Farm Animal Deaths by Fire (Years 2000 to 2018)

Massive fires at factory farms and other facilities happen with disturbing regularity, often producing staggering death tolls. Our spreadsheet is the systematic first attempt to total up these numbers worldwide. While it documents nearly 5 million farm animals killed by fires since the year 2000, the true number is doubtless much higher, for three main reasons:

  • We obtained this data solely through English-language searches of journalism databases. Doubtless the overwhelming majority of fires happening in Africa, South America, and Asia are not reported in English, and therefore uncollected here.
  • The tally omits many fires that killed fewer than 100 animals.
  • There are undoubtedly numerous fires at factory farms that either go unreported, or have no publicly disclosed estimates of animal fatalities.

This project was conceived of by Erik Marcus for inclusion in his “Why Choose Vegan?” essay. The compiling of this data was overseen by Dr. Laura Dilley, with most of the data gathered by Samyuktha Iyer and Daniella Azoulay.

Altogether, between January 1st 2000 and April of 2018, fire-related deaths included 4.47 million chickens, 166,000 turkeys, 221,000 pigs, and just under 12,000 cattle. Complete details including dates of and locations of all fires are featured on the following spreadsheet.

Spreadsheet:
Please note that the first page of our spreadsheet summarizes the death totals for each type of farm animal. You can click the tabs on the bottom of that spreadsheet to bring up secondary pages that offer detail about all data obtained and the methods used to gather this data.

A Vegan Dietitian Reviews “What the Health”

what the health

By Virginia Messina, MPH, RD

As a vegan health professional, I am sometimes mortified to be associated with the junk science that permeates our community. And as an animal rights activist, I’m disheartened by advocacy efforts that can make us look scientifically illiterate, dishonest, and occasionally like a cult of conspiracy theorists.

There is a growing movement to create a more honest and evidence-based approach to vegan nutrition, though. And those of us who value this effort need to be a more visible presence in the animal rights community. We can’t allow our voices to be drowned out by the pseudoscientific noise. We need the non-vegan world to know that it is possible to stand in support of animal rights while embracing scientific integrity.

It is in this spirit that I venture into the discussion about the newest plant-based documentary What the Health.

The duo behind the film are Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, who are animal rights activists. They also made the movie Cowspiracy (which I have not seen) and I admire their passion for animal advocacy.

I also appreciate that this newest film addresses a number of issues that deserve attention. It is indeed disturbing that non-profit organizations like the American Heart Association accept money from the beef industry. And yes, it’s true that eating a healthy diet that emphasizes plant foods can be a powerful way to counter chronic diseases. I also appreciated that the film addresses social justice issues like the pollution from pig farms which are disproportionately located near low-income communities of people of color.

I wish What the Health had stuck to these kinds of observations and supported them with an informed discussion of the evidence. Instead, it cherry-picked the research, misinterpreted and over-stated the data, highlighted dubious stories of miraculous healing, and focused on faulty observations about nutrition science. The themes of What the Health are that:

  • a vegan diet is the answer to preventing and treating all chronic disease
  • meat, dairy and eggs (and fat) are the cause of all these diseases
  • and non-profit organizations don’t want you to know this because they are funded by Big Food.

Most of the misinformation in the film is due simply to a poor understanding of nutrition science and research. But some moments struck me as overtly dishonest. While he doesn’t directly say it, filmmaker Kip Andersen gives the impression that he is exploring a vegan diet for the first time. He says “Like so many people, I was looking for an excuse not to change my diet.” I found it hard to believe that he was not a vegan while making this film. And the other half of the filmmaking duo, Keegan Kuhn, has stated that he’s been a vegan for decades. So this all felt pretty disingenuous.

The film also employs an obvious double standard. It points to conflicts of interest among national non-profit organizations without acknowledging that most of the doctors interviewed in the film also have conflicts of interest. Some are animal rights activists and some have built their reputations and livelihoods around vegan nutrition. While that is certainly not reason to discredit everything they say, bias is bias and objectivity cuts both ways. These doctors should be held to the same level of scrutiny as the organizations taking money from the food industry.

Research is Complex and Conflicting

When Kip approaches non-profit health organizations for interviews, he finds that no one wants to talk with him. The first people answering the phone can’t respond to his questions about diet and health. I’m not sure why he finds this surprising. They are administrative assistants, not health professionals.

