Hollywood actress Maggie Q on how becoming vegan can help save the planet

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2116303/hollywood-actress-maggie-q-how-becoming-vegan-can

The Mission: Impossible star tells City Weekend of her passion for animal welfare and why she became a vegan

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 October, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 October, 2017, 2:54pm

 

The Mission: Impossible III star views her acting career as a stepping stone to pursuing her true passion – environmentalism.

From supermodel Gisele Bundchen’s eco-friendly flip-flop line to a Leonardo DiCaprio film on global warming, those in the limelight are leveraging their celebrity status to push causes close to their heart.

For Q, promoting veganism is her way of doing her bit to build a sustainable future. She says carbon emissions from animal farming are “the real issue driving climate change”.

“Once you’ve done the research you can’t unlearn what you know,” says Q, who became a vegan 20 years ago.

A report by the United Nations in 2010 said a global shift towards a vegan diet would be vital to save the world from hunger and the worst effects of climate change.

One lesser known cause of climate change is raising animals for food consumption, which requires huge amounts of land, food, energy and water.

Over half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture, according to a report by research organisation the Worldwatch Institute, and more than 90 per cent of the Amazon rainforest land cleared since 1970 has been used to raise livestock.

Q tells City Weekend that kicking our meat habit will be the most important building block towards preserving our planet for future generations.

How do animals relate to environmental sustainability?

We are seeing climate change right in front of our eyes. One of the things that is missing from political discourse, from policy, from government, is the fact that the leading cause of carbon emissions in the world is animal agriculture and no one is talking about it. This is the real issue that is driving climate change.

Ninety per cent of rainforest destruction is caused by animal agriculture. We raise 70 billion animals for food annually – this is using up 45 per cent of the world’s land mass and most of our water. In the United States, 5 per cent of our fresh water is used in homes and 55 per cent goes to animals so that we can eat richer foods.

About 18 per cent of emissions are from animal agriculture, and 13 per cent are from transportation. That 18 per cent is from the methane, the ammonia, the nitric oxide which is being put into the air by animal waste.

It’s not a sustainable way to live. First world countries are very spoiled: we can eat richer foods because we have the money to attain them. You have to remember there is a cost, it doesn’t come for nothing: 80 to 90 per cent of the fresh water in the US goes to agriculture.

I understand it’s a topic that makes people uncomfortable. Food is a comfort thing and we associate it with being cared for. But the truth of the global impact cannot be denied any more. The science is there.

What is the main thing we can do in everyday life to pass on the Earth in a sustainable way to future generations?

I can’t tell anyone else what to do, but I don’t eat animals: that is my daily solution. As a vegan I save 1,100 gallons of water a day. It takes 440 gallons of water to produce a pound of eggs, 1,000 gallons to produce a gallon of milk, 900 gallons to produce a pound of cheese, and 2,500 to produce beef. If we are talking about a sustainability message, you cannot leave out the animal message – absolutely impossible.

I don’t have the power to make the change I want to. I can only wake up every day and look in the mirror and say I am making the best decision. I worry about the world I am leaving. We are looking at a world that is facing ultimate destruction if we don’t make better, smarter choices, and that starts with you. Every dollar you spend goes to feed a corporation that is either responsible or not responsible. I have felt in life very underpowered in moments because it can be a very overwhelming issue. In the absence of my power in some areas, I know that every single day my dollar is a vote. And I don’t want to contribute to anyone who is not responsible. That is the power I have. Know that every day when you wake up you have those choices, and those choices can become very powerful for the future of our environment.

What is the main issue China, or Hong Kong, needs to address when it comes to the environment?

With China being the leading population in the world, when you talk about carbon emissions from food, this is the largest footprint in the world. Meat consumption in China has gone way up because of the influence of the Western diet. The No 1 restaurant in China is KFC, which I find completely disgusting, but they are being influenced by our fast food. So there is no country in the world that has a bigger carbon footprint than China.

What are your thoughts on China’s Yulin dog meat festival?

Any kind of cruelty for me is off the table. I understand that culturally certain people do certain things, but when I speak to my Chinese friends they say that this is not cultural, this is new. This is not something that is ancient, that they have done forever. A lot of times these practices spring up because they make money. If you’re just collecting animals off the street or stealing people’s dogs, that is not a lot of overheads.

What does it mean to use your platform to speak out, and do you feel pressured to do so?

Passion – that’s all I feel. Our rainforest, the lungs of the planet, are disappearing because we need to feed our cows. That’s not worth it, a steak is not worth that.

