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It may be easy to assume that an organisation with the word “youth” in the title is progressive. However, there have been exceptions in the past, and sadly, it seems there are today.

I have commented previously on Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s failure to adequately consider the impact of a major contributor to climate change, animal agriculture. [1]

This article focuses on Youth Food Movement Australia (YFM) and its collaborations with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

What are YFM’s mission and objectives?

Something I find a little confusing is that YFM has two mission statements.

Mission Statement as described on YFM’s website:

“To build a healthy and secure food future for all Australians.” [2]

Mission Statement as described on YFM’s 2015 annual statement to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC):

“To grow a generation of young Australians empowered with the ability to make healthy and sustainable food choices.” [3]

The first is far broader than the second, with no hint as to which one actually applies. Neither seems to be adequately supported by the organisation’s actions, as referred to below.

YFM’s objectives (with my underlines):

Educate and empower Consumers to make informed decisions regarding food systems; including, health, environmental, biodiversity and equitable [sic] issues surrounding how food is bought, consumed and disposed of locally and in Australia.

Facilitate and organise networks and events for Producers and Consumers to strengthen individual activism and community projects and to raise awareness of food related issues as a platform for knowledge exchange and communication.

Publically [sic] advocate and make written submissions on issues of food sustainability and equality on behalf of Producers and Consumers to any Commonwealth, State of [sic] any other governmental authority or tribunal to further the advancement of food policy in Australia. [3]

That may be a mouthful, but YFM seems to be claiming it is concerned about:

  • human health;
  • the environment, including sustainability and biodiversity;
  • equity (assuming that’s what it means when referring to “equitable issues” and “equality”).

The objectives raise a key question:

As part of its objective to “educate” consumers, why does YFM largely ignore the negative impacts of animal agriculture on animals, the planet, human health and social justice?

The social justice issue partially arises from the fact that animal agriculture is a grossly and inherently inefficient way to obtain our nutritional requirements. A 2013 paper from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota indicated [4]:

“The world’s croplands could feed 4 billion more people than they do now just by shifting from producing animal feed and biofuels to producing exclusively food for human consumption.”

Animal feed crops represent 90% of that figure (in turn representing 3.6 billion people), and biofuels only 10%.

Although the authors were not advocating for another 4 billion people, the transition would enable us to feed the nearly 800 million people who are chronically under-nourished, provided we were willing to share the benefits fairly. [5]

YFM’s failure to adequately consider livestock’s negative impacts is particularly concerning when it states:

“We simply advocate for the importance of understanding your food.”

It claims that two of its values are authenticity and transparency, but are they evident?

Contrived PR?

YFM seems to try hard to match its language to that of its target market, but I find it tiresome and contrived. Here’s an example from its “Spoonled” anti-waste page:

“Gen-Y (18-30) we’re lookin’ at’choo.”

Is this really young people talking to young people, or could external PR consultants be involved, such as those used extensively by MLA? [Footnote 1]

Another example was this response when I asked on Twitter about YFM’s 2015 “beefjam” collaboration with MLA (as referred to below):

#beefjam is a project collaboration with @Target100AUS amazeballs crew.”

Amazeballs?

Really?

YFM’s Collaborations with Meat & Livestock Australia

YFM has collaborated with MLA in two exercises; a project known as “Beefjam” and a three-day visit to Bangor Farm in Tasmania. Both were organised in conjunction with MLA through its Target 100 initiative, which it claims involves “100 research, development and extension activities covering soil, water, energy, pests and weeds, biodiversity, emissions and animal welfare”.

I comment on both projects below, but firstly, it’s important to consider some aspects of MLA.

The organisation describes itself as:

“the marketing, research and development body for Australia’s red meat and livestock industry”. [6]

Is the marketing role compatible with legitimate research and development?

The question may be particularly relevant when, in the same description, MLA states (with my underlines):

“MLA’s core focus is to deliver value to its 50,000 levy paying members by:

growing demand for red meat; and

– improving profitability, sustainability and global competitiveness.”

I have challenged material from MLA in my articles “Meat, the environment and industry brainwashing“, “An industry shooting itself in the foot over “Cowspiracy” and “Emissions intensity of Australian beef“.

In the first of those (as an example), I commented on a so-called “curriculum guide” created by MLA for primary school students.

I argued that the guide:

  • inadequately allowed for livestock related water use, land clearing, land degradation (including erosion), loss of habitat and loss of biodiversity;
  • misstated the ability of livestock’s direct emissions to be absorbed by the biosphere;
  • ignored the very significant global warming impact of those emissions; and
  • misstated the extent of modern ruminant livestock numbers relative to historic figures.

I concluded with concern about the PR machine of an industry group such as MLA seeking to influence the thoughts and actions of children via publications represented as legitimate educational tools.

MLA has not limited its reach to the class room, and YFM may represent another means of extending its audience using sophisticated PR techniques.

Beefjam

The Beefjam project occurred in mid-2015. Here’s how YFM described it (with my underlines):

“BeefJam is a 3-day event that takes young producers and consumers on a crash course of the Australian beef supply chain and gives them 48hrs to reshape the way we grow, buy and eat our red meat.

Fifteen lucky applicants – 8 young consumers and 7 young producers – were given the chance to see, hear, smell and touch the whole Australian beef supply chain. That means all the different stages a piece of meat will travel through before it reaches your plate. From farm, to feedlot, to processor (you might know that as an abattoir) and then to retailer, ‘Jammers’ were able to experience the whole system, but also given the opportunity to ask big questions about how we feed ourselves, and the world, as we move into a food-challenged future.

BeefJam culminated with a 48 hour ‘jam’ where young producers and consumers collectively designed and prototyped solutions to challenges surrounding Australian beef.”

It may be insightful that a cow or lamb enjoying a warm day in an open field could be considered “a piece of meat”.

In its article about a visit to a slaughterhouse, we were presented with a photo of twenty-one mostly smiling faces, decked out in biosecurity gear, ready to check out the process. [7] YFM and MLA did not choose a “run of the mill” slaughterhouse for the visit. It was the Stanbroke Pastoral Company slaughterhouse, which the organisation’s website indicates is in the Lockyer Valley, Queensland. According to Stanbroke, it “sets world standards in equipment methods and technology”.

Regardless of what the attendees were shown, no animals at the facility or elsewhere choose to have a bolt gun fired into their skull, then hoisted by a rear leg for the purpose of having their throat cut.

Yet a Beefjam participant in a related video tells us repeatedly that slaughterhouse workers “respect” the animals.

That type of respect is something I could do without.

