Sales of milk have been horrible lately, but nothing tells the story like the long-term picture. In 1982, the United States population stood at 232 million. Today it’s 317 million people. So if America’s milk consumption per person were flat, we’d still expect a 36 percent increase in US milk sales from 1982 just to keep pace with population growth. Instead, America’s total milk consumption for 2014 is dead-even with 1982 figures. In other words, Americans are drinking about a third less milk per person than they were a generation ago. And the market for whole milk has fallen off a cliff—dropping from 290 pounds per capita in 1950 to just 45 pounds today.
True, the dairy industry was massive in 1982, and remains massive today. But what frightens milk producers is the possibility that Americans could be losing their taste for milk altogether. As cow’s milk loses shelf space to soys milk and almond milk, and studies emerge questioning whether milk is healthful in the first place, we may be on the brink of witnessing the dairy industry progress from decline to collapse. Nobody seems more worried about this than Tom Gallagher, who runs the dairy industry’s top promotional organization, Dairy Management Inc.
Gallagher says, “The numbers are devastating. At some point, milk could become an irrelevant beverage for the average consumer.”
In any case, Gallagher and the US Dairy Industry have no intention of vanishing without a fight. They’ve just announced plans to spend half a billion dollars on ads and packaging improvements.
But the trouble with milk isn’t with the packaging or the branding or the advertising. The problem is with the milk itself. More and more people are deciding vegan milks are a superior product for a host of reasons ranging from animal cruelty to environmental sustainability. Sure, Coca-Cola has just unveiled a processed milk product that it expects will eventually “rain money.” But given that the stuff is expected to sell for double the price of conventional milk, and addresses few of milk’s underlying problems, good luck with that.
One problem facing the dairy industry is that factory farming is near the end of the road, in terms of measurably boosting efficiency. Cows have been selectively bred for more than fifty years. In the early days, boosting milk yields was easy. But now that the average cow produces at least triple the milk of a cow from the 1950s, there are diminishing returns in terms of gaining further efficiency improvements. And cows already have widespread and chronic problems associated with their high milk yields. The fact that the milk industry has to always be looking over its shoulder for the next undercover investigation can’t be helping matters either. There’s only so many times the industry can claim that the latest abuses are “not the norm” before it loses all credibility.
Meanwhile, the vegan milk industry is just now ramping up, with a stream of exciting new products. Thanks to the fact that vegan milks are going mainstream, these products are becoming increasingly price-competitive with conventional milk. Given that it’ll always be cheaper to grow a row of soybeans or tend an almond tree than it is to feed and care for a cow, the outlook for America’s milk industry is sure looking bleak.
The holidays are fast approaching, and animal lovers are beginning to search for the perfect cruelty-free gifts for family and friends. Here are six newly released vegan cookbooks that are sure to delight even the most omnivorous of friends and make the coming year the tastiest yet.
Here is a cookbook that will become a year-round staple in any Italian food lover’s kitchen. This is the third cookbook written by chef Chloe Coscarelli, winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Her recipes are meticulously tested, packed with flavor, and made using familiar ingredients that you’ll have no trouble finding at your local grocery store.
Get this book if you want to try:
Broccoli Rabe with Garlicky Bread Bites
Pesto Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Leftover Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Drunken Raspberries
This cookbook was born from one of the most popular vegan blogs on the web, and is packed with more than 100 health-conscious recipes that will give you energy and that glow that emanates when you treat your body well. This is among the best ultra-healthful vegan cookbooks ever published.
Get this book if you want to try:
Velvety Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Roasted Beet Salad with Hazelnuts, Thyme & Balsamic Reduction
Vegan Without Borders has our vote for the most beautiful vegan cookbook of 2014. It’s perfect for someone ready to stray from Western-style cooking to explore the diversity of flavorful international cuisines. You’ll get some of the finest vegan dishes from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, India, and Asia. Featuring beautiful photography throughout, this top-quality hardcover book makes this the perfect gift for the 2014 Holiday season.
