Tuesday, October 3, 2023

News on an Emerging Vegan World – Spring 2023

Lidl Announces Plans To Reduce Meat In Stores

Lidl has announced that it will reduce the amount of meat in its stores while at the same time increasing its plant-based range through 2025 and beyond. 

At Berlin’s International Green Week in January Lidl’s chief buyer Christoph Graf discussed the implications of feeding the world.  He said that food resources need to be managed carefully and less meat should be eaten if we are going to be able to feed 10 billion people in the future.  “We need a more conscious diet all over the world to feed ourselves within our planetary limits,” Graf said.

He went on to state that there is “no alternative” to Lidl’s meat reduction as there is “no second planet.”  Graf also sees the addition of a more extensive plant-based offering as a competitive advantage to attract a younger target group to Lidl.

Lidl plan to increase their plant-based range

Animal testing no longer required in drug development in the US 

“For the first time in more than 80 years, a change in U.S. law allows the animal-free testing of new drugs using modern, human-based methods. The Irish Anti-Vivisection Society (IAVS) called for Ireland and the EU to use this as an example by developing and implementing a strategy for human-relevant drug development without animal testing. 

The new law, signed by U.S. President Joe Biden at the end of December 2022, allows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve new drugs without demanding data from animal testing. Previously, pharmaceutical companies were required by law to test the safety and efficacy of their drug candidates in multiple animal trials using at least two species before they were allowed to test the drug candidates in clinical trials with human subjects and patients.

“A large amount of data clearly exposes the failure of the outdated system based on animal testing. On average, 92% of drug candidates that successfully pass all animal tests are later abandoned during human clinical trials, mainly because they do not work or cause significant side effects,” says Dr. Dilyana Filipova, a scientist at the German group Doctors Against Animal Experiments, a partner of the IAVS in the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE).” 

Photo credit: Animal Legal Defense Fund

Read the full article on the IAVS Website here.

Scientists say gruesome cigarette-style warnings on meat could reduce consumption

A recent study carried out at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands found that consumers were less inclined to buy products featuring labels which showed the harmful effects of eating meat.  The study, entitled ‘The effect of meat-shaming on meat eaters’ emotions and intentions to adapt behavior’, was published in the journal Food Quality and Preference.

Labels included images of animal suffering and images of destroyed Amazon forests, accompanied by messages such as: ‘Animals suffer when you eat meat’ and ‘The Amazon rainforest is destroyed when you eat meat.’

Some of the labels on meat suggested by researchers. Photo credit: Dailymail.co.uk

The authors of the study say that meat-shaming messages trigger shame but also other negative emotions that translate into reduced purchase intentions: “Our analyses show that adding a sticker to a meat package, warning potential customers about the negative consequences of their purchase, may be an effective way to influence buyers’ behavior.”

Edinburgh Becomes First European Capital to Sign The Plant Based Treaty

In January Edinburgh became the 20th city to endorse the Plant Based Treaty, joining Los Angeles, Boynton Beach in Florida, Haywards Heath in the UK, Didim in Turkey, and 15 Indian cities.

City councillors said that in signing the treaty they were “declaring a climate emergency – an acknowledgement that food systems are a main driver of the climate emergency and that a shift towards plant-based diets can go a huge way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.

City of Edinburgh. (Source: Pixabay)

Green Councillor Steve Burgess brought forward the motion to endorse the Treaty in March of last year, describing the shift towards plant-based foods as a win-win-win for society. “Plant based foods have a lower environmental impact, significant health benefits, and reduce animal welfare impacts,” Burgess stated.

$477 million Invested in Canada’s Plant-based Food Sector in Four Years 

“Over the past four years, Protein Industries Canada and our industry partners have made tremendous progress, including investing more than $477 million into Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredient ecosystem through 55 innovative projects,” said Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada. “Our approach to collaborative innovation, our natural advantages in crop production, our commitment to sustainability, and our supportive governments are all factors distinguishing Canada from our competitors.” 

You can read the full article here.

EU agrees deforestation law but as usual it includes a lot of loopholes 

In a world first, companies will have to show that their products have not contributed to deforestation if they want to sell them in the EU.  Companies will be required to trace their commodities back along the supply chain to the plot of land, and prove that forest was not recently cleared, or face fines.  

Greenpeace warned that while the law will protect forests, the human rights of Indigenous People will receive only “flimsy” protection, and other nature like savannahs and peatlands are not covered.  The law will apply to companies selling soy, beef, palm oil, wood, rubber, cocoa and coffee, and some derived products like leather, chocolate and furniture. Currently, people in the EU have no guarantee that the items in their shopping baskets are not the product of deforestation.  

Land that has been deforested for palm oil. Photo: Reuters

Under pressure from the European forestry sector and the Canadian Government, EU governments secured a loophole that allows continued unsustainable logging of natural forests. National governments also resisted a push by the European Parliament to include respect for international human rights law, to protect indigenous peoples, in the deforestation law. 

Some politicians were pushing to include the protection of other ecosystems such as savannahs and wetlands and also to include additional products including maize and biodiesel.  Others were calling for European financial institutions to ensure their loans did not encourage deforestation.  These proposals were rejected and will now only be considered as part of a review process in two years time.  Despite its major flaws, any protection of forests is good news for biodiversity and climate as new research shows that forests have an additional climate cooling effect independent to their carbon sequestration.  

Perfect Day launch Precision Fermentation Cow-free Whey Protein in US Markets 

Perfect Day was founded in Cork, Ireland in 2014 by Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi.  Their animal-free milk from flora is the first of its kind, using whey protein made by microflora, not cows, to make dairy that’s identical to traditional whey protein – with 97% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and zero slaughter. 

Since its creation in 2014, Perfect Day has secured a total of US$750 million in funding and also created a line for Mars chocolate bars but it is mainly known for its animal-free dairy line.  Their products are already available in Singapore.  If their product reaches price parity it will surely disrupt the entrenched dairy industry around the world. 

In 2022 Nestlé, the World’s largest food company, unveiled an animal-free dairy beverage dubbed cowabunga to be trialled in six select Safeway stores in San Francisco.  The new dairy beverages containing Perfect Day’s animal-free protein is available in milk and chocolate flavours and fortified with calcium and vitamin D under Nestlé’s new Cowabunga brand. 

In futher news on plant based milks, “SunOpta, a leading producer of healthy foods and beverages, announces the opening of a $125M plant-based beverage production facility in Midlothian, Texas. According to SunOpta, the new ‘mega facility’ will create 175 jobs and strongly expand the company’s manufacturing capabilities, allowing it to double its business by 2025 compared to 2020.”  Read more here. 

Europe plagued by ‘most devastating’ bird flu outbreak ever, EU says

Between October 2021 and September 2022, around 2,500 outbreaks of bird flu were detected on farms in 37 European countries, according to the EU.  In that time some 50 million birds were slaughtered on affected farms.  The virus has also been detected more than 600 times in wild birds, notably ducks and swans, which may have contributed to the spread of the virus between farms.

Last October, workers at an intensive mink fur farm in Galicia, northwestern Spain, noticed an unusually high number of animals were dying.  All 50,000 minks at the farm were culled, and the workers were quarantined.  Researchers have now said that the virus found in the mink carried a mutation to the PB2 gene, similar to that found when bird flu jumped to pigs in the late 2000s. 

While the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says the risk of infection in humans is low, and “low to medium” for people working in contact with birds and poultry, experts have repeatedly warned that intensive farms like these could act as incubators for the virus, and increase the likelihood of it mutating to spread among humans. 


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