Issue No. 5

Photo: Matt Lamers/Unsplash

Photo: Matt Lamers/Unsplash

Animals

Animal-Free Pet Food

In good news for farmed animals used as ingredients in pet food, a recent study found 27% of people feed their companion animals a plant-based diet. “When you think of the actual number of pets involved, that’s huge,” said lead author, Dr. Sarah Dodd, OVC, University of Guelph. https://news.uoguelph.ca

Food

Another Myth Exploded

One barrier to eating plant-based food is the belief that it is more expensive. However, a recent study of the new Canada Food Guide, by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, showed a Canadian family of four would save, on average, 6.8% annually by switching to a plant-based diet. https://www.dal.ca

Climate Change

Transition is Happening

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says one-third of the world’s electricity is now generated from renewable sources (84% of which comes from wind and solar). Not surprising then, the two fastest growing jobs in the US are solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians.

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speaking words of wisdom

“We are breaking nature’s connections at our peril, yet break them we do and at ever increasing speed. Nature once determined how we survive, now WE determine how nature survives.”

-- Sir David Attenborough’s speech

to the IMF, April 2019

perspective

The Temptation to Partake in “Climate Compensation”

(and why it doesn’t work)

As more of us become aware of what constitutes environmentally-friendly behavior e.g., eating less meat and dairy, and what doesn’t e.g., flying off on vacation; new research, published in “Frontiers in Psychology”, challenges a common belief that we can offset the harm caused by one by engaging in eco-friendly deeds like buying organic food. Unfortunately, this is a misconception. It is based on the way the human brain is conditioned to think in terms of “give-and-take”, because this typically leads to successful social interactions. However, as far as the environment is concerned, this thinking leads us to wrongly assume our choices are either good or bad, and that they can compensate for one another or balance each other out. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case because all consumption causes permanent environmental harm.

The truth is environmentally-friendly choices are not “good” for the environment, they are just less harmful and so they don’t compensate for more harmful ones. “Jetting to the Caribbean will make you a huge environmental burden, no matter how many meat-free Mondays you have,” says the study’s lead author, Patrick Sorqvist, Professor of Environmental Psychology, University of Gävle, Sweden. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00348/full

Belief in “climate compensation” is pervasive and used by many to assuage so-called “eco-guilt”. However, it turns out, the best thing we can do is consume less overall. 

on the horizon

“Following the money” is often a good indicator of future trends so it’s worth noting how many of the world’s big food and meat companies are now investing in plant-based and lab-grown meats. Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, has just debuted its plant-based “Incredible Burger” in Europe, and plans to roll out the “Awesome Burger” in the US later this year. Meanwhile, Tysons, the US’s largest meat producer, has invested in start-up clean meat companies, Memphis Meats and Future Meat Technologies, and recently announced it will be introducing its own plant-based product line later this year. Similarly, another giant, Perdue Farms, is looking at producing its own line of plant-based products, and Canadian meat company, Maple Leaf Foods, has announced it is building the largest plant-based protein plant in North America (in Indiana), with production expected to start in 2020.

According to the Humane League, 94% of the 130 billion land animals raised and killed for food each year worldwide, spend their entire lives enduring the horrendous conditions of factory farms. And people are becoming increasingly aware, not only of this, but of the associated environmental and public health issues e.g., Green House Gas emissions which are driving global warming, antibiotic resistance, billions of tons of hazardous animal waste, water, air and soil pollution, and the destruction of wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

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Plant-based meat alternatives are becoming more widely available and getting tastier all the time such that their appeal now extends well beyond those who avoid meat altogether to those who are interested in just reducing their meat consumption. However, this emerging market needs the big food companies to get involved to take it mainstream and fast. Choosing to eat less meat is one of the most powerful ways an individual can combat global warming and, of course, spare the animals.