Some other points YFM and MLA did not raise with Beefjam attendees

Mark Pershin is the founder and CEO of climate change campaign group Less Meat Less Heat. He attended Beefjam, and I asked him about the information the attendees had been provided in their exploration of “the whole Australian beef supply chain”. Sadly, YFM and MLA said nothing about the following issues:

  • the extent of land cleared in Australia for beef production;
  • cattle’s impact on land degradation, biodiversity loss and introduction of invasive grass species;
  • legalised cruelty, such as castration; dehorning; disbudding; and hot iron branding (usually performed without anaesthetic).

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MLA claims to be concerned about sustainability, which it suggests includes (in an unusual interpretation of the term) “good animal welfare”. [Footnote 2] Here’s what they’ve said (with my underline) [8]:

“Australian cattle and sheep farmers are committed to producing beef and lamb sustainably . . . For Australia’s cattle and sheep farmers, sustainability isn’t only about the environment, it’s also about good animal welfare, contributing to their local communities, and ensuring that cattle and sheep farming is economically viable for future generations.”

Do the practices described above represent good animal welfare? They may be legal, but that simply means that governments around Australia consider animal cruelty to be an acceptable outcome of producing various types of food we do not need.

In relation to beef production’s environmental impacts, Beefjam attendees were addressed by Steve Wiedemann, who at that time was a principal consultant with FSA Consulting. The firm provides services to the agriculture sector, describing itself as “Australia’s predominant environmental consultancy for intensive livestock industries, environmental and natural resource management and water supply and irrigation”.

Wiedemann was the corresponding author of the paper I commented on in my article “Emissions intensity of Australian beef“, as referred to earlier. [9] [10] I highlighted the following concerns about that paper and/or the related promotional efforts of MLA:

  • Out of date 100-year “global warming potential” (GWP) used for the purpose of assessing the warming impact of non-CO2 greenhouse gases.
  • 20-year GWP should be considered, in addition to the 100-year figure, in order to allow for the near-term impact of the various greenhouse gases. That is a critical factor when considering potential climate change tipping points and runaway climate change.
  • The figures were based on the live weight of the animals, rather than the more conventional carcass weight or retail weight.
  • Livestock-related land clearing is increasing despite MLA’s implication to the contrary.
  • Savanna burning was omitted.
  • Foregone sequestration was omitted.
  • Short-lived global warming agents such as tropospheric ozone and black carbon were omitted.
  • Soil carbon losses may have been understated.

There are many ways to present data and information, and the authors of the paper may legitimately argue that their findings, published in a peer-reviewed journal, were valid. However, there are valid alternative approaches that result in findings that are less favourable to the livestock sector.

When applying only some of the factors referred to above, the emissions intensity of beef nearly triples from the figure estimated by Weidemann and his co-authors. When basing the results on figures for Oceania (dominated by Australia) from the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there is a 5.6-fold increase from Wiedemann’s figure. [Footnote 3]

Some footage YFM and MLA did not show Beefjam attendees

If you’d like to see some of the reality of Australian cattle and lamb slaughter (a key component of the industry serviced by MLA), you can check out undercover footage from the Aussie Farms website here and from Animal Liberation NSW here. [11] [12] Warning: Graphic footage.

As stated in the first video, every year, around 17-19 million lambs are killed in Australian slaughterhouses at around six months of age. Due to the high demand for meat and the resultant speed of the process, many are killed without being properly stunned. Many in the videos writhe on the kill table before and after having their throat cut.

What were the outcomes of Beefjam?

As stated earlier, YFM has reported that Beefjam participants collectively designed and prototyped solutions to challenges surrounding Australian beef.

But where are the details?

For such a commitment in terms of time and money, the output from the event seems incredibly scant.

Bangor Farm, Tasmania

While “Beefjam” involved YFM and Target 100 selecting the “lucky” participants, the role was left solely to Target 100 for the three-day visit to Bangor Farm in Tasmania.

And who should be among the three participants this time? None other than YFM co-founder, Joanna Baker. [13]

As with the slaughterhouse mentioned earlier, Target 100 did not select any old farm for the visit. A farm in northern Australian (where 70 per cent of our beef is produced), denuded of grass and losing top soil at a rapid rate, just wouldn’t do. They chose a farm in temperate Tasmania, with sweeping ocean views and much of the original forest cover in place.

Such an approach largely ignores the overall environmental impact of livestock production compared to the benefits that could be achieved with a general transition away from animal-based foods.

One of the highlights of a related Target 100 promotional video was weed control on the farm, which the grazing of sheep is said to enhance. There was no mention of comments from The Pew Charitable Trusts, who have reported on the destructive environmental impacts of livestock grazing, including the introduction of invasive pasture grasses, manipulation of fire regimes, tree clearing, and degradation of land and natural water sources. [14]

15 per cent of Bangor farm is said to have been cleared for pasture, with the balance being native grasslands and forest where light grazing occurs. [15] [16]

Regardless of how one may perceive Bangor, because we need to allow massive areas of cleared grazing lands to regenerate to something approaching their original state in order to overcome climate change, livestock farming at current levels cannot realistically be considered sustainable. [17] [18]

A report by the World Wildlife Fund has identified eastern Australia as one of eleven global “deforestation fronts” for the twenty years to 2030 due to livestock-related land clearing in Queensland and New South Wales. [19]

Here are some extracts from Target 100’s videos dealing with the visit, along with some of my thoughts:

Jo: “Hearing from Matt that we aren’t producing beyond our land’s capacity was a surprise for me.” [Terrastendo: But overall, we are Jo, and it’s primarily because of animal agriculture.]

Matt: “People talk about emissions, carbon emissions from sheep and cattle. Part of the way we address that is to try and grow them quickly.” [Terrastendo: Do we grow a cow or a sheep like a plant in a pot? Even raising the animals quickly leaves the emissions from animal agriculture on a different paradigm to those from plant-based agriculture.]

Jo: “So that there’s less inputs that go into actually growing that lamb, which in a way makes it a lot more sustainable for the farmer and the landscape.” [Terrastendo: But Jo, beef production is not sustainable at levels required to feed the masses. And do you also believe we can grow an animal like a pot plant?]

Even allowing for faster growth rates in Australia than many other countries, along with better feed digestibility and other factors, the Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN has estimated that the emissions intensity of beef production in Oceania (dominated by Australia) is around 35 kilograms of greenhouse gases per kilogram of product. That’s based on a 100-year time horizon for measuring the global warming potential (GWP) of different greenhouse gases. If we convert the figure to a 20-year estimate, it increases to around 72 kilograms. [Footnote 3]

The FAO’s global average figure for beef from grass-fed cattle is 102 tonnes of greenhouse gases per tonne of product based on a 100-year GWP. [20] That increases to 209 tonnes per tonne of product based on a twenty year figure, which is equivalent to around 774 tonnes of greenhouse gases per tonne of protein. [Footnote 3]

Compare those figures to the figure of 1 tonne of CO2 per tonne of product for cement production, as referred to by Professor Tim Flannery in his book, “Atmosphere of Hope”. [21] Flannery (who was previously contracted to MLA) expressed concern over the figure for cement, but seems unconcerned about the high level of emissions from beef production. [22]

Direct funding

The relationship between YFM and MLA includes direct funding.