I sort of feel like my career is a stepping stone to talk about the things I really want to talk about. I enjoy my career – I’m an artist, a creative person and obviously that fulfils a certain part of me – but at the same time we have a social responsibility as people in the public eye to speak of the things we are passionate about, the things we believe can make a difference. And if we are not doing that, why do we even have a public platform?

How do you influence people around you to lead a green life?

With the facts. The thing is, now we have statistics that are undeniable. I used to try to influence people to be more compassionate in their lifestyle and their diets, but you can’t always influence people to be compassionate the way you are. We are different people for different reasons, but now with the environmental impact and footprint that a meat diet has, you really can’t look at the facts and not care what is being done to our planet.

A meat diet is the No 1 destroyer of our planet. No 2 is transportation, and even 25 per cent of that transportation is meat transport, so now we are talking about the No 1 and No 2 killers of our planet. This is unacceptable. We know the facts, and if we are not doing anything about it, not making individual decisions to be better, we are guilty of destroying our planet.

It is difficult to eat cheaply as a vegan. How do we get companies to supply more options?

There is a way to eat sustainably that is not super fancy, where you don’t have to shop in Central. I was talking to someone the other day about his rice and beans supply: US$20 a month feeds him all the beans and protein he needs. He buys vegetables at the farmers’ market – grains in bulk. That’s really how you bring the price down. If we don’t demand it, the price is not going to come down.

There is a fear in the business world – no one wants to be on the outside of what people want. You guys in Hong Kong had the massive protest a few years ago that was so impressive, I started crying when I saw. The Hong Kong people so impressed me, because it was something they truly believed in. They took to the streets and they said, this is not something we can accept. That is what you do with your dollar; silently, in your homes, on your credit card, at the ATM – you can protest daily through your decisions, or you can do it en masse as you did, but again, the power is in our hands.

Do you have any future plans for movies in China, or about the environment?

If the script is good, I’ll work anywhere. I am talking to different movie companies in China and Hong Kong all the time, but it’s hard because of the timing. When you’re on a television show, you work nine or 10 months of the year, so it’s hard to find the time.

There are three things I want to make movies about: environmental problems, animals and human rights. Those are the three things I look out for all the time.

You were selected by Jackie Chan in Hong Kong as a future action star. How does it feel to be back in the city?

For me it’s very personal because I’ve met some of my best friends in the world here. I have people here who are like family, so coming back is important to me. It’s been a long time.

MAKING SENSE OF MAGGIE

Maggie Q was born in Honolulu in Hawaii to an Irish and Polish father and a Vietnamese mother.

The 38 year old left the islands as a youngster after her family were unable to support her through her course studying veterinary science at university, and so she started modelling in Tokyo aged 17.

She later undertook modelling work in Hong Kong where she began going by the surname Q after finding Asian audiences had trouble pronouncing her actual surname, Quigley.

She was spotted by Jackie Chan as a potential action movie star and later worked alongside him in Rush Hour 2. Next came a role in spy thriller Mission: Impossible III, in which she starred opposite Tom Cruise. Since last year she has been seen in the drama series Designated Survivor as FBI agent Hannah Wells.

Q was named by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) as 2008’s Asia-Pacific person of the year. Last year she appeared on a billboard for the NGO to promote diet change in aid of climate change.

Facts about Q:

At one stage she took care of eight rescue dogs, and now has two

She has three tattoos: one on each arm, and a phoenix on her left hip

She won an athletics scholarship to university

She got engaged to her fiancé, American actor Dylan McDermott, after four months dating

Yoga is her main form of exercise

She has been trained in sword fighting

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Vegan Demographics 2017 – USA, and the world

http://veganbits.com/vegan-demographics-2017/

vegan demographics

 It’s been a long time since I’ve written about vegan demographics. Do we care? Should we care? Probably not, but since Jane and I are coming up on ten years as vegans in a few months, I figured now was a good time to look at the vegan demographic statistics. As you might suspect, it’s not easy to determine how many vegans there are. It’s not like you enter that information on your census report. There are all sorts of polls on vegetarians and vegans. I like getting my data from faunalytics.org. Most, but not all of the following information is from their site.

We are the one (half) percent

So how many vegans are there in the USA? Based on a sampling of 11,000 adults, aged 17 and over, only two percent of Americans are vegetarian. Only one-in-four vegetarians — or 0.5% of the USA adult population — is vegan. Only half of one percent of the USA population — or 1.62 million of us — is vegan.

