Issue No. 8

Photo: Jose Llamas/Unsplash

Photo: Jose Llamas/Unsplash

Animals

A First for Farmed Animal Welfare

One million people signed the #EndTheCageAge European Citizens Initiative (ECI) petition. It was launched by more than 170 organizations, including Animal Equality, to end living in cages for European farmed animals. 300 million animals including 82% of chickens and 98% of cows used to breed, spend their lives confined.

 

Food

Give Peas a Chance

The biggest threat to our food system is climate change and the UN tells us we’ll need 50% more food to feed 10 billion people by 2050.  Demand for meat and dairy is expected to increase by nearly 70% and ruminant meat by 88% (cows, goats and sheep). This means we’ll need to change how our food is grown e.g., not get meat from a live animal but from plant-based protein or by growing it in a bioreactor. World Resources Institute

Climate Change

We Hate to Make This About Us But …

Planet Friendly News is partnering with a global network of media outlets to ramp up coverage of the climate crisis ahead of the UN’s Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept 23. Led by the Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation and The Guardian, “Covering Climate Now” will focus on how people and institutions can drive change to tackle the crisis. For more, see our July 27 blog at www.planetfriendlynews.com and visit www.cjr.org.

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speaking words of wisdom

“We must do everything we possibly can sooner than we think we can, and more brilliantly than we think possible.”

— Paul Hawken, author of “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming”.

“The biggest thing that most of us do to contribute to climate change is to assume that what we do does not really matter .”

— Karen O’Brien, Professor at the University of Oslo, and co-founder of www.cchange.no

Photo: Scarlet Tanager,

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on the horizon

Next Up: Lab Grown, Animal-Free Ice Cream

Previous issues of Planet Friendly News have brought you stories on lab-grown or cultured “clean” meat, lab-grown seafood and now it’s the turn of ice cream. People are already becoming familiar with the plant-based or non-dairy versions of milk, yoghurt, cheese and ice cream as demand for these products continues to grow. However, there’s a new generation of products about to enter the market which may mean that we can have our ice cream and eat it too!

Biotech start up, Perfect Day, is brewing ice cream from yeast but, here’s the kicker, it tastes like the real thing because it is the real thing. “What we’re doing here is completely new to the world,” says Ryan Pandya, biochemist and co-founder of Perfect Day, along with Perumal Gandhi. And it’s all part of creating a more sustainable food system for the planet. See their website www.perfectdayfoods.com  for more details. They are using flora fermentation to make the milk proteins – casein and whey -- without using a cow. Flora-based, animal-free dairy protein uses much less water, less energy, less land and emits far fewer greenhouse gases by reducing the need for methane-producing cattle.

This means the product is also cruelty-free without the use of factory farms. And, it’s also free from lactose, hormones, pathogens and cholesterol which can negatively impact human health.

A limited edition of the product sold out online to the first 1,000 customers. Even at US$20 a pint, the Milky Chocolate, Vanilla Salted Fudge, and Vanilla Blackberry Toffee flavours sold out within hours. Perfect Day is already setting its sights on bringing a whole new variety of animal-free-dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurts into the food stream by partnering with other food and dairy companies around the world to help these brands improve their sustainability. They are also working with governments and non-profits to provide environmentally sustainable and affordable protein to undernourished populations around the world -- including to regions where conditions are unfavourable for dairy farming.

The day when we leave a kinder, greener footprint on the planet is indeed a Perfect Day.  

perspective

The Beef With Beef

Photo: Eric Herni/Unsplash

Photo: Eric Herni/Unsplash

As record-breaking heatwaves make headlines around the world, more people are learning about the connection between what we eat and global heating. And there is more evidence that consuming beef, one of the highest carbon footprint foods, is a significant contributor. While the health risks of eating red meats are well known, a report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) www.wri.org shows there are climate benefits from eating less beef too.

The FAO (the UN’s agricultural agency), says animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of global GHG emissions (more than all global transportation combined). Beef is responsible for almost half of these which come from two sources: the production cycle; and land use changes. Beef production is a resource intensive industry using huge amounts of land, water, energy and feed crops and is inefficient compared with other foods e.g., beef requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more GHGs per gram of protein than common plant proteins such as beans and peas.

Land use changes are also a factor because beef is a global market and demand is still increasing.  This means that producers will raze rainforests and woody savannas in the developing world for more crop land and pasture, which releases carbon stored in forests and contributes to global heating. “An increase in US beef consumption can result in deforestation in Latin America,” says the WRI report. “An acre of land devoted to food production is often an acre that could store more carbon if allowed to grow forest or its native vegetation.” Most estimates of national carbon footprints of animal agriculture focus on production and don’t take into account the global carbon impact of land use changes.   

Most forecasts on reducing global heating to stay within the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 – 2°C, assume we’ll halt deforestation soon.  A business-as-usual scenario in which demand for ruminant meat increases by 88% by 2050 will need another 1 billion acres of agricultural land (roughly the size of India). WRI says unless we change the trajectory for meat consumption, the resulting deforestation and increased GHG emissions mean these goals won’t be met.

