PCRM 2012: The Year in Review
Kickstart Reaches China, India, and Latin America
New international versions of PCRM’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart introduce vegan diets to people around the world with meat- and dairy-free versions of traditional recipes. The Chinese-language 21-Day Healthy Challenge launched in March, and the Spanish-language Vegetariano en 21 Dias began in October. In October, PCRM also conducted the live, three-day Kickstart Intensive. In 2013, the original Kickstart—as well as the Indian, Chinese, and Spanish versions—will begin running monthly.
Helping School Lunches Make the Grade
Despite new federal legislation that mandates school lunches be made more healthful, there is still plenty of room for improvement. PCRM’s Let’s Really Move print ads in Washington, D.C., featured children asking that milk, cheese, and hot dogs, which contribute to obesity, diabetes, and cancer, be moved out of school lunches. PCRM also petitioned the federal government to remove milk as a required food from the NSLP, because it does not improve bone health and is the No. 1 source of saturated fat in children’s diets. In the “Does Your School Lunch Get an A+?” print ad, Wyntergrace Williams tells students how to power up their bodies and brains with low-fat, plant-based options, such as those highlighted in PCRM’s eighth School Lunch Report Card and 2012 Golden Carrot Awards.
Here’s the Poop on Chicken
From uncovering fecal contamination on chicken products to exposing hospitals with the most unhealthful food, PCRM’s nutrition reports help consumers make informed choices. This year’s reports included the Worst Hospital Food Environments, Five Amazingly Unhealthy Super Bowl Fast Foods, Five Heartbreaking Valentine’s Day Foods, the Five Worst School Breakfasts, Fecal Contamination in Retail Chicken Products, the Five Worst “Healthy” Fast-Food Kids Meals, the School Lunch Report Card, the Airport Food Review, and the Five Worst Cookbooks of 2012.
Reaching New Health Care Professionals
PCRM’s new Physicians-in-Training page offers resources to help medical students understand how diet changes can prevent and reverse chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. And the new “Resources for Physicians and Other Health Care Professionals” flier helps health care professionals learn how to access PCRM’s newly updated NutritionCME.org, order literature for their office or waiting room, receive medical news updates, and join PCRM.
Food for Life Classes Expand to 10 Countries and a New Website
PCRM’s Food for Life program, which prepares instructors to teach plant-based cooking and nutrition classes for disease prevention and weight loss, now has classes in 39 states, the District of Columbia, and 10 countries. The Food for Life program also launched FFLClasses.org this year, which brings together listings for classes, nutrition news, and information about teaching the classes.
PCRM completed a study at 10 Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) regional offices to examine the effect of a worksite-based, low-fat vegan diet program on weight, diabetes, cholesterol, and absenteeism. Findings from the study were presented in poster sessions at the annual American Diabetes Association and Obesity Society conferences. The results were also submitted for publication in three peer-reviewed scientific journals.
PCRM also conducted the first phase of two 36-week studies examining the effects of a low-fat vegan diet on rheumatoid arthritis and migraine pain. Recruiting is underway for three new studies in 2013 on rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, and diabetic neuropathy.
Doing Away with Diabetes
A low-fat, plant-based diet is PCRM’s prescription for diabetes prevention and treatment. Caroline Trapp, M.S.N., C.D.E., PCRM’s director of diabetes education and care, spent 2012 spreading that message to health care professionals and the general public. Trapp was a guest speaker at the American College of Nurse Practitioners Clinical Conference and the American Association of Diabetes Educators National Meeting and published a key article in the journal Diabetes Spectrum. In 2013, Trapp will continue PCRM’s outreach to Native Americans with a new educational DVD.
Humanizing Medical Education
More pediatrics residency programs stopped using animals in invasive procedures thanks to PCRM. Among them, East Carolina University no longer uses ferrets, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center quit using cats. A PCRM demonstration and petition, as well as a letter from former The Price Is Right host Bob Barker, asked the University of Virginia to stop using cats in its program. It is one of the 2 percent of programs that continue to use animals.
PCRM has spent years promoting nonanimal education methods, which are now exclusively used by 98 percent of Advanced Trauma Life Support programs. To encourage ATLS programs at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts and Hartford Hospital in Connecticut to “End Deadly Pig Labs,” PCRM filed legal petitions and led “Switch to Simulation” demonstrations.
PCRM also successfully pushed the University of Virginia and the Medical College of Wisconsin to use nonanimal methods instead of live animals for medical education.
Stopping Military Trauma Training on Animals
At two Capitol Hill briefings organized by PCRM, members of Congress watched as doctors discussed how trauma simulators can improve the U.S. military’s care of wounded service members. The devices feature lifelike skin, anatomically correct organs, breakable bones, and realistic blood flow. Thanks in part to PCRM government affairs manager Noah Gittell, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden introduced legislation that would end the military’s use of animals for trauma training.