(Is 11,000 a reasonable sampling? Perhaps you are think that this sampling is too small and is therefore skewing the results. I suspect otherwise. This sampling is, by far, the largest such sampling that I’ve found. Most other such polls are usually only looking at about 2,000 people.)

There are many former vegans than there are current vegans; there are more than five times as many former vegetarians/vegans than there are current vegetarians/vegans. Said differently, 84% of vegetarians/vegans abandon their diet. Extrapolated out, that means that there are 8 million lapsed vegans as opposed to the 1.6 million current vegans.

Only about one-in-eight Americans has ever considered themselves vegetarian/vegan. Roughly 88 percent of Americans have always considered themselves omnivorous/carnivorous.

Vegan Demographics

So who are the 1.6 million vegans? You might be surprised to find that the average age of a vegan today is 42. I suspect that many people think that most vegans are in their 20’s and 30’s. According to this research, those young adults only account for about half of all vegans.

What is less surprising is that 74% — almost three-in-four vegans — are female. Most vegans are left leaning politically and are not religious.

So perhaps it comes as no surprise that the typical vegan is female, left learning, non-religious. Let’s look at longevity. As we have seen, there are many more former vegetarians/vegans than people who currently eat this way. The survey suggests that for many, it’s fleeting. Only about one-third (34%) maintained the diet for three months or less, and more than half (53%) of former vegetarians/vegans adhered to the diet for less than one year. So it appears that people try this lifestyle on for size and for one reason or another, half of them go back to their normal, traditional diet after a year or less.

If you are thinking that the current vegetarians/vegans might return to their former omni eating ways, only 12% of the current vegetarians/vegans in the survey have been eating this way for less than a year. Therefore, 88% of those who claim to be vegetarian/vegan have been so for over a year, presumably many have been eating this way for several years.

Income

While this might come as a surprise to some, there are more vegans in the lower end of the income range. The average American earns $54,000. The largest concentration of vegans is in the sub $50,000 income range.

This, according to data gathered by VRG as reported by the Huffington Post.

Why the discrepancy? It’s probably age related; there are more vegans in their 20’s and 30’s than there are in their 50’s and older. Older adults are more likely to have higher incomes than younger adults.

The Huffington Post article suggest that younger people are more likely to be vegan and tend to have lower incomes than older people:

Six percent of survey respondents between 18 and 34 were vegetarians compared to only two percent who were over 55. Young people are also more likely to make less money than older adults as more of them are students or are starting their careers.

(The information reported above from Faunalytics indicated that the average age was 42. This survey from VRG suggests that there are far fewer vegans in their 50’s than in their 20’s. The VRG survey which sampled 2,000 adults also found a closer ratio of vegans based on gender than the Faunalytics survey of 11,000 found. The VRG survey suggests that women make up only 55% of vegans. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that Faunalytics determination that women account for 74% of vegans seems more accurate to me.)

Why are you vegan?

Participants in the study were asked about their motivations for eating a vegetarian/vegan diet. A great many people indicated that they are vegan for health, taste, and humanitarian reasons.

The same questions were asked of former vegetarians/vegans. There is a statistically significant association between nearly all of the motivations tested and whether an individual is a current or former vegetarian/ vegan, with the exception of cost, social influence, and wanting to follow a food trend.

Most Vegan Friendly Cities in America

According to PETA, the most vegan friendly cities in America are:

  1. Portland, Oregon
  2. Los Angeles, California
  3. New York City, New York
  4. Detroit, Michigan
  5. Nashville, Tennessee
  6. San Diego, California
  7. Honolulu, Hawaii
  8. Austin, Texas
  9. Seattle, Washington
  10. Richmond, Virginia

There are many websites which have their own way of determining which cities are most vegan-friendly. Having never been to Detroit or Richmond, I have to say that those locations come as a surprise to me. Several of the other large cities appear on everyone’s list.

Vegan Demographics: Largest Concentration of Vegans (by country)

The following two tables are derived from data gathered by Wikipedia

  1. United States
  2. Japan
  3. Germany
  4. Poland
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Israel
  7. Italy
  8. Sweden
  9. Spain
  10. Finland

These are the only ten countries that they have listed for vegans. It comes as a surprise to me that there are so many vegans in Japan. Maybe it’s just the volume of people that skews this data somewhat. According to this table, there more than 3 million of the 127 million residents of Japan are vegans.

Vegan Demographics: Largest Percentage of Vegans (by country)

As you can see, Israel has the largest concentration of vegans, with five percent of the population indicated to be vegan. The USA only ranks fifth on this list.