Get this book if you want to try:
Chickpea Nuggets with Buffalo Barbecue Ranch Sauce
If most cookbooks put you to sleep, this edgy book is just what you need. From the sriracha cauliflower bites to the potato leek soup, the recipes in this book will bring flavor and lots of veggies into your kitchen. Then invite some friends over and leave Thug Kitchen on the coffee table—could there be a better conversation starter?
This book is a must-have for anyone interested in health and wellness. Author Gena Hamshaw takes the challenge out of healthy cooking, making it easy for anyone to do. This book is packed with photos that will inspire even the most hard-core junk food addicts to bring more color to their plate.
Get this book if you want to try:
Carrot Miso Dressing
Dinosaur Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad
Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has until December to decide whether gestation crates will be phased out in New Jersey. Despite a recent poll that “found that 93% of New Jersey voters would support Gov. Christie signing this bill into law,” he has been quoted agreeing to pork producers from a different state that he will veto the bill. In the classic Daily Show style, Jon Stewart calls him out for being a self-serving sellout.
In great news for cows, the demand for almond milk in the UK is exploding, with an annual growth rate of 70 to 80 percent.
There’s no telling what’s behind this surge, but almond milk clearly carries a number of powerful advantages: no animal cruelty worries, a far smaller environmental footprint, no association with methane production, and the absence of pus, BGH, and fecal coliforms. But maybe more than anything else, people are realizing that almond milk simply tastes a whole lot better than cow’s milk. It’s a drink that adults enjoy and that children don’t have to be pestered into finishing.
The market for almond milk, allegedly a favourite of Prime Minister David Cameron, grew from 36 million liters in 2011 to 92 million liters in 2013, a 155 percent increase. Sales of regular milk grew just 3 percent over the same period.
155 percent growth for almond milk vs. just 3 percent growth for cow’s milk. As production for almond milk continues to ramp up, expect it to move from a premium-priced specialty item to a mainstream commodity where producers and retailers compete heavily on price. And at that point, we may suddenly see the worldwide dairy industry reach a tipping point.
The most useful metaphor I’ve heard used to describe the work of an effective animal advocate is that we serve as criminal defense attorneys for animals. But unlike an actual public defender, every last one of our clients is 100 percent innocent.
The reason that this is such a helpful metaphor is that public defenders and vegan advocates each have essentially two jobs. Their first job is to, if at all possible, win the case and to secure their clients’ freedom. But no matter how innocent a client may be, not every case will be won. So in these instances the job becomes advocating effectively for the minimal possible sentence. Five years of supervised probation may be a profound injustice for someone wrongfully convicted, but it is nevertheless incomparably better than a 20 year prison term.
Now imagine a public defender so obsessed with justice that she refused to play the game at a hearing when her unfairly-convicted client was being sentenced. Imagine her insulting the judge and prosecutor for this travesty of justice, and then daring them to impose the maximum sentence in order to illustrate the unfairness of it all. It’s safe to say the defendant would be aghast—he’s now been victimized twice; first by a flawed legal system, and second by his own attorney who, obsessed with principle, squandered her client’s only remaining chance of avoiding a stiff sentence.
I know the scenario I’ve described above seems insane, and that any public defender acting as I’ve described would be promptly disbarred. But the reality is that many vegan advocates today are, like our hypothetical public defender, refusing to act in the best interests of their clients during sentencing.
As a vegan advocate, just like a public defender, there are cases you’ll win and cases you’ll lose. When you lose a case it’s your responsibility to do everything possible to minimize your client’s punishment to whatever extent you can. It no longer matters that he’s innocent and deserving of no punishment whatsoever. That ship has sailed. Now the only thing you can do is to advocate as persuasively as you can for the most lenient possible sentence.
What all vegan advocates have in common is that we all work to the best of our ability to win every possible case. Through our skills and persuasiveness may vary we all do everything we can to convince people to embrace a totally vegan diet. And as a vegan advocate you’ve no doubt noticed by now that you’ve lost your share of cases. Try as you might it’s exceedingly unlikely that you’ve persuaded your father, your sister, and your best friend to go vegan—to say nothing of all the other people you’ve ever spoken to about diet.