As part of a crowd funding campaign in 2016, under the MLA logo and the heading “An extra big thank you”, YFM announced:

“High fives to Meat and Livestock Australia, who purchased our $5,500 perk!”

It is not known to what extent, if any, MLA contributed to YFM’s non-government income of $148,536 for the year ended 30th June 2015. The 2015/16 income statement is yet to be published by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

There are no “joining” or “subscription” fees for individuals who want to become involved with YFM.

In early 2016, YFM announced a three-year grant from Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation. [23]

Conclusion

To conclude, let’s consider some thoughts of Alexandra Iljadica, who co-founded YFM with Baker.

Asked about her “favourite food moment” in an interview on the YFM website, Iljadica nominated the annual family feast in Croatia with her in-laws.

“Uncle Mile is a shepherd so will slaughter a lamb for the occasion, which we’ll enjoy with home-made prsut (Croatian for prosciutto), hard cheese made from sheep and goat milk and a tomato and cucumber salad picked 30 seconds before serving.” [24]

It seems that any one of the beauties shown here could be considered fair game by Uncle Mile, with Alexandra savouring the end result.

around-the-farm-august-20

Don’t they deserve much better? Luckily for these happy individuals, they are living peacefully at Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary in Victoria.

Author

Paul Mahony (also on Twitter, Scribd, Slideshare, New Matilda, Rabble and Viva la Vegan)

Acknowledgement

Thank you to Greg McFarlane for information on YFM’s funding, including the donation from MLA.

Footnotes

  1. MLA has won advertising industry awards such as Marketing Team of the Year and Advertiser of the Year. [25] PR and advertising firms it has utilised include: Republic of Everyone (“Bettertarian”); Totem (“#Goodmeat”); One Green Bean (one of two firms with “You’re better on beef”); BMF (one of two firms with “You’re better on beef”, plus “Generation Lamb”, “The beef oracle”, and “The Opponent”); and The Monkeys (Australia Day 2016 “Richie’s BBQ” and 2017 “Boat People”). Republic of Everyone has also created graphics proclaiming the supposed health benefits of eating red meat. I beg to differ, as outlined in my article “If you think it’s healthy to eat animals, perhaps you should think again” and elsewhere.
  2. Australia’s National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1992) defined ecologically sustainable development as: “using, conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased” [26]
  3. The revised figures allow for the global average percentage split of the various factors contributing to the products’ emissions intensity, and are intended to be approximations only.

Related booklet

The low emissions diet: Eating for a safe climate

Updates

Additional comments and references added on 13th January 2017 in relation to the paper co-authored by Steve Wiedemann.

Footnote 1 extended on 26th January 2017.

Images

Youth Food Movement Australia | YFM logo badge only | Flickr | Creative Commons NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) | http://tinyurl.com/j4c8ad9 | https://www.flickr.com/photos/142322734@N08/

Lambs | Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary | https://www.edgarsmission.org.au/

References

[1] Mahony, P., “The real elephant in AYCC’s climate change room”, 5th September 2013, https://terrastendo.net/2013/09/05/the-real-elephant-in-ayccs-climate-change-room/

[2] Youth Food Movement Australia, “About”, http://www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/about-us/ (Accessed 9th January, 2016)

[3] Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Annual Information Statement 2015, Youth Food Movement Australia Ltd, https://www.acnc.gov.au/AIS2015?ID=8E78E032-C0CF-482B-9879-DF609B494B6E&noleft=1 (Accessed 14th Sep 2016)

[4] CassidyE.S., West, P.C., Gerber, J.S., Foley, J.A., “Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare”, Environ. Res. Lett. 8 (2013) 034015 (8pp), doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034015, cited in University of Minnesota News Release, 1 Aug 2013, “Existing Cropland Could Feed 4 Billion More”, http://www1.umn.edu/news/news-releases/2013/UR_CONTENT_451697.html

[5] World Hunger Education Service, Hunger Notes, “2016 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics”, http://www.worldhunger.org/2015-world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-and-statistics/ (Accessed 30th September 2016)

[6] Meat and Livestock Australia, “About MLA”, http://www.mla.com.au/about-mla/ (accessed 4th Sep 2016)

[7] Soutar, T., Youth Food Movement Australia, “Behind the scenes at an Australian abattoir”, 20th January 2016, http://www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/behind-the-scenes-at-an-australian-abattoir/

[8] Target 100, “About”, http://www.target100.com.au/About (accessed 4th Sep 2016)

[9] Mahony, P., “Emissions intensity of Australian beef”, Terrastendo, 30th June 2015, https://terrastendo.net/2015/06/30/emissions-intensity-of-australian-beef/

[10] Wiedemann, S.G, Henry, B.K., McGahan, E.J., Grant, T., Murphy, C.M., Niethe, G., “Resource use and greenhouse gas intensity of Australian beef production: 1981–2010″, Agricultural Systems, Volume 133, February 2015, Pages 109–118, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308521X14001565 and http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0308521X14001565/1-s2.0-S0308521X14001565-main.pdf?_tid=e4c5d55e-fc16-11e4-97e1-00000aacb362&acdnat=1431813778_b7516f07332614cd8592935ec43d16fd

[11] Aussie Farms, “Australian lambs slaughtered at Gathercole’s Abattoir, Wangaratta Vic”, Undated, https://vimeo.com/117656676?lite=1

[12] Animal Liberation New South Wales, “Cruelty exposed at Hawkesbury Valley Abattoir”, 9th February 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp-8PpA4upM

[13] Youth Food Movement Australia, “Can meat production and sustainability go hand in hand?”, 26th June 2014, http://www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/target-100/

[14] Woinarski, J., Traill, B., Booth, C., “The Modern Outback: Nature, people, and the future of remote Australia”, The Pew Charitable Trusts, October 2014, p. 167-171 http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2014/10/the-modern-outback

[15] True Aussie Beef and Lamb (Meat & Livestock Australia), What is Sustainable Farming | Where Does Our Meat Come From“, 4:07, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGD2EAzj4SY, http://www.australian-meat.com/

[16] Paul Howard Cinematographer, “Target 100 Bettertarian Documentary”, 7:04, https://vimeo.com/138485968

[17] Hansen, J; Sato, M; Kharecha, P; Beerling, D; Berner, R; Masson-Delmotte, V; Pagani, M; Raymo, M; Royer, D.L.; and Zachos, J.C. “Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?”, 2008. http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf

