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Home arrow Going Vegetarian arrow Veg News Archive
Veg News Archive - 2009 Print E-mail
News Archive - 2009

(To return to the main Veg News Archive page click here.)

Index to the articles on this page:

     HEALTH & NUTRITION
          (UK) Vegetarian low protein diet could be key to long life (03/12/09)
          (US) Vegan 101: Can plant foods provide enough iron? (28/08/09)
          (US) Vegan diets build healthy bones (06/07/09)
          (UK) Vegetarians less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters (01/07/09)
          (UK) Johann Hari: Life-threatening disease is the price we pay for cheap meat (01/05/09)
          (US) Got Swine Flu? Don't Blame Vegetarians, or the Pigs (29/04/09)
          (US) A dietitian's advice for preventing swine flu: vegan sausages (29/04/09)
          (US) Pork lobby fighting off flu effects (28/04/09)
          (US) With Eye on Industry, Ag Secretary Stops Calling Outbreak 'Swine Flu' (28/04/09)
          (US) Can Kids Be Healthy Without Meat? (18/04/09)
          (AU) 'Good' bone health news for vegetarians (17/04/09)
          (AU) Soy could cut cancer risk (12/04/09)
          (US) Fish oil doesn't help heart attack patients in biggest study (30/03/09)
          (AU) Cancer alert on barbecue meat (24/03/09)
          (US) Scientist worries that meat may increase Alzheimer's risk (10/02/09)
          (CA/US) Vegan diet has surprising stick-to-it-iveness (04/02/08)
          (US) Factory farms breeding a superbug more deadly than AIDS (27/01/09)
          (FR) New study backs soy’s bone protection benefits (20/01/09)
     ANIMAL WELFARE
          (AU) Why we must ban export of live sheep (15/12/09)
          (US) Milk glut has dairy farmers killing hundreds of thousands of cows (27/10/09)
          (AU) A bloody mob of hypocrites (19/10/09)
          (AU) High noon on the range (29/09/09)
          (US) A Newborn Lamb Is Saved, Then Orphaned (23/09/09)
          (AU) Australian survey: Killing chicks 'unacceptable' (09/09/09)
          (US) Against dogfighting? But what about that hot dog? (19/08/09)
          (AU) Cracks appear for factory farming (17/08/09)
          (AU) Woolworths signals major shift to free-range eggs (14/08/09)
          (US) Animal Rights Prof Says No Way to Consume Meat in Humane Way (28/06/09)
          (US) Sobering Statistics About Factory Farming (18/06/09)
          (NZ) Comedian does U-turn on pork (17/05/09)
          (AU) Treatment of animals: litmus test for a nation (13/05/09)
          (AU) Kirby speaks out against animal cruelty (10/05/09)
          (US) Humanity even for nonhumans (08/04/09)
          (AU) Proposed Australian animal transport standards 'disappointing' (18/03/09)
          (US) 'The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food,' by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (16/03/09)
          (UK) Pork advert outlawed by watchdog (11/02/09)
          (US) Humane society challenges meat industry over new law (27/01/09)
          (US) Naturally raised - what it doesn't mean (22/01/09)
          (UK) Jamie Oliver says British public 'ignorant' about way pigs are reared (11/01/09)
     THE ENVIRONMENT
          (US) Looking for a Solution to Cows' Climate Problem (16/11/09)
          (AU) Turn vego to save planet: Gore (04/11/09)
          (AU) Drop meat for vegetarian diet to fight climate warming: Lord Stern (27/10/09)
          (UK) Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet (27/10/09)
          (US) To Cut Global Warming, Swedes Study Their Plates (22/10/09)
          (AU) CSIRO delivers real truth (06/10/09)
          (AU) CSIRO book's vegetarian advice enrages MP (28/09/09)
          (US) In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand (21/08/09)
          (AU) Iconic gum trees are dying: research (02/06/09)
          (US) Food vs. the environment: Getting to the meat of the problem (01/04/09)
          (AU) The meat in the global warming sandwich (23/03/09)
          (US) 'Low carbon diet' a healthy option for Earth (08/03/09)
          (US) Eat locally, or eat differently? (04/03/09)
          (AU) Livestock reform is just a greenhouse whisper (17/02/09)
          (US) Meat-Eating and Environmentalism Don't Mix (14/02/09)
          (UK) Eating less meat could cut climate costs (10/02/09)
          (UK) Rainforest razed so cattle can graze (31/01/09)
          (UK) Hospitals will take meat off menus in bid to cut carbon (26/01/09)
          (DE) German Government Advisory: Eat Meat Only on Special Occasions (24/01/09)
     MISCELLANEOUS
          (US) Coconut-Carrying Octopus: Tool Use in an Invertebrate (15/12/09)
          (US) Jonathan Safran Foer on the Morality of Vegetarianism (11/12/09)
          (AU) Anti-whalers swimming in hypocrisy (28/11/09)
          (US) Jonathan Safran Foer's 'Eating Animals' Book... (04/11/09)
          (IN) Vegan lifestyle holds key to a spiritually-evolved society (01/11/09)
          (US) Make meat-eaters pay: Ethicist proposes radical tax... (25/10/09)
          (US) Killing fields: the true cost of Europe's cheap meat (13/10/09)
          (US) Getting real about the high price of cheap food (21/08/09)
          (US) A vegan's take on PETA's Unhappy Meal campaign against McDonald's (11/08/09)
          (UK) Food crisis could force wartime rations and vegetarian diet on Britons (10/08/09)
          (UK) The meat heaters: 5,000 tons of unsold Tesco cuts a year are being burned... (06/08/09)
          (US) The low cost of chickens (20/07/09)
          (UK) New film exposes unsavoury side of US food industry (14/06/09)
          (AU) A meat-free revolution to help save the planet (15/05/09)
          (BE) Belgian city plans 'veggie' days (12/05/09)
          (AU) Chop or change (19/04/09)
          (US) Faith in our food choices (03/03/09)
          (US) Is it possible to be a conscientious meat eater? (18/02/09)
          (US) Why you should become a vegetarian (06/02/08)

----------

 

HEALTH & NUTRITION

(UK) Vegetarian low protein diet could be key to long life (03/12/09)

A vegetarian diet could be the key to a long life, a new study suggests.
Reducing consumption of a protein found in fish and meat could slow the ageing process and increase life expectancy, according to the research.
Scientists have long believed that an ultra low calorie diet - approximately 60 per cent of normal levels - can lead to greater longevity.
But now a team of British researchers have discovered that the key to the effect is a reduction in a specific protein and not the total number of calories.
That means that by reducing foods that contain the protein - such as meat, fish and certain nuts - people should live longer without the need to cut down on meals.
Dr Matthew Piper, from the Institute of Healthy Ageing at University College London, said that a vegetarian diet could be one way to achieve the effect.
Full story:
www.telegraph.co.uk

(US) Vegan 101: Can plant foods provide enough iron? (28/08/09)

It's a myth that vegan diets are low in iron. Studies show that vegans consume at least as much iron as omnivores and sometimes more. Vegans definitely have an advantage over lacto-ovo vegetarians when it comes to iron since dairy foods don’t contain this mineral. It’s true, however, that iron from plant foods isn't absorbed as well as from animal foods.
Most iron is found in hemoglobin, the blood component responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Much of the rest of it is stored in the liver, spleen and bone marrow as a form of iron called ferritin.
Vegans tend to have lower iron stores than omnivores, but there is actually no known advantage to having higher stores of iron. In fact, there is some evidence that the lower iron stores seen in those eating plant-based diets is associated with better glucose tolerance which could reduce risk for diabetes. If stores drop below what is normal, however, hemoglobin production is affected. Low hemoglobin values indicate iron deficiency.
Full story:
www.examiner.com

(US) Vegan diets build healthy bones (06/07/09)

Vegans and bone health: It’s a controversy that isn’t going to go away any time soon. Studies on the topic have been conflicting and the sample sizes have been small, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions.
So, to get a better idea about the effects of vegetarian and vegan diets on bone health, researchers from Vietnam and Australia combined the results from existing studies into a meta-analysis.
They found that vegans had slightly lower bone density than meat-eaters. How much lower? Well, not enough to matter according the researchers. While news outlets reported that “vegetarian diets weaken bones,” that’s not at all what the researchers said.
...
Other studies have found that when bone density among vegans is lower, it is simply due to lower calcium intake. That means that some vegans don’t pay enough attention to good calcium choices. It doesn’t mean that vegans can’t get enough calcium. Boosting calcium intake on a vegan diet is easy. And plant sources of calcium have some additional benefits for bone health.
Based on the available evidence, there is no reason to believe that vegans who eat a well-balanced diet are at greater risk for osteoporosis than anyone else.
Full story:
www.examiner.com

(UK) Vegetarians less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters (01/07/09)

Vegetarians are 12 per cent less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters, according to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer today.
In a study of more than 61,000 people, Cancer Research UK scientists from Oxford followed meat eaters and vegetarians for over 12 years, during which 3,350 of the participants were diagnosed with cancer.
They found that the risk of being diagnosed with cancers of the stomach, bladder and blood was lower in vegetarians than in meat eaters.
The most striking difference was in cancers of the blood including leukaemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The risk of these diseases was 45 per cent lower in vegetarians than in meat eaters.
Full story:
http://info.cancerresearchuk.org

(UK) Johann Hari: Life-threatening disease is the price we pay for cheap meat (01/05/09)

A swelling number of scientists believe swine flu has not happened by accident. No: they argue that this global pandemic - and all the deaths we are about to see - is the direct result of our demand for cheap meat. So is the way we produce our food really making us sick as a pig?
...
To understand how this might happen, you have to compare two farms. My grandparents had a pig farm in the Swiss mountains, with around 20 swine at any one time. ...
Now compare this to what happens when a virus evolves in a modern factory farm. In most swine farms today, 6,000 pigs are crammed snout-to-snout in tiny cages where they can barely move, and are fed for life on an artificial pulp, while living on top of cess-pools of their own stale faeces.
...
It's no coincidence that we have seen a sudden surge of new viruses in the past decade at precisely the moment when factory farming has intensified so dramatically. For example, between 1994 and 2001, the number of American pigs that live and die in vast industrial farms in the US spiked from 10 per cent to 72 per cent. Swine flu had been stable since 1918 - and then suddenly, in this period, went super-charged.
How much harm will we do to ourselves in the name of cheap meat? We know that bird flu developed in the world's vast poultry farms. And we know that pumping animal feed full of antibiotics in factory farms has given us a new strain of MRSA. It's a simple, horrible process. The only way to keep animals alive in such conditions is to pump their feed full of antibiotics. But this has triggered an arms race with bacteria, which start evolving to beat the antibiotics - and emerge as in the end as pumped-up, super-charged bacteria invulnerable to our medical weapons. ...
...
We always knew that factory farms were a scar on humanity's conscience - but now we fear they are a scar on our health. If we carry on like this, bird flu and swine flu will be just the beginning of a century of viral outbreaks. As we witness a global pandemic washing across the world, we need to shut down these virus factories - before they shut down even more human lives.
Full story:
www.independent.co.uk