Inspiring People to Take Another Step
The most strident Level 5 member of the Vegan Police is entirely right about one thing: anything short of embracing veganism entails some level of victimization of innocent animals. It’s a sign that you’ve lost your case. But that’s just the way it is. As an animal advocate, most of the time you’re going to lose the case.
The reality that many vegan advocates have a tough time accepting is that the overwhelming majority of people are unwilling to go vegan today, no matter what arguments you make or how persuasively you make them. And strangely enough, many activists who took years and years to transition to a vegan diet somehow think the rest of the world needs to go vegan tonight. Where these activists have it right is in realizing that we need to be promoting veganism in a clear and unambiguous way as the only diet that is free of animal exploitation. But where these activists get it wrong is when they continue to promote veganism to people who have already ruled it out. This is worse than a waste of breath—it’s squandering a legitimate opportunity to encourage significant change. That’s because the fact that someone has ruled out going vegan does not render that person unwilling to make lesser but still hugely important changes—changes that could eliminate much or even most of the cruelty and slaughter linked to that person’s dietary choices.
As Eating Animals author Jonathan Safran Foer has beautifully put it, the most effective activists are people who are skilled at persuading others to “take the next step rather than the last step.”
Looked at this way, outreach becomes a relationship rather than a one-time transaction. What’s more, the confidence gained by taking a small step today often leads to a willingness to take a bigger step tomorrow. Today’s small step away from factory farmed animal products, however inadequate, would never have been taken if the only message expressed was various permutations of, “Go vegan.”
This incremental approach to activism is often called the foot-in-the-door technique, and it is based on numerous sociology stuides that demonstrate that even the smallest step in a given direction makes that person vastly more likely to take bigger steps in the future. In fact, the foot-in-the-door technique is the sociological basis for the vegetarian movement’s single most prominent campaign: Meatless Mondays.
The genius of Meatless Mondays is that it makes a request so small and reasonable—merely skip meat on Mondays—that it’s a trivial commitment for most people, and it’s still easily achievable to even die-hard meat-eaters.
But once a person gets a few Meatless Mondays under her belt she will doubtless be receptive to taking bigger and more meaningful steps. Perhaps she’ll quit eating caged eggs next month, go meatless for most meals a few months after that, and maybe even go totally vegan each year. And all of these changes can be traced back to agreeing to participate in a single Meatless Monday.
Good activists will celebrate every one of these steps as a win, which in turn will increase the likelihood of more steps in the future. Activism becomes praising people for the important changes they’re making, rather than scolding them for not yet being perfect.
Now some might worry that this incremental approach to advocacy might be harmful, since it could inspire someone otherwise ready to go vegan to content themselves with a lesser commitment like being a part-time vegetarian, or eating only non-factory farmed meat. Fortunately, serious activists with substantial experience can see through this worry as without merit. That’s because effective one-on-one advocacy depends, more than anything else, on being a great listener.
These activists recognize that it’s crucial to listen intently, and to calibrate your requests and suggestions to what the person is ready for. There will certainly be people you encounter who, once adequately informed, will instantly show revulsion and contempt for everything related to animal agriculture. It would be madness to suggest Meatless Mondays to this sort of person as he is plainly eager to take more substantial steps.
What we need to do is to present veganism as a desirable goal to everyone we encounter, but also show them as many stepping-stones as possible along the way. The river needn’t be crossed in a single leap. It’s our job to inspire and help people to make the biggest steps away from animal products that they’re willing to make today. If we succeed, we’ll celebrate this accomplishment and be back tomorrow to encourage them to make another step.