But executives at most of these organizations wouldn’t grant him an interview, either. This was understood to be evasiveness in response to Kip’s effort to have a meaningful discussion about diet and health. And maybe even some kind of conspiracy. “Why would an American Cancer Society rep not want to talk about this?” he wonders.

Well, I can tell him why. These busy professionals don’t have the time or patience to engage in a debate about nutrition with someone who doesn’t understand how extensive, complex, conflicting, and confusing the research is. There have been many times when I’ve not responded to people who want to wave a copy of The China Study in my face as they challenge my statements on oil or protein or vitamin B12. I can sense pretty quickly when a discussion will only waste my time, and when an inquisitor is hostile to fairly considering other points of view. I’m guessing that the director of the American Cancer Society recognizes this, too.

Furthermore, when journalists schedule interviews to discuss nutrition research, they typically provide information about which studies they want to discuss ahead of time. That’s why I sympathized with the Chief Medical Officer of the American Diabetes Association who didn’t want to debate diet research. It’s why I understood why no one from the Susan G. Komen organization wanted to defend the fact that there is no warning about dairy and breast cancer on their website.

The folks at Susan G Komen are not ignorant about the relationship of dairy foods to breast cancer. Their website notes that high-fat, but not low-fat dairy foods may increase risk and that the research is conflicting. The resources listed on the What the Health website say pretty much the same thing. For example, they cite a paper that says this: “On the whole, evidence for an increase in risk for breast cancer through consumption of cow’s milk and dairy products is blurry and partially contradictory and equivocal.”

This is also the conclusion of the report from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) a leading authority on diet and cancer (and a group that promotes a plant-based diet). In their review of all of the research on the subject, they were unable to conclude that dairy foods raise risk for breast cancer. They did say that it is “probable” (but not “convincing”) that dairy raises prostate cancer risk but that dairy consumption probably offers protection against colon cancer. That’s where the science stands right now, and it can’t be negated by one study accompanied by interviews with people who are not experts on the current state of diet and cancer research.

The filmmakers also run into trouble when they try to decipher individual studies. For example, they mistakenly assert that the World Health Organization’s analysis of processed meat and cancer risk is based on 800 studies. But this was a meta-analysis which means it began by identifying potentially relevant studies through a keyword search. In this case, it found 800 of them. But only seven of the studies actually qualified for and were included in the meta-analysis. So their conclusions are based on seven studies, not 800 – a big difference, and a big blunder by the filmmakers.

And while processed meat isn’t exactly a health food (and the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation and the AICR all advise people to limit its consumption) eating hot dogs is not as dangerous as smoking. The filmmakers contend that they are equally dangerous because both are “type 1 carcinogens.” That’s not what this type of ranking means, though. It has nothing to do with the degree of risk. It’s this sort of consistent lack understanding that fuels so much of the hyperbole in the film.

“Everybody Gets Enough Protein” and Other Vegan Nutrition Myths

What the Health includes extensive interviews with the usual cast of celebrity vegan doctors (and why, by the way, do the same doctors appear over and over again in vegan-oriented health movies? It can’t possibly be true that there are only ten health professionals in the entire world who understand the relationship of diet to chronic disease). This results in a hodgepodge of information including some that is flat out wrong. We’re told, for example, that carbohydrates can’t be turned into fat (not true) and that only plants can make protein (this is half-true; the human body makes proteins all day long, but some of the raw materials for this originate in plants.)

There is also the obligatory observation from a physician who has “never seen a patient with a protein deficiency.” This refers, of course, to an acute protein deficiency like kwashiorkor. It’s a distraction (and an irresponsible one) from the fact that some people, especially older people, get too little protein for optimal health, and that vegans may have higher protein needs than meat-eaters. This same doctor then suggests that you could get all of the protein and essential amino acids you need from 2000 calories worth of rice. This might bring you fairly close to meeting total protein needs, but it falls far short of requirements for the essential amino acid lysine. This is the kind of casual disregard for real issues in nutrition that can set vegans up to fail.