(US) Got Swine Flu? Don't Blame Vegetarians, or the Pigs (29/04/09)

While the world is agog over international transmission of the swine flu, let me take this teachable moment to remind people, animals bite back. Factory farming of pigs led to this latest swine flu epidemic, which is threatening to turn into a pandemic. No, people don't get swine flu from eating pork. But the disease is transmitted to humans, usually, via humans (pig farmers) who work with the animals...
For decades, FDA approved antibiotics have been fed to pigs, chickens, all so called farmed animals, to prevent them from getting ill (non-therapeutic) in the filth, stress, unnatural conditions that they are forced to endure.
It was discovered that when on drug cocktails of these antimicrobials, the animals also got bigger sooner (like kids today maturing too soon) and the industry could slaughter them faster, saving feed costs, a win-win for agribusiness and the pharmaceutical giants that sell at least half of all antibiotics to animal agribusiness. Welcome then, emerging strains of viruses and bacteria, Salmonella, E-Coli, Listeria, all becoming so virulent, when humans get sick, nothing works anymore. Even MRSA is related to anti-biotic resistance. We SURE are what we eat.... 
Full story:
www.usnews.com

(US) A dietitian's advice for preventing swine flu: vegan sausages (29/04/09)

Many of my fellow dietitians have jumped into the swine flu discussion with assurances that it is safe to eat pork. Swine flu, they say, is not transmitted through ham, bacon and other meats from pigs.
But, of course, it’s the production of these foods that gave us swine flu in the first place. Huge demands for pork and other meats can be met only by efficient production on factory farms, where animals are kept in the type of cruel and unhealthy confinement that gives rise to disease. So while eating pork may not directly cause swine flu, the demand for pork does cause it.
Moving away from meat and other factory-farmed products like dairy and eggs is the only responsible and meaningful response to diseases like swine flu. And happily, there are some great foods on the market to help consumers do this.
Full story:
www.examiner.com

(US) Pork lobby fighting off flu effects (28/04/09)

Pork producers are pushing back against suggestions from public interest groups that the flu virus popping up across the world may have been caused by factory farms in Mexico.
If the farms, based in the Mexican province of Veracruz, are determined to be the source of the swine flu, watchdogs expect to argue for increased regulation of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Groups like the Humane Society of the United States, an animal rights organization, have long battled for better conditions for pigs and other livestock on the farms, saying their poor treatment can lead to disease and environmental concerns.
“We want to see what the precise origin of this virus is. If it was a factory farm, that is strong information that policymakers should take a careful look at,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society. “We have longstanding concerns about hog factories, from the conditions for the animals to the environmental concerns.
This may elevate one argument we have long discussed with the American public.”
Full story:
http://thehill.com

(US) With Eye on Industry, Ag Secretary Stops Calling Outbreak 'Swine Flu' (28/04/09)

U.S. officials were on message today: It's no longer "swine flu" that Mexican and global health authorities are fighting, but the "2009 H1N1 virus outbreak."
"This really isn't swine flu. It's H1N1 virus," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at an afternoon news briefing with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"We want to say to consumers here and abroad that there is no risk to you, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that there is any link between consuming pork, prepared pork products, and the H1N1 virus," Kirk added.
Lest the point be lost, Napolitano threw in, "We are establishing an operations coordination task force to deal with the 2009 H1N1 outbreak."
The switch was anything but casual. International prices of U.S. pork, corn and soybeans plummeted yesterday after Russia, China and the Philippines suspended pork imports from Mexico and some U.S. states where the virus has been detected, despite the absence of any link between pork consumption and the virus.
Full story:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com

(US) Can Kids Be Healthy Without Meat? (18/04/09)

When Bill and Jessica Baccus sit down to dinner, there may be meat on the table, but their 11-year-old son Elijah never eats it.
When kids refuse to eat meat, some parents worry about nutrition. That's because Elijah, like many other American kids, has decided to become a vegetarian. His mom says he made the choice at only 3 years old.
"I had a big, local, organic chicken... and he saw me cutting it, and it looked like a chicken," Jessica Baccus said. "And his little face crumbled. And he said, 'I thought chickens were our friends! I don't want to eat my friends!'"
Sarah Harlow, 7, has made the same decision - for the same reason.
"I ask my mom, 'What is this animal?' and she tells me, and then I don't really want to eat it," Harlow said.
Full story:
http://abcnews.go.com

(AU) 'Good' bone health news for vegetarians (17/04/09)

Vegetarians have been delivered some "very good news" in an Australian study of a group of strict vegan Buddhist nuns.
Bone density among the 105 nuns, who live in temples and monasteries across Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, was found to be the same as non-vegetarian women matched in every physical respect.
Sydney-based Professor Tuan Nguyen, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, collaborated with Dr Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from the Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University to undertake the research.
"We showed that although the vegans studied do indeed have lower protein and calcium intakes, their bone density is virtually identical to that of people who eat a wide variety of foods, including animal protein," Professor Nguyen says.
"For the five per cent of people in Western countries who choose to be vegetarians, this is very good news.
"Even vegans who eat only plant-based foods appear to have bones as healthy as everyone else."
Although Professor Nguyen and Dr Thuc Lan do not advocate a vegan diet, they say the study shows how fruits and vegetables are likely to have positive effects on bone health.
Full story:
http://news.theage.com.au

(AU) Soy could cut cancer risk (12/04/09)

Women who drink soya lattes, eat tofu sausages and prefer soy to cows' milk may be helping to reduce their risk of getting bowel cancer, research suggests.
Those, especially over-50s, who consume a lot of soy can "significantly" cut their risk of developing the disease, according to a study by the Vanderbilt University school of medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study on the diet and health of 68,412 women aged 40 to 70 in Shanghai concluded: "After adjustment for age, birth calendar year and total energy intake, consumption of soy foods was significantly associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. We found that risk of colorectal cancer decreased with increasing soy food intake, primarily among post-menopausal women."
Full story:
www.theage.com.au

(US) Fish oil doesn't help heart attack patients in biggest study (30/03/09)

Omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in the organs of oily fish including salmon and sardines, didn’t help heart attack patients prevent another cardiac event, a study found.
The report, presented today at the American College of Cardiology in Orlando, Florida, contradicts previous smaller studies that suggested a daily supplement may help ward off repeat heart attacks, strokes and death. After taking a gram of purified fatty-acid supplements each day for a year, patients in the latest research, the biggest of its kind, fared no better than those who were given olive oil. 
Full story:
www.bloomberg.com

(AU) Cancer alert on barbecue meat (24/03/09)

The Aussie tradition of a steak on the barbecue is in the gun, after a major dietary study found people who eat red meat are more likely to die from cancer or heart attack.
Barbecuing red meat was also the cooking method that caused the most cancer causing "carcinogens", experts have warned.
The US study looked at the diets of more than 500,000 people and a follow-up 10 years later found those who ate the most red, or processed, meat had a higher incidence of death.
Eating white meat - poultry or fish - did not have the same effect and was associated with a slightly decreased risk.
...
The study raised the question of what role meat should play in the diet, says Mark Wahlqvist, Director of the Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre at Victoria's Monash University.
He says that red meat in small amounts - even about an ounce or 30 grams daily - could make a significant difference to the risk of micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) deficiency.
"(But) the corollary is that a plant-based diet is a preferred orientation for food intake in the human species and many studies support this conclusion," Professor Wahlqvist says.
Full story:
www.theage.com.au
Related story:
http://washingtonpost.com

(US) Scientist worries that meat may increase Alzheimer's risk (10/02/09)

A scientist in DC has made a startling discovery: there is a chance that humans are increasing their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Type II diabetes by eating certain meats.
Misfolded (and thus improperly working) protein fragments known as amyloid fibrils are present in some animals. This fact is not new; misfolded proteins like amyloid fibrils have long been blamed for prion diseases such as mad cow. Michael Greger of The Humane Society of the United States in Washington, DC explained "that a biochemical mechanism akin to the replication of similar protein fragments in the brain diseases Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), scrapie, and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, might occur when amyloid fibrils enter brain tissue or the pancreas."
If it is true that humans are assimilating amyloid fibrils that target the brain and pancreas, then we may be inadvertently increasing the risk of AD or diabetes as well.
Full story:
www.examiner.com

(CA/US) Vegan diet has surprising stick-to-it-iveness (04/02/08)

A meat-free menu is easier to maintain and lowers blood sugar better than a traditional diabetes food plan, according to a new study
...
Is a vegan diet the new "non-diet"?
The question isn't if a diet works, but if it's sustainable. Any number of diets can lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol or promote weight loss over its initial three months. But the real winner is the one that can accomplish these tasks over the long term.
Enter the vegan diet - a low-fat eating plan that shuns all animal foods including meat, poultry, dairy and eggs. Such a diet has been shown to improve blood sugar in people with diabetes, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, promote weight loss and even help reverse heart disease.
A study published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association has concluded that a vegan diet - no calorie counting or measuring foods required - is easier to stick to than you might think.
...
People on the vegan diet lost weight, lowered their blood sugar and LDL cholesterol, and reduced the need for diabetes medication. Among people whose diabetes medications remained unchanged, those following a vegan diet achieved better blood-sugar control as indicated by bigger improvement in a blood test that measures hemoglobin A1c.
The fact that people assigned to the vegan diet ate as much as they wanted, increased their daily carbohydrate intake and still experienced favourable blood-sugar and weight-loss results may seem surprising. Researchers believe that a low-fat, plant-based diet improves how the body uses insulin. And because vegan diets are low in fat and high in fibre, they're typically lower in calories, which can facilitate weight loss and result in better blood-sugar control.
Sounds good so far, provided you can follow such a plan for the long term. According to this study, you can. While the vegan diet initially required a little more effort in meal preparation, this complaint was no longer heard at 18 months. In contrast, those following the standard diabetic diet reported more discomfort with restrictions such as watching calories and limiting portions of carbohydrate and fat.
Full story:
www.theglobeandmail.com