This week has offered the strongest evidence yet that the days of dairy products and eggs being a dominant force in packaged foods are numbered. Unilever’s Hellmann’s and Best Foods brands have dominated America’s mayonnaise market for generations. But this week Unilever filed a lawsuit against tiny startup Hampton Creek, whose vegan Just Mayo product is getting stocked by many of America’s top grocery chains, including Walmart and Costco. While vegans around the world are venting their outrage on social media sites, the truth is that this lawsuit may turn into the best thing that ever happened to layer hens, Hampton Creek, and the vegan movement. Unilever is doing the stupidest thing imaginable, and let me tell you why.
Let’s take a step back from the lawsuit to gain some perspective on what’s really going on. This story hinges on technological change happening within the food industry. A hundred years ago, horses dominated local transportation. But then automobiles came along and presented advantages so compelling that the entire horse transportation industry collapsed in barely a decade. Today about the only remnants of this are horse carriages in cities (but even these won’t be around much longer thanks to animal welfare concerns.) Back in the day, the biggest and smartest horse carriage companies in the world saw the writing on the wall and transitioned their businesses into building automobile bodies (Early cars were in fact called “horseless carriages” and “coaches”.)
The exact same thing happened in the 1980s with typewriters getting replaced by word processors. Prior to about 1980 computers were so expensive that they were a specialty item that couldn’t compete with typewriters. And IBM was hands down the dominant typewriter company in the business. But IBM saw where things were headed and got in front of the trend, pivoting perfectly to the IBM PC and dominating the computer industry for a decade (until they realized that much of the computer industry was becoming so commodified as to make squeezing out profits a game better played by companies that specialize in low-margin electronics.)
Horses and typewriters were great at their jobs—until cars and word processors came along they had the market for personal transportation and office printing locked up. And in much the same way, we’re at the same tipping point for both eggs and dairy products.
Just a decade ago, eggs and dairy products had unique properties that nothing from the plant world could match. Eggs offer terrific binding and glazing properties for baked goods, and they can be whipped up into various emulsions suitable for mayonnaise, flan, angel cake, and meringues. Dairy products likewise offer delicious creamy textures, and rich fatty flavors.
In 1990 and even in 2000, there was really nothing in the vegan world that could give eggs and dairy products legitimate competition. But fundamentally, this was a technology problem, and it turns out that if you throw sufficient R&D money into replicating the properties of eggs and dairy, you’ll make amazing headway.
While there’s still work to be done, it’s clear that the fine people at Earth Balance have already largely cracked the code for making perfect dairy substitutes. After starting with margarines that taste just as good as butter, they’ve branched out into a line of other fantastic dairy-free products. Their Vegan Cheddar Mac and Cheese and their Sour Cream and Onion Kettle Chips have to be tasted to be believed.
Hampton Creek has turned its R&D toward making vegan egg products. And by all accounts they’ve succeeded brilliantly. They now have a growing line of products, and their flagship “Just Mayo” product is widely considered to be amazing. In fact, Time magazine says: “The mayo is indistinguishable from regular mayo.”
All of this puts Unilever in a horrible position. Vegan mayo likely costs a lot less to make than egg-based mayo. And there are doubtless fewer liabilities in terms of food safety issues. Nor does a vegan mayo company risk having its egg suppliers exposed for horrific animal cruelties—as has happened to countless companies that base their products on battery eggs or milk products.
So Unilever has every reason to innovate. But instead, they’re calling in the lawyers. They’re claiming Just Mayo’s existence has “caused consumer deception and serious, irreparable harm to Unilever.”
At issue is a 1957 FDA decision specifying that products designated as “mayonnaise” must contain eggs. But nowhere on Just Mayo’s label or in its advertising does it call itself mayonnaise. On the contrary, it says right on the front of the label that the product is “Egg Free.”
As with many David vs. Goliath battles, this one’s getting picked up by the media. Try to find a way of looking at this story where Unilever can be seen as the good guys—I certainly can’t. If you can make mayonnaise every bit as tasty without eggs, and in the process rid the product of animal cruelty, chicken slaughter (don’t forget that every commercial layer hen is slaughtered when her yields decline), and a ton of saturated fat and cholesterol, why wouldn’t you?
