a lot going on in France right now and in Quebec at the same time because like we talk to each other.
Caryn Hartglass: I know that as soon as France and all related to France get over themselves they will definitely take the lead.
Élise Desaulniers: Well they’re good thinkers, French philosophers are good philosophers so now they’re starting and they will tell you that you’re late yes maybe but they’re starting to think about animal issues and they will do great. I mean if you look at all the books published in France in French on animal topics in the last years, there’s a lot and there’s a lot going on.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m excited and sad at the same time because I’m sorry it wasn’t happening when I lived there. It was not easy but in some ways I want to think well maybe I, in some small way I spread a few seeds.
Élise Desaulniers: Well I think that’s what happened because when you look at the history, there’s like you start to go from the beginning, there’s always somebody saying hey I had this neighbor I got this roommate twenty years ago and she told me; that’s my guess I had a German roommate and I thought she was crazy but I remember what she told me and her arguments came back twenty years after when I read the book. So yeah every little seed is important.
Caryn Hartglass: You mentioned Lyon, and I told the story before but when I lived in France I was in Lyon first before I went to Aix-en-Provence. My boyfriend at the time wanted to celebrate my birthday so he called Chez Bocuse, are you familiar with that restaurant? It’s world renowned. So two weeks in advance he asked “could you serve a vegetarian”, like me, they said “sure no problem.” Two days before, he sent a fax to remind them and we showed up and they had no clue who we were. The dinner was a disaster and they charged an arm and a leg. The French don’t normally really want to be confrontational or argue in a restaurant scenario but my boyfriend did talk to the maître d’hotel and told him the problem and this guy was trying to explain, “we have twenty five chefs in the kitchen we can’t possibly do anything for you.” I mean in made no sense, it was the middle of the week, nobody was there. But I’m sure even in that restaurant they could probably do something better today.
Élise Desaulniers: Well now we have a chef in Montreal and he used to work for Bocuse and now he’s working for Normand Laprise, he’s like the best chef in Montreal and this guy is vegan. You can hire him to cook at your place if you want but that’s interesting you mentioned vegetalien, in French we have two words for vegan; we have “vegan” and we have “vegetalien” and it’s so complicated… well it’s French.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s always the French word and then the other word that everyone uses, but Élise, I’m sorry we’re out of time.
Élise Desaulniers: Oh no.
Caryn Hartglass: Believe it or not already so thank you very much for joining me please check out the book Cash Cow, love the title and learn more about why you don’t want to consume dairy and if you have family and friends who are consuming dairy maybe you want to share this book with them, ok thank you for joining me Élise.
Élise Desaulniers: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m Caryn Hartglass you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food you can find me at responsibleeatingandliving.com we’re you can find a phenomenal cashew cheese fondue recipe I recommend for Halloween and anytime any great party email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and remember have a delicious week.
Trancribed by Lara Allan, 12/21/2015