(US) Factory farms breeding a superbug more deadly than AIDS (27/01/09)

Last June, Iowa State researcher Tara Smith delivered preliminary results of a study linking the deadly, antibiotic-resistant virus MRSA to pigs in concentrated animal feedlot operations. MRSA kills something close to 20,000 Americans every year - more than AIDS. Now Smith's research has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Examining CAFOs scattered in Iowa and Illinois, Smith and her team found the MRSA strain in 49 per cent of pigs and 45 per cent of the workers who tend them. To keep animals alive while stuffed together by the thousands, standing in their own collected waste, it's evidently necessary to dose them with lots of antibiotics. CAFO conditions destroy animal's immune systems; antibiotics pick up the slack. Take them away, and the CAFO model might crumble.
Full story:
http://gristmill.grist.org

(FR) New study backs soy’s bone protection benefits (20/01/09)

Soy protein consumption could help protect against bone loss in post menopausal women, suggests a new study that adds to previous findings linking soy to bone health in women. Published in the December 2008 issue of Osteoporosis International, the study followed over 400 perimenopausal Chinese women for 30 months to investigate change in bone mineral density and its determinants. The findings revealed that the fastest bone loss occurred in women undergoing menopause - but that soy protein intake seemed to exert a positive effect on bone health, together with maintenance of body weight and physical fitness.
Full story:
www.nutraingredients.com

ANIMAL WELFARE

(AU) Why we must ban export of live sheep (15/12/09)

Australians may think of themselves as animal lovers, yet our laws allow many animals to suffer a lifetime of cruelty in the name of profit.
We are well behind world's best practice in this area, particularly Europe.
Here, millions of farmed animals such as pigs or chickens are still confined in restrictive cages that prevent them from moving, caring for their young, or acting out their innate instincts. They are forced to endure painful procedures such as de-beaking and castration.
Even companion animals like dogs are farmed en masse in cruel puppy farms and backyard breeding facilities to supply cheap puppies to pet shops and through classifieds. Dogs are kept in filthy conditions, bred continuously and then discarded.
Australia is the largest exporter of animals for slaughter; it sends 4 million live sheep to the Middle East every year. There is no question that this practice is cruel.
During the harrowing four-week journey animals crammed on boats commonly suffer heat stress and diseases such as scabby mouth, pink eye and salmonellosis.
Each year thousands die during the journey; more than 40,000 died last year.
Those animals that do survive the trip are cruelly dealt with in countries that either lack animal welfare laws, or else do not enforce them.
Livestock are handled and slaughtered in ways that not only are illegal in Australia, but would shock and appal most people.
...
A report by ACIL Tasman in October showed that each sheep processed domestically for meat is worth 20 per cent more to the Australian economy than a live export sheep, due to the potential to add value from processing in Australia.
...
A phase-out of the cruel live sheep export trade will have long term benefits for the Australian economy if the trade is replaced with chilled meat exports, and an increase in processed meat exports will discourage importing countries from seeking live imports elsewhere.
Full story:
www.smh.com.au

(US) Milk glut has dairy farmers killing hundreds of thousands of cows in hope prices will rise (27/10/09)

After burning through $1 million in savings and seeing no end to their losses, dairy farmers Jake and Lori Slegers figured they didn't have much choice - they had to kill the cows.
So one day last summer their sons tagged all 1,571 cows, loaded them onto trailers at their farm south of Fresno, Calif., and watched them rumble away to a slaughterhouse.
Lori Slegers said her husband came into the house and broke down.
"He said it was the hardest thing he ever had to do," she said. "Luckily, my boys could do it."
Growing demand in developing nations drove up milk prices when times were good, and dairy farmers expanded their herds. But the global recession hurt exports and left farmers with too much milk on their hands. Milk processors cut the price they were willing to pay farmers, in many cases below what it cost to produce milk.
In the past year, hundreds of farmers have come to the same conclusion as the Slegers: The only way to raise prices is to reduce the supply, and that means killing cows. In some cases, whole herds have been turned into hamburger. In others, farmers have kept their best producers and sent the rest to slaughter.
The Slegers turned to an industry-run program called Cooperatives Working Together, or CWT, which pays farmers going out of business to kill - rather than sell - their cows and help remaining dairy operations by reducing the milk supply. Until this year, the 6-year-old program had paid for about 275,000 dairy cows to be slaughtered. This year alone, it has paid for more than 225,000 to be killed.
In addition, individual farmers are sending cows to slaughter at a pace of about 55,000 per week, said Robert Cropp, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. At that rate, about 3 million cows could be killed in a year.
Full story:
www.chicagotribune.com

(AU) A bloody mob of hypocrites (19/10/09)

Eight nights ago Channel Nine's 60 Minutes ran a blood-curdling story about the herding and slaughter of dolphins near the Japanese fishing town of Taiji, describing what it called the "Dante's inferno" for dolphins. It was harrowing. It was also a classic case of Australians in glass houses.
...
He's right. Australians (including me) express outrage about the whales and the dolphins, but when it comes to hypocrisy about animal cruelty, we are world class. We hunt, slaughter and brutalise our national symbol while lauding, exploiting and symbolising it at the same time. Similarly, we don't expend much curiosity about the abject conditions in the factory farms that produce our pork and poultry.
Consider the most revolting of all the annual government-sanctioned, mass animal slaughters: the butchering of the baby harp seals in Canada. This year a kill quota of 280,000 was set. Most will be young seals clubbed to death on ice floes.
Then consider this: at least 150,000 joeys, and possibly twice that many, will be shot, bashed, crushed or starved to death in Australia this year.
The perfect example of Australia's cultural amnesia about the kangaroo was evident this month when about 140 eastern grey kangaroos were shot on Mount Panorama, the site of the Bathurst 1000, "to ensure the safety of drivers and visitors".
It was a metaphor for a country that turns its national symbol into dog food, a country in which about 3 million kangaroos, on average, have been culled each year over the past decade. Animal rights groups put the slaughter of joeys on the same scale and cruelty as the slaughter of seal cubs in Canada. This is disputed by the kangaroo industry, and by many scientists.
...
While eastern greys were being shot on Mount Panorama this month to make way for a car race, my thoughts turned to the one eastern grey I got to know. She was named Myrtle. I wrote about her last Australia Day.
An orphan, she was adopted by David Macfarlane. "In the morning she'd stand at the breakfast table and expect a bowl of cereal like the rest of us. She didn't like being left out." Myrtle identified David as the dominant male in her world, and rarely drifted far from him. She would go into a jealous rage when young women came to visit. When he took us out in his boat, she would swim after it.
You don't want to think too much about what happens to thousands of potential Myrtles every year. As the Japanese official Umezaki said, it is "sad and unbearable".
But we bear it. In fact, most Australians don't appear to think about it much. It's easier to condemn the Japanese.
Full story:
www.theage.com.au

(AU) High noon on the range (29/09/09)

Whether it's chicken, eggs or pork, there is no legal definition for 'free range', and this has some premium producers concerned, writes Mary O'Brien.
If Jamie Oliver is worried about something, then it's hot. The chirpy chef has looked at chicken and egg production and now he is tackling the pork industry.
Chicken and pork are often farmed intensely in disturbing conditions. No one likes to think of chooks in wire cages in groups of five. each having little more space than an A4 page with no dust to bathe in, no nest, no room to stretch their wings. Pigs can also be kept in cages called sow stalls where they can't move, turn, forage or socialise with other pigs.
Many people buy free-range believing the animals have had a happy life scratching, pecking and waddling their way around a farm.
The term "free-range" is mainly used in connection with eggs, chicken meat and pork. But there is no legal definition of "free-range" and a small organic farmer's "free-range" is very different to the "free-range" of a mass egg producer with 120,000 chickens which often have little more space than their caged counterparts.
Choice consumer group has been campaigning for years for tighter regulation of the industry.
"We would like consumers to have greater confidence that when they are purchasing a product that is labelled free-range, that it's produced in a way they would believe is consistent with free-range practices,"
Choice's Clare Hughes says.
Full story:
www.theage.com.au

(US) A Newborn Lamb Is Saved, Then Orphaned (23/09/09)

A newborn lamb was picked up from the back of a truck even as its mother, along with a hundred or so other sheep, was led to a slaughterhouse. The sad tale was a bit of a Dickensian variation on the more common theme of runaway animals. The lamb, who was named Angelo, was taken to an animal refuge - Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
According to Farm Sanctuary, the lamb was discovered by Cindy Rexhaj who was shopping at an Italian market near the slaughterhouse as a truck pulled up to drop off its charges. Ms. Rexhaj walked over to the truck as the sheep were being unloaded and noticed that Angelo, an infant, was at risk of being trampled or left behind to starve. Another lamb in the truck had already been crushed to death. [Video of Angelo at Farm Sanctuary
Full story:
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com

(AU) Australian survey: Killing chicks 'unacceptable' (09/09/09)

Preliminary results of a survey show that around 70 per cent of Australians think killing male chicks as part of egg production is unacceptable.
This research was conducted prior to the release of a video showing chicks at an American hatchery being ground alive.
The survey was run by Newspoll for the Vegetarian/Vegan Society of Queensland, and funded by Voiceless, the animal protection institute...
The American company where the footage was taken said they kill about 30 million chicks every year by live grinding.
This is because many chicks are male, so can't produce eggs, and therefore are of no value to egg producers.
The practice of killing unwanted male chicks is routine in Australia as well as America [and elsewhere].
Full story:
www.newsmaker.com.au

(US) Against dogfighting? But what about that hot dog? (19/08/09)

The Philadelphia Eagles [a U.S. football team] have given Michael Vick [who was convicted of cruel dogfighting practices] a one-year deal with an option for a second year. People are outraged at the thought that someone who abused and killed dogs would be rewarded with a lucrative contract. I am absolutely bewildered at this reaction. Please, let me be very clear from the outset: I think that dogfighting is a terrible thing. But I must say that the Vick case is rather dramatically demonstrating what I call our "moral schizophrenia" about animals... In [the United States] alone, we kill more than 10 billion animals annually for food. The animals we eat suffer as much as, if not more than, the dogs used in dogfighting. They are raised under horrendous conditions, mutilated in various ways without pain relief, transported long distances in cramped, filthy containers and finally slaughtered amid the stench, noise and squalor of the abattoir. There is no need for us to eat meat, dairy or eggs. We impose pain, suffering and death on these billions of sentient non-humans because we enjoy eating their flesh and the products that we make from them. We have no better justification.
Full story:
www.northjersey.com

