A roundup of some of the main vegan and sustainability news items over the past few months..
By Bronwyn Slater
Canada’s new food guide promotes plant-based diets
Canada’s new food guide will focus more on plant-based foods and will eliminate dairy altogether. The guide establishes the importance of whole foods and specifies that plant-based foods such as legumes are a preferred source of protein. People are recommended to eat unsaturated fat rather than saturated fat. (Saturated fats are found almost exclusively in animal-based foods.)
There will no longer be a dairy food group. Instead, the guidelines will advise people to drink water. It also says that “Diets higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods are associated with a lesser environmental impact.”
‘What the Health’ movie released on Netflix
The long-awaited movie from Cowspiracy makers Keegan Kuhn and Kip Andersen was released in the US on the 7th of March, 2017 and subsequently went live on Netflix. Many people have reported going vegan or plant-based after seeing the movie which makes shocking claims about the detrimental health effects of meat, dairy and fish, and the possible collusion between these industries, pharmaceutical industries and health organisations. Check out our movie review here.
UK Advertising Standards Authority allows dairy to be described as ‘inhumane’
An advertising campaign by Go Vegan World describing dairy as ‘inhumane’ was given the green light by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK in July this year. The full-page ad which featured a photo of a cow behind a piece of barbed wire and the headline “Humane milk is a myth. Don’t buy it” appeared in a number of UK national newspapers.
Smaller text in the ad stated: “I went vegan the day I visited a dairy. The mothers, still bloody from birth, searched and called frantically for their babies. Their daughters, fresh from their mothers’ wombs but separated from them, trembled and cried piteously, drinking milk from rubber teats on the wall instead of their mothers’ nurturing bodies. All because humans take their milk.”
The decision is a great blow to the dairy industry which is losing customers as people switch to vegetarian or vegan diets. Farmers said they were ‘angry and disappointed’ with the ruling. Sandra Higgins, director of the Go Vegan campaign, said the dairy industry had been trying to silence her group.
New Vegan Kids’ Magazine launched
A new magazine for children and young adults was launched in Australia this summer. The magazine aims to educate kids, to bring them together and inspire them. The first issue features interviews with vegan celebrities, recipes and nutritional information, information about animals, fun activities and a vegan kids club. You can purchase a copy here.
Bear bile farming banned in Vietnam
An agreement by the Vietnamese government to end the practise of bear bile farming was announced by animal advocacy group Animals Asia in July this year.
The practice of consuming bear bile is extremely popular across Asia. It is believed that the bear’s bile fluid contains medicinal properties that can do everything from cure a hangover to improve dental hygiene and treat many other ailments.
Bear bile farms are cruel operations where bears are locked into tiny “crush” cages and tortured with sharp objects to drain the bile from inside of their gallbladders, over and over again. Some of the animals have permanent seeping wounds, with bags attached to catch the fluid.
Petition to protect Europe’s last ancient forest in Poland
Poland’s Białowieża Forest is one of Europe’s oldest forests with a biodiverse ecosystem. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 180 bird species breed there. Lynx and elk are among the 59 mammal species that live there. The forest is also the habitat of 900 bison – the largest wild herd on the continent.
Loggers using heavy machinery do not even stop for 150-year-old spruces and ignore the breeding seasons of birds. Once the forest is gone it is lost forever.
You can sign the petition to save Bialowieza here: Save Białowieża, Poland’s last primeval forest!
Oil and Gas Drilling off the Irish Coast gets government approval
On the 11th of July the Irish government granted consent to oil & gas drilling by Providence Resources PLC in the Porcupine Basin off the Irish south-west coast. They expect to find 5 billion barrels of oil.
International climate experts state that 80% of the known fossil fuels have to stay in the ground if we want to avoid going over the safe 2 degrees limit of global warming. Any investment in the fossil fuel industry will result in what is known as ‘carbon lock-in’, taking us on an irreversible trip to dangerous levels of global warming that threaten global eco-systems.
You can sign the petition here – No Oil or Gas Drilling off Irish Coast
Fracking banned in Ireland and new Waste Reduction Bill passed
Hydraulic fracturing is set to be banned in Ireland after the senate passed legislation in June this year outlawing the practice. Fracking involves water being pumped at high pressure into rocks to split them and release gas and oil deposits. The bill, which was passed by both houses of parliament, will mean that Ireland joins France, Germany and Bulgaria in banning the practice onshore.
More good news came in the form of a new Waste Reduction Bill which passed the second stage in the Irish parliament in July. It calls for a ban on single-use, non-compostable cups and other tableware and for the introduction of deposit-and-return schemes for plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans. According to Mindy O’Brien of Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment (VOICE), the legislation would be “a landmark achievement” and would “make Ireland cleaner and greener”.
CETA Trade Deal opposed by Irish organisations
A broad coalition that included representatives from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Environmental Pillar, the International Small Business Alliance, the Stop CETA Alliance Ireland and Comhlamh have called for the rejection of the CETA trade deal by the Irish government.
The Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), which has not yet been ratified by the Irish parliament, includes a number of conditions which are seen as objectionable by the coalition, in particular, the Investor Court Settlement arbitration system which would allow foreign big business to sue governments when their actions impact on a company’s profits.
The coalition said that while it recognises the importance of trade for a small open economy like Ireland, they are united in opposition to CETA as a “bad trade deal” that will compromise laws to protect health, food standards, the environment, worker’s rights, and the rule of law.
Comhlamh have produced a guide for engaging public representatives which you can view here.
Petition to safeguard Ireland’s soil, food, water and health
Ireland’s soil is at risk from harmful pesticides, while dodgy industry and excessive development have jeopardised the future of our food, our water, and our health.
Uplift members have teamed up with organisations across Ireland and Europe to push for the European Commission to pass a Directive to safeguard soil. They need 8,250 signatures by September 12th 2017. Can you add your name to the petition here?