Also obligatory in any plant-based film is the graph showing that populations who consume the most dairy worldwide have the highest rates of hip fracture. This may be true. But you know how Dr. Neal Barnard rolls his eyes in this film when he’s asked about sugar and diabetes? That’s me when people start talking about the link between hip fracture rates and dairy or protein intake among countries. Among nutrition experts, these kinds of comparisons carry almost no weight. This is because there are so many confounding factors that affect the comparisons. For example, countries with high dairy consumption also tend to have icier winters. This significantly increases risk of falling, which in turn increases risk of a hip fracture. In fact, the article that What the Health cites to support the dairy connection to hip fracture doesn’t even mention dairy. It says that the factors responsible for the differences in fracture rates are “population demographics (with more elderly living in countries with higher incidence rates) and the influence of ethnicity, latitude, and environmental factors.”

So What the Health leaves us with a faulty perspective on nutrition research that downplays the importance of both protein and calcium for bone health. This denies vegans and potential vegans the kind of information they need to actually stay healthy.

The Miracle of a Plant-Based Diet

The exaggerated and misleading statements about animal foods and health are meant to build the case that you must be vegan if you want to be healthy. We hear, for example, that there is no evidence that consuming animal foods in moderation can turn heart disease around. Yes, there is. There is at least as much evidence that plant-based (but not vegan) diets can reverse heart disease as there is evidence indicating vegan diets can reverse heart disease.

And finally, there are the miraculous healings. The film tells us that a plant-based diet can treat lupus, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis. (I’d love to see actual evidence for any of this.) Then we’re shown real-life examples of astonishing recoveries from illness. One woman has been diagnosed with bilateral osteoarthritis and is scheduled for two hip replacements because, as she describes it, bone is rubbing on bone. This means that the cartilage that cushions the hip joints has worn away. You can’t just grow back a bunch of cartilage in two weeks by changing your diet. Nor is there evidence that a healthy vegan diet will reverse thyroid cancer as is claimed in the film. And I hope that the woman who stopped taking antidepressants in just two weeks did so under strict medical supervision. That is not enough time to taper off of these drugs (which kind of makes me doubt her story). And to imply that people can abruptly stop taking their antidepressants when they go vegan is irresponsible and dangerous.

Kip himself says that after he changed his diet, “within a few days I could feel my blood running through my veins with a new vitality.” It immediately brought to mind Lierre Keith, ex-vegan and author of The Vegetarian Myth. She says this when she eats a bite of tuna fish after many years of veganism: “I could feel every cell in my body—literally every cell—pulsing. And finally, finally being fed.”

I’m quite sure that you can’t feel every single one of your cells pulsing and I don’t believe you can feel your blood running through your veins, either. These are the meaningless testimonials that people offer about every diet under the sun. (Can we not even hold ourselves to a higher standard than the preposterous claims of ex-vegans?)

There is so much more to deplore about this film. The fear-mongering about GMOs and about diet and autism. The body shaming. And of course, the outdated (by about 40 years) insistence that dietary fat is bad.

Is this Film Good Animal Advocacy?

Despite all of the problems with What the Health, I liked what Kip said at the end–that he knew that eating a little bit of animal food was not going to damage his health (which conflicts with what the doctors in the film say, by the way), but that he couldn’t eat even a little animal-based food in good conscience.

Knowing the agonies suffered by farmed animals, and the damage livestock do to the environment, means that the most responsible decision is to avoid these foods completely. That’s my perspective, too. Most public health experts recommend a diet that emphasizes plant foods and limits animal foods. But unless you bring in concerns about animals, the environment, and social justice, you can’t make the case for a vegan diet as the only sensible way to eat. That’s why the scientific basis of What the Health was doomed from the start. Instead of focusing on unassailable reasons for being vegan, it focused on the ones that are most easily refuted.

I realize that some activists believe that using any means necessary to get people to stop eating meat represents a win for animals. But putting aside the philosophical issue of whether the ends justify the means–that is, whether it’s okay to be dishonest if it saves animals–I think there are a number of problems with this argument.

First, people most likely to be swayed by this film are pretty likely to be swayed later on in the opposite direction by competing dietary philosophies. I am not convinced that this film will produce some big population of long-term committed vegans, especially when people find out that going vegan doesn’t necessarily deliver on all the promises What the Health makes.