(AU) Cracks appear for factory farming (17/08/09)

A decision by McDonald's and Woolworths to increase free-range egg use spells doom for animal-cruelty offenders, Ondine Sherman writes.
OPINION
In years to come, intensive "factory" farmers may look back on Friday, August 14, as the day that marked the beginning of their downward spiral and eventual demise.
Woolworths' decision to reduce its product lines of battery eggs and to replace them with barn-laid and free-range eggs was announced on Friday, followed shortly by the McDonald's resolution, reported on Sunday, to move its Australian operation towards using free-range eggs.
These small steps might seem insignificant. However, together, they signal a seismic shift in Australia's attitude to animal welfare.
Since the start of the Australian animal protection movement in the late 1970s (with Peter Singer's groundbreaking book Animal Liberation), advocates have been campaigning to get hens out of cages.
Now, 30 years later, the understanding has finally developed that these sentient animals are indeed suffering in their confinement.
Today, it seems that more Australians know about the plight of caged hens than any other farm animal welfare issue (eg pregnant pigs confined in crates, cutting piglets' tails off without pain relief etc).
The increased awareness of the cruelty inherent in battery-egg production has led to a growing demand for barn-laid, organic and free-range eggs.
...
Conventional battery cages are being phased out in the EU, with a total ban by 2012.
All cage systems are already prohibited in Switzerland with Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany and Austria all banning or phasing them out.
While governments internationally are taking leadership, the Australian Government has been moving backwards.
By encouraging factory farmers to invest large funds into making cages fractionally bigger (the space allocated per hen recently increased from 450 square centimetres to 550 square centimetres), they are ensuring that the caged system will be entrenched in Australian farms for many years to come.
The decision by Woolworths and McDonald's might seem small and safe to those of us who reject cruelty for profit but, as a famous saying goes, "A journey of 1000 miles must begin with a single step."
Full story:
www.smh.com.au

(AU) Woolworths signals major shift to free-range eggs (14/08/09)

Battery hens may become a thing of the past with a supermarket giant signalling a shift to free-range eggs.
Woolworths will reduce its reliance on cage eggs by almost halving to 11 the number of brands it sells.
The move is expected to speed up a consumer-driven switch to free-range and barn-laid eggs.
The average price of a dozen cage eggs in Victoria is $4.50 compared to free-range eggs at $6.50.
...
Animal Liberation spokesman Mark Pearson said any change by a retail giant such as Woolworths was a positive step in pushing Australia to ban caged hens.
"They are sending a huge signal to the industry that it is inevitable battery cages will be relegated to the scrap heap of history and that's because of what the consumer wants," he said.
Victorian Farmers Federation egg group president Brian Ahmed said slashing the sale of cage eggs in supermarkets would remove consumer choice.
Full story:
www.news.com.au

(US) Animal Rights Prof Says No Way to Consume Meat in Humane Way (28/06/09)

I never fail to be amazed when I hear people - including well-known promoters of animal welfare - claim quite remarkably that animals do not have an interest in continued life; they just have an interest in not suffering. They do not care that we use them; they care only about how we use them.
As long as they have a reasonably painless life and a relatively painless death, they do not care if we consume them or products made from them. I have discussed this issue in a number of essays on this site and in my books and articles. It will be a central topic in my forthcoming book, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, which I have co-authored with Professor Robert Garner and that will be published by Columbia University Press this fall.
On our video page, we have two videos from slaughterhouses. A significant number of visitors have viewed these videos and have written to us about them, particularly the video that does not show any slaughter. That video has obviously made an impact on many people and so I wanted to highlight it in a blog post.
The video shows two cows waiting in a chute to be led into the abattoir. An employee comes out and uses an electric prod to get the first cow to enter the abattoir. The second cow remains behind the door that has closed. She is clearly terrified. She knows that she is in trouble and this is not simply a matter of “instinct” (I do not even know what that means.) She is desperately looking for a way to get out of the chute. She may not have the same sorts of thoughts that beings who, like us, use symbolic communication, but it is clear that she has some equivalent sort of cognition. To say that she does not have a sense of having a life is beyond absurdity.
Full story:
www.opposingviews.com

(US) Sobering Statistics About Factory Farming (18/06/09)

In the United States, every year 10 billion land animals and countless billions of fish raised at fish farms or taken from the wild are killed for food. The factory farming industry treats animals not as the sentient creatures they are, but rather as profitable commodities. Forty million cows and calves are killed annually. Almost 10 billion chickens, turkeys and ducks are slaughtered each year for their meat. A chicken factory uses up to 100 million gallons of water per day. Approximately 100 million pigs are killed annually for food. Factory farming is a disastrous combination of environmental degradation, animal cruelty, and human health abuse. What can you do about it as a consumer? It's not enough just to switch to eating the products of so-called humanely raised animals. They're still slaughtered in the end, and their lives are often not much different from factory-farmed animals. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the horrors of the animal farming industry is to switch to a plant-based diet.
Full story:
www.associatedcontent.com

(NZ) Comedian does U-turn on pork (17/05/09)

Comedian Mike King, who used to front a campaign promoting pork products, says the "callous and evil" practice of crate farming pigs should be outlawed immediately.
King said that after breaking into a pig farm with animal activists where pigs were kept in crates, he was deeply ashamed he took part in promoting the type of farming, TVNZ's Sunday programme reported.
...
"If I had known this was going on I would never have supported this. I firmly believe that anyone who sees this would say this has to stop."
The farm was filmed by animal rights group Open Rescue and footage shown to Agriculture Minister David Carter, who said he wasn't aware of the extent to which pigs were confined.
It was a bit disturbing to see them in such conditions but he said he needed to know if the footage showed what was typical of the pork industry and he suspected it was not.
Animal rights group Save Animals from Exploitation's director Hans Kriek said such cage farming was widespread.
The pigs were touching the sides of the 60cm wide and 2m long cages and couldn't turn around.
Some pigs could live for up to five years in a cage, he said.
About 45 percent of New Zealand's sows, or 22,000, were kept in crates and the law was giving legal protection to farmers to be cruel to animals, Mr Kriek said.
Full story:
www.stuff.co.nz

(AU) Treatment of animals: litmus test for a nation (13/05/09)

Gandhi once said that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. If that's the case, Australia's report card in the past would say: could do better.
Fortunately, it seems we have taken note. During the past few years the longstanding campaign by animal advocates to establish rights and protections for animals has been gaining ground.
...
This month the country's first animal law textbook, Animal Law in Australasia, was launched by the former High Court judge Michael Kirby, part of an event organised by Voiceless, an animal advocacy group...
What it does mean is that animals would be legally protected from abuse. Most of us reel in horror when we hear about cruelty to domestic animals kept as pets, or to wildlife, and quite rightly want the perpetrators brought to justice.
Farm animals are rarely given the same consideration, with many kept in appalling conditions in factory farms and treated in ways that if inflicted on other humans would be branded torture. We are allowed to treat animals so barbarically because they are our property. The problem with categorising a living, sentient being as property allows for little or no protection of their welfare. Slavery demonstrated that.
...
A society that tolerates cruelty is not one to be proud of. If we allow the legal abuse of sentient non-humans and close our ears to their cries of pain and suffering, it's not such a great leap to do the same to certain groups of people.
Conversely, compassion for other species allows us to be open to caring for and nurturing our fellow humans; to respond with love instead of hate, respect instead of contempt, peace instead of violence - and that surely is moral progress.
Full story:
www.smh.com.au

(AU) Kirby speaks out against animal cruelty (10/05/09)

Former High Court judge Michael Kirby has called for tougher sentencing for cruelty to animals and greater public awareness of intensive farming practices.
Mr Kirby said Australians needed to be made aware of the conditions animals were kept in and to understand that animal welfare legislation did not offer any protection to agricultural stock.
"I don't believe the people of Australia know the facts that are revealed in this book, and they should know them," Mr Kirby said at the launch of a book on animal law this week.
"If only the people knew the pain the animals go through, the cruelty that is inflicted on sentient animals, they would take action."
Mr Kirby said many would be shocked to learn that intensively farmed chickens are kept in a space equivalent to the size of a piece of A4 paper and that most sows spend their lives in metal stalls that are so small they can't take a step forward or backwards.
He said the book, Animal Law in Australasia, highlighted the need for tougher sentencing for animal cruelty, and that the examples used were astonishing.
Full story:
www.theage.com.au

(US) Humanity even for nonhumans (08/04/09)

One of the historical election landmarks last year had nothing to do with race or the presidency. Rather, it had to do with pigs and chickens - and with overarching ideas about the limits of human dominion over other species. I'm referring to the stunning passage in California, by nearly a 2-to-1 majority, of an animal rights ballot initiative that will ban factory farms from keeping calves, pregnant hogs or egg-laying hens in tiny pens or cages in which they can't stretch out or turn around. It was an element of a broad push in Europe and America alike to grant increasing legal protections to animals.
Full story:
www.nytimes.com

(AU) Proposed Australian animal transport standards 'disappointing' (18/03/09)

An animal welfare group has appealed to Australia's agriculture ministers to reject proposed standards for animal transport. Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes says the standards - which are supported by the dairy industry - failed to address the treatment of newborn calves. 'Bobby' calves are five-days-old when they are sent to be slaughtered. Ms Oogjes says 6,000 bobby calves die during transport nationally each year because they travel long distances without food.
Full story:
www.abc.net.au

(US) 'The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food,' by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (16/03/09)

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson wants to help all meat eaters wake up from the dream of denial they are experiencing. He wants to prepare us for what he describes as a "transformative moment," when we look at the meat or animal product on our plate (fish, fowl, mammal, egg, milk, cheese) and acknowledge that it came from a living being, capable, he has no doubt, of suffering and happiness. Like children when they are first told that the drumstick is actually a leg, the tongue is really a tongue, the bacon was once a pig, Masson hopes, with all his heart, that we will say, "Eeeuwww, yuck." The Face on Your Plate is one of many written in the last few years that implore readers to consider and reimagine how what they eat affects not just their own health but the health of the Earth. Masson's aim is a life with a purpose; his interests follow a powerful trajectory that has led him here, bringing everything to bear on the certainty that eating meat is cruel and immoral.
Full story:
www.latimes.com

(UK) Pork advert outlawed by watchdog (11/02/09)