Please not that the data from Wikipedia suggests that 1.5% of the USA population is vegan, whereas the data from Faunalytics indicates that only 0.5% of the USA population is vegan; just one-third as many.

Why do vegans allow vegetarianism to define veganism?

http://www.thisishopethebook.com/vegans-allow-vegetarianism-define-veganism/

Shake hands, declare independence 

 

We must end our non-critical acceptance of vegetarianism’s influence and power over veganism. Though unintentional, vegetarianism will continue to harm and subvert veganism’s progress until vegans stand up to claim and control veganism’s definition and affirm that it is an entirely different belief system and way of life. It’s been this way so long that it may not be obvious, but it’s there for all to see.

By definition, vegetarianism allows the option of consuming animal products, which is a direct and open acceptance of the violence and endless harm it does. In the minds of its practitioners, vegetarianism is an intention to create good as an improvement in one’s health, a belief it will stop the suffering and killing caused from eating flesh, and perhaps to believe it is a temporary place for transition to veganism. Those assumptions don’t stand up to scrutiny. What vegetarianism does is transfer predation through eating flesh to predation through dairy and egg consumption. Cows and their calves, chickens and their chicks are still harmed and slaughtered at a young age in animal agriculture due to the demands of vegetarianism.

 

Veganism up to now has allowed itself to be associated with and defined as just one of many types of vegetarianism whosepractitioners overwhelmingly consume dairy and/or eggs, honey—and sometimes outside of vegetarianism’s expectations—also eat fish and other animal-derived substances.

Lumping types of vegetarianisms together causes havoc with food labeling and consumer understanding of what is and is not effective to reduce suffering and end the killing of source animals. Vegetarianism causes unnecessary destruction to ecosystems that in turn impoverishes wildlife and people alike. Because we care to our core about these tragedies, we have a duty to turn this around and prevent them with veganism.

The Vegetarian Society, founded in 1847, is still home to the 1800’sdevelopment of the concept of vegetarianism and sees it this way: “A vegetarian is someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, algae, yeast and/or some other non-animal-based foods (e.g. salt) with, or without, dairy products, honey and/or eggs [my emphasis]. A vegetarian does not eat foods that consist of, or have been produced with the aid of products consisting of or created from, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish*, insects, by-products of slaughter or any food made with processing aids created from these.”

That the Vegetarian Society and many similar organizations believe stealing calves’ milk from the females’ udders, and eggs coming from an ovulating bird through her uterus do not come from “any part of the body of a living…animal” is preposterous. Their milk and eggs are biologically intimate and as necessary for cow and chicken existence as blood and muscle. The simple fact that the business of stealing calves’ milk and chickens’ eggs harms them to an early death should end this nonsense. 

Being consistent, the Vegetarian Society offers their, “… Approved trade mark… [for]… products containing free-range eggs” in addition to vegetarian (and vegan) product certification. One of their certification criteria, “Free from any ingredient resulting from slaughter,” ignores that the fact that their approved ingredients and certifications cause the slaughter of spent chickens, cows and their calves, and other species. This magical thinking dominates many vegetarian organizations. Those with certification programs actually make money from exploiting animals. The European Vegetarian Union also specializes in logos that certify products as being “vegetarian” (and “vegan”) using the same misleading, illogical standard that screams approval. Why, why, why would vegans enable them in any way?

 

The Vegan Standard

Veganism easily and powerfully stands on its own; so how did we inherit the junior status within the list of vegetarian choices? Since vegetarianism was historically (in the European context) first on the scene in the early 1800s before Donald Watson and others coined “veganism” in 1944, perhaps we have fallen into accepting veganism as secondary just as it was in its historical timeline. That is beginning to change, thankfully.  

In 2016, the Council of the Consumer Protection Ministers who represent German states proposed official definitions for vegan and vegetarian food labeling. Though not legally binding, the Council realized what vegans and vegetarians alike should remember: the German state ministers used “vegan” as the baseline definition and then described what is not vegan to define vegetarian.

The European Vegetarian Union translation of those definitions from German:

(1) Vegan are foods that are not products of animal origin… [full text is in the link]

(2) Vegetarian are foods which meet the requirements of paragraph 1 with the difference that in their production

  1. milk,
  2. colostrum,
  3. eggs (No. 5 of Annex I to Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004),
  4. honey (Annex I to Directive 2001/110/EC),
  5. beeswax,
  6. propolis or
  7. wool grease including lanolin derived from the wool of living sheep or their components or derivatives may be added or used.

