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VEGETARIAN ELITE Elizabeth Kucinich: Passionate Advocate for a Healthier United States and Beyond    
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Our guest today is a woman of remarkable passion, achievement, and intelligence, with an undisputed ability and determination to foster a more just and compassionate society. Her exceptional advocacy skills, expertise in international conflict resolution, and extensive worldwide humanitarian work give her a unique perspective on global affairs and a capacity to influence policy at the highest levels, to work towards a better United States and a more peaceful world.

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Today on Vegetarian Elite, we are proud to present Mrs. Elizabeth Kucinich, Director of Government Affairs for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and the beautiful wife of vegan US Congressman and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

My vision really is for a compassionate society, for people who truly are aware of their individual actions. Every single day, we can make a choice three times, if we are lucky enough to eat three times a day, we can vote with our pockets, what we buy, for a compassionate enlightened society.

Born in 1977 in England, Elizabeth Kucinich has been an ardent defender of human rights and advocate for animal welfare and environmental causes since childhood. At the age of 14, she boldly delivered a petition on animal rights to Parliament. Upon finishing high school, Elizabeth travelled to Agra in India where she worked as a volunteer at one of Mother Teresa’s homes for India’s least fortunate of children.

On returning to the UK, she majored in Religious Studies and Theology, and earned a Master of Arts in International Conflict Analysis, with the thesis in “Conflict Resolution in World Politics” at the University of Kent. As a young idealist, eager to improve the lives of the less fortunate, Elizabeth lived in a rural village in Tanzania for 16 months as an advocate for regional development. Her desire to be of service and her passion for human justice saw her volunteer with a refugee unit of the British Red Cross.

In her role as Director of Government Affairs for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Elizabeth combines her passion for the causes of world peace, animal rights, and health issues.

First of all, thank you both for promoting the vegan diet. Why do you feel PCRM is important?

PCRM is really the professional voice that’s advancing this. It’s just incredible that we have all these physicians who are willing to come to Washington to speak about the dietary issues and to promote them. It’s just amazing that PCRM has dedicated the last 25 years of its existence to promoting health for people that doesn’t cost so much. When you look at how you can reverse type-2 diabetes using a plant-based diet, that just takes thousands of dollars out of people’s pockets every single year. This is a free way to control things and it’s a very empowering thing for people to be following.

It’s a win, win, win situation: It's good for the environment; it's good for people; it's good for animals.

At the government level, Elizabeth is ideally placed to help influence and transform domestic and international policies across a range of health, social, environmental, and monetary reform agendas. She has been an advisor to the president of the 63rd United Nations General Assembly, and currently serves as a board director of a number of international organizations and an advisor for several education and community-building initiatives in East Africa.

We asked Elizabeth about some of the ongoing projects of the PCRM Legislative Fund.

We have been working a lot on child nutrition. We look at the role of the government policies in the food availability, and the nutrition programs that there are. We’re really trying to get plant-based options onto every school lunch line so that children really have a chance with their health. And obviously we know that plant-based options are the way forward, not only for health, but for animal welfare, and for the environment too. And we are starting a new campaign, which is around agricultural policy of the United States. And we are trying to stop the subsidies, which go directly to meat and dairy, enabling factory farms to be economically viable.

PCRM’s report on “Agriculture and Health Policies in Conflict – How Food Subsidies Tax our Health” highlights the rift between the government’s own dietary and nutrition guidelines and the direction of its spending on agricultural food subsidies. Together with PCRM’s Founding President, vegan Shining World Compassion Award Laureate, Dr. Neal Barnard, Elizabeth works to realign the government’s policies on agricultural subsidies with its policies on health and nutrition to redirect federal funding away from harmful meat and dairy products in favor of more health-giving fruit and vegetable production.

PCRM itself has been dealing with a number of research studies where we are testing and proving the benefits of a vegetarian and specifically a vegan diet (Right.) for people who want to lose weight, or improve diabetes, and I am happy to say that the work we have been doing not only helps individuals, but it’s been really helping policy makers to see a better way forward.

I think the next step is for the Congress to move forward to look at prevention of disease, which inevitably leads quite quickly to food, nutrition, diet. It's already happening thanks to the work of Elizabeth and Neal Barnard at PCRM.

Inspired by her Congressman husband’s healthy lifestyle, Elizabeth – a long time human-rights advocate and animal-protection champion – made the commitment to become vegan. Since joining PCRM in October 2009, Elizabeth has worked to raise awareness of the health benefits to be derived from a plant-based diet, such as the ability to reverse type-2 diabetes, along with other major health issues.