Pork adverts claiming British pigs have "very high welfare standards" are inaccurate and must not be used again, the advertising watchdog has ruled. The watchdog said cases of tail-docking and a lack of straw bedding meant the British Pig Executive's claims were not always true.
The Advertising Standards Authority issued the ruling after receiving complaints from animal rights groups. The advert had claimed: "British pig farms have very high welfare standards, assured by the Quality Standard Mark. And well cared-for animals mean better quality meat." The pig executive said the wording of the advert referred to conditions outlined by the quality mark, not to those actually found in British farms.
Full story:
http://news.bbc.co.uk

(US) Humane society challenges meat industry over new law (27/01/09)

Advocates for the meat industry argue that a new state law barring animals unable to walk from entering the meat supply would unfairly open slaughterhouse employees to prosecution.
Animal advocates said the meat industry argument is hogwash.
The Humane Society of the United States filed legal action on Tuesday against a meat industry lawsuit seeking to overturn California law that keeps "downer" animals too sick to stand from being slaughtered for food.
Other animal-rights advocates have joined in support of the Humane Society's opposition to the meat industry's challenge.
Gene Baur, president and CEO of Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal protection organization, said the meat industry challenge to the law is "based on greed, and a disrespect for animals and consumers."
Full story:
www.dailybulletin.com

(US) Naturally raised - what it doesn't mean (22/01/09)

[Blog] If you were told an animal was "naturally raised," what would you imagine that meant? Is it evidence that they wandered a field? Felt the touch of sunlight? Ate their normal diet? Well, no. At least, that's not what it means if you see "naturally raised" on a package of meat [in the United States]. The USDA released their guidelines for the marketing term this week. Grass, sunlight, and open space don't enter into it.
Rather, animals are "naturally raised" if they "have been raised entirely without growth promotants, antibiotics (except for ionophores used as coccidiostats for parasite control), and have never been fed animal by-products."
These guidelines are a simple act of collusion with the marketing teams in the livestock industry... The implication of "naturally raised" is that the chicken lived the natural life of a chicken, not the life of a widget. But USDA has defined it as living the life of a widget, just not a particularly heavily medicated widget.
Full story:
www.prospect.org

(UK) Jamie Oliver says British public 'ignorant' about way pigs are reared (11/01/09)

British shoppers are ignorant about the conditions in which the pigs that supply much of their bacon and pork are kept, according to Jamie Oliver, as the TV chef launches a new campaign.
Oliver and the RSPCA will call on the EU to set tougher minimum welfare standards for farmers and legislate on more honest labelling about how their animals are reared.
The RSPCA hopes Oliver's programme, Jamie Saves Our Bacon – to be screened by Channel 4 this month – will help to do for pigs what it and another celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, did for chickens last year. Their campaigns led to significant increases in sales of poultry raised to higher welfare standards.
...
A spokesman for Oliver's programme, to be screened on January 29, said it would cover pig rearing from insemination to slaughter and the plate, with a detailed consideration of welfare issues including tail docking, sow stalls and farrowing crates.
Full story:
www.guardian.co.uk

THE ENVIRONMENT

(US) Looking for a Solution to Cows' Climate Problem (16/11/09)

With the approach of the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen next month, the livestock industry is coming under renewed scrutiny for its contribution to greenhouse gases. A 2006 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization attributed 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases produced each year to livestock. But a more recent report [Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are ... cows, pigs and chickens?] for the World Watch Institute, by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang [both formerly with the World Bank], estimates this figure to be much higher: 51 per cent, when the entire life cycle and supply chain of the livestock industry is taken into conside ration. As things stand, global meat and dairy consumption is projected to more than double by 2050. Reversing the role of livestock in climate change is "even more important than the urgent transition to renewable energy," Dr. Goodland wrote. The report states "livestock (like automobiles) are a human invention and convenience, not part of pre-human times, and a molecule of CO2 exhaled by livestock is no more natural than one from an auto tailpipe." Their solution to livestock's global warming effect is simple: eat less animal products, or better still, none at all.
Full story:
www.nytimes.com

(AU) Turn vego to save planet: Gore (04/11/09)

We've always been told to eat our greens, but now there's another incentive - saving the planet.
Climate change campaigner Al Gore believes turning vegetarian could aid the battle against global warming.
But he's stopped short of asking everyone to turn their back on meat, acknowledging getting a global agreement on fighting climate change is already hard enough.
The former US vice-president turned environmental campaigner said on Wednesday he agreed with the UK's Nicholas Stern that meat eaters have contributed greatly to increased global carbon emissions.
"I'm not a vegetarian, but I have cut back sharply on the meat that I eat," he told ABC Television from New York.
"It's absolutely correct that the growing meat intensity of diets around the world is one of the issues connected to this global crisis - not only because of the CO2 involved, but also because of the water consumed in the process.
"You could add in the health consequences as well."
Full story:
http://news.theage.com.au

(AU) Drop meat for vegetarian diet to fight climate warming: Lord Stern (27/10/09)

People will need to turn vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change, according to a leading authority on global warming.
Lord Stern said: "Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better."
Direct emissions of methane from cows and pigs is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas.
Lord Stern, the author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases.
He predicted that people's attitudes would evolve until meat eating became unacceptable.
"I think it's important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating," he said. "I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student. People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food."
Full story:
www.theaustralian.news.com.au

(UK) Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet (27/10/09)

People will need to consider turning vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change, according to a leading authority on global warming.
In an interview with The Times, Lord Stern of Brentford said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”
Direct emissions of methane from cows and pigs is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas.
Lord Stern, the author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases.
Full story:
www.timesonline.co.uk

(US) To Cut Global Warming, Swedes Study Their Plates (22/10/09)

Shopping for oatmeal, Helena Bergstrom, 37, admitted that she was flummoxed by the label on the blue box reading, “Climate declared: .87 kg CO2 per kg of product.”
“Right now, I don’t know what this means,” said Ms. Bergstrom, a pharmaceutical company employee.
But if a new experiment here succeeds, she and millions of other Swedes will soon find out. New labels listing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of foods, from whole wheat pasta to fast food burgers, are appearing on some grocery items and restaurant menus around the country.
People who live to eat might dismiss this as silly. But changing one’s diet can be as effective in reducing emissions of climate-changing gases as changing the car one drives or doing away with the clothes dryer, scientific experts say.
Full story:
www.nytimes.com

(AU) CSIRO delivers real truth (06/10/09)

The recent release of the CSIRO's Home Energy Saving Handbook, elicited anger from Victorian Liberal MP John Vogels, who declared that the "CSIRO should be forced to apologise to Australian livestock and diary farmers for publishing a flawed climate change handbook urging people to eat less red meat and adopt vegetarian diets".
Really? Count up the eminent people, universities and research bodies that have acknowledged the link between meat and global warming. Is Vogels expecting Rajendra Pachauri, James Hansen or the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation to grovel in remorse? Maybe he should reconsider who really deserves an apology. How about the millions of Australians who have contracted heart disease or colon cancer after gorging on red meat and dairy on the advice of the CSIRO's earlier bestseller, the Total Wellbeing Diet? How about future generations faced with degraded land, permanent drought and polluted air because of the damage caused by the livestock industry?
...
Meat and dairy products are among the most expensive foods available, even with the price artificially lowered by taxpayer subsidies paid to the livestock industry - so much for meat contributing to the economy - and, unsurprisingly, very little is eaten in poorer countries.
Did Vogels' reference to "tofu-munching climate change extremists" include the vegetarian third of India's population?
His misrepresentations reach a climax when he says: "Former prime ministers Billy Hughes and Stanley Bruce would be turning in their graves because they established the CSIRO to assist Australia's primary and secondary industries, not to attack and undermine our farmers."
Hang on. I thought the role of science was to reveal truth, not to pander to industry.
The CSIRO should be congratulated for a book based on good science, not industry funding.
Full story:
www.geelongadvertiser.com.au

(AU) CSIRO book's vegetarian advice enrages MP (28/09/09)

Australia's peak industrial research body is conspiring to force farmers off the land through a new green living book, a south-west MP claims.
Western Victoria Liberal MP John Vogels, has slammed the CSIRO's Home Energy Saving Handbook, which promotes vegetarian diets to reduce agricultural green house gas emissions.
"It seems tofu-munching climate change extremists and animal libbers have taken over the CSIRO, wasting taxpayer funds to publish books designed to wipe out our agriculture industries with the ultimate goal of forcing farmers off the land," Mr Vogels said.
"As a nation we need to move beyond the kindergarten view that livestock generate greenhouse gas emissions and focus climate change strategies on reducing those emissions which are genuine pollutants."
A link on the CSIRO website about the handbook directs people to the Victorian Government's Department of Health webpage which highlights the benefits of introducing children to a vegetarian diet.
It states: "For most well and healthy children a vegetarian diet can provide a healthy and nutritious alternative to a diet including meat."
Mr Vogels called on the CSIRO to apologise to Australian livestock and dairy farmers for publishing what he believed was a 'flawed' climate change handbook.
He said the organisation had abandoned its 90-year charter to support agriculture industries.
"Former prime ministers Billy Hughes and Stanley Melbourne Bruce would be turning in their graves because they established the CSIRO to assist Australia's primary and secondary industries, not to attack or undermine farmers," Mr Vogels said.
Full story:
www.standard.net.au

(US) In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand (21/08/09)

QUERENCIA, Brazil - José Marcolini, a farmer here, has a permit from the Brazilian government to raze 12,500 acres of rain forest this year to create highly profitable new soy fields.
But he says he is struggling with his conscience. A Brazilian environmental group is offering him a yearly cash payment to leave his forest standing to help combat climate change.
...
Mato Grosso means thick forests, and the name was once apt. But today, this Brazilian state is a global epicenter of deforestation. Driven by profits derived from fertile soil, the region’s dense forests have been aggressively cleared over the past decade, and Mato Grasso is now Brazil’s leading producer of soy, corn and cattle, exported across the globe by multinational companies.
...
Global as well as local economic forces are driving deforestation - Brazil and Indonesia lead the world in the extent of their rain forests lost each year. The forests are felled to help feed the world’s growing population and meet its growing appetite for meat. Much of Brazil’s soy is bought by American-based companies like Cargill or Archer Daniels Midland and used to feed cows as far away as Europe and China. In Indonesia, rain forests are felled to plant palms for the palm oil, which is a component of biofuels.
Full story:
www.nytimes.com

(AU) Iconic gum trees are dying: research (02/06/09)