Compare that translation to Vegan Germany’s:

(1) A food is vegan if it is not an animal product and if the following substances are not used and not added in any step of production or processing, if they are from animal origin:
– ingredients (including additives, carrier materials, flavourings, enzymes) or
– processing agents or
– items what are not additives, but that are used in the same way and with the same purpose as processing agents

(2) [vegetarian products – not relevant]

That’s right, not relevant. They have refused to define veganism by referencing vegetarianism. That’s how it is done.

The multitude of disastrous possibilities within vegetarianism’s fog of eggs, milk, and other transgressions is a problem for vegetarians to solve. Our first responsibility is to insist that vegans are not vegetarians by definition or reference. Vegans create that clarity by never again referencing veganism as a type of vegetarianism and ask vegetarians to respect that. Vegans own veganism.

 

 

For Whom the Bell Pepper Tolls

This is an essential but maybe scary change for some because it challenges friends and organizations that we love and support. Yes, relationships might be strained or even ended but not by us. People face social pressure when they are perceived “different,” and that’s always been part of the social environment during societal change. We are humbled and motivated by the power and immense importance of veganism to transform human behavior away from violence and towards justice for all life on Earth. Remember that the visionary founders of veganism—Donald Watson, Leslie Cross and othersؙ—stood up in 1944 out of necessity to differentiate veganism from vegetarianism.

Our responsibility is to make it easier for hundreds of millions of people to embrace veganism and create the global tipping point. We must not operate from a sense of weakness out of fear that the vegetarian and vegan movements will be unavoidably jeopardized if we stand up for making veganism the primary concept that actually stops exploitation and ecological destruction as vegetarianism never will.

A social movement cannot function at its best and hope to succeed if it doesn’t know how to define itself so others can understand and be motivated by the vision it advocates. Let’s remove the word “vegetarian” from our speech and writing, from the names of our organizations, and not use that term to define veganism because they are nothing alike. In the end, it is not about us, but what we must do. END

Short videos that inspire veganism:

These two videos will reinforce your convictions (both videos have some animal distress portrayed despite being tagged as “not graphic”):

 

 

Is this the beginning of the end of meat?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/17/is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-meat/?utm_term=.2b39ca176579

March 17

Patrick Brown founded Impossible Foods with the goal of supplanting the meat industry. He believes America’s 230 million omnivores can be made to trade their hamburgers and steaks for a plant-based equivalent, scienced into being.

That vision may yet be a long way off — even Brown admits as much. But next week the concept will get an important early test: Impossible Foods is opening its first large-scale facility in Oakland.

The Oakland plant, which will begin to produce burgers this summer, is the first concrete sign that Impossible Foods and flagship offering are anything more than utopic moonshots. The plant will prove whether or not the concept can scale, which has implications for public health and the environment.

Can a burger made from pea protein replace meat?

Play Video1:30
The beyond burger from Beyond Meat aims to replicate the texture, color and taste of a beef burger. (Jayne Orenstein, Joe Yonan/The Washington Post)

It also has consequences for the emerging clean-meat industry, of which Impossible Foods is an early (and highly visible) player. Unlike Boca or Morningstar before them, which sought to corner the vegetarian market, these companies aim to appeal to hardcore meat-eaters by creating a meaty plant-based product. Beyond Meat, a popular vegetarian brand, has dipped a toe in those mainstream waters with its beet-juice “bleeding” Beyond Burger. And earlier this week, the start-up Memphis Meats announced that it had successfully created a lab-grown chicken strip — at a whopping price per pound of $9,000.

The future of meat?

Plant-based and clean meat companies are attracting big investments. This chart shows the current equity funding, according to Crunchbase, for six of them.

Impossible Foods
$182,000,000
Hampton Creek
$120,000,000
Beyond Meat
$17,000,000
Clara Foods
$3,450,000
Memphis Meats
$3,050,000
SuperMeat
$151,340

But few of these companies have proved that they can commercialize yet, and even those that have, like the Beyond Burger, still only sell at Whole Foods. With this new facility, a spokesperson for Impossible Foods said, the company’s production capacity will increase 250-fold — allowing it to supply 1,000 restaurants by the end of this year.

“The mission of the company is to making the existing method for producing meat obsolete,” said Brown on the phone from California, several weeks before the factory’s ribbon-cutting. “That means we need to be competitive everywhere. And soon we will be.”

Proclamations like this one have earned Brown and his six-year-old company constant attention almost since its founding. A former biochemistry professor at Stanford, Brown became interested in industrial meat production after learning that it’s a major contributor to climate change: livestock account for nearly 15 percent of all greenhouse gasses, according to the United Nations.

