Author Archives: Vegetarians of Washington

Hotel chain plans to offer full vegan menu at every location

Selina, a hospitality brand specializing in digital nomad-style hotels, is planning to create a plant-based version of every menu item at all its 155 locations worldwide, including the United States, as it sees a growing interest in vegan lifestyles of the Millennial and Gen Z travelers that it often attracts.

They have partnered with an Israel-based vegan meat brand, Redefine Meat, to bring in more plant-based options.  The brand offers whole-cut vegan meats such as beef and lamb flanks, as well as ground meats made using 3D printing and AI technologies.  The brand, which has a goal of becoming the world’s largest meat company, says the new partnership with Selina hotels will help Redefine Meat reach a much broader global audience.

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Diets that fight global warming

The food we consume has a massive impact on our planet. According to one analysis, based on UN data, the diet that helps fight global warming the most, by having the least greenhouse emissions, is the vegan diet followed by a vegetarian diet. You can see how the different diets stack up when it comes to global warming in the graph below.

Bar chart
How much CO2e (in billions of tonnes, or Gt) would be saved if the whole world switched to each of these diets. Terms as defined by CarbonBrief. Data: IPCC.

When it comes to global warming we need to move fast if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. A switch to a plant-based diet may be just what we need to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

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Singer/Songwriter Sia is vegan for the animals

Singer/Songwriter Sia Kate Isobelle Furler

Sia has always loved animals, and as a young artist struggling to survive, she vowed that if she ever found success, she would make it her mission to spend the rest of her life trying to help and protect animals.  She loved her dogs and became vegetarian when she realized that chickens and cows could feel, care and empathize just like her dogs could.

Sia, full name Sia Kate Isobelle Furler, is an Australian singer and songwriter, who started her career in the acid jazz band Crisp in the mid 1990s in Adelaide.  She released her first solo studio album in 1997, and then moved to London, and subsequently New York.  By 2014, she broke through as a solo recording artist, when her sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear, debuted at No 1 in the US Billboard 200, and has continued to produce albums and to write many songs for film.

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Cruelty to animals leads to violence against people

Time and time again, we learn that individuals who have committed violent acts against others—whether it be a spouse, a parent, or the 21 schoolchildren and teachers gunned down this year in Uvalde, Texas—also have a history of abusing animals. The mass murderer in Uvalde committed animal abuse and displayed videos of the cruelty to users on a social media platform, and he boasted about how he did it “all the time.”

Unfortunately this is part of a pattern. For example, Payton Gendron, who committed the May 14 racially-motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that left 10 Black people dead, posted videos showing his abuse of animals.

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Quarterback Justin Fields chooses vegan for performance

Justin Fields 2022

Justin Fields, the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, has discovered that following a plant-based diet makes him lighter and faster.  He first tried it in May 2020 while he was quarantined with his family, and they all decided to do a one-month plant-based challenge.  During that month, Fields noticed how his body felt better, and so at the end of the month, he continued with the diet, while the rest of his family went back to eating meat and dairy products.

Fields was drafted as the Bears’ number one choice in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, after playing college football at Ohio State university. He continued with the Bears into the 2022 season.  Of his vegan diet, he says:

“It’s changed the way I feel and the way I perform dramatically. I just feel so much lighter and faster. Football as a sport is so hard on your body so I just want to do anything I can to have the longest career possible.”

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Bacteria found in meat

Ground beef

Ground meat is very versatile. We can shape it into burgers, meatballs, and meatloaf. It can be stirred into chili and pasta sauce or stuffed into peppers, lasagna, and tacos. Americans like it so much that in 2021 alone, we purchased more than $13 billion worth of ground beef, turkey, pork, and chicken. But there’s a problem.

While meat increases the risk of many diseases, meat, especially ground meat, also often carries bacteria that can make you sick – or worse!

To assess the current safety of the nation’s ground meat supply, Consumer Reports recently tested 351 packages of ground beef, pork, chicken, and turkey purchased at stores throughout the country. Almost a third of the ground chicken packages they tested contained salmonella. They also found salmonella in a few samples of ground beef, pork, and turkey. To make matters worse, every single strain of salmonella was resistant to at least one antibiotic. We’ve written about the problem of antibiotic resistance developing in farmed animals before. That problem doesn’t seem to have gone away.

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The future of plant-based bacon

Can plant-based bacon taste like the real thing? Americans love their bacon, and it’s going to take a lot to get them to switch to plant-based versions. Vegan bacon brands have been around for years, and many of them are delicious.  They’re made from a variety of products, such as soy, mushrooms, and wheat-gluten, with flavorings such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, herbs and liquid smoke to give that authentic smoky flavor.  Many brands are readily available in grocery stores, giving us lots of choices, but none taste exactly like animal-based bacon.

