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News on an Emerging Vegan World – Autumn 2023

Scientists Say Europeans Must Eat “As Little Animal Products as Possible”

The European Commission has been told that Europeans should eat “as little animal products as possible” in order to reduce the impact of climate change. The comment was made by Professor Erik Mathijs, chair of the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) Working Group, after the publication of their latest report in June called Towards Sustainable Food Consumption.

The report was requested by the EU as part of their revision of the Farm to Fork Strategy – an initiative designed to make food systems more sustainable and healthy.

The report says that reducing animal product consumption is “the key mitigation option” to combat environmental impacts such as climate change and biodiversity loss.  It calls for policy measures such as taxes or bans on some products, and emphasises the benefits of plant-based diets in tackling chronic diseases, obesity, and biodiversity loss.

Viewers vow to Go Vegan after watching new Documentary ‘Poisoned’

Viewers who watched a new Netflix documentary about the seedy side of the US food industry have been so disgusted that they’ve vowed to go vegan. Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food is a Netflix documentary looking into the unsavoury side of food manufacturing including how it manages foodborne pathogens such as E.Coli.  It also documents the various cover-ups and criminal prosecutions in the food industry.

The film is based on Jeff Benedict’s book Poisoned: The True Story Of The Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed The Way Americans Eat.

The CDC reports that 1 in 6 Americans (around 48 million people) develop food poisoning each year. Pathogens like E.Coli can cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, urinary tract infections, stomach pains and cramps. While E.Coli is usually found in meat it is also found in some vegetables, as infected animal manure from farms can pollute river water used to irrigate crops.

Wales becomes first UK nation to Ban Snares and Glue Traps

Wales has become the first UK nation to ban snares and glue traps after a bill was voted through the Senedd on Tuesday, June 27.

A snare is a wire noose, usually attached to a stake, tree or another heavy object acting as an anchor. They are usually set to catch foxes or rabbits.  However,protected species such as badgers and in some cases, much-loved pets, have been caught in snares.

“Snares are indiscriminate and cause a cruel and painful death for anything caught,” said James Hitchcock, CEO of the Wales-based Radnorshire Wildlife Trust.  “There’s no place for them in the modern countryside. We hope this ban is monitored and enforced and that further improvements to legislation around shooting and game follow.”

Animal snare. Image: WWF

New Report shows Territory Restored to Indigenous and Local Communities

Land legally designated or owned by Indigenous, Afro-descendant and local communities increased by 254 million acres – an area larger than the size of Egypt – between 2015 and 2020.  Who Owns The World’s Land, a new report released by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) shows that these groups, numbering up to 2.5 billion people, now own more than 11% of Earth’s terrestrial land.

Decades of campaigning are bearing fruit and “mounting evidence concludes what Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant peoples, and local communities have long maintained – that they are the best managers of their lands and resources,” the report says. 

Progress has been credited to the UN’s sustainable development goals strategy, the Paris agreement, and campaigning by Land Rights Now. As well as righting historical wrongs, the ‘land back’ movement is seen as a crucial measure in the climate battle, with research showing how Indigenous territories ward off deforestation. 

More than 800m Amazon Trees felled in 6 years to meet Beef Demand

More than 800m trees were cut down in the Amazon rainforest between the years 2017 and 2022 in order to feed the world’s appetite for Brazilian beef.  So says a new investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), the Guardian, Repórter Brasil and Forbidden Stories.

The beef industry in Brazil has consistently pledged to avoid farms linked to deforestation. However, the data suggests that 1.7m hectares (4.2m acres) of the Amazon was destroyed near meat plants exporting beef around the world.  Nestlé and the German meat company Tönnies, which had supplied Lidl and Aldi, were among those to have apparently bought meat from the plants featured in the study.

Amazon deforestation. Photo: CNN

Plant-Based Food to Be Served at COP28

This year’s annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) will reportedly serve “mostly vegan food”.   It follows a letter sent by campaign groups with the help of ProVeg International which called for at least three-quarters of the menu at COP28 to be plant-based.

The presidency of the COP28 climate summit has written to youth activists from the groups YOUNGO (Youth Climate Movement) and Food@COP to confirm that plant-based foods will be available at the event.

The annual conference, which sees world leaders come together to discuss the climate crisis, will be held in Dubai this year from November 30 to December 12.  In the past, the conference has sparked a major backlash for sidelining and ignoring the impact of animal agriculture on the climate and environment.

Campaign groups say the move will send a clear message to delegates from nearly 200 countries about the importance of adopting plant-based diets to tackle climate change.

Northern Ireland Farming Expansion stalled over Ammonia Pollution

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has temporarily paused some planning applications on farms due to concerns over ammonia pollution. The move is likely to stall planning for farm sheds, animal houses and slurry stores.

Ammonia comes mainly from management of animal manures (housing, slurry storage and landspreading) as well as from grazing animals and from the spreading of synthetic fertiliser.  Though not a greenhouse gas, it can indirectly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.  This happens when ammonia volatilises from soil, moves through the air and is re-deposited elsewhere. This re-deposited ammonia can then act as a substrate for emissions of a potent greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.   Ammonia also presents a danger to human and animal health, and damages ecosystems.

New Study shows that Animal Agriculture is the Missing Piece in Climate Change Media Coverage

Despite the extensive research supporting the reduction of animal product consumption, there appears to be a disconnect between what the research shows and what the public understands. Given the role of the media in informing the public about important issues like climate change, a partner project between Faunalytics and Sentient Media sought to understand how the media communicates the environmental implications of animal agriculture to readers.

There were 4 key findings:

  1. Only 7% of climate articles mentioned animal agriculture and they rarely discussed its impact on climate change.
  2. The animal agriculture industry is often portrayed as a victim of climate change rather than a significant cause.
  3. There are countless missed opportunities to discuss animal agriculture in the context of climate change. Energy, transportation, emissions, and fossil fuels were given the spotlight in climate coverage.
  4. Impactful subsectors of animal agriculture are also not given enough attention by the media. Cattle farming is responsible for about 62% of animal agriculture emissions (FAO, 2022), yet cows were mentioned in just 30% of animal agriculture articles. Similarly, methane came up in 22% of animal agriculture articles despite accounting for 54% of the sector’s emissions.

You can read the full report here.

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