Second, the vegan movement’s credibility is undermined when we make claims that are so easily refuted. If we get caught lying or exaggerating about the health aspects of veganism, why should anyone believe us when we try to tell them about the treatment of animals on farms, in zoos, and in research labs?

I would guess that this film might also turn off a sizable segment of the population who recognize the hype, the over-the-top conspiracy mongering, and the shoddy science. For many, it’s likely to reinforce any negative view they may already have of vegans. With all this in mind, why would we want to promote a film that makes our community look like an unreliable source of information? Getting people to take animal rights seriously is a huge challenge. I cannot imagine that it does our efforts for animals any good when we build advocacy around hyperbole, junk science, conspiracy theories, and transparent dishonesty.

On the surface, What the Health may seem like good advocacy for animals. I suspect that in the long run, though, this kind of outreach sets our efforts back and slows our progress on behalf of animal rights.

Ginny Messina MPH, RD publishes TheVeganRD.com. She has co-authored a number of vegan-oriented books including Vegan For Life, Vegan For Her, Never Too Late to Go Vegan, Even Vegans Die, and The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets.


Spring Cleaning for Animals

craigslists

One core tactic to protecting large numbers of animals is to find something that’s already getting publicity, and then discover a way to align animal protection with it. This happens automatically whenever celebrities go vegan or who get heavily into animal advocacy—whether it’s Paul McCartney or Ricky Gervais or Tom Brady or Pamela Anderson or Moby, you’re starting with somebody who already has the interest of millions. Now that they’re speaking up for veganism or animals or whatever, they’re guaranteed to influence large numbers of people. And you can help them make an even bigger difference just by getting the word out.

Same goes for anytime something even vaguely oriented makes the news. Got a big meat recall, an undercover cruelty investigation, or the latest meat industry scandal? Time to use your social media accounts to publicize it, and spin this news as yet another reason to consider veganism. They say that life is all about timing, but that’s quite not true. Effort and passion remain king and queen, but timing is what makes the difference between sailing with the wind or against it. So the best activists capitalize on things that are hot right now, in order to spin momentum in the animals’ favor.

This is also true for holidays and other annual events, with Thanksgiving the most obvious chance to turn the focus on turkeys into an annual liability to the industry. Over time, expect Thanksgiving to turn from the turkey industry’s greatest strength to its greatest weakness, as they brace themselves for another onslaught of activist publicity every November. The Super Bowl likewise remains the best occasion to publicize vegan party snacks, and over the years the game has given these foods a mountain of free publicity.

So far I’ve covered only the big things. Celebrities don’t get much bigger than Paul McCartney and holidays don’t get much bigger than Thanksgiving, but this same approach applies to small things. Even tiny little things we’ve all heard of, like spring cleaning. Why not turn spring cleaning into a way to help animals?

Life comes in two parts: acquiring and letting go. The acquiring is the easy part. Stuff accumulates that once seemed vital: nice clothing, DVDs, stereo gear, furniture, and a thousand other things. But most of your beloved acquisitions eventually fall into disuse, make their way to your garage, and sit there for unused for years or decades. While some of this stuff is outright junk, much of it is far too valuable to throw out on the street or to just give away. Finding a buyer can be tough, but ultimately satisfying for several reasons. You’ll be relieved of unwanted possessions, you’ll make somebody happy, you’ll reduce your footprint on the earth, and you’ll also be rewarded with some easy cash.

It’s amazing what you can unload with the help of Craigslist or eBay. Craigslist is free, and it’s perfect for heavier items where you can find a local seller. eBay gives you a worldwide audience but you’ll pay a commission plus lose more money to shipping. While it may take repeated ads on these platforms, eventually your glass slipper will find its Cinderella. Over the past few years I was able to get decent money for several albatrosses hanging from my neck: a 1940s Erector Set I was given as a kid but never used, a Nintendo 64 in its original packaging, and a 60-inch vintage flexible flyer sled. Undoubtedly you’ve got things every bit as weird and potentially valuable if only you get the word out. Imagine how good it will feel when this stuff is no longer cluttering your garage, and the money you’ve gained is donated to help animals.