The iconic gum trees which dot Australia's paddocks are dying.
Millions of hectares of tree-studded farmland could end up as bare plains because of poor farming practices, researchers have found.
Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) measured the diameters of thousands of NSW "paddock trees" to estimate their ages.
They found many were more than 140 years old, but there was an unnaturally small number of young trees.
ANU ecologist Joern Fischer said this was because sheep and cattle nibbled or trampled tree seedlings.
The overuse of fertilisers, particularly superphosphates, contributed because it allowed introduced grass species to thrive.
Dr Fischer said gum trees were vanishing from the farming landscape as the old ones died off.
...
But the research pointed to a solution.
Dr Fischer said a different way of grazing, where stock was only allowed to graze in one corner of a farm at a time, was a great improvement.
Called "rotational grazing", the practice kept stock out of paddocks for much of the time, allowing tree seedlings to get established.
Full story:
http://news.theage.com.au

(US) Food vs. the environment: Getting to the meat of the problem (01/04/09)

Even a cattle rancher probably wouldn't deny that if people cut out even some meat from their diet they'd not only be healthier but they'd also be saving money as well as helping save the planet. Most of us have no idea of the mammoth-sized carbon footprint cattle leave on the earth.
The United Nations' 2006 FAO report states: "if every American gave up meat 1 day a week it would save almost 100 megatons of greenhouse emissions, or 90 million plane tickets from New York to Los Angeles."
Cut meat from your diet and you also inevitably save money...The savings can be passed on to purchase better, healthier foods like organic fruit and vegetables
Full story:
www.greenrightnow.com

(AU) The meat in the global warming sandwich (23/03/09)

Picture a giant pile of meat. No - a much bigger pile than that. We're talking more than one million tonnes of the stuff - a huge, steaming tower of T-bones and rumps.
That is how much red meat Australians consume each year.
Now, place next to that all 38 of Australia's coal-fired power stations.
Which do you think is the greatest threat to the environment?
The answer is clear, according to Mark Berriman, the director of the Australian Vegetarian Society.
"Not many people know it but the meat industry is a big contributor to climate change," he says. "People talk about helping the environment by stopping driving and getting low-energy light bulbs but the most effective thing you can do is cut red meat out of your diet."
Berriman is not alone in this opinion. Last year, Nobel laureate Rajendra Pachauri, the chief of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, strongly suggested the world's population curb its consumption of meat to counter global warming. Pachauri's suggestion was based in part on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, which has estimated direct emissions from meat production account for about 18 per cent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, beating transport, which accounts for just 13 per cent.
Full story:
www.smh.com.au

(US) 'Low carbon diet' a healthy option for Earth (08/03/09)

A hungry student at the University of San Francisco last week couldn't find a few college staples at the campus eatery - a juicy hamburger and a cheesy slice of pizza.
It was "Low Carbon Diet Day" on Tuesday, and beef and cheese were off the menu.
With 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gases emitted by livestock raised for meat and dairy products - more than cars, trucks, ships and planes combined, according to a United Nations report - more food purveyors are launching initiatives to lower their "food carbon footprint."
Full story:
www.mercurynews.com

(US) Eat locally, or eat differently? (04/03/09)

Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews of Carnegie Mellon University examined the environmental benefits of eating locally grown foods and found them a bit lacking in the carbon-footprint department - eating less red meat and dairy turned out to be a better way to reduce greenhouse gases than an all-local diet, according to the pair's life-cycle assessment. The team found that eating an all-local diet saves the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving 1000 fewer miles each year, but eating a vegetarian diet 1 day per week is equal to driving 1160 fewer miles per year. Food writer Michael Pollan has embraced the authors' ideas and recently suggested that President Obama lead the country in enacting "Meatless Mondays" at the White House (no word on whether the president has taken up his proposal). According to Pollan, if all Americans eliminated meat from their diets one night per week, the environmental effect would be equivalent to taking "30 to 40 million cars off the road for a year."
Full story:
http://pubs.acs.org

(AU) Livestock reform is just a greenhouse whisper (17/02/09)

How we raise cattle can combat climate change, but does anyone care?
At the supermarket meat counter, you have to choose your sirloin on hunch and price. No butcher is on hand to tell you the provenance of the cow, and the label doesn't say where in Australia the animal lived, or how it was raised. I pick up a polystyrene tray and peer at the plastic. The label says $28 a kilo; someone in the supermarket hierarchy has decided that's all I need to know.
Deciding what to eat for dinner might seem like a trivial preoccupation in these difficult times but, as it turns out, livestock production is one of the biggest contributors to climate change (according to the UN, livestock is responsible for 18 per cent of the world's greenhouse emissions, a higher share than transport).
...
American cows eat corn while standing in their own manure in concrete feed lots. They are fed antibiotics in the corn to stop them from being infected by their own waste; livestock are responsible for 50 per cent of antibiotic use in the US. In this system, cow manure, which is a natural fertiliser when it is not filled with hormones and chemicals, becomes a form of pollution. In addition, the fertilisers used to feed the corn that feeds the cows are based on petro-chemicals and their excessive use - particularly the run off into rivers - is another form of pollution.
...
In 2007, Tesco began developing carbon labels to help European shoppers cut greenhouse emissions. A similar scheme would pay dividends to the foodstore that delivers it to Australians first.
Carbon labelling would also be a means of rewarding farmers who want to improve their land while running livestock. Sustainably raised beef might end up costing more, but as all health advice suggests meat should be eaten more sparingly, this would be no bad thing: for the cows, for us and for the planet.
Full story:
www.theage.com.au

(US) Meat-Eating and Environmentalism Don't Mix (14/02/09)

The current issue of Audubon Magazine features an important article which may be of interest to those concerned about the environment and climate change. The article, entitled "The Low Carbon Diet"' is written by Mike Tidwell, a self-professed extreme meat lover turned vegetarian.
Tidwell colorfully describes his deep-seated "carnivore's lust" and sadly admits that even learning about factory farms and animal cruelty did little to curb his desire. So, what made him change his diet? The answer, he says, is simple: "I have an 11-year-old son whose future, like yours and mine, is rapidly unraveling due to global warming. And what we put on our plates can directly accelerate or decelerate the heating trend."
Tidwell cites a United Nations report, noting that "livestock production worldwide is responsible for a whopping 18 percent of the world's total greenhouse gases…. That's more than the emissions of all the world's cars, buses, planes, and trains combined."
Full story:
www.wickedlocal.com 

(UK) Eating less meat could cut climate costs (10/02/09)

Cutting back on beefburgers and bacon could wipe $20 trillion off the cost of fighting climate change. That's the dramatic conclusion of a study [by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency] that totted up the economic costs of modern meat-heavy diets. The researchers involved say that reducing our intake of beef and pork would lead to the creation of a huge new carbon sink, as vegetation would thrive on unused farmland. The model takes into account farmland that is used to grow extra food to make up for the lost meat, but that requires less area, so some will be abandoned. Millions of tonnes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, would also be saved every year due to reduced emissions from farms. These impacts would lessen the need for expensive carbon-saving technologies, such as "clean coal" power plants, and so save huge sums.
Full story:
www.newscientist.com

(UK) Rainforest razed so cattle can graze (31/01/09)

Brazil's attempt to double its share of the global market for beef will carry a heavy environmental cost, report warns.
Scenes like this, with vast tracts of Amazonian rainforest razed to make way for cattle, are to become more common in Brazil as it continues its drive to expand its beef export industry, according to environmentalists.
Green activists say that country's determination to double its share of the world beef market is likely to undermine its new targets for halting Amazon rainforest destruction and reducing carbon emissions.
The South American country has the world's largest cattle herd and is already the biggest beef exporter on the planet. Now the Brazilian government is seeking to boost its share of the world beef market from 30 per cent to 60 per cent in the next decade.
Most of this growth will come in Amazonia, on pastureland created by cutting down rainforest, according to a report released today by Greenpeace. The cattle industry will be the main driver of deforestation, it argues.
Full story:
www.independent.co.uk

(UK) Hospitals will take meat off menus in bid to cut carbon (26/01/09)

Meat-free menus are to be promoted in hospitals as part of a strategy to cut global warming emissions across the National Health Service.
The plan to offer patients menus that would have no meat option is part of a strategy to be published tomorrow that will cover proposals ranging from more phone-in GP surgeries to closing outpatient departments and instead asking surgeons to visit people at their local doctor's surgery.
...
Among the most talked-about is likely to be the suggestion that hospitals could cut carbon emissions from food and drink by offering fewer meat and dairy products. Last year, the United Nations climate chief, Rajendra Pachauri, provoked a global debate when he said having a meat-free day every week was the biggest single contribution people could make to curbing climate change in their personal lives, because of the chemicals sprayed on feed crops and the methane emitted by cattle and sheep. Last week, the German federal environment agency went further, advising people to eat meat only on special occasions. Pencheon said the move would cut the relatively high carbon emissions from rearing animals and poultry, and improve health.
Full story:
www.guardian.co.uk

(DE) German Government Advisory: Eat Meat Only on Special Occasions (24/01/09)

Germany’s environmental issues advisory body issued a strong advisory for German people to lower their meat consumption, effectively asking the population to eat meat only on special occasions. The advisory board cited that 15% of Germany’s greenhouse gases come from agriculture. Dramatically reducing meat consumption will diminish Germany’s carbon footprint.
“We must rethink our high meat consumption,” said Andreas Troge, president of the government’s environmental issues advisory body.
The recommendation has been met with strong resistance from agriculture and meat industry lobbyists. Advocates in favor of the status-quo meat consumption argue that consumers deserve to make their own decisions about what they eat while mounting environmental data exposes the disproportionate impact made by raising meat for increasing consumption versus comparable caloric intake from vegetarian sources.
Compassion in World Farming, an anti-factory farming organization, claims that cutting says meat-eating by 50% would be more effective than the same reduction in transport use.
Full story:
http://planetsave.com

MISCELLANEOUS

(US) Coconut-Carrying Octopus: Tool Use in an Invertebrate (15/12/09)

Scientists once thought of tool use as a defining feature of humans. That's until examples of tool use came in from other primates, along with birds and an array of other mammals. Now, a report in the December 14th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, adds an octopus to the growing list of tool users.
The veined octopus under study manages a behavioral trick that the researchers call stilt walking. In it, the soft-bodied octopus spreads itself over stacked, upright coconut shell "bowls," makes its eight arms rigid, and raises the whole assembly to amble on eight "stilts" across the seafloor. The only benefit to the octopus's ungainly maneuver is to use the shells later as a shelter or lair, and that's what makes it wholly different from a hermit crab using the discarded shell of a snail.
"There is a fundamental difference between picking up a nearby object and putting it over your head as protection versus collecting, arranging, transporting (awkwardly), and assembling portable armor as required," said Mark Norman of the Museum Victoria in Australia.
...
"Ultimately, the collection and use of objects by animals is likely to form a continuum stretching from insects to primates, with the definition of tools providing a perpetual opportunity for debate," the researchers concluded. "However, the discovery of this octopus tiptoeing across the sea floor with its prized coconut shells suggests that even marine invertebrates engage in behaviors that we once thought the preserve of humans."
Full story:
www.sciencedaily.com