For every brand, but especially brands of food that you trust enough to eat, reputation is everything. And Unilever is putting their century-old brands at risk—and in the process giving Just Mayo immeasurable amounts of positive publicity. Just this past week, this story has already been covered by the Washington Post, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and dozens of other media outlets. And it’s clear that public sentiment is squarely on the side of Hampton Creek, which claims more than 39,000 messages of support since Unilever’s lawsuit was filed. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.
Any halfway educated marketer knows that it’s a fundamental blunder to even mention a smaller competitor. You’ll never see McDonald’s mention Burger King or Coca-Cola mention Pepsi. But now that eggs are about to go the way of the typewriter and the carriage horse, it’s clear that Unilever perceives its mayonnaise products are facing an existential threat—and that their best hope isn’t to innovate, it’s to get the lawyers involved.
In the long game, expect Hampton Creek to get bought out rather than shut down. It’s got exactly what the mainstream food industry needs; the key to making eggs obsolete when it comes to taste, cost, and healthfulness. Millions of people and billions of chickens agree.
To be vegan is to know that if you scratch the meat industry’s surface, unending cruelties and miseries will be revealed.
A patron at a bar on the outskirts of London discovered this for himself while enjoying a pint of beer and a bag of pork rinds. Upon removing one of the rinds from its plastic bag, he discovered that, through the deep-fried surface, a tattooed number was plainly visible.
Around the world, factory farms routinely cut notches out of pigs ears, and tattoo their skin, for identification purposes. You’ve of course got to wonder whether, if they can’t even be bothered to keep tattooed skin from being made into pork rinds, what other corners do pork producers cut when it comes to issues of animal care and food safety?
Contacted by a reporter, the spokesman for the pork rinds producer either replied with the dryest British humor imaginable, or conclusively proved the company couldn’t care less about all this incident implied: “It’s not going to harm anybody, the ink is perfectly safe and non-toxic.”
Yew, he really and truly said that. But maybe the key to succeeding in business is to know your customers. And meat companies must surely know that anyone who eats pork rinds has likely abandoned all standards when it comes to choosing food. Here’s how the man who bought the offending pork rinds responded to his discovery:
I must admit it did put me off to start with. But then I thought what the hell and I still had my pint left so I ate it. Despite the writing it still tasted pretty good with my beer.
Fortunately, this story has been picked up by the Daily Mail, guaranteeing that large numbers of meat eaters who do have some interest in what goes into their food will learn the truth.
Countless vegans made their change of diet for health reasons, so it’s common sense that any serious animal advocate should be discussing the health advantages of going vegan at every opportunity. In fact, even if you’re personally most interested in animal protection, maybe the health argument deserves priority when speaking about veganism. After all, nearly everybody cares about their health but not everybody cares about animals.
In a new essay, veteran animal advocate Matt Ball explains that “the health argument” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not only does Ball view it as counterproductive, he believes that it directly leads to the deaths of huge numbers of chickens and fish.
At issue is the fact that while chicken and fish are probably more healthful choices than beef and pork, they demand upwards of ten times more killing per pound of flesh. So while the health argument does inevitably convince some listeners to go vegan, it also encourages many others to eat more chicken and fish. Ball provides strong evidence in his essay that, while the health argument undoubtedly gets some people to go vegan, its net effect is to push up the total number of animals sent to slaughter. He writes:
History shows that eating fewer large animals and more small animals for health reasons isn’t a made-up, worst-case scenario. It has been the driving force for the suffering and slaughter of billions and billions of birds. Just look at any graph of animals killed in the U.S.: as the consumption of mammals declined, the slaughter of chickens skyrocketed over the decades!
Some thoroughly indoctrinated vegans might protest that chicken and fish are every bit as unhealthful as beef and pork. But that’s a losing argument. Chicken and fish are much lower in total fat, especially saturated fat, and they lack red meat’s strong association with bowel cancer. And the Omega 3s in fish are a desirable nutrient that vegans need to go out of their way to find from plant sources (although, to be clear, vegan Omega 3s and DHA are cheap and easy to obtain.)
