Veganism and Sustainability in the News

by Bronwyn Slater

2021 – 2030 to be ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’

In a move to fight climate change and restore degraded land and ecosystems the UN has declared the next 10 years the ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’.  Restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could take an additional 13-26 gigatons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Ecosystem restoration involves restoring landscapes, lakes and oceans so that they regain their ecological functionality.  This can be done by allowing the natural regeneration of overexploited ecosystems (ie. rewilding), or by planting trees, hedges and other plants.

 “We are pleased that our vision for a dedicated Decade has become reality,” said Lina Pohl, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador, a regional restoration leader. “We need to promote an aggressive restoration program that builds resilience, reduces vulnerability and increases the ability of systems to adapt to daily threats and extreme events.”

Companies behind the destruction of the Amazon are named

Maps showing the locations of slaughterhouses and soy facilities close to the Amazon fires point to the involvement of big companies like JBS and Cargill, showing that these companies are the principal drivers of deforestation.  JBS is Brazil’s largest meatpacker and the world’s largest meat company, and Cargill is a big exporter of soy worldwide. 

Brands like Costco, McDonald’s, Walmart, Asda, Stop & Shop and Sysco buy meat products from these companies and sell them to the public, thereby creating the international demand that finances the fires and deforestation.

JBS signed the 2009 Cattle Moratorium pledging not to buy beef from cattle connected to deforestation.  However, investigations have since found serious violations of the agreement by JBS, including cattle laundering.

Slovakia Bans Fur Farming

The Slovak National Council has approved a ban on fur production after a petition against fur farming received more than 76,000 signatures.  Slovakia has now become the 15th country in Europe to ban fur production.

The legislation, which comes into effect in 2021, passed with a majority vote of 107 out of 150 and includes a ‘phase-out period’ until 2025.

Foie Gras banned in New York

In October New York City Council voted to pass new legislation that will ban the sale of foie gras.  The ban, which will come into effect in 2022, follows similar rules in California, where the product was banned several years ago over animal welfare concerns.

Restaurants and grocery stores could face a fine of up to $2,000 if they break the new rules.  Manhattan councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who sponsored the legislation, described the process of making foie gras as ‘inhumane’, adding that it ‘is one of the most violent practices and it’s done for a purely luxury product’.

A quarter of the world’s pig population will die due to African Swine Fever

About a quarter of the global pig population is expected to die as a result of an epidemic of African Swine Fever.  The current outbreak is believed to have originated in Eastern Europe in 2014 and has now been identified in 50 countries.  The disease has been particularly devastating in China – home to the world’s largest pig population.

Dr Mark Schipp, vice-president of the World Organisation for Animal Health, told a press conference this week that the epidemic was “the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation”.  Veterinary scientists worldwide are trying to find a vaccine for the disease which does not spread to humans but is virtually 100% fatal once embedded in pig populations.

The virus can also survive several months in processed meat, and several years in frozen carcasses, so meat products are a particular concern for cross-border transmission.  In July meat containing the virus was found in products seized by port authorities in Northern Ireland.

Game Changers is Best Selling Documentary of all time on iTunes

In the space of just one week The Game Changers became the best-selling documentary of all time on iTunes.

The film, executive produced by Hollywood director James Cameron, documents the explosive rise of plant-based eating in professional sports and features some of the world’s top plant-based athletes including Lewis Hamilton and Patrik Baboumian.  It shows how plant-based diets increase performance in sport and allow athletes to outperform their meat-eating competitors.  The documentary is also available on Netflix.

Anti-Animal Testing Ad on US Television

An advert showing the cruelty and ineffectiveness of animal testing will be shown on US television.  The ad, created by vegan charity PETA, shows the world from a mouse’s perspective.  It features a cartoon mouse mixing chemicals in his laboratory classroom in the forest with a tagline that says: “Animals experimenting are cute.  Experimenting on animals isn’t.”   PETA pointed out that government officials admit that 95% of all new drugs that test safe and effective on animals fail in human trials, either because they simply don’t work or because they cause adverse effects.

Ireland has highest number of hunters per head of population in Europe

Ireland has the dubious honour of being number 1 in Europe for the number of hunters per head of population.  A recent study by the German Hunting Association found that Ireland has 72.8 hunters per 1,000 inhabitants.  Finland comes second with 55.6 while Cyprus is in third place with 52.3. France has 19.7 hunters per 1,000 of its inhabitants, while in Germany there are only 4.2 hunters for every 1,000 inhabitants.