The WRI report says reducing our consumption of beef to 1.5 burgers a week per person would eliminate the need for more agricultural land and the resulting deforestation, even in a world of 10 billion people. So, throw some plant-based burgers on the barbie this summer and slow down global heating.   

the deeper dive

The Future of Food is Trending Meatless

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the challenge

How can consumers adapt their diets to reduce our food’s impact on the climate crisis, reduce environmental damage and animal suffering, to support the sustainable food system we need to feed 10 billion people by 2050?

the response

A new report, by A. T. Kearney, predicts that in about 20 years, plant-based and cultured meats will be 60 percent of the market for meat as consumers switch to lower carbon, healthier diets. The animal agriculture industry will be eclipsed by innovative alternative proteins due to its own inefficiency, high carbon footprint, and changing consumer tastes.

“Nearly half of the worldwide harvest is required to feed the livestock population.”  This conversion of 46% of worldwide crop production into meat produces less than 7% of worldwide available food calories. “We could feed around twice as many humans with today’s global harvest if we did not feed livestock but rather consumed the yield ourselves.” This means that based on the current population of 7.6 billion, we could feed an additional seven billion people.  

The report, at www.atkearney.com, cites multiple challenges for the traditional meat industry including the pressures of increasing human population, less arable land available due to climate change and urban expansion, huge demand for water, its role in the rise of antibiotic resistance and consumer attitudes such as zero tolerance for animal harm.

“Industrialized meat production faces an image problem and the large-scale livestock industry is viewed by many as an unnecessary evil.” The report says that, “scandals involving feces — and the handling of those scandals by the meat industry — have contributed to consumers losing their appetite for factory-farmed meat”. Plant-based meat and clean/cultured meat products have a much higher protein conversion ratio (70-75% vs 15% for traditional meat products), a significantly lower carbon footprint and are not responsible for antibiotic resistance, pollution or concerns about animal welfare. The report predicts strong growth for plant-based meat until 2030 after which clean meat will outgrow plant-based meats. The appetite for traditional meat products will shrink from 90% market share in 2025 to 40% by 2040.

Plant-based meat “will be most relevant in the transition phase to cultured meat.” But the report adds cultured meat has the most market potential because traditional meat consumers can consume clean meat and avoid concerns about the carbon footprint, environmental impact or animal welfare issues of traditional meat products. It is another warning that the factory farming model of industrial agriculture will soon collapse under the weight of its own baggage.

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now some giraffes are endangered

The IUCN, the world’s authority on the conservation status of wild animals and plants, has declared Masai giraffes (a sub-species of giraffes) endangered due to illegal hunting and land use changes. There are now only 35,000 of these iconic animals left, their population having declined by 50% over the last 30 years. Receiving less attention than the decrease in numbers of elephants, rhinos and lions, there are now fewer giraffes than elephants remaining in Africa. They are poached for their hide, meat, bones and tails – the hair of which is being sold to an emerging market for jewellery. www.iucnredlist.org.

Photo: Sian Cooper/Unsplash

good news

1.   A coalition of environmentalists, farm workers, public health and food safety advocacy groups delivered a 100,000-signature petition to the US Congress in July calling for a Green New Deal “that fixes our food system” to combat the climate crisis. The petition notes that in addition to being a top generator of jobs, the US food and farming sector is a top generator of planet-heating emissions and we cannot solve the climate crisis without taking food and agriculture into account. Common Dreams

2. Richard Branson’s travel company, Virgin Holidays, announced it will no longer offer tickets or packages to SeaWorld and other tourist attractions featuring captive whales and dolphins, effective July 31.

3. Vegan (wool-free) tennis balls anyone? Animal-free racquet strings (often made from cow intestines)? A new company, Sheeps, launched in July, promises to make them available by 2020. There are 360 million tennis balls sold a year.

4. The UK now produces more power from renewable sources than fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. Reasons include: a dramatic decline in coal energy – from 30 – 3% in a decade, and an increase in the use of wind and solar from 1 – 19%. www.bbc.com/news/science-environment

Data points

1. We’re hearing the term “net zero carbon” a lot these days as governments and others make this pledge but what does it mean? It is the balancing of carbon emissions with carbon removal (capture and offsets) OR going carbon free.

2. What are climate scientists doing to lower their carbon footprints? Limiting flying to one short-haul flight every two – three years; eating less food and trying to eat vegetarian – ideally, vegan; buying only three new items of clothing a year (the average European buys 24); and, if possible, working a four-day week. They say we need action from everyone and governments won’t move unless we do. www.theguardian.com

3. How to picture the GHG emissions problem. Imagine your bathtub is Earth’s atmosphere, the water is CO2 and the tap is running. If you do nothing, the tub will overflow and wreck the house. What can you do? Turn down the tap i.e., reduce emissions by e.g., switching to renewable energy but, given time, the bathtub will still overflow so you will have to pull the plug i.e., remove CO2 with direct carbon capture e.g., planting trees. www.theguardian.com

reducing our carbon footprint

The average Ontarian causes about 11 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually – about twice the global average – ouch! More than half of that carbon footprint comes from just four activities: driving, heating our homes, flying, and eating beef. For most people, the opportunities to reduce the most emissions are in those same four activities. Individual actions, on their own, are not enough to protect our global climate, but they are a great place to start.

driving heating flying beef

Source: Ontario government, www.saxefacts.com

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*Editor’s note: We continue to focus – in this newsletter, on Facebook and in our weekly blogs on planetfriendlynews.com -- on the climate crisis, innovations in our food system and updates on key indicators of planetary health. We’re now developing a social media strategy to better integrate and leverage our content across all of our platforms to make it accessible to a wider audience. Please keep sharing our posts and stories across your networks. We are getting great feedback, we are making a difference – thank you!

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