So why not grit your teeth this spring, do what it takes to part with a few things, and devote the chunk of change you receive to creating a chunk of change for animals? All you need to do is send your earnings to whichever animal advocacy group of you like best. It’s a win all the way around. Admittedly, the act of purging yourself of possessions can be about as unpleasant as a physical purging, but once the lady drives off and there’s money in your pocket you’ll feel so relieved. If you’re ready to get on-board, why not close the loop and post about what you’ve sold, how much you earned, and where your donation went?

Maybe collectively, we can raise funds this spring that will save thousands of animals, and perhaps we can collectively save millions of animals each spring as the years roll by. Post about your sales results using to this thread on Facebook or using the #SpringCleaningForAnimals tag on Twitter or Instagram. Spring cleaning has never before been a thing for animals. Why not start now?

Valentine’s Day Heart Pizza

Valentine's Day Heart Pizza Featured Image

Vegan Pizza Dough Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup warm water (~110 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon organic or raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

Vegan Pizza Dough Directions

Mix the yeast, water, and sugar in large bowl. Add 1 ½ cups of the flour. Mix well to blend.
Add the oil, salt, garlic, nutritional yeast, and remaining flour and stir well.
Transfer the dough to a flour covered board. Dust your hands with flour.
Knead for 5 minutes, adding flour if it gets too sticky. (If you have a Kitchenaid, you can use your dough hook and let it do the kneading for you.) Roll dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover bowl with towel and set in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour. (In the winter, I use the ‘proof’ setting on my oven.)

Vegan Pizza Toppings

  • 1 can or jar of organic pizza sauce (or you can make it from scratch using this recipe)
  • 1 red pepper
  • ½ bunch kale
  • 1 watermelon radish
  • 1 carrot
  • vegan mozzarella cheese (I recommend a nut-based cheese)

Vegan Pizza Topping Directions

Peel the carrot and the radish using a veggie peeler. Using your veggie peeler, peel slices from your carrot until the entire carrot is used up.

Slice the radish as thinly as possible.

Grate your vegan cheese.

Wash the red pepper. Remove the stem, seeds, and white parts from the inside. Slice it thinly so it makes flower shapes.

Wash the kale, remove stems, and tear the leaves into small pieces.

Knead dough again. Flour a large flat surface. I used to use a cutting board, but I recently purchased this rolling mat, and it is the best thing ever! I highly recommend getting one if you ever make pizza, pie, or cookies. The dough never sticks to it the way it used to stick to my cutting board, and it’s way easier to wash.

Plop the dough ball down onto the floured mat. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough and coat the rolling pin in flour too.

Roll into a thin crust. Fold in half.

Cut out half a heart using kitchen scissors. Unfold.

Place on a baking stone (if you don’t have a baking stone, you can use a cookie sheet).

Decorate with sauce and toppings.

Bake for 12-15 minutes at 475º.

Remove from oven.

Cut (I use kitchen scissors, instead of a pizza cutter) and serve with any remaining sauce.

This recipe is courtesy of Vegan Dollhouse.

Vegans Overwhelmingly Favor Bernie Sanders

bernie

So last week, I tried out Twitter’s newish polling feature. I thought it would be cool to see where Vegan.com’s largely-vegan Twitter following stood on the US Presidential election. My question: “If you’re vegan—and only if you’re vegan—who has your vote?” The poll ran for 24 hours and here are the results:

I had my suspicions that vegans would lean towards Bernie, but the results were far beyond what I expected: 9 percent for Trump, 76 percent for Bernie, and only 15 percent for Hillary. As with any poll, the results raise more questions than answers. In particular, do the results indicate adoration for Bernie or are they more reflective of contempt toward Hillary and Donald?

Most importantly, is there something about a vegan worldview that would make vegans overwhelmingly favor a candidate like Bernie?

Polls of any kind are notoriously unreliable and a Twitter poll is about as unreliable as polls get. For one thing, there’s nothing to guarantee that respondents were registered voters or even US citizens. And Twitter polls are easily manipulable by vote brigading, although there’s strong reason to think that this did not occur here. Matt Ruscigno MPH RD tweeted something I also observed:

pretty incredible that these percentages have stayed nearly identical from the first 5 minutes through 23 hours.

So I think that it’s likely this poll flew under the radar, and hit the sweet spot in terms of having a statistically significant sample size (1713 respondents) without being large enough to attract efforts to manipulate the results.