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Brown became convinced that, given enough time and resources, science could essentially solve that problem by engineering plant-based “meats” that look and taste like the original artifact. Since 2011, he has received more than $180 million in investments from the likes of Bill Gates and Google Ventures to pursue the project.

His first offering is the Impossible Burger: a patty composed largely of wheat and potato proteins that — thanks to a iron-containing molecule called heme — looks, handles and (reportedly!) tastes quite a lot like ground beef. The burger has caught the eye of several high-end chefs, including New York’s David Chang and San Francisco’s Traci Des Jardins, who have put the burger on their respective menus for roughly $15 apiece.

But even as the burger earned rave reviews from curious patrons, its central tenet has remained unproven. Namely, Brown still has to show that he can churn out burgers en masse — and that red-blooded meat-eaters will buy them.

That could prove difficult in two respects, say analysts and advocates who know the industry. First, Brown and his team will need to optimize their supply chain and manufacturing process to bring the price of the Impossible Burger on par with conventional beef.

Some of that will happen naturally, said Bruce Friedrich, the executive director of the Good Food Institute: all food startups, regardless of what they make, benefit from economies of scale as they standardize and mechanize the way they make their food. Prices will also come down once Impossible Foods has a reliable distribution network. And the company has another advantage, as well: Compared to conventional livestock slaughter, its methods are inherently more efficient.

But sourcing has still provided challenges — such as the question of heme. The iron-containing molecule is what makes the Impossible Burger taste like meat. Brown initially extracted it from the root nodules of soybeans, but that process, at scale, costs a fortune and releases a lot of greenhouse gasses. Impossible Foods eventually skirted the issue by engineering yeast that produce heme, meaning that the company no longer needs to extract the molecule from soybeans. It can be produced in vats.

It’s also not the only uncertainty that faces Impossible Foods. The company’s biggest challenge may be getting it to catch on not only with the coastal Whole Foodies who have flocked to Manhattan or Los Angeles to try it thus far, but with average and middle-income Americans. Brown is adamant that his product is not designed to appeal to vegetarians; he’s after the old-school meat-eater, who is motivated largely by price, taste and convenience.

John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State and the president of the Institute of Food Technologists, believes this type of consumer might prove difficult to convince, even if plant-based meats are priced on par with their conventional equivalents. Some focus-groups and studies have suggested that consumers aren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of meat that doesn’t technically have any animal in it.

“So much is going to play out in psychology, more even than in chemistry,” Coupland said. “Meat is an incredibly gendered thing to eat. How is that going to play out? Are you picking the light beer by having this stuff? It’s too early to tell if it’s really going to take off.”

We may find out very shortly. While Impossible Foods is not releasing any details on the new plant’s exact capacity, cost or headcount until after the March 22 launch, it’s already clear that the facility represents a significant ramp-up from what the company has produced thus far.

By the end of the year, Brown said, the burger will be in multiple restaurants, including some chains like Bareburger, which debuted the Impossible Burger at its flagship location in February. Those restaurants won’t all be coastal hotspots, Brown added — they’re pursuing deals in the heartland, as well. Brown has also reportedly been in talks with McDonald’s, though the company doesn’t have that capacity yet.

Such a coup could move the whole industry much closer to dinner tables across America. And other plant-based and clean meat companies are watching the experiences of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat closely, Friedrich said. Their success or failure in scaling could inform the whole market.

“This is brand-new for the plant-based meat industry,” he said. “It’s lifting the whole sector and inspiring other entrepreneurs and food scientists to get involved with it.”

Got Almond Milk? Dairy Farms Protest Milk Label on Nondairy Drinks

If milk comes from a plant, can you still call it milk?

Not according to the dairy industry. Facing growing competition from dairy alternatives like almond, soy and coconut milk, the nation’s dairy farmers are fighting back, with an assist from Congress. Their goal: to stop companies from calling their plant-based products yogurt, milk or cheese. Dairy farmers say the practice misleads consumers into thinking that nondairy milk is nutritionally similar to cow’s milk.

A bipartisan group of 32 members of Congress is asking the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on companies that call plant-based beverages “milk.” They say F.D.A. regulations define milk as a “lacteal secretion” obtained by milking “one or more healthy cows.” Proposed legislation from Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont, and Senator Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, a state known for its cheese, suggests a slightly broader definition. Their bill would require the F.D.A. to target milk, yogurt and cheese products that do not contain milk from “hooved mammals.”

“The bottom line for us is that milk is defined by the F.D.A., and we’re saying to the F.D.A.: Enforce your definition,” Mr. Welch said.

