Taxing meat could help offset environmental, health problems, activists say

Some groups want to see animal products taxed similarly to tobacco, sugar and carbon

The steep climb in global meat consumption has environmental interest groups debating a “sin” tax on animal products.

Meat consumption grew by more than five times between 1992 and 2016 and has contributed to greenhouse gas emissions, global obesity, rising rates of diabetes and cancer, soil degradation and deforestation, according to the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative.

The British activist group argues meat should join products like tobacco, sugar and carbon, which are often taxed because they are harmful to people’s health and the environment.

“We’ve seen an increasing trend toward intervention, especially in Europe, this idea of looking at sin taxes,” said Lauren Compere, managing director at Boston Common Asset Management, an environmentally minded investment group. She listed Denmark, Sweden and Germany as countries considering legislation toward a meat tax.

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Can Diet Help Reduce Symptoms of MS?

For people with multiple sclerosis (MS), eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may be linked to having less disability and fewer symptoms than people whose diet is less healthy, according to a study published in the December 6, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“People with MS often ask if there is anything they can do to delay or avoid disability, and many people want to know if their diet can play a role, but there have been few studies investigating this,” said study author Kathryn C. Fitzgerald, ScD, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “While this study does not determine whether a healthy lifestyle reduces MS symptoms or whether having severe symptoms makes it harder for people to engage in a healthy lifestyle, it provides evidence for the link between the two.”

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Health Benefits of Trading Animal Protein for Plant Protein

Substituting one to two servings of animal proteins with plant proteins every day could lead to a small reduction in the three main cholesterol markers for cardiovascular disease prevention, a new study suggests.

The health benefits could be even greater if people combined plant proteins with other cholesterol-lowering foods such as viscous, water soluble fibres from oats, barley and psyllium, and plant sterols, said lead author Dr. John Sievenpiper of St. Michael’s Hospital.

Dr. Sievenpiper led a systematic review and meta-analysis of 112 randomized control trials in which people substituted plant proteins for some animal proteins in their diets for at least three weeks. The results were published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Dr. Sievenpiper said the review indicated that replacing one to two servings of animal proteins with plant proteins every day — primarily soy, nuts and pulses (dried peas and beans, lentils and chickpeas) — could reduce the main cholesterol markers by about 5 per cent.

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Leading Plant-Based Chef Predicts Future Where Vegan Food Will Be Everywhere From Airports to Highway Stops

If you haven’t heard of Chef Matthew Kenney, you clearly haven’t been paying attention to the plant-based food space. Kenney is a pioneer in the world of high-end plant-based cuisine and has successful restaurants in major cities across the world. Creating delectable plant-based eateries isn’t Kenney’s only accomplishment, he has also written a number of recipe books, including his most recent PLANTLAB: Crafting the Future of Food, and helped develop a plant-based culinary nutrition course for chefs.

Kenney started his career studying at the French Culinary Institute and was inspired to recreate the decadent sauces and dishes he learned to make using plant-based ingredients. From there, his mission to make sustainable, healthy food available to everyone took off, and as he explains in a recent episode of the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast, he predicts that plant-based food will be present everywhere within the near future. By everywhere, he means airports, highway rest stops, and all the other places that it has been traditionally extremely hard to find any vegan options.

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Google’s Free-Food Cafeterias: Company Pushes Workers Away From Meat

OK, Google, where’s the beef?

Slowly, steadily and stealthily, Google has been slipping more and more mushrooms into burgers it serves to workers, while cutting back on the meat. That’s according to a new report on worker-feeding habits at the Mountain View tech giant, whose famously free employee cafeterias offer a multitude of cuisines in upscale food court style.

“Google has slowly increased the percentage of mushrooms in the patty from 20 percent to 50 percent,” said a Fast Company report, referring to the “blended” burger, which falls into the menu group Google calls “flipped” – vegetable-heavy takes on traditional meat dishes.

The surreptitious substitution in the burgers is part of a broader effort to fill Googlers’ bellies with more plant-based foods and less meat, according to the report. “You can’t expect everyone to start loving lentils day one,” Scott Giambastiani, Google’s global food program chef, told Fast Company.

“It’s moving people along a continuum, whether people are eating red meat every day and you ask them to start eating a little more white meat, or they’re already on a white meat kick and it’s a little bit more seafood, or moving even further along to alternative proteins or produce.” When Fast Company visited 14 Google cafeteria food stations, it found that each one “subtly nudges diners to make one choice in particular: eat less meat.

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New York City Announces Meatless Monday

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña joined Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric Adams, to announce the launch of a Meatless Monday pilot program in 15 Brooklyn schools. Beginning this spring, the schools will serve an exclusively vegetarian breakfast and lunch every Monday to 7,500 students. Menus will include tasty choices like crispy tofu, black bean quesadillas, and roasted chickpea tagine.

Over 300,000 more vegetarian meals will be served in public schools under the new program this year. This will not only spare countless animals from lives of extreme abuse and neglect at factory farms and slaughterhouses but also give children a foundation in healthy, humane, and sustainable eating.

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The Elephants’ Last Decade?!

Join the Avaaz campaign to save the African elephant!!

For background information, read this National Geographic article by Adam Cruise:

In Fighting Illegal Ivory, EU Lags Behind

While China and the United States have taken steps in recent months to shut down their ivory markets, conservationists say that the European Union has been dragging its feet.

“The global shift against the trade is evident, and the EU’s failure to put its own house in order will place it in an increasingly isolated position,” says Sally Case of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, a British charity that provides funding and research support for international endangered wildlife projects.

On Monday the EU Environment Council—the environment ministers of the 28 member states—will meet in Luxembourg to consider new ivory trade controls. Global demand for ivory remains high. Legal ivory exports from the EU, especially to China and Hong Kong, as well as trade among member states, likely fuel demand and facilitate laundering of poached ivory into the trade system.

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