[18] Stehfest, E, Bouwman, L, van Vuuren, DP, den Elzen, MGJ, Eickhout, B and Kabat, P, “Climate benefits of changing diet” Climatic Change, Volume 95, Numbers 1-2 (2009), 83-102, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-008-9534-6 (Also http://www.springerlink.com/content/053gx71816jq2648/)

[19] World Wildlife Fund (Worldwide Fund for Nature), “WWF Living Forests Report”, Chapter 5 and Chapter 5 Executive Summary, http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/lfr_chapter_5_executive_summary_final.pdf; http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/living_forests_report_chapter_5_1.pdf

[20] Gerber, P.J., Steinfeld, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, A., Opio, C., Dijkman, J., Falcucci, A. & Tempio, G., 2013, “Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities”, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Table 5, p. 24, http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/resources/en/publications/tackling_climate_change/index.htm; http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3437e/i3437e.pdf

[21] Flannery, T., “Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis”, Text Publishing (2015), p. 170

[22] Manning, P., “Wrestling with a climate conundrum”, 19th Feb 2011, http://www.smh.com.au/business/wrestling-with-a-climate-conundrum-20110218-1azhd.html#ixzz47IvGiZjp

[23] Youth Food Movement Australia, “Youth Food Movement Australia is getting bigger than ever”, 3rd February 2016, http://www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/youth-food-movement-australia-getting-bigger-ever/

[24] Youth Food Movement Australia, “Alexandra Iljadica: Tell us a bit about you?”,  http://www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/teams/alex-iljadica/ (Accessed 11th January 2016)

[25] Baker, R., “The Marketer: Meat & Livestock Australia, cleaving, the brave way”, AdNews, 16th November 2015, http://www.adnews.com.au/news/the-marketer-meat-and-livestock-australia-cleaving-the-brave-way

[26] Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy, “Ecologically sustainable development”, https://www.environment.gov.au/about-us/esd (Accessed 14th Sep 2016)

dreamstime_xs_44876628

Imagine you’re a committed climate change campaigner. You’ve just spent a few hours with tens of thousands of like-minded souls, gathering and marching in protest against the fossil fuel sector and governments who pander to it.

You’re confident that you and your friends have made an impact. Media representatives were there, and you reckon you’ll get a minute or two on the evening news and maybe some decent coverage online and in print.

By the time it’s over, you’re tired and hungry, so you head home with your partner and a couple of campaigning pals for a celebratory dinner. You travel from the city to your hip inner suburban neighbourhood by tram, keeping your transport emissions to a minimum. Tomorrow you’ll head back to the city, but you’ll ride your bike for some exercise.

You volunteer to cook, and serve your signature dish of grass-fed beef steak with peppercorn sauce and vegetables. Your partner had offered to cook her favourite spicy sweet potato and bean enchiladas, but you reckon you need a decent dose of protein and iron after all that activity.

You devour your meal, enjoy some chat, then get ready for bed, satisfied with your day’s efforts in helping to save the planet.

But not so fast.

Before you snuggle up for the night, let’s check how you’ve performed in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. We’ll focus on two things; food and transport.

Food

Based on estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, by cooking grass-fed steak for four, you may have generated over 200 kilograms of greenhouse gas.[1]

If you’d accepted your partner’s offer to cook enchiladas, the figure would have been around 3 kilograms.

The beef figure is based on the global average emissions intensity of grass-fed beef, allowing for a 20-year time horizon to determine the “global warming potential” of methane and other greenhouse gases.[2] If you live in the United States, Australia or other countries with well-developed agricultural systems, the figure may be lower, but still potentially more than 30 times that of the enchilada option.

How about the tram?

Researchers investigating food’s greenhouse gas impacts, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have estimated that the consumption of 1 kilogram of beef is equivalent to 160 kilometres (99 miles) of automobile use.[3] That estimate was conservative for several reasons, but let’s use it in that knowledge.

You traveled 4 kilometres each way by tram, so your total distance of 8 kilometres has prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to consuming 50 grams of steak. That means those steaks (1 kilogram between the four of you) have resulted in 20 times the emissions that would have been generated if you drove (noting that 8 kilometres is one 20th of 160 kilometres and 50 grams is one 20th of 1 kilogram).

The big picture

It’s time you and your friends looked at the big picture of emissions, and stopped slapping each other on the back over your current campaigning efforts.

Sure, it’s essential that we move away from coal and other fossil fuels, but it’s also essential that we move away from animals as a food source.

Or do culinary habits override any desire to retain a habitable planet? (Even relatively low emissions intensity animal-based products may have a catastrophic impact.)[4]

Habits can change with a little effort, so why not try?

Nutrition

Okay, I understand you’re worried about nutrition, but you needn’t be.

Here’s what Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council says about vegetarian and vegan diets: [5]

“Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthy and nutritionally adequate. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle. Those following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet can meet nutrient requirements as long as energy needs are met and an appropriate variety of plant foods are eaten throughout the day. Those following a vegan diet should choose foods to ensure adequate intake of iron and zinc and to optimise the absorption and bioavailability of iron, zinc and calcium. Supplementation of vitamin B12 may be required for people with strict vegan dietary patterns.”

The Council’s suggestion to supplement vitamin B12 is a more natural approach than destroying rainforests and operating other aspects of livestock production systems. Because of more widespread fortification of foods in the US, the American Dietetic Association didn’t even mention B12 when making a similar statement.[6]

Obtaining other nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc and calcium should also not be a problem.[7] The US Department of Agriculture has shown us some reality by confirming (for example) that soybeans have 35 per cent more protein per kilogram than beef, with all the essential amino acids.[8]

The way ahead

So what’s the next step? It’s simple. Keep campaigning for meaningful action on climate change. All you need to do is broaden your scope by including action on animal agriculture, and preferably modifying your eating habits to be consistent with that approach.

