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Veggie-Centric Cuisine on the Rise

By Melissa Kravitz

On a recent episode of their weekly comedy podcast, Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher recount a laughably horrendous experience ordering the two token vegan items on a restaurant menu in Miami: some type of vegan burger (though not served on a vegan bun), and buffalo cauliflower (a whole head of cauliflower served with sauce on top).

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This New Year's Resolution Makes a Difference to Your Body and the Planet

By Nathan Runkle

This year has been nothing short of chaotic. Wildfires and hurricanes have wreaked untold destruction, while society seems increasingly heated and out of control. No matter one's political affiliation, the mere act of reading the news can induce anxiety and arouse confusion about how one person can actually make a difference. As we draft our New Year's resolutions––to improve ourselves and our communities––one item we can all add that will indeed make a difference is simply to go vegan. Hear me out.

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The Times Square New Year's Eve ball test on Dec. 30, 2016. Times Square Ball / YouTube

10 Ways to Be a Better Environmental Steward in 2018

Protecting the natural environment may seem overwhelming with increased natural disasters, melting sea ice, and threatened wildlife. But your choices can truly go a long way for your community and your health. Here are ten ways to be a better steward in 2018 and help others do the same!

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How Cities Can Meat the Climate Challenge

By Kari Hamerschlag and Christopher D. Cook

Addressing a crowd of mayors gathered in his hometown last week, former President Obama called on the "new faces of American leadership" on climate change to take swift action to spare our children and grandchildren from a climate catastrophe. Twenty-five U.S. mayors signed the "Chicago Charter," affirming a commitment from their cities to meet the Paris agreement target for greenhouse gas reductions by 2025.

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Taxes on Meat Could Join Carbon, Sugar and Tobacco to Help Curb Emissions

By Jessica Corbett

"Driven by a global consensus around meat's negative contributions to climate change and global health epidemics such as obesity, cancer and antibiotic resistance," a new report by a British investor network concludes that a meat tax should be considered "inevitable" for any government serious about addressing the climate crisis and other health concerns that stem from factory farms and livestock production.

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Big Food Is Worried About Millennials Avoiding Animal Products

By Nathan Runkle

Hundreds of leaders from fast-food chains, marketing agencies and poultry production companies recently gathered in North Carolina for the 2017 Chicken Marketing Summit to play golf and figure out how to make you eat more animals.

One session focused on marketing chicken to millennials. Richard Kottmeyer, a senior managing partner at Fork to Farm Advisory Services, explained to the crowd that millennials are "lost" and need to be "inspired and coached." His reasoning? Because there are now "58 ways to gender identify on Facebook." Also, because most millennial women take nude selfies, the chicken industry needs to be just as "naked" and transparent.

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Food

18 Graphics That Explain the Global Food Crisis and How to Solve It

The world is projected to hold a whopping 9.6 billion people by 2050. Figuring out how to feed all these people—while advancing rural development, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting valuable ecosystems—is one of the greatest challenges of our era.

So what’s causing the global food challenge, and how can the world solve it? Here, courtesy of the World Resources Institute (WRI), is a summary told in 18 graphics.

For more information, check out Creating a Sustainable Food Future: Interim Findingsa report produced by WRI, U.N. Environment Programme, U.N. Development Programme and the World Bank.

First, let's examine what's causing the global food crisis.

Feeding an Exploding Population

The world’s population is projected to grow from about 7 billion in 2012 to 9.6 billion people in 2050. More than half of this growth will occur in sub-Saharan Africa, a region where one-quarter of the population is undernourished.

 Shifting Diets

In addition to population growth, the world’s per capita meat and milk consumption also is growing, especially in China and India, and is projected to remain high in the European Union, North America, Brazil and Russia. These foods are more resource-intensive to produce than plant-based diets.

The Food Gap

Taking into account a growing population and shifting diets, the world will need to produce 69 percent more food calories in 2050 than it did in 2006.

 It’s Not a Distribution Problem

We can’t just redistribute food to close the food gap. Even if we took all the food produced in 2009 and distributed it evenly among the global population, the world will still need to produce 974 more calories per person per day by 2050.

Agriculture’s Environmental Footprint

But we can’t just produce more food in the same way as today. We must reduce food’s environmental impact. Agriculture contributes nearly one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, uses 37 percent of landmass (excluding Antarctica) and accounts for 70 percent of all freshwater withdrawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers.

 

Climate Change and Water Stress Exacerbate the Challenge

Climate change is expected to negatively impact crop yields, particularly in the hungriest parts of the world such as sub-Saharan Africa.

Growing water use and rising temperatures are expected to further increase water stress in many agricultural areas by 2025.

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The Energy-Food Nexus

Another major challenge is biofuels’ competition for land and crops. Producing 10 percent of all transport fuels from biofuels by 2050, as planned by some governments, would require 32 percent of global crop production but produce only 2 percent of global energy. It also would increase the food gap to roughly 100 percent. Conversely, eliminating the use of crop-based biofuels for transportation would close the food gap by roughly 14 percent.

Food’s Role in Economic Development

Around 2 billion people are employed in agriculture, many of them poor. We need to close the food gap in ways that enhance the livelihoods of farmers, especially the poorest.

The “Great Balancing Act”

Achieving a sustainable food future, then, requires meeting three needs simultaneously: closing the food gap, supporting economic development and reducing agriculture’s environmental impact.

Now, let's look at solutions.

Reduce Food Loss and Waste

Roughly one-quarter of world’s food calories are lost or wasted between field and fork. Cutting this rate in half could close the food gap by about 20 percent by 2050.

Shift to Healthier Diets

Beef is the least efficient source of calories and protein, generating six times more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of protein than pork, chicken and egg production. Shifting just 20 percent of the anticipated future global consumption of beef to other meats, fish or dairy could spare hundreds of millions of hectares of forest and savannah.

