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Science

‘Food For Thought: Planetary Healing Begins on Our Plate’

RICHARD A. SCHWARTZ: At a time when animal-based diets are contributing very significantly to a potential climate catastrophe and other environmental threats, risks of future pandemics, the very wasteful use of increasingly scarce land, water, energy, and other resources, and the massive mistreatment of farmed animals, Dr. Camila Perussello’s wonderful book, Food for Thought: Planetary Healing Begins on Our Plate, is a very welcome addition to the literature on vegan diets. Dr. Perussello is extremely well qualified to write her book. She is an extensively published Food Engineer, with many…

VEGANO-PHOBIA: Slapping a ‘vegan’ label on a product doesn’t always pay off, study finds

JONATHAN CHADWICK: More and more food producers are slapping 'vegan' labels on their products to entice a new generation of ethical eaters. But a new study suggests these labels can have a negative effect how the food is perceived by consumers. Researchers in Germany investigated product perceptions and consumer purchasing intentions around vegan labelling on products. They found that people expected certain products to taste worse when they saw they had a vegan label – probably on the basis that they knew it didn't contain milk, butter and other tasty animal fats. The study focused on…

‘The Smell of Money’: Documentary highlights environmental racism of the pig industry

SOPHIE HIRSH: There are endless injustices within the pork industry, even going beyond the animal rights concerns and environmental damage. Those who live near pig farms and slaughterhouses have to deal with unthinkable pollution and health issues, and their stories highlight the plight of environmental racism in the U.S. — and the new documentary The Smell of Money aims to bring all of this to light. “All the laws protect these industries, no one is protecting us,” activist Elsie Herring says in the film’s trailer. Produced by actress and longtime vegan Kate Mara, The Smell of Money is a…

THE LI(V)ES WE EAT: What people don’t want to know about the animals they eat

STEFAN LEACH: A growing body of research suggests that consumers often make use of relevant evidence in a strategic manner, which limits their need to take action. Today, for example, most people acknowledge that animals reared for food are sentient and that their welfare needs to be considered. Most are also aware that there are problems with the current food system, which causes billions of animals needless suffering. A 2017 survey by the Sentience Institute found that about 70 percent of Americans reported being uncomfortable with the way farmed animals are treated, and a 2021 Viva!…

THE AGE OF INNOCENCE: Eating meat is less morally acceptable for kids than adults

FLORA SOUTHEY: Children (aged 9-11 years old) are less likely to categorise farm animals as food than pets, compared to young adults (18-21 years old) and adults (29-39 years old). These are the findings of new research out of the UK, which suggests there are key age-related differences in our moral view of an animal’s worth that point to socially constructed development throughout our lives. Researchers from Exeter University surveyed 479 people across the age brackets: children, young adults, and adults. The study measured participants’ belief that an animal’s worth depended on its…

STUDY: Vegan diets boost weight loss, lower blood sugar in adults with overweight or type 2 diabetes

EASO: A 12-week vegan diet may result in clinically meaningful weight loss and improve blood sugar control in overweight adults and those with type 2 diabetes, according to a meta-analysis of 11 randomized trials involving almost 800 participants (aged 18 or older), being presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Maastricht, Netherlands (4-7 May). The study is by Anne-Ditte Termannsen and colleagues from the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, Denmark. However, vegan diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds, with no all animal derived foods, did…

TURNING TABLES: The collapse of industrial farming

ROBERT HUNZIKER: Industrial farming, alongside global warming, ranks at the top of the list of existential risks this century. And, similar to the dangers attendant to excessive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, industrial farming is dangerously out of control, but in contrast to global warming, it is not followed at all by corporate media, begging the Orwellian question whether media other than corporate media truly exist? All of which serves to highlight George Orwell’s concerns as expressed in his famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (Secker & Warburg Publishers, 1949) wherein he…

THE LIFE YOU SAVE: How many animals does a plant-based diet spare?

CASEY BOND: Animal advocates are always looking for new ways to promote plant-based diets to the public. One way advocates show the importance of eliminating animal products is by discussing how many animals are “saved” by going plant-based. Determining this number is no easy feat. For example, researchers who rely on animal product consumption data may fail to consider the animals killed “indirectly” in the food industry, e.g. male chicks culled in the egg industry... In this study conducted by Animal Charity Evaluators, researchers relied on production data from the UN Food and…

Meat Substitutes: Researchers find that environmental concern does not motivate consumption

UNIVERSITY OF BONN: Meat substitutes are on the rise: While they used to have a niche existence in health food stores or organic stores, wheat salami, tofu schnitzel or soy mince can now be found in every well-stocked supermarket. "We wanted to know why consumers choose these alternatives," explains Jeanette Klink-Lehmann, who is doing her doctorate at the Institute of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Bonn in the department of Prof. Dr. Monika Hartmann. Klink-Lehmann and Hartmann, together with their colleague Nick Marcus, surveyed 441 men and women from all over Germany for…

HIGH TECH, LOW LIVES: Is ‘smart farming’ making life worse for farmed animals?

KAREN ASP: Trapping virtual reality (VR) headsets on cows might seem like something you’d see only in a Saturday Night Live skit. Yet, as they say, truth is often stranger than fiction, and in this case, cows being raised as food in places like Russia and Turkey are indeed wearing VR headsets. These cows, though, aren’t trying to perfect their scores in Beat Saber or travel the world to get fit via Supernatural, two popular VR apps for people. Instead, farmers say they’re using VR to enhance the cows’ mental well-being and make the animals think they’re outside... VR headsets are just one…