(US) Jonathan Safran Foer on the Morality of Vegetarianism (11/12/09)

Jonathan Safran Foer's new book, Eating Animals, is an eloquent exploration of something most sentient humans think about at some point in their lives. I spoke to him about his conclusions recently... Q: Go back to this question, because it's one of the many surprising things in your book: Why is eating beef, which comes from mammals, more humane than eating a chicken? A: There are two reasons. One is that it takes 220 chickens to make one cow, so just in terms of individual suffering from a utilitarian perspective, that's 220 lives versus one life... The question is, if we don't say no to this [factory farming], what do we say no to? If we don't say no to something that systematically abuses 50 billion animals, if we don't say no to the number one cause of global warming, and not by a little bit, but by a lot, if we don't say no to what the UN has said is one of the top two or three causes of every significant environmental problem in the world, locally and globally, if we don't say no to something that is clearly - not clear to me, but clear to the World Health Organization - a prime factor in the generation of Avian and Swine flus... just what do we say no to? This is not a case where we need to go to war with another country or spend a trillion dollars or elect a new government. We just need to say no to it.
Full story:
http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com

(AU) Anti-whalers swimming in hypocrisy (28/11/09)

If you are as vehemently opposed to whaling as most Australians, here's a potentially inconvenient truth to consider: some species of whale might not be endangered. But don't expect to hear much about that in coming weeks, as the Japanese whaling fleet sets off on its annual voyage to the Southern Ocean.
Look out, instead, for impassioned cries from environmentalists and politicians about how barbaric whaling is...
It is understandable for people to react with revulsion to such images. There is no doubt that harpoons inflict a painful death on an animal that, in recent years, has assumed an almost sacred status in popular human consciousness. No one wants to see whales suffer or die.
But when it comes to letting a good story and an almost universally popular cause get in the way of facts, the whale phenomenon takes some beating.
Consider, first, the selective morality of our politicians and their bipartisan embrace of a hardline anti-whaling position. Under their watch, all sorts of animals are allowed to suffer in the course of becoming food or entertainment for humans. Sometimes, such as with intensively farmed chooks and pigs, it is a case of lifelong confinement and misery in our service.
...
Southern bluefin tuna are also very big and live in the wild. Like whales, they have feelings and are believed to experience pain when we catch and kill them - conclusions backed by a 2003 study of neural activity in fish at Edinburgh University. Add to that the fact that tuna numbers have been ravaged by overfishing and you have a strong case for public outrage.
But tuna have cold blood and are neither cute nor put on spectacular displays for tourists. In the public relations battle, they don't stand a chance against whales.
...
Similarly, while the widespread abuse of farm animals is well documented, the victims have failed to win our hearts in the manner of whales: have you ever heard of tourists going free-range poultry watching? For their sin of ordinariness, we leave chooks and pigs to the misery of cage life.
Full story:
www.theage.com.au

(US) Jonathan Safran Foer's 'Eating Animals' Book Will Fundamentally Change the Way You Think About Food (04/11/09)

If ever there was a book that could profoundly affect our lives at the most fundamental level, this one is it. I loved Jonathan Safran Foer's novels (Everything is Illuminated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close); they were glorious to read and get lost in. But his new non-fiction kindles something more: it is somewhat of an awakening, and it just might tip us farther into what is being called the next great social movement of our time: eating consciously.
Eating Animals takes a bold and fresh approach to our most important relationship with the world around us - our food. The originality of the thinking and depth of research establishes Foer as a major player in the national discussion of the ethics of eating. He is the Michael Pollan of a younger generation: grittier and more daring, more insightful and decisive. And as we would expect from Foer, the stories he tells explode off the page and into our hearts.
Foer takes us alongside him as he bungles through undercover investigations and into the hidden world of today's industrial farming. We find out that turkeys have been so genetically modified they are not capable of sexual reproduction. We learn that the chickens on American's plates have been bred to grow so large so fast that their mere genetics destines them to suffering. We learn that "free range" means next to nothing and why it's fish and chicken you want to most avoid.
Full story:
www.alternet.org

(IN) Vegan lifestyle holds key to a spiritually-evolved society (01/11/09)

[By Philip Wollen]
The most beautiful word ever written in any country, in any language, at any time in human history came from India . From the Upanishads - 5,000 years ago. That word is Ahimsa, meaning non-violence towards any living being.
Why does this Sanskrit word dominate my every breath? I heard the screams of my dying father as his body was ravaged by the cancer that killed him. And I realise I have heard these screams before - in the slaughterhouses, on the cattle ships to the Middle East and the dying mother whale as a harpoon explodes in her brain as she calls out to her calf. Their cries are the cries of my father. I discovered that screams are identical in any species. When we suffer, we suffer as equals.
And in their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig is a bear is a boy. Henceforth, I am no longer just an Australian, male, vegan. I am an Ahimsan. We may be Indian, Australian, American, English, or Palestinian. We may be Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain (or no religion at all). But if we are to live an authentic life we must share common ground without sacrificing our other beliefs. That meeting place is Ahimsa.
My goal is to make Ahimsa a truly global phenomenon, because it describes our character - enlightened, elegant and educated. Socrates was right - an unexamined life is not worth living. We do not find our character on Wall Street - it lives on the Road to Damascus.
Full story:
www.deccanchronicle.com

(US) Make meat-eaters pay: Ethicist proposes radical tax, says they're killing themselves and the planet (25/10/09)

[By Peter Singer.] Taxes can do a lot of good. They pay for schools, parks, police and the military. But that's not all they can do. High taxes on cigarettes have saved many lives... But the reasons for a tax on beef and other meats are stronger than those for discouraging consumption of cigarettes, transfats or sugary drinks... Meat-eaters impose costs on others, and the more meat they eat, the greater the costs. They push up health costs for taxpayers, pollute our rivers, threaten the survival of fishing communities in the Gulf of Mexico, push up food prices for the world's poor, and accelerate climate change. Red meat is the worst for global warming, but a tax on red meat alone would me rely push meat-eaters to chicken, and British animal welfare expert Professor John Webster has described the intensive chicken industry as "the single most severe, systematic example of man's inhumanity to another sentient animal." So let's start with a 50 per cent tax on the retail value of all meat, and see what difference that makes to present consumption habits. If it is not enough to bring about the change we need, then, like cigarette taxes, it will need to go higher.
Full story:
www.nydailynews.com

(US) Killing fields: the true cost of Europe's cheap meat (13/10/09)

Cheap meat has become a way of life in much of Europe, but the full price is being paid across Latin America as vast soya plantations and their attendant chemicals lead to poisonings and violence.
Much of the cheap meat and dairy produce sold in supermarkets across Europe is arriving as a result of serious human rights abuses and environmental damage in one of Latin America's most impoverished countries, according to a new film launched in conjunction with the Ecologist Film Unit.
An investigation in Paraguay has discovered that vast plantations of soy, principally grown for use in intensively-farmed animal feed, are responsible for a catalogue of social and ecological problems, including the forced eviction of rural communities, landlessness, poverty, excessive use of pesticides, deforestation and rising food insecurity.
The film, Killing Fields: the battle to feed factory farms – produced by a coalition of pressure groups including Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch and with European coordination by Via Campesina, – documents the experiences of some of those caught up in Paraguay's growing conflict over soy farming and reveals, for the first time, how intensive animal farming across the EU, including the UK, is fuelling the problem.
Campaigners plan to use the film to highlight the 'unsustainable' nature of modern food production, and to spearhead efforts to raise awareness of the largely hidden cost of the factory farming systems supplying much of Europe's cheap meat and dairy produce.
...
Globally it has been estimated that as much as 97 per cent of soymeal produced is now used for animal feed.
Attracted by cheap land prices, poor environmental regulations and monitoring, widespread corruption and low taxation on agricultural export commodities, agribusinesses have long viewed Paraguay as an ideal country in which to do business. In recent decades increasing chunks of rural land have been bought up and turned over to export-orientated soy cultivation.
Full story:
www.theecologist.org

(US) Getting real about the high price of cheap food (21/08/09)

The agricultural industry can now produce unlimited quantities of meat and grains at remarkably cheap prices. But it does so at a high cost to the environment, animals and humans. Those hidden prices are the creeping erosion of our fertile farmland, cages for egg-laying chickens so packed that the birds can't even raise their wings and the scary rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria among farm animals. Add to the price tag the acceleration of global warming - our energy-intensive food system uses 19 per cent of U.S. fossil fuels, more than any other sector of the economy. And perhaps worst of all, our food is increasingly bad for us, even dangerous... The industrial food system fills us up but leaves us empty - it's based on selective forgetting. But what we eat - how it's raised and how it gets to us - has consequences that can't be ignored any longer.
Full story:
www.time.com

(US) A vegan's take on PETA's Unhappy Meal campaign against McDonald's (11/08/09)

At most of PETA's antics, I often shake my head and mutter, "those silly PETA people." With their latest McDonald's subversive ad tactic, I don't see them as being so silly. In an effort to expose McDonald's cruelty to animals, they're using pictures of a menacing, knife-wielding Ronald the Clown. They hand these boxes and labels to families about to enter the restaurant.
The sheer irony is from the complaints of the parents, who claim that this PETA picture is simply too gruesome for children. Suppressing reality and calling its unveiling as inappropriate seems to ignore the overall problem of the reality itself. In this case, parents complaining that children get a tiny glimpse into the truth behind their Happy Meals completely ignore the overarching problem of how animals are torturously slaughtered.
...
The age-old philosophical question all over again-do the means justify the ends? My verdict is this: the pictures are not so offensive to cause parents to be so uppity. The picture, as one can see, is not quite a disembodied child. At best, the child will inquire why Ronald looks so unusually sinister. ...
When it comes to ugly truths, the better alternative to silencing it is to make the truth a whole lot prettier. or in this case, a whole lot more humane.
Full story:
www.examiner.com

(UK) Food crisis could force wartime rations and vegetarian diet on Britons (10/08/09)

The British people face wartime rations and a vegetarian diet in the event of a world food shortage, a new official assessment on the UK's food security suggests today.
Even though the nation is 73 per cent self-sufficient in food production, higher than during the 1950s, the food chain is at risk from global influences such as a worldwide increase in population, climate change bringing extreme weather patterns, higher oil prices and more crops being grown for bio-fuel instead of food.
Supplies in future may also be disrupted by animal disease outbreaks, disruption of power supplies, trade disputes and interruptions for shipping and at ports.
...
In the event of an extreme emergency the most dramatic consequence would be every person eating a predominantly vegetarian diet - more cereals, fruit and vegetables and less meat and poultry. Cereals used to feed farm animals would be shifted into human food production.