American policy or the government policies really need to be in alignment with what it is we want to achieve. When we look at the subsidizing of the feed crops, for example, that goes completely contrary to the nutrition guidelines they are advocating for people to eat. And so when we can change the priorities and the policies, so that they actually align with each other, then we can see a totally different population, a totally different government, and totally different economy as well.

The PCRM’s report notes that healthful food such as fruits and vegetables currently receive less than 1% of $16 billion per year allocated by Congress for agricultural subsidies, thereby contributing to the nation’s soaring medical problems and rising healthcare costs.

When we look at how many billions of dollars are spent on subsidizing unhealthy industries, which in turn then create very unhealthy outcomes in people’s bodies that again government and we in our own individual pockets have to pay to sort out our health problems and the environment problems that incur, it’s just going to be a win-win situation (Yeah.) when we really change this.

Exactly. I would just add, in America, people are eating more than a million animals every hour, and the figures are that much bigger when you look around the rest of the world. (Right.) So as Elizabeth was saying there are so many things to tackle, but the first place that people can really have a huge impact is at breakfast, so we are hoping that people will do that whether it’s for the animals’ sake or for their own.

The PCRM’s legislative group is also actively campaigning to ban experiments on chimpanzees. It has promoted the “Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act,” a bill that provides for the phasing out of the use of chimpanzees in invasive research in federally funded and private laboratories. The bill further provides for the release of the more than 500 federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries and prohibits the future breeding of chimpanzees for invasive research purposes.

We work on trying to get animals out of experiments and having new testing methods come in. We work on this with our physician members and with communities up and down the United States, making sure that legislative action is really effective.

We asked Elizabeth about the feedback and responses to PCRM’s work from legislators.

We are having very positive responses. It’s been really wonderful. Our “Child Nutrition Bill” was successful and we have had over 160 members sign on to the “Great Ape Protection Act,” and all of the campaigns are building profile.

Upon learning of Supreme Master Ching Hai’s extensive efforts toward the same noble causes, PCRM’s Director of Public Affairs Elizabeth Kucinich had invited her to the gathering of celebrities and philanthropists in support of government policies on non-animal testing ethical research as well as preventive medicine.

Although her schedule did not permit her to attend, Supreme Master Ching Hai sent a representative, while also contributing a US$50,000 donation for furthering the good work.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, it's an honor to be present here with all of you, the doctors, experts and the like- minded supporters who have done so much for promoting vegetarianism, clearly the healthy and the compassionate choice. Supreme Master Ching Hai has for almost 30 years encouraged people to adopt a plant-based diet out of love for all beings, humans and animals alike, and is thus ever appreciative of the shared ideas of Dr. Neal Barnard, Mrs. Elizabeth Kucinich and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Tonight with privilege, I would like to convey sincere thanks from the Supreme Master Ching Hai to PCRM. In the letter from the Supreme Master Ching Hai to Mrs. Kucinich, she said, “Along with my deep appreciation for your efforts, I would like to humbly contribute US$50,000 for…” Thank you.

“…for furthering the good work, and wishing you full support and Heaven’s blessing for the fruitful success of the occasion, and your continued tireless work to protect and cherish beings. All love and best wishes, Supreme Master Ching Hai.” Thank you.

Mrs. Kucinich and Dr. Barnard, among others, conveyed their appreciation to Supreme Master Ching Hai.

I would like to say thank you so much for your generosity, your vision for working for animals, the environment, for humanity, and for supporting the PCRM Legislative Fund. We really thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

I would just like to say thank you so much for really being an inspiration to so many people and for your support of the work that we are doing. It’s a long road ahead and I am delighted that we are working together.

We thank you, Elizabeth Jane Kucinich, for your wholehearted dedication and loving efforts to transform our world to a kinder and more enlightened society where all are graced with the knowledge and opportunity to live more healthful lives of peace and fulfilment.

Please visit Elizabeth.Kucinich.us and www.PCRM.org to learn more about Elizabeth Kucinich and her work with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

That concludes our show on the eminently capable, talented, and courageous champion for international peace and legislative reform Mrs. Elizabeth Kucinich. Gracious viewers, we appreciate your company today on Vegetarian Elite. Coming up next is Between Master and Disciples. May the light of Heaven grace your lives with wisdom, contentment, and joyful living in harmony with nature.
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