Achieve Replacement Level Fertility

Reducing population growth can help hold down food demand. While most regions are projected to reach replacement level fertility—or the rate at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next—sub-Saharan Africa’s population is on course to more than double between now and 2050.

Boost Crop Yields

Boosting yields is particularly important in sub-Saharan Africa, which has world’s lowest cereal yields but will account for one-third of all additional calories needed in 2050.

Improve Land and Water Management

Conservation agriculture, such as reduced tillage, crop rotations and mulching, increased maize yields in Malawi. Combining these techniques with agroforestry—intercropping with trees—further increased yields. These practices could be scaled up on more than 300 million hectares in sub-Saharan Africa.

Shift Agriculture to Degraded Lands

Shifting agriculture land expansion to degraded lands can prevent deforestation, protect resources and curb climate change. For example, more than 14 million hectares of low-carbon degraded lands in Kalimantan, Indonesia are potentially suitable for oil palm development.

Increase Aquaculture’s Productivity

As wild fish catches have plateaued, aquaculture has expanded, producing nearly half of fish consumed in 2009. To grow in a sustainable way, aquaculture will need to produce more fish per unit of land and water and reduce its reliance on wild-caught fish for feed.

Closing the Food Gap

No one solution can create a sustainable food future. A menu of consumption- and production-focused strategies, including those presented here, can close the food gap and generate environmental, health and development co-benefits. But governments, business and others need to act quickly and with conviction to scale these solutions up.

 

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD page for more related news on this topic.

 

 

 

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Join the Growing Number of People Going Meatless on Mondays

Philadelphia, home of the Philly cheesesteak, recently joined the growing number of communities urging residents to refrain from eating meat once a week.

The city council unanimously passed a resolution saying the city "recognizes the benefits of a diet high in fruits and vegetables and urges residents to participate in Meatless Mondays to improve their health and decrease their carbon footprint.”

A number of other U.S. communities, including San Francisco, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Oakland, have launched their own Meatless Monday campaigns. That's in addition to countless school districts, hospitals, corporations and individuals across the U.S. and in 30 countries around the world, according to the Meatless Monday campaign.

Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Red and processed meat consumption is associated with increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality. Consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium and lowers intakes of saturated fat and total fat.

Going meatless can help reduce your carbon footprint, too. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide—far more than transportation. Annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend. 

Meatless Mondays can save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.

On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.

The Meatless Mondays campaign emerged from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health in 2003, but its roots go back much further. Meatless Mondays says that merely eliminating meat is not enough—healthy, environmentally friendly meat-free alternatives such as beans, should be added as well.

For other days, Meatless Mondays "strongly" recommends hormone-free, grass-fed, locally-raised meat whenever possible.

Here's a video that explains the Meatless Monday campaign:

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD page for more related news on this topic.

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Rising Meat Consumption Takes Big Bite out of Grain Harvest

Lester Brown

World consumption of animal protein is everywhere on the rise. Meat consumption increased from 44 million tons in 1950 to 284 million tons in 2009, more than doubling annual consumption per person to more than 90 pounds. The rise in consumption of milk and eggs is equally dramatic. Wherever incomes rise, so does meat consumption.

As the oceanic fish catch and rangeland beef production have both leveled off, the world has shifted to grain-based production of animal protein to expand output. With some 35 percent of the world grain harvest (760 million tons) used to produce animal protein, meat consumption has a large impact on grain consumption and therefore global food security.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The efficiency with which various animals convert grain into protein varies widely. Grain-fed beef is one of the least efficient forms of animal protein, taking roughly 7 pounds of grain to produce a 1-pound gain in live weight. Global beef production, most of which comes from rangelands, has grown by about 1 percent a year since 1990.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pork production has grown by 2 percent annually since 1990. World pork production, half of it now in China, overtook beef production in 1979 and has widened the lead since then. It requires more than 3 pounds of grain to produce each 1-pound gain in live weight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poultry production has grown even more quickly: 4 percent annually in recent decades. It eclipsed beef in 1995, moving into second place behind pork. Poultry is even more efficient, requiring just more than 2 pounds of grain to produce a 1-pound gain in live weight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish farm output may also soon overtake beef production. In fact, aquaculture has been the fastest-growing source of animal protein since 1990, expanding from 13 million tons to 56 million tons in 2009, or 8 percent a year. For herbivorous species of farmed fish (such as carp, tilapia and catfish), less than 2 pounds of grain is required to produce a 1-pound gain of live weight. Although farming carnivorous fish such as salmon can be environmentally disruptive, worldwide aquaculture is dominated by herbivorous species. This represents great growth potential for efficient animal protein production.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a number of ways to make animal protein production more efficient. Combining protein-rich soybean meal with grain dramatically boosts the efficiency with which grain is converted into animal protein, sometimes nearly doubling it. Virtually the entire world, including the three largest meat producers—China, the U.S. and Brazil—now relies heavily on soybean meal as a protein supplement in feed rations. Promising new livestock and dairy systems based on roughage rather than grain, such as India’s cooperative dairy model, boost both land and water productivity.

Achieving food security depends on changes on the demand side of the equation as well as the supply side. Along with moving to smaller families to curb population growth, this means cutting individual consumption by eating less grain-intensive livestock products and eliminating waste in the food system. An American living high on the food chain with a diet heavy in grain-intensive livestock products, including red meat, consumes twice as much grain as the average Italian and nearly four times as much as the average Indian. By adopting a Mediterranean diet, Americans can cut their grain footprint roughly in half, improving health while increasing global food security.

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This data highlight is adapted from World on the Edge by Lester R. Brown. For more data and discussion, see the full book at www.earth-policy.org.

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