Full story:
www.timesonline.co.uk

(UK) The meat heaters: 5,000 tons of unsold Tesco cuts a year are being burned to provide power for homes (06/08/09)

Tesco is sending 5,000 tons of leftover meat a year to be burned to generate electricity for homes, it emerged yesterday.
The supermarket disposes of enough meat that has passed its sell-by date to power 600 homes for a year through the National Grid.
Other major supermarkets plan to follow suit.
... 
Tesco has hailed the scheme as part of a 'green' drive which had enabled it to stop sending any of the waste it produces to environmentally damaging landfill sites. 
But the campaigners said the environmental benefits were far outweighed by the greenhouse gases produced by all the extra animals unnecessarily reared for slaughter in the first place.
...
Justin Kerswell, campaigns manager for Viva (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals), said: 'It's a sad indictment of modern life that not only hundreds of millions of animals are killed each year in the UK, but so much meat is left over from greed and indifference. 
'To turn this wasted meat into power might seem like a good idea at first, but you have to ask yourself why is so much left over and why are so many animals dying to provide this excess? 
'Surely killing fewer animals in the first place should be the aim.
'Whatever savings are made by turning this meat into energy is more than voided by the huge amount of greenhouse gases generated by the farming and production of the meat in the first place.
'Tesco should take a long hard look at its wasteful practices.'
Full story:
www.dailymail.co.uk

(US) The low cost of chickens (20/07/09)

I've not yet read Ellen Ruppel Shell's Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, but I have read a review of the book, and even a blog post about the review of the book, which in D.C., puts me ahead of the game to comment. "Cheap chicken, cheap shirts, cheap sneakers - they're all being paid for by somebody, even if it's not the person taking them home," writes Shell. Chicken is an interesting example here: It's really cheap. I can get a whole rotisserie chicken for the price of two bunches of carrots. But why? ... I sort of wonder how long we'll allow chicken producers to compete on low prices derived from in credible cruelty to animals, exploitation of illegal workers, and taxpayer subsidies to the corn industry. It's a pretty ugly scene, and the product eventually ends up on our plates.
Full story:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com

(UK) New film exposes unsavoury side of US food industry (14/06/09)

For millions of Americans, a trip to the cinema involves loading up on popcorn and supersized drinks before the show. 
But when the much-anticipated documentary Food, Inc. opens this week, many may find themselves unable to finish their snacks as the film exposes some unsavoury realities about how food reaches the dinner table.
...
In the film, the best-selling food writer Michael Pollan says: "The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000. You go into the supermarket and you see pictures of farmers, the picket fence and the 1930s farmhouse. The reality is, it's not a farm, it's a factory. That meat is being processed by huge multinational corporations that have very little to do with ranches and farmers."
The movie's director Robert Kenner compares the state of American food production to the current financial crisis. "Stupid high risk decisions brought the financial system low," he told The Daily Telegraph. "Our food system is unrecognisable from 40 years ago and it could fall off a cliff for the same reasons – unregulated greed and excessive risk-taking."
The film addresses the country's epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Among young Americans born after 2000, one in three will contract early onset diabetes. For blacks, Hispanics and American Indians a staggering one in every two will contract the disease.
Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation one of the driving forces behind the movie, said: "There is this deliberate veil, this curtain that's drawn between us and where our food is coming from.
"The industry doesn't want you to know the truth about what you're eating because if you knew, you might not want to eat it. We've never had food companies this big and this powerful in our history." 
Full story:
www.telegraph.co.uk

(AU) A meat-free revolution to help save the planet (15/05/09)

The Belgian city of Ghent yesterday embarked on a radical experiment that seeks to make every Thursday a day free of meat and of the fish and shellfish for which the city is renowned.
"Donderdag - Veggie Dag" has turned the burghers of Ghent into pioneers in the fight against obesity, global warming, cruelty to animals and against the myth that meat-free eating amounts to a diet of soggy lettuce, a slice of tomato and a foul-tasting bean burger.
The city council says it is the first town in Europe and probably the Western world to try to make the entire place vegetarian for a day every week. The Labour Party councillor pushing the scheme, Tom Balthazar, said: "There's nothing compulsory. We just want to be a city that promotes sustainable and healthy living."
Every restaurant in the city is to guarantee a vegetarian dish on the menu, with some going fully vegetarian every Thursday. From September, the city's schools are to make a meat-free meal the "default" option every Thursday, although parents can insist on meat for their children. At least one hospital wants to join in.
Full story:
www.theage.com.au
Related articles:
www.reuters.com

(BE) Belgian city plans 'veggie' days (12/05/09)

The Belgian city of Ghent is about to become the first in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week.
Starting this week there will be a regular weekly meatless day, in which civil servants and elected councillors will opt for vegetarian meals.
Ghent means to recognise the impact of livestock on the environment.
The UN says livestock is responsible for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, hence Ghent's declaration of a weekly "veggie day".
Public officials and politicians will be the first to give up meat for a day.
Schoolchildren will follow suit with their own veggiedag in September.
It is hoped the move will cut Ghent's environmental footprint and help tackle obesity.
Full story:
http://news.bbc.co.uk

(AU) Chop or change (19/04/09)

Red meat is a cornerstone of the Aussie diet, but is it bad for us? Melinda Houston reports on a meaty issue that has many of us baffled in the kitchen.
IT GIVES you cancer, heart disease, makes you go blind. Then it kills you. If a committee of prime Black Angus had convened to produce the research, the evidence against eating red meat could hardly be more damning.
Geoff Russell of Animal Liberation, in a magnificent (and possibly libellous) spray in Crikey last year, declared lamb chops the nicotine of the 21st century and compared eating red meat with "smoking cigarettes through your anus". Most of us aren't prepared to go that far, but many of us are wondering - and worrying - about the health implications of what has been one of the cornerstones of the Australian diet.
It's generally agreed these days that saturated fat - found in most red meat - significantly increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. The World Cancer Research Foundation finds "the evidence that red meats… are a cause of colorectal cancer is convincing". A study by researchers from the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital found an association between eating red meat and macular degeneration (which can result in vision loss); other research has linked red meat eating with breast cancer, kidney failure, lung and oesophageal cancer.
And now the clincher. A 10-year study of 500,000 participants published in the Archives of Internal Medicine last month found that people who eat more red meat and processed meat appear to have an increased risk of death from all causes.
Yet most scientists, nutritionists and dieticians support the consumption of red meat, up to and including the National Health and Medical Research Council, which includes red meat in its Dietary Guidelines for Australians. It's no wonder there's confusion in kitchens across the nation.
Full story:
www.theage.com.au

(US) Faith in our food choices (03/03/09)

While the motivations and details vary from religion to religion and person to person, they share a belief that there are physical, spiritual and moral consequences in people's food choices... The notion that environmental awareness and compassion should factor into food choice is influencing a growing Christian vegetarian and vegan movement.
"Christians who take their faith seriously see it impacting their entire life... and that would include the food they eat," said Stephen Kaufman, a physician and chairman of the Christian Vegetarian Association. Growing awareness of the negative environmental impact of animal agriculture - its consumption of foods that could feed the poor and its emission of greenhouse gases - makes vegetarian a moral imperative for Christians and a society that now has plenty of healthful alternatives to meat, Kaufman said. There is also a question of compassion for animals subjected to the cruel killing methods of the factory-style slaughter houses, he said.
Full story:
www.jacksonville.com

(US) Is it possible to be a conscientious meat eater? (18/02/09)

You may have noticed an onslaught of articles recently on what is being coined as the "new meat movement." These articles almost all support the idea that cruelty to animals is wrong and that factory-produced meat is unjustifiably bad for the environment. However, they are not opposed to meat in and of itself, they are simply opposed to industrial meat. The backlash against industrial meat has been brewing for many reasons.
Ever-increasing knowledge of the industry's effect on the environment, human starvation and animal welfare, is making it harder for even the most ardent omnivore to consume meat without guilt... Truth be told, this ["new"] meat is a marketing gimmick, an ideological pose, which assuages the ethical compulsions of those who consume it even though it does nothing to kick America's cheap meat habit, and perhaps contributes to the growing international fetishization of meat as a class signifier... "Conscientious omnivores" may believe that they are eating in a radical and ethical way. However, if one really examines the issues and thinks beyond their taste buds, it has to be agreed that animal products are dangerous for the planet and always cause unnecessary suffering.
Full story:
www.alternet.org

(US) Why you should become a vegetarian (06/02/08)

The most common reason for becoming a vegetarian is ethics. Whether people become conscious of animal treatment through videos or articles, friends or advertisements, this consciousness is what most leads many people including myself to make this dramatic lifestyle change. I felt that I was lucky to live in a world where I can afford to live without causing animals to die to feed me. I felt that the right animals have to live far outweighs my right to enjoy eating them. With the abundance in vitamins, recipes, and meat substitutes, modern food technology has made a vegetarian lifestyle easier than ever.
While concern for animals motivates many, others embrace vegetarianism for health reasons. Vegetarianism has been found to promote overall better health and decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, and many other diseases. Some argue that vegetarians may simply be more health-conscious, and that these health benefits may be correlation instead of causation. However, vegetarian diets contain less cholesterol, saturated fat, and contaminants - all of which are present in animal flesh, dairy products, and eggs. While vegetarians may be healthier partially due to increased attention to the foods they eat, the very make-up of a vegetarian diet contributes to the disparity in overall health between omnivores and vegetarians.
Although most do not become vegetarian for environmental reasons, vegetarianism also benefits the environment. The cost of meat far exceeds that of vegetables in terms of the earth's limited resources. Animals must eat, and valuable finite resources are used to transport food to every animal up until the day the animal is slaughtered. As gas and oil are used up to transport food (which could have gone to hungry humans), the vehicles used to transport this food also pollutes the air.
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