It’s possible that Ball is incorrect in concluding that the health argument is counterproductive, since it would be exceedingly difficult to get reliable data supporting or contradicting his assertions. That said, his warnings certainly make a great deal of sense, and therefore deserve careful consideration from every activist who is focused on doing more good than harm.
For more than two decades, activists have called on McDonald’s to roll out a veggie burger. But the chain has steadfastly refused, sticking to its core offerings of burgers, processed fried chicken, and the world’s most dreadful salads.
Ten years ago, you could reasonably argue that a big switch was the right thing to do, but that it didn’t make good business sense. Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation had stirred things up but McDonald’s weathered the storm. Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma had not yet been published, and chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill were tiny and unproven upstarts. Staying the course is never exciting, but McDonald’s wasn’t about to risk its market leadership for healthier food that could potentially flop. So in the past decade, the most ambitious thing McDonald’s has done to please the growing foodie movement was to improve its coffee.
McDonald’s refusal to bet on healthier food has opened up this segment to smaller, nimbler competitors who are not afraid to innovate. That includes all-vegan chains like Veggie Grill and Native Foods, as well as vegan-friendly chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Lyfe Kitchen. All of these chains have ambitious expansion plans, and they’re collectively riding a wave of profit generated by the surging numbers of vegans and conscientious omnivores.
From a business perspective, it undoubtedly once made sense for McDonald’s to err on the side of staying conservative and resisting radical menu change. But now, as an excellent Los Angeles Times article makes clear, it’s now undeniable that McDonald’s has dragged its feet for too long and that a growing army of healthier chains is eating the Golden Arches’ lunch.
Given that the situation is starting to turn dire, it’s a wonder that investors have yet to punish McDonald’s. But neither are they impressed. Exactly three years ago the stock was trading at $93 a share. And today? It’s at $93 a share. Meanwhile, over the same three year period, shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill have risen by 89 percent.
When once McDonald’s could have kept upstarts at bay by innovating on healthy food, now the company is stuck playing catch-up. Their offerings appeal primarily to an aging, shrinking demographic—while their competitors are gaining strength by selling higher priced, better quality food that’s either vegan or at least largely plant-based.
Make no mistake: McDonald’s has the talent and resources to radically design its menu, and to win over a new generation of eaters. But to accomplish this, they’ve got to think beyond burgers and chicken. For possibly the first time in the company’s history, McDonald’s future hinges on taking risks and catering to informed consumers.
And this time around, better coffee isn’t going to cut it.
Compassion in World Farming has a terrific 2-minute video titled “Time To Decide” that spotlights that pivotal moment we all come up against—whether to oppose animal cruelty or to go along with the status quo. The video features four vignettes involving a compassionate person witnessing animal cruelty and taking a stand against it.
In the first segment, a boy from the 19th Century watches his father mercilessly whipping a horse, until he is moved by conscience to intercede. In the second segment, a man sits in a 1940s theater, part of an audience gleefully entertained by footage of dogs attacking a captive bear. The man cringes at the abuse and, maintaining all dignity, walks out on the film in disgust. In the third segment, a girl sits with her father and another man on the couch and the two men excitedly watch dog fighting footage, until the girl gets up and turns off the television.
Each of these three segments is more an archetypal situation than the sort of cruelty a modern-day person is likely to encounter, but these scenes offer the argument that throughout history, there have always been people who stepped up to oppose animal cruelty.
And then the fourth and final scene is played, and this one is clearly from our moment in time. A man is at a bus stop watching factory farm footage on his smart phone. He is visibly shaken by what he sees. And then his image fades out to this text:
It’s time. Each generation decides what cruelty they will tolerate.
End the Cage Age. It’s time to evolve.
Never before in history have so many animals suffered so much at the hands of humans, but never before have so many people decided to take up the cause of animals. Compassion in World Farming’s video is a welcome reminder that the moment has arrived for people of conscience to put an end to factory farming.
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