Author

Paul Mahony (also on Twitter, Scribd, Slideshare, New Matilda, Rabble and Viva la Vegan)

Additional Resources

Veganeasy from Animal Liberation Victoria

Vegetarian Starter Kit from Animals Australia

References

[1] Derived from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Tackling climate change through livestock: A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities”, Nov 2013, Figure 7 and Table 5, p. 24 http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/resources/en/publications/tackling_climate_change/index.htm; http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3437e/i3437e.pdf and Myhre, G., D. Shindell, F.-M. Bréon, W. Collins, J. Fuglestvedt, J. Huang, D. Koch, J.-F. Lamarque, D. Lee, B. Mendoza, T. Nakajima, A. Robock, G. Stephens, T. Takemura and H. Zhang, 2013: “Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group 1 to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” , Table 8.7, p. 714 [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/, cited in Mahony, P., “The Low Emissions Diet: Eating for a safe climate”, 5th February, 2016, , Table 1, p. 6 and Figure 4, p. 7, https://terrastendo.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/low-emissions-diet-4p.pdf

[2] Myhre, G., et al., ibid. cited in Mahony, P. “GWP Explained”, 14th June 2013, updated 15th March 2015, https://terrastendo.net/gwp-explained/

[3] Carlsson-Kanyama, A. & Gonzalez, A.D. “Potential Contributions of Food Consumption Patterns to Climate Change”, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Vol. 89, No. 5, pp. 1704S-1709S, May 2009, http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/89/5/1704S

[4] Mahony, P., “The climatarian diet must exclude pig, chicken, fish, egg and dairy”, Terrastendo, 31st January, 2016, https://terrastendo.net/2016/01/31/the-climatarian-diet-must-exclude-pig-chicken-fish-egg-and-dairy/

[5] National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013), p. 35, http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/n55

[6] Craig, W.J., Mangels, A.R., American Dietetic Association, “Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets.”, J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jul;109(7):1266-82, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864

[7] Mahony, P., Eating for a safe climate: Protein and other nutrients, Terrastendo, 12th February, 2016

[8] USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/ via Nutrition Data at http://www.nutritiondata.com

Image

Environmental activists © Rrodrickbeiler | Dreamstime.com

 

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The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has just released a report on female breast cancer survivors. [1] It is part of a larger project analysing global research on the way diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight affect cancer risk and survival.

WCRF says the latest report is the most rigorous, systematic, global analysis of the scientific research currently available on breast cancer survivors, and how certain lifestyle factors affect a person’s chances of surviving after developing the disease.

The report concluded that, because of limitations in either the design or execution of much existing research, the evidence is not strong enough to make specific recommendations for breast cancer survivors. However, it says there are indications of links between better survival after breast cancer and:

  • a healthy body weight before and after diagnosis
  • being physically active before and after diagnosis
  • eating foods containing fibre before and after diagnosis
  • eating foods containing soy after diagnosis
  • a lower intake of total fat and, in particular, saturated fat.

Because other factors may explain these links, further research is needed to investigate the reason for the associations.

Although the report did not refer to plant or animal products specifically, the recommendations appear to strongly favour a plant-based diet.

The WCRF report’s executive summary noted (p. 3):

. . . the incidence of breast cancer is rising in the developing world because of increased life expectancy, urbanisation, and the adoption of western lifestyles.

It referred to breast cancer risk factors specified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) [2], who have stated:

The differences in breast cancer incidence between developed and developing countries can partly be explained by dietary effects combined with later first childbirth, lower parity, and shorter breastfeeding.

Consumption of plant-based foods is referred to in WCRF’s general recommendations on cancer: [3]

  1. Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight.
  2. Be physically active as part of everyday life.
  3. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks.
  4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
  5. Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
  6. Limit alcoholic drinks.
  7. Limit consumption of salt and avoid mouldy cereals (grains) or pulses (legumes).
  8. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone, without supplements.
  9. Mothers to breastfeed; children to be breastfed.
  10. Cancer survivors to follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.

Conclusion:

It seems clear that if the chances of avoiding and/or surviving breast cancer and various other cancers are to be improved, the relatively simple measure of adopting an appropriate diet is a critically important factor.

Blog Author: Paul Mahony (Also on Twitter, Scribd and Slideshare)

References:

[1] World Cancer Research Fund, “Diet, nutrition, physical activity and Breast Cancer Survivors- 2014“, http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/Breast-Cancer-Survivors-2014-Report.pdf

[2] World Health Organization, “Breast cancer: prevention and control”, http://www.who.int/cancer/detection/breastcancer/en/index2.html

[3] World Cancer Research Fund – Recommendations, http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/cancer_prevention_recommendations/index.php

Image: © Radub85 | Dreamstime.comFruits And Vegetables Diet Word Photo

Asylum-100

Australian readers may be familiar with “Sunrise“, the high-rating breakfast program on the Seven Network. It is sponsored by Australian Pork Limited (APL) (the national peak industry body), and features advertisements encouraging viewers to “get some pork on your fork“. [1, 2]

Paradoxically, Sunrise also features many stories on the subject of cancer.

Why is this a paradox?

The reason is that pig meat has been identified as a key factor in colorectal (bowel) cancer risk. To my knowledge, none of Sunrise’s segments on cancer have mentioned pig meat, but any relating to colorectal cancer should have.

World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF International) published its Second Expert Report in 2007, titled “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective”. The report was issued jointly with one of WCRF’s network members, the American Institute for Cancer Research. [3]

WCRF International is a not-for-profit umbrella association that leads a global network of cancer charities funding research and education programmes into the link between food, nutrition, physical activity, weight maintenance and cancer risk.

The report contained recommendations relating to red and processed meat (Recommendation 5, Chapter 12).

Pig meat considered to be red and processed meat for the purpose of the analysis

For the purpose of the analysis, beef, pork, lamb, and goat were all considered to be forms of red meat.

Processed meat consisted of meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives. Such meat includes ham and bacon.

How much can you eat safely?

So how much red or processed meat does WCRF International suggest you can eat safely?

Red Meat: No more than 500 g (cooked weight) per week.

Processed meat: Very little, if any.

WCRF International has stated:

“The evidence that red meat is a cause of colorectal cancer is convincing. The evidence that processed meat is a cause of colorectal cancer is also convincing.” (page 382)

WCRF UK has stated: “The Panel of Experts could find no amount of processed meat that can be confidently shown not to increase cancer risk. That is why WCRF UK recommends people avoid processed meat to reduce their bowel cancer risk. ” [4]

Update

As part of WCRF International’s Continuous Update Project, in 2010, a research team at Imperial College London produced an updated systematic literature review of the evidence from 263 new papers on food, nutrition and physical activity. [5]

WCRF International’s Expert Panel considered the updated evidence and agreed that the findings confirmed or strengthened the convincing and probable conclusions of the Second Expert Report for colorectal cancer.

The research team at Imperial College London produced an updated systematic literature review (SLR) of the evidence on food, nutrition and physical activity in relation to the prevention of colorectal cancer in 2010. The CUP review included 263 new papers that were identified in the CUP updated search.

The Expert Panel considered the updated evidence and agreed that the updated CUP findings confirmed or strengthened the convincing and probable conclusions of the Second Expert Report for colorectal cancer. The Panel agreed that the evidence for a protective effect from foods containing dietary fibre had strengthened could be upgraded to convincing. Conclusions for other factors previously judged to be convincing or probable were confirmed.

