Category Archives: Environment

Animals dying in Australia

KoalaProfessor Chris Dickman, of the University of Sydney, estimates the number of animals killed in the bushfires in the New South Wales region of Australia to be more than 800 million animals, with more than one billion animals impacted nationally. Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food, shelter and habitat. Fire is a painful way for an animal to die. These poor animals are victims of global warming, and a prime driver of global warming is eating animal derived foods.

So far Australia has lost 15 million acres (think twice the size of Belgium) of land to ravenous wildfires. Unprecedented is the scope of these current fires, touching almost every region of Australia and devouring more land mass than any previous bushfire in Australian history. Authorities and witnesses have likened the damage and evacuation measures to a war zone as fires burn through areas larger than some small European countries.

Fire_at_the_Top_End_of_AustraliaWeather conditions feeding the fires are historic. Australia suffered its hottest day on record with temperatures in Australia last month hitting 49.9 C (121.8 F), with the average annual temperature 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1960 to 1990 average. This extreme heat and drought create more tinder to fuel fires. The heightened intensity and frequency of wildfires falls in line with scientists’ predictions for a warming world.

If there was ever a time to take accountability for your individual impact on the environment, the time is now. As we’ve seen through various scientific studies eating a vegan diet could be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on earth. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent.

Oxford University scientist, Joseph Poore, says that “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”  A United Nations report says that raising livestock causes more global warming than all the cars, trucks, ships, boats, trains and planes in the world all put together.

Learn more about the impact of meat consumption on climate change.

Golden Globes goes vegan

Golden Globes red carpetThe 77th annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday made history by becoming the first major awards show to go vegan. Every year, the chefs at the Beverly Hilton are tasked with feeding Hollywood’s finest at the Golden Globes: this year, the guest list includes Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Eddie Murphy, to name a few. So what do you serve a ballroom with so much star-power? Matthew Morgan, Executive Chef has an answer: vegan cuisine.

The menu was inspired: an appetizer of chilled golden beet soup—a perfect accompaniment to those gleaming statuettes. This was followed by a main course of King Oyster Mushroom scallops that, at least visually, are dead ringers for their pescatarian counterparts. The entrée was accompanied with wild mushroom risotto, Brussels sprouts, globe carrots, and pea tendrils. Dessert was a vegan opera dome with praline Gunaja crumble and caramelized hazelnuts.

Joaquin PhoenixThe vegan menu was the brainchild of actor Joaquin Phoenix, who also took home the best actor in a drama award for his performance in Joker. “First I would like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for recognizing and acknowledging the link between animal agriculture and climate change, it’s a very bold move, making tonight plant-based,” he said during his acceptance speech.

Lorenzo Soria, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who helped organize the event said, “The decision to serve an entirely plant-based meal was embraced by our partners at the Beverly Hilton, and represents a small step in response to a big problem. By serving a 100% plant-based meal, we’re hoping to raise awareness around small changes that can have a great impact.”

Shift to sustainable diet, report says!

Footprints - green

The latest report has just been released, in what seems like a steady stream of scientific reports saying that cutting out meat is a powerful way to fight global warming.

The report from the Imperial College London says, “In countries with high per-capita meat consumption, like the UK, a shift towards plant-based diets would deliver up to around a 73 percent reduction in diet-related emissions compared to current levels and would require 70-80 percent less farmland.”

The report goes on to say, “Shifting to more sustainable diets, with reduced meat and dairy and more plant-based proteins and foods, offers a huge opportunity for consumers to reduce their personal carbon footprints with no additional cost and would also deliver large health benefits and … cost savings to society.”

The report gives, as an example, that a veggie burger produces only one tenth of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to a beef burger. With so many choices of veggie burgers to choose from these days, from traditional favorites like the Boca Burger or the Gardenburger, to the latest meaty alternatives, such as the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger, consumers have fewer and fewer excuses for choosing beef for dinner.

 

Big changes in the food industry

Almond trees

Almond tree farm

For years, the dairy and meat industries have been producing staple foods that they thought every person needed to eat in order to be healthy.  In many countries, especially in the United States, these industries are subsidized by the government to encourage production, support the farmers and keep the costs for consumers down.  But gradually the winds of change are sweeping through the food industry.  People are recognizing that these products are costly and inefficient, damaging to the environment and very hard on the animals. In addition they’re not good for our health as people liked to think. More and more people want to buy alternatives. Read more

Beans can save us!

Beans for beef

Beans alone can make the big difference in the global warming crisis.  Recently, a team of scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University calculated just what would happen if every American made one dietary change: substituting beans for beef. They found that if everyone were willing and able to do that America could still come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals. Read more

Raising beef is killing the Amazon!

Rainforest firesRaising beef is killing the Amazon. The Amazon is the largest rainforest on the planet but it’s being attacked by fire. One of Brazil’s scientific agencies, recorded 72,843 fires in the Amazon this year alone, marking an 83 percent surge compared to the same period in 2018. The rainforest is considered vital in slowing global warming.  It’s also home to uncountable species of fauna and flora and, just as important, clearing and burning it creates massive soil erosion and without soil the plants can’t grow.

The ecological devastation is done in the service of the surging demand for beef, says Nathalie Walker, the director of the tropical forest and agriculture program at the National Wildlife Federation.

Cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in every Amazon country, accounting for 80 percent of current deforestation rates. Amazon Brazil is home to approximately 200 million head of cattle, and while Brazil’s own consumption of beef is high, it’s the largest exporter in the world, supplying about one-quarter of the global market. Hong Kong is the biggest global importer of Brazilian beef products, bringing in about $1.5 billion worth in 2017, according to the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association. China is second, at nearly $1 billion, followed by Iran.

While the Amazon may seem far away, its destruction is affecting the whole planet. As long as there’s a high demand for beef, Brazil will continue to profit from it by cutting down the rainforest to clear space for raising beef cattle and the crops to feed them. We can all play a part in showing that we care about the health of the Amazon, by adopting a healthy, compassionate, delicious, and environmentally conscious plant-based diet.

Land use and climate change

Land use - grass and trees

A major UN report, Creating a Sustainable Food Future, addressing land use and climate change, states that the high consumption of meat and dairy produce is fueling global warming. It’s also making it hard to grow enough food for an expanding population.

The document, prepared by 107 scientists, says that if land were used more effectively, it could store more of the carbon emitted by humans. They also said that more people could be fed using less land if individuals cut down on eating meat. It’s estimated that 12 people could be fed a plant-based diet using the equivalent land for one person’s diet centered on meat. This equates to fewer trees cut or burned down to provide land to produce food.

The Earth’s land surface, and the way it is used, forms one of the foundations of human society and the global economy, but we are reshaping it in dramatic ways. Soil is sometimes neglected as part of the climate system, but it’s the second largest store of carbon after the oceans.

In order to feed the predicted 9.8 billion people on Earth in 2050, the world will need to produce 56 per cent more food compared to 2010. If the level of meat and dairy consumption rises in line with current food habits, six million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles) of forests would need to be converted to agriculture – an area twice the size of India. Two thirds would be changed to pastureland, with the final third being used for crops most of which would be used for animal feed, according to the report. The loss of carbon-dioxide-absorbing trees that are being cut down, further adds to climate change.

Johan Rockstrom, former director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Change Impact Research, said: ‘To have any chance of feeding ten billion people in 2050 within planetary boundaries, we must adopt a healthy, plant-based diet, cut food waste, and invest in technologies that reduce environmental impacts.’

Let’s hope this report provides a wake-up call to farmers and policy makers worldwide.

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