These companies wouldn’t be investing in this space if they didn’t see significant potential for growth so it’s one of the strongest signals yet that our food system is changing. Add to that, investor reaction to this week’s IPO from plant-based food company, Beyond Meat, which made it a multi-billion dollar company overnight, and we may be looking at the future of protein. Source: https://Vox.com

the deeper dive

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the challenge

There’s broad consensus among climate scientists that it’s already too late to prevent an average increase of 1.5°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels by only lowering our Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Not only do we need to de-carbonize our economies – a huge task in itself – but we need to implement ways to draw down the CO2 that’s already been released into the atmosphere.

the response

A new initiative focusing on restoring crucial ecosystems to draw CO2 out of the air was announced last month. Led by writer and environmentalist, George Monbiot, “Natural Climate Solutions” is a neglected approach having received only 2.5% of mitigation funds so far despite a recent estimate it could supply approximately one-third of GHG mitigation between now and 2030. Visit https://www.naturalclimate.solutions for more information and be sure to watch the video.

Examples of restorations include:

1.     Protect and restore natural forests. 

2.     Restore coastal habitats e.g., salt marshes and sea grass beds (they store carbon 40 times faster than tropical forests). 

3.     Restore peaty soils. 

4.     Protect natural sea beds from trawling (described by author and marine biologist, Jonathan Balcombe, as the marine equivalent of clear-cutting rain forests).

Issue 5 pangolin

the plight of the pangolin

Most people don’t know this small, shy mammal is the most illegally trafficked animal in the world. Despite its protected status, some 67 countries are implicated in its global trade. The largest shipment ever: 13 tonnes of scales (approx 17,000 animals), worth $52 million, was seized in Singapore just last month.

The scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine but, as they’re made of keratin (like hair and nails), there’s no scientific basis for the medicinal claims.

Photo: Angus Hart

good news

1.  Our January issue promoted the use of Ecosia as a search engine so that a tree is planted for every search. To-date, Ecosia has sponsored the planting of 50 million trees globally to absorb CO2. In Uganda -– working with the Jane Goodall Institute -- this program also creates forest corridors that protect chimpanzee habitat. It’s not too late to switch! Visit www.ecosia.org 

2. China recently announced an end to animal testing of cosmetics (post market) for all international and domestic products. Michelle Thiew, chief executive of Cruelty Free International, said “This is an enormous step in the right direction.” Australia recently outlawed animal testing of cosmetics completely, and Bill S-214, Cruelty Free Cosmetics Act, was recently introduced in the House of Commons moving Canada one step closer to banning this cruel and outdated practice. 

3. Turkish airlines will no longer transport African grey parrots on its planes. Most of them are transported illegally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This will help reduce the accessibility and acceptability of having these highly intelligent birds as pets. Credit to World Animal Protection’s campaign, “Wildlife not Pets”. www.worldanimalprotection.ca .

data points

  • Over 100 US cities have

    now committed to 100%

    renewable electricity.

  • Costa Rica ran on

    renewable energy for 300

    days straight in 2018.

  • Renewable sources of

    energy could be as cheap

    or cheaper than regular

    sources by 2020 according

    to IRENA.

  • Indonesia, the world’s

    second biggest plastic

    polluter, plans to cut 70%

    of its marine plastic debris

    by 2025 to prevent killing

    wildlife and water pollution.

  • Lions have gone extinct in

    26 African nations.

resources

New Campaigns

1. Compassion in World Farming has launched “Rethink Fish” at www.ciwf.org.uk/ourcampaign/re-thinkfish/

2. Greenpeace is putting pressure on cities and universities to adopt sustainable food policies focusing on plant-rich foods and less meat. Visit www.lessismore.greenpeace.org/cities. Some examples: Copenhagen has increased the number of plant-based food alternatives at public institutions; and Lille, France, has mandated two vegetarian meals a week in public schools.

Want to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint?

1.  Go to www.carbonfootprint.com

2. Want to estimate the emissions for your next trip? Go to www.icao.int (International Civil Aviation Organization) and use their carbon emissions calculator under “Tools” in the Environmental Protection section.

*Editor’s Note: “Planet Friendly News” hit the road in April to give presentations on the carbon footprint of animal agriculture. Recent blogs focus on the lack of political will to address climate change, our incredibly shrinking carbon footprint, and five reasons for hope. Visit https://www.planetfriendlynews.com and “like” us on Facebook if you support sharing vital information that doesn’t get the coverage it deserves.

Thank you!