– See more at: http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/cup/current_progress/colorectal_cancer.php#sthash.Mhkvr5vV.dpuf

The problem with red and processed meat (including ham and bacon)

WCRF has reported that several hypotheses have been tested that may explain why consuming processed meat increases bowel cancer risk. Here are the main ones, all of which also appear to be relevant to red meat generally. [4]

Firstly, nitrites and N-nitroso compounds (NOCs):
Nitrites are preservatives that can react with certain compounds in protein-rich foods to produce NOCs, particularly in the absence of inhibitors such as vitamin C and in the presence of enhancers such as red meat. Many NOCs are carcinogenic. They can be formed during the curing process, and are also formed in the body from ingested nitrites and nitrates in red and processed meat.

Secondly, haem in red meat:
Haem is an iron-containing molecule present in animal blood and meat, especially red meat. Free iron can induce the production of free radicals, which can damage cell DNA. Haem can also induce the formation of NOCs in the body.

Finally, high-temperature cooking:
Cooking meat at a high temperature, especially frying and grilling, can cause the formation of certain carcinogenic compounds.

Some good news: plant foods help

The report also recommended that we eat mostly foods of plant origin to protect against a range of cancers.

Specifically: (a) Eat at least five servings (at least 400 g) of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and of fruits every day; (b) Eat relatively unprocessed cereals (grains) and/or pulses (legumes) with every meal; (c) Limit refined starchy foods; (d) People who consume starchy roots or tubers as staples should also ensure intake of sufficient non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and pulses (legumes).

While it reported, “foods containing dietary fibre probably protect against cancers of the colorectum”, it has since reported that the evidence has been upgraded from “probable” to “convincing”. [5]

It also reported that garlic probably protects against cancers  of the colon and rectum.

Other recommendations:

Here is the full list of recommendations in summary form: (a) Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight; (b) Be physically active as part of everyday life; (c) Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks; (d) Eat mostly foods of plant origin; (e) Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat; (f) Limit alcoholic drinks; (g) Limit consumption of salt and avoid mouldy cereals (grains) or pulses (legumes); (h) Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone, without supplements; (i) Mothers to breastfeed; children to be breastfed; (j) Cancer survivors to follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.

Conclusion

Many media reports on cancer focus on the supposed need to raise funds for cancer research. Even if we disregard the potential inefficacy of much research, wouldn’t we achieve more by educating people on preventative measures?

Also, shouldn’t advertisements for red and processed meat (including pig meat) be banned or contain a health warning? If that’s considered necessary for tobacco products, then why not also for relevant meat products?

Footnote: None of the material contained in this article should be construed as representing medical, health, nutritional, dietary or similar advice.

Author: Paul Mahony (also on SlideshareScribd, and Twitter)

References:

[1] Australian Pork Limited, http://australianpork.com.au/about-us/australian-pork-limited/

[2] Australian Pork Limited, Industry Focus, “Get some pork on your fork”, http://australianpork.com.au/campaigns/get-some-pork-on-your-fork/

[3] World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research, “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective”, Washington DC: AICR, 2007, http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/expert_report/report_contents/index.php and http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/cancer_resource_center/downloads/Second_Expert_Report_full.pdf, Chapter 12

[4] World Cancer Research Fund UK, “Informed – Issue 36, Winter 2009”, http://www.wcrf-uk.org/cancer_prevention/health_professionals/informed_articles/processed_meat.php

[5] World Cancer Research Fund International, Colorectal Cancer, Latest Evidence, http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/cup/current_progress/colorectal_cancer.php

Image: Aussie Farms (aussiefarms.org.au and aussiepigs.com). Reported to be from Landsdowne Piggery, New South Wales, Australia

Further reading: More information on the work of WCRF International can be found in “CSIRO Perfidy” by Geoff Russell, Vivid Publishing, 2009, http://www.perfidy.com.au/

Related articles on Terrastendo:

No, humans are not at the top of the food chain

Some thoughts on protein in a plant-based diet

Maybe McHappy Day is not so happy after all

If you thinks it’s healthy to eat animals, perhaps you should think again

 

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Despite what many of those who advocate meat-eating would like to believe, humans do not sit at the top of the food chain. In any event, it’s a food web rather than a chain, due to the many complex interactions involved.

An article commenting on our position in the food web was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in late 2013. [1]

According to the head of the research team, Sylvain Bonhommeau of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea in Sète, “We are closer to herbivore than carnivore. . . . It changes the preconception of being top predator.” [2]

The article considered the trophic level of different species and nations. Trophic levels “represent a synthetic metric of species’ diet, which describe the composition of food consumed and enables comparisons of diets between species”.

A species’ trophic level is calculated as the average of trophic levels of food items in its diet, weighted by quantity, plus one.

If an animal were to eat nothing but cows, its trophic level would be 3, calculated as the sum of 2 (the cow’s trophic level as referred to below) and 1. The trophic level of another animal that were to only eat that animal would be 4, and so on.

Plants and other “primary producers”, such as phytoplankton, have a trophic level of 1. A species that consumes only plants, such as a cow or elephant, has a trophic level of 2.  The trophic level of apex predators, such as polar bears and killer whales is 5.5.

The researchers reported that the global median human trophic level (HTL) in 2009 was 2.21, representing a 3 percent increase since 1961. The authors said, “In the global food web, we discover that humans are similar to anchovy or pigs and cannot be considered apex predators”.

Here’s how the rankings of a few species can be depicted, without attempting to display the complex interactions involved:

Figure 1: Some examples of trophic levels

Trophic-levels-6-sharpened

A major concern in terms of the environment and the rights of animals is the increasing overall human trophic level, driven largely by growing levels of meat consumption in China and India. The authors stated, “With economic growth, these countries are gaining the ability to support the human preference for high meat diets”.

Figure 2: Trends in human trophic level (1961-2009)web2-Figure1A

Since 1960, we have seen a reduction in the percentage of plants in the human diet and a corresponding increase in the percentage of terrestrial and marine animals.

Figure 3: Percentage of plants and animals in the human diet

Percentage-plants

Percentage-terrestrial-animals

Percentage-marine-animals

Some climate change implications

Animal agriculture is a key contributor to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.  Land clearing for livestock grazing and feedcrop production, in addition to releasing massive amounts of carbon, has reduced the biosphere’s ability to draw down existing carbon. According to leading climate scientist, Dr James Hansen, we must reduce atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to around 350 ppm (parts per million) if we are to overcome the threat of climate change. Massive reforestation and restoration of soil carbon is required in order to achieve that target. [3] In April, 2014, carbon dioxide concentrations reached 401.9 ppm. [4]

It seems ironic that China is contributing to the problem by increasing its meat consumption. The Chinese leadership would surely understand the extreme dangers posed by climate change, including a potential loss of dry-season water flows into key river systems due to the potential loss of glaciers.