Promoting Effective Research
PCRM invoked the Endangered Species Act in a complaint against a Harvard laboratory that neglected and killed two cotton-top tamarins, a critically endangered primate species. The legal action brought by PCRM director of legal affairs Mark Kennedy called for retiring the approximately 167 remaining cotton-top tamarins to sanctuaries. Harvard now says it will send the remaining tamarins—a critically endangered monkey species native to Colombia—to sanctuaries or wildlife refuges.
Cruelty-Free Chemicals and Cosmetics
PCRM continues to work with industry and the government to modernize chemical and cosmetics tests that are largely based on animal experiments. In an article in Toxicology in Vitro, PCRM director of regulatory testing issues Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H., outlined the need to replace animals with 21st-century testing methods. PCRM’s Roadmap to a Better Method workshop helped regulators and pesticide manufacturers learn about ways to replace animal skin absorption tests with a more human-relevant method. Because of PCRM’s advocacy, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a policy that could cut the number of birds used in pesticide tests by more than half.
PCRM also launched the Come Clean campaign to ask cosmetics companies to reveal if they perform skin irritation and corrosion tests on rabbits, so PCRM can help them transition to superior, cruelty-free alternatives.
Celebrities Join PCRM to End Chimpanzee Experimentation
Elizabeth Kucinich, PCRM’s director of government affairs, and PCRM’s legislative team worked hard for protections for chimpanzees used in invasive experiments. They were joined by Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, two of the many celebrities who asked Congress to ban the use of chimpanzees in animal testing. James Franco, Kevin Nealon, and Kristin Bauer spoke out in PCRM videos, while Alec Baldwin, Bill Maher, Monica Seles, Steve-O, and Jenna Dewan-Tatum showed their support with letters.
Critiquing Animal “Models”
The members of PCRM’s new research fellow program, Zeeshan Ali, Ph.D., Anne Bunner, Ph.D., Chanel Li, Ph.D., and Bingxuan Wang, Ph.D., critique animal experiments used to study human health and recommend superior nonanimal methods. When the FDA recently proposed animal testing for tobacco products, Wang’s op-ed opposing the testing appeared in The Washington Times.
Getting the Word Out
Publications across the globe printed articles by PCRM experts and supporters. “It’s time that everyone in the medical and scientific communities…admit that chimpanzee experiments are completely unnecessary,” wrote PCRM director of academic affairs John Pippin, M.D., in an op-ed in The Hill. Commentary against the military’s use of animals for trauma training appeared in The San Diego Union-Tribune and Northwest Florida Daily News. And op-eds against tobacco and cosmetics animal testing were published in The Washington Times and The Sydney Morning Herald, respectively.
Paula Deen’s health problems were discussed in a Newsday op-ed by PCRM director of nutrition education Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., and Boulder’s Daily Camera printed a letter on the dangers of red meat by Ulka Agarwal, M.D., PCRM’s chief medical officer and director of clinical research.
Widespread print, TV, radio, and blog coverage of PCRM’s campaigns included a Headline News interview with Mrs. Kucinich about PCRM’s efforts to end chimpanzee experimentation in the United States. The New York Times printed stories on PCRM’s survey showing demand for cruelty-free cosmetics and a report that found half the chicken sold in supermarkets is contaminated with feces.
USA Today, Time, CNN, the Associated Press, the U.K.’s Daily Mail, Politico, PBS, U.S. News & World Report, Fox News, The Hindu Times, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, and media around the world also reported on PCRM campaigns.
Public Displays Draw Attention
Eye-catching billboards and banners designed by PCRM’s publications department also drew public and media attention to nutrition and research campaigns.
PCRM’s “Hot-Dog Eaters, Save Your Buns” banner at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, “Warning: Hot Dogs Can Strike You Out—For Good” billboard in Kansas City, Mo., and “Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer” billboards in Miami and Chicago all warned of the link between hot dogs and colorectal cancer.
Prior to a PCRM demonstration against Baystate Medical Center’s use of pigs for trauma training, a Massachusetts billboard sent the message “Baystate Medical Center: Animal Cruelty Doesn’t Save Lives.” “End Deadly Pig Labs” and “Using Pigs to Teach Human Medicine?” signs carried by PCRM member doctors and local citizens rallied support at a demonstration against Hartford Hospital’s use of pigs in Connecticut.
PCRM’s recently launched Pinterest page features recipes, celebrity info, and PCRM victories against animal experiments. Its subscribers join PCRM’s 66,000 Facebook fans and 20,000 Twitter followers who share recipes and nutrition information, concerns about animal experiments, and ideas for advancing PCRM campaigns.