A French company, La Vie, seems to have cracked the problem.  French farmers are so worried about La Vie’s plant-based bacon that the French Pork Lobby have accused La Vie of unfair competition.  The Pork Lobby claims that La Vie’s plant-based lardons are so similar to conventional pork alternatives that they must have copied the original flavor.  La Vie is flattered by the comparison and thanked the pork lobby for the “nicest compliment”.  Taking out a full back page advert in Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper, the bacon innovator directly addresses consumers first. “The pork lobby is attacking us because our veggie lardons are indistinguishable from pork lardons.” 

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Congress urges fed facilities to offer a vegetarian option

Congressmen and women want federal agencies to start offering vegetarian food options at all federal facilities—from cafeterias in federal agencies and military bases to museums and national parks.

Thirty two members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Biden, to push him to “strongly encourage all federal agencies to make a vegetarian entrée available everywhere that federal government cafeterias are serving meals—from federal agencies, museums and national parks to prisons and military bases.” This would, of course, be for the benefit of federal employees, but the general public might benefit as well. This is because plant-based meals are healthier than meats, so say the lawmakers.

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Live longer with plant-based diet

A young adult in the U.S. could add more than a decade to their life expectancy by changing their diet from a typical Western diet to an optimized diet that includes more legumes, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and less red and processed meat, according to a new study.

Gains are predicted to be larger the earlier the dietary changes are initiated in life. For older people, the anticipated gains to life expectancy from such dietary changes would be smaller but still substantial. The message is clear. You’re never too young to start on a plant-based diet, and you’re never too old to benefit from it.

According to the study, young people starting out at age 20 could, on average, add 10 years to life expectancy for women and 13 years for men. Starting at age 60, it could add 8 years, on average, for women and 9 years, on average, for men. Even 80-year-old women and men could add 3 years, on average, to their life expectancy.

This should come as no surprise. The Journal of the American Medical Association says that diet is the number one risk factor for disease in the United States. Among the 10 leading causes of death (before COVID) are heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, all of which a plant-based diet can help prevent and treat.

According to the study, an optimal diet had substantially higher intake than a typical western diet of whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  Yet, many doctors treat nutrition as a side issue. Of course, they were offered little to no training in medical school.

Of course, we don’t say that nutrition is the only relevant factor in life expectancy. For instance cigarette smoking has a large impact, along with access to medical care. Nevertheless, the nutritional effect  on health is considerable and offers a wide ranging opportunity for increasing life expectancy.

Animals win court battle

Preparing to dehorn a steer

In 2018, Erin Wing worked for two months at a 1,000-cow dairy farm in a small town in Pennsylvania, where she was one of 10 employees who milked and fed the cows. But something set her apart from the other workers – unlike the other employees Wing wore a hidden camera, living a double life as an undercover investigator for Animal Outlook, an animal advocacy nonprofit.

Wing captured a variety of horrors on film. Some were inhumane but legal and not uncommon in the dairy industry. But she also documented acts of cruelty that seemed wholly gratuitous, like employees beating, stomping on, and kicking cows, and many others I won’t mention because they are so horrible.

“All told, we documented over 300 incidents that we believed violated Pennsylvania’s laws,” says Will Lowrey, an attorney with Animal Outlook. The Pennsylvania State Police opened an investigation, and over a year later it announced that the district attorney of Franklin County in Pennsylvania would not press charges against the farm as a corporation, its owner, or the 14 current and former employees.

The DA’s decision wasn’t surprising. Many undercover investigations that document cruelty to farmed animals don’t result in prosecution.  According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are no federal animal welfare laws regulating the treatment of the billions of “food animals” while they’re on the farm. Further, while all 50 states have cruelty statutes, most explicitly exempt common farming practices, no matter how abusive and cruel.

But some progress is being made. By getting laws passed, animal advocates have been able to ban or restrict the use of some customary farming practices, mostly cages and crates for hens and pigs, in 14 states. Due to a quirk in Pennsylvania’s legal code — the ability of private citizens to challenge government officials’ decision not to prosecute — Animal Outlook was able to circumvent that invisibility and set a new precedent for animal law. The organization’s initial petition was denied, so it appealed to Pennsylvania’s Superior Court.

Last month, in a precedent-setting decision, the court’s three-judge panel ruled that the lower court was required to order the Franklin County district attorney to prosecute Martin Farms for animal cruelty, including over common practices like dehorning without pain mitigation. Citing Dr. Holly Cheever, a veterinarian who reviewed the investigative footage, the decision went on to state that “the technique used by Martin Farms as shown in the video caused the calves to be ‘in agonizing pain, shown by their violent thrashing and bellowing.’” As an aside, there’s a lot of unacknowledged pain involved in the dairy industry.  See Do Animals Feel Pain?

The judge characterized the district attorney’s position on exempting dehorning without pain mitigation as “absurd,” creating a crack in the meat industry’s ironclad legal armor, which gives us hope for the future.

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