Climate change author, David Spratt, has stated [5]:

“Taken together with those on the neighbouring Tibetan plateau, the Himalayan–Hindu Kush glaciers represent the largest body of ice on the planet outside the polar regions, feeding Asia’s great river systems, including the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Huang He. The basins of these rivers are home to over a billion people from Pakistan to China. The Himalayas supply as much as 70 per cent of the summer flow in the Ganges and 50–60 per cent of the dry-season flow in other major rivers. In China, 23 per cent of the population lives in the western regions, where glacial melt provides the principal dry season water source. The implications of the loss of the Himalayan ice sheet are global and mind numbing, but such a calamity rarely rates a mention in Australia.”

Australia seems happy to help China to satisfy its growing taste for red meat by expanding its exports. [6]

The existence of critical environmental externalities in beef production means that the Chinese and other consumers of Australian meat are paying a fraction of the product’s true cost.

Meanwhile, the Chinese maintain a population of nearly 500 million pigs, which is just under half the global population. [7]. Those pigs consume enormous amounts of soy from overseas, including soy grown in the Amazon and Cerrado regions of South America. Both regions contain massive stores of carbon, which are released through land clearing for feedcrop production (including soy) and livestock grazing. [8]

Figure 4: Soybean Production, Consumption and Imports in China 1964-2011

Chinese-soybean

China’s projected soy bean imports for 2014/15 are 72 million tonnes. The second-ranked importer is the European Union, with 12.5 million tonnes. [9]

With domestic production of 12 million tonnes, China’s total consumption in 2014/15 is 84 million tonnes, up from approximately 70 million tonnes in 2011 (including imports of 59 million tonnes).

Only around 10 percent of the soybeans used in China are consumed directly as food by humans. The other 90 percent are crushed, separating the oil and meal, with the latter widely used in animal feed rations. [8]

Some health implications

The PNAS paper categorised countries into five groups:

  1. Low and stable HTLs (majority of sub-Saharan countries and most of Southeast Asia)
  2. Low and increasing HTLs (several countries throughout Asia, Africa, and South America, including China and India)
  3. Higher initial HTLs than group 2, with an increasing trend (Central America, Brazil, Chile, Southern Europe, several African countries and Japan)
  4. High and stable HTLs until around 1990, when they began to decrease (North America, Northern and Eastern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand)
  5. The highest overall HTLs and decreasing trends (Iceland, Scandinavia, Mongolia, and Mauritania)

Health concerns have been a key driver of HTL reductions in countries within Groups 4 and 5.

In Group 4, “the nutrition transition has reached a point where health problems associated with high fat and meat diets (i.e., high HTLs) have led to changes in policy and government-run education programs that encourage these populations to shift to more plant-based diets”.

The reductions in HTLs within Scandinavian countries (Group 5) “is due to government policies promoting healthier diets”.

Rising meat consumption in China and India is likely to lead to a marked increase in rates of diseases and conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers, obesity and diabetes. [10]

According to the American Dietetic Association, well-planned plant-based diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle. [11]

As such, the world’s human population could aim for a trophic level of 2, with critical environmental and health benefits, not to mention the reduction in animal exploitation and cruelty.

For Australian and New Zealand readers, you should be aware that The Medical Journal of Australia has reported: “In contrast to the United States . . .  Food Standards Australia New Zealand permits only a limited number of foods to be fortified with vitamin B12. This includes selected soy milks, yeast spread, and vegetarian meat analogues such as soy-based burgers and sausages.” [12] Vitamin B12 was once more readily available than at present to those on a plant-based diet without fortification or supplementation, in a manner that was far more natural than the forced breeding practices and ecosystem destruction that characterise the animal agriculture sector, past and present. [13]

and have previously written, in relation to B12, that (a) destroying rainforests and other natural environs; and (b) operating industrial farming systems; purely for animal food products, is hardly natural. Sadly, in Australia, fortification of food products is not permitted to the same extent as in the USA. The Medical Journal of Australia has reported: “In contrast to the United States, where foods are extensively fortified with vitamin B12, Food Standards Australia New Zealand permits only a limited number of foods to be fortified with vitamin B12. This includes selected soy milks, yeast spread, and vegetarian meat analogues such as soy-based burgers and sausages.” (Zeuschner, C.L. et al., “Vitamin B12 and vegetarian diets”, MJA Open 2012; 1 Suppl 2: 27-32, 4 June 2012, https://www.mja.com.au/open/2012/1/2/vitamin-b12-and-vegetarian-diets) – See more at: http://freefromharm.org/health-nutrition/b12-magic-pill-veganisms-achilles-heel/#sthash.8N41mRvm.dpuf
I agree completely with your comments on the question of what is natural, and have previously written, in relation to B12, that (a) destroying rainforests and other natural environs; and (b) operating industrial farming systems; purely for animal food products, is hardly natural. Sadly, in Australia, fortification of food products is not permitted to the same extent as in the USA. The Medical Journal of Australia has reported: “In contrast to the United States, where foods are extensively fortified with vitamin B12, Food Standards Australia New Zealand permits only a limited number of foods to be fortified with vitamin B12. This includes selected soy milks, yeast spread, and vegetarian meat analogues such as soy-based burgers and sausages.” (Zeuschner, C.L. et al., “Vitamin B12 and vegetarian diets”, MJA Open 2012; 1 Suppl 2: 27-32, 4 June 2012, https://www.mja.com.au/open/2012/1/2/vitamin-b12-and-vegetarian-diets) – See more at: http://freefromharm.org/health-nutrition/b12-magic-pill-veganisms-achilles-heel/#sthash.8N41mRvm.dpuf
I agree completely with your comments on the question of what is natural, and have previously written, in relation to B12, that (a) destroying rainforests and other natural environs; and (b) operating industrial farming systems; purely for animal food products, is hardly natural. Sadly, in Australia, fortification of food products is not permitted to the same extent as in the USA. The Medical Journal of Australia has reported: “In contrast to the United States, where foods are extensively fortified with vitamin B12, Food Standards Australia New Zealand permits only a limited number of foods to be fortified with vitamin B12. This includes selected soy milks, yeast spread, and vegetarian meat analogues such as soy-based burgers and sausages.” (Zeuschner, C.L. et al., “Vitamin B12 and vegetarian diets”, MJA Open 2012; 1 Suppl 2: 27-32, 4 June 2012, https://www.mja.com.au/open/2012/1/2/vitamin-b12-and-vegetarian-diets) – See more at: http://freefromharm.org/health-nutrition/b12-magic-pill-veganisms-achilles-heel/#sthash.8N41mRvm.dpuf

Conclusion

Overall global livestock production is proceeding at unsustainable levels, with no sign of slowing down. If we wish to retain a habitable planet, we must urgently address the issue of diet in addition to fossil fuels.