But critics say consumers know exactly what they are buying when they choose almond or soy milk instead of dairy milk. “There’s no cow on any of these containers of almond milk or soy milk,” said Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, a trade group representing 70 companies. “No one is trying to fool consumers. All they’re trying to do is create a better alternative for people who are looking for that option.”

And what about other nondairy products with dairy names? Will milk of magnesia, cocoa butter, cream of wheat and peanut butter have to change their names as well?

In recent years, dairy milk alternatives made from almonds, soy, cashews and coconuts have exploded in popularity. Many people consider them more nutritious than cow’s milk. Some people buy them because they have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. Others choose them for environmental reasons or because they want a vegan diet. And some just like the taste.

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Miyoko Schinner, chief executive and founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen makes nut-based cheeses and butters in Fairfax, Calif. CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

Cow’s milk was once one of America’s most iconic beverages. But Americans are drinking less of it. Americans drink 37 percent less milk today than they did in 1970, according to the Department of Agriculture. Dairy milk sales tumbled to $12 billion last year, down 20 percent from $15 billion in 2011. Part of the reason is that people switched to other beverages, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, bottled water and soy and almond milk. Mintel, a market research firm, found that negative health perceptions were driving the decline in sales of cow’s milk.

Plant-based milks, with brand names like Almond Breeze and Silk, are sold in the dairy aisle and still represent a fraction of the beverage market, but they are growing in popularity. According to Nielsen, sales of plant-based milks have surged to $1.4 billion from $900 million in 2012.

Much of the growth in plant-based milk has come from the rising popularity of almond milk. Last year, Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain, announced that it would begin offering almond milk to lighten its espresso drinks, to meet customer demand. The chain said it was one of the most-requested customer suggestions of all time.

Experts say sales of almond milk are surging for a number of reasons. The dairy industry has come under fire over concerns about animal welfare and the environmental impact of livestock, which contributes to air and water pollution. Almond production has an environmental impact as well: Most of the world’s almonds come from drought-stricken California, where farmers have been accused of diverting dwindling groundwater reserves to their almond orchards, and producing just 16 almonds requires an estimated 15.3 gallons of water. But ultimately the environmental impact of producing cow’s milk in areas where almonds are grown would be far worse, said David Zetland, an assistant professor of economics at Leiden University College in the Netherlands and the author of “Living With Water Scarcity.”

Many consumers also consider almond milk a healthier alternative to cow’s milk. The dairy industry says that’s not true. They point out that milk has nine essential nutrients that are necessary for good health, like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and potassium. The industry has also created ads claiming that milk has up to eight times as much protein as almond milk and fewer ingredients and additives. Some brands of soy and almond milk do contain large amounts of added sugar. But they also come in unsweetened varieties with zero sugar, and some are fortified with calcium, B12 and other nutrients.

There is also debate over the nutritional merits of cow’s milk. In 2013, for example, two of the country’s top nutrition experts, Walter Willett and David Ludwig, both at Harvard, published an editorial in JAMA Pediatrics arguing that healthy adults who get plenty of vegetables, nuts and protein in their diets may not get any extra benefit from cow’s milk. They also raised concerns about exposure to hormones in milk and high levels of added sugar in the chocolate milk served in many schools.

As the dairy industry continues to press its case, producers of nondairy milks are fighting back. The Plant Based Foods Association sent letters to the F.D.A. stating that plant-based milks were properly labeled with their “common or usual” names. A petition from the Good Food Institute opposing the dairy labeling legislation has garnered more than 41,000 signatures.

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Janet Clark, with a calf at her family’s dairy farm, Vision Aire Farms in Wisconsin, was one of the farmers who asked Senator Tammy Baldwin to restrict the use of the word milk outside the dairy industry.CreditBen Brewer for The New York Times

“Don’t they have better things to do than to care about what a product is called?” asked Miyoko Schinner, the chief executive of Miyoko’s Kitchen, which sells popular nut-based cheeses and butters at almost 2,000 stores nationwide. “The only reason they would care is because they’re protecting their special interests.”

Marsha Cohen, an expert on food and drug law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, said that the dairy industry faces an uphill battle. She said the government’s definitions for milk and other foods — known as “standards of identity” — are intended primarily to protect consumers from financial harm, such as being duped into buying cheap or imitation foods masquerading as more expensive ones. She noted that the F.D.A. recently allowed the company Hampton Creek to call its vegan mayonnaise substitute “Just Mayo,” even though the F.D.A.’s legal definition of mayonnaise states that the condiment must contain eggs.