The time to act is now!

Footnote: None of the material contained in this article should be construed as representing medical, health, nutritional, dietary or similar advice.

Author: Paul Mahony (also on Twitter, Slideshare, and Scribd).

References:

[1] Bonhommeau, S., Dubroca, L., Le Pape, O., Barde, J., Kaplan, D.M., Chassot, E., Nieblas, A.E., “Eating up the world’s food web and the human trophic level”, Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1305827110 (2013)

[2] Hoag, H., “Humans are becoming more carnivorous”, Nature, 2nd Dec, 2013,  doi:10.1038/nature.2013.14282, http://www.nature.com/news/humans-are-becoming-more-carnivorous-1.14282

[3] Hansen, J; Sato, M; Kharecha, P; Beerling, D; Berner, R; Masson-Delmotte, V; Pagani, M; Raymo, M; Royer, D.L.; and Zachos, J.C. “Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?”, 2008. http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf

[4] Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Monitoring Division, Up-to-date weekly average CO2 at Mauna Loa, Week beginning on May 4, 2014 (401.9 ppm), http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html

[5] David Spratt,“Global Warming – No more business as usual: This is an emergency!”, Environmental Activists’ Conference 2008: Climate Emergency – No More Business as Usual, 10 October, 2008, reproduced in Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, http://links.org.au/node/683

[6] Binsted, T., “Australia poised to benefit from China’s beef demand”, The Age, 24 April, 2014, http://www.theage.com.au/business/australia-poised-to-benefit-from-chinas-beef-demand-20140424-375pt.html

[7] FAOSTAT, Live Animals, 2012, http://faostat.fao.org/site/573/DesktopDefault.aspx?PageID=573#ancor, accessed 12 May, 2014. (Actual number: 471,875,000 of a global population of 966,170,968)

[8] Brown, L.R., “Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity, Chapter 9, China and the Soybean Challenge”, Earth Policy Institute, 6 November, 2013, http://www.earthpolicy.org/books/fpep/fpepch9

[9] United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service Approved by the World Agricultural Outlook Board/USDA Circular Series, “Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade”, May 2014, http://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/circulars/oilseeds.pdf

[10] Mahony, P., “If you thinks it’s healthy to eat animals, perhaps you should think again”, 12th February, 2013, https://terrastendo.net/2013/02/12/if-you-think-its-healthy-to-eat-animals-perhaps-you-should-think-again/

[11] Craig, W.J., Mangels, A.R., American Dietetic Association, “Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets.”, J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jul;109(7):1266-82, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864

[12] Zeuschner, C.L. et al., “Vitamin B12 and vegetarian diets”, MJA Open 2012; 1 Suppl 2: 27-32, 4 June 2012, https://www.mja.com.au/open/2012/1/2/vitamin-b12-and-vegetarian-diets

[13] Capps, A., “B12: A Magic Pill, or Veganism’s Achilles Heel?”, Free from Harm, 11 April, 2014, http://freefromharm.org/health-nutrition/b12-magic-pill-veganisms-achilles-heel/

Figures:

Figure 1 – Prepared by author

Figure 2 – Bonhommeau, S. et al., op. cit., Figure 1 (A)

Figure 3 – ibid., Supporting Information, Figure 4

Figure 4 – Brown, L.R., op. cit., Figure 9–1 based on data from USDA, Production, Supply, and Distribution, electronic database, at www.fas.usda.gov/psdonline, updated 10 May 2012; D. H. Baker, “D.E. (Gene) Becker and the Evolution of the Corn-Soybean Meal Diet for Pigs,” Illinois Swine Research Reports (2003), pp. 101-04; Jack Cook, An Introduction to Hog Feeding Spreads (Chicago: Chicago Mercantile Exchange, 2009), p. 3.

Main Image: Animal Polar Bear © Pilipenko | Dreamstime.com

dreamstime_xs_11544531

McDONALD’S says:

“This year McHappy Day will be celebrated on Saturday 9th November and we are calling on all Australians to get involved to help us reach our fundraising goal of $3.4 million. Now in its 23rd year, McHappy Day has raised over $20 million for RMHC . . . These funds have enabled Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) to continue to provide much needed programs and services to seriously ill children and their families.”

So are McDonald’s simply responding to various outcomes of people consuming their products? Here’s some food for thought:

HARVARD UNIVERSITY:

“Eating red meat is associated with a sharply increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease, according to a new study, and the more of it you eat, the greater the risk.”

WORLD CANCER RESEARCH FUND:

“There is strong evidence that red and processed meats are causes of bowel cancer, and that there is no amount of processed meat that can be confidently shown not to increase risk. . . . Try to avoid processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami, corned beef and some sausages.”

CSIRO SCIENTISTS INFORM THE CSIRO BOARD IN APRIL 2006:

Recent findings from [CSIRO] scientists have established that diets high in red meat, processed meats and the dairy protein casein can significantly increase the risk of bowel cancer.

NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE AND LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY:

“Studies comparing levels of [cancer-promoting growth hormone] IGF-1 in meat-eaters vs. vegetarians vs. vegans suggest that we should lean toward eliminating animal products from our diets altogether. This is supported by the new study in which the thousands of American vegans studied not only had lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, but significantly lower cancer risk as well.”

SOUNDS PRETTY CONVINCING TO ME. I THINK I’LL STEER CLEAR OF McDONALD’S ON SATURDAY 9TH NOVEMBER AND EVERY DAY BEFORE AND AFTER.

Blog Author: Paul Mahony (Also on Twitter, Scribd and Slideshare)

References:

Bakalar, N., “Risks: More Red Meat, More Mortality”, The New York Times, 12 March, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/health/research/red-meat-linked-to-cancer-and-heart-disease.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=red%20meat%20harvard&st=cse#

World Cancer Research Fund, http://www.wcrf.org/cancer_research/expert_report/recommendations.php

Russell, G., “CSIRO Perfidy”, Vivid Publishing, 2009, http://www.perfidy.com.au/

Freston, K., “A Vegan Diet (Hugely) Helpful Against Cancer”, Huffpost Healthy Living, 9 December 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-freston/vegan-diet-cancer_b_2250052.html?ref=topbar&utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=3513286,b=facebook

Image: Child and fast food © Andrey Armyagov | Dreamstime.com

Notes:

None of the information in this article is intended to represent health, medical, dietary, nutritional or similar advice.

The CSIRO is Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Information on the World Cancer Research Fund can be found here.

This article contains material that first appeared in my article “If you think it’s healthy to eat animals, perhaps you should think again” of 12 February, 2013

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