The debate over what can and can’t be called milk already has played out in courts, with judges so far siding with the plant-based milk industry. In 2013, Judge Samuel Conti of Federal District Court in San Francisco, dismissed a proposed class-action lawsuit that claimed that almond, coconut and soy milk were mislabeled because they do not come from cows. Judge Conti said the claim “stretches the bounds of credulity,” and that it was “simply implausible that a reasonable consumer would mistake a product like soy milk or almond milk with dairy milk from a cow.” He said the lawsuit was reminiscent of an earlier case in which a woman claimed she was misled by Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries cereal because she thought it contained real fruit (that case was thrown out).

More: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/well/eat/got-almond-milk-dairy-farms-protest-milk-label-on-nondairy-drinks.html?_r=0

Could Going Vegan Save Millions Of Lives? Who would have thought?

OPINION: Embrace world vegan month

November welcomes World Vegan Month, and with it comes a new perspective on a lifestyle that holds individuals accountable for what they eat.

Vegans have to dodge relentless stereotypes — but these people are not the grass-eating hippies many make them out to be. Veganism promotes a healthier and sustainable lifestyle that seeks to eliminate a dependency on animals, and instead supplement meat with plant-based protein. This protein comes in many forms, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts.

While this may seem extreme to some, vegan products have expanded greatly to fit the need of the market. Milk, meat and cheese substitutes are found on grocery store shelves everywhere, and vegetarians and vegan consumers are able to find food sections dedicated to fit their needs.

Five percent of Americans identify as vegetarians and about half of these individuals follow a vegan-based diet, according to most recent data published by The Vegetarian Resource Group.

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Cook-off
Piles of vegetables were cooked for the after cook-off festivities on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 in Athens, Ga. (Photo/Erin O. Smith, eosmit8@uga.edu)

Erin O. Smith

Though many vegans adopt their eating habits to enjoy a diet that is free from guilt in regards to animals, it is not the only reason to quit frequenting Chick-Fil-A and the like.

The desire to go vegan can stem from a number of reasons — including wanting to become healthier and more energized, lessening one’s carbon footprint and also eliminating one’s part in the tons of crops and water it takes to raise farm animals, according to PETA.

Vegan or not-vegan, the decision to cut out animals from a diet raises important questions about the apparent disconnect between humans and the food on their dinner plate. Before we pull into the drive through of the nearest fast food joint, we don’t stop to think about how the meat we are about to consume was produced, and whether there was malpractice involved.

Overwhelmingly, 79 percent of American consumers believe producing healthy choices is important for farmers and ranchers to consider when planning their production practices, yet 72 percent of consumers know nothing or very little about farming or ranching, according to research conducted by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

With a nation uninformed, fast-food industries and major corporate chains are able to get away with mass producing meat products while cutting corners. Seventy percent of all antibiotics important to human medicine in the United States are sold for use in animal agriculture, according to a report by Friends of the Earth, an environmental and consumer advocacy organization.

These drugs are used unnaturally to stimulate growth in animals, fed routinely and misused to stimulate an industry that overlooks the process of how a chicken sandwich became a chicken sandwich. The money we spend on a lunch break doesn’t just feed us, it feeds an industry of neglect.

The same fast food restaurants frequented by the masses are receiving failing grades on their use of antibiotic policies, according to the same report by Friends of the Earth. Olive Garden, Starbucks, Chilis and Burger King are just a few on a long list of companies that are less than transparent about how they feed their customers — receiving an F on the 2016 scorecard by FOE.

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Basil
According to Mother Earth Living, this fabulous herb has been spicing up our lives for centuries, but did you know that basil can be used to treat arthritis thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties? Basil is also proven to help slow the process of aging and contains a vast array of antioxidants. For non-vegetable lovers, basil can be added to any soup, salad or pasta dish.

Courtesy commons.wikimedia.org

While these facts are alarming, and prove the overwhelming detachment between consumers and their meals, it does not mean that one has to jump on the vegan bandwagon to take a stand. Companies like FOE enact several petitions towards companies that engage in this malpractice in order to spread the word, and encourage many to be apart of the movement.

NPR also lists a number of apps available to consumers that provide information on food and products that are produced through sustainable practices.

While veganism is not for everyone, it sheds a light on how we see our food, and quite frankly — what we don’t see.

Next time someone hands you a flyer in tate that advocates for Meatless Mondays, think twice before throwing it away. Do research on the companies you frequent and become informed about better choices, because until we do, it is those without a voice that bear the burden.