The phrasing of the poll question was, I think, about as neutral and unleading as possible. But it would be nice if Twitter could rotate the response order each time a poll is displayed, so that each candidate would display first on the list one-third of the time. I think it’s probable that Hillary got a little extra juice out of my decision to list her first.

I don’t know what to make of the results. Maybe vegans tend to be philosophically inclined to favor the rhetoric of Sanders over Clinton or Trump. Or maybe they’re just a contrarian bunch, who can be counted on to favor the underdog. One things’s for sure, though: for whatever reason, Bernie Sanders seems to have the 2016 vegan vote in the bag.

Greenpeace Supports the Seal Trade

By photographer: Mike Cameron [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Until today, I thought the only bad thing about Greenpeace was the blight of day-glo wearing college-age canvassers they parachute into every affluent downtown area. These employees specialize in creating awkward moments when you’re just trying to walk down the street and have a conversation with a friend.

But it actually turns out that Greenpeace backs something even more repugnant: the seal fur trade. Check out this October 2015 MSNBC video featuring Jon Burgwald, who works as an arctic campaigner for Greenpeace.

Here’s most of what Burgwald said in the video. A bit of his comments were garbled but I did the best I could with this transcription:

We need to move beyond the notion that all sealing and seal products are bad things…it’s actually sustainable. I think it’s good that we can start promoting the sustainable seal products. It’s a sustainable hunt. They use all of the animal. Like they eat the meat, and what they can’t eat they use for the dogs. And so it’s a very sustainable way of hunting and there’s no problem with the population or anything so we’re actually fully supportive of the indigenous seal hunt.

Life is messy, no person or organization is perfect, and Greenpeace surely does a great deal of good in the world. But to actively promote a resurgence of the fur industry is something that has probably cost Greenpeace my support for life. I’m sure there are millions of people who care about animals who will feel the same way. It’s appalling that a group with such a hard-won reputation for environmental advocacy is now squandering it by promoting seal fur.

I guess the silver lining to all this is that, next time you’re accosted by a Greenpeace canvasser, you now have the perfect rejoinder that will enable you to walk away: “Greenpeace supports the seal trade.”

***

Erik Marcus publishes Vegan.com and is the author of several books including, The Ultimate Vegan Guide.

Interview with Gene Baur

There’s probably never been a time when so many people have been interested in giving veganism a try. What do you think aspiring vegans need the most help with when it comes to embracing a lifestyle free of animal products?
Yes, it feels like there is more interest in vegan living than ever before, and it’s a very exciting time to be immersed in this lifestyle. I think aspiring vegans mainly need simple, practical advice and support for shifting to a plant based life, including information as basic as knowing where to shop and how to prepare vegan food. Humans are creatures of habit, so a big part of making the change involves adopting new daily habits. And, this can be pretty easy, as most people already eat many vegan foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, etc.)

So how long have you been vegan?

I’ve been vegan since 1985.

It’s a whole different world for vegans today than back when you made the switch. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the availability of vegan food over the past decade?

Yes, it’s very different today than it was in 1985, in a good way. Vegan foods are more plentiful than ever and vegan awareness is making its way into mainstream consciousness. Over the past decade, the availability and convenience of vegan foods has skyrocketed. Supermarkets are selling plant based alternatives to cows’ milk, and plant based “meatless” meats are widely available, even at places like Walmart. New vegan restaurants are opening and expanding, and non-vegan restaurants are adding plant based options to their menus. Vegan businesses have been established, vegan chefs are creating amazing dishes, and plant based athletes are demonstrating how human bodies can thrive on plants. We are experiencing a convergence of issues and interests, encompassing ethics, earth and health. Momentum is building, and it’s a very exciting time for the vegan movement.

So tell me about your new book, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life. Who is your target audience, and what are the main things you hope your readers get from the book?

This book is for people who are interested in good health and who want to live responsibly and compassionately, especially in regard to their food choices. Practically everyone shares these aspirations, but some people are more aware and concerned with our broken food system, and more inclined to pay attention, and that is the target audience. The key takeaway message is that each of us makes daily food choices that have profound impacts on our well-being, and on the well-being of other animals and the planet. Eating plants instead of animals represents a win, win, win – for ourselves, other animals, and the earth. And, making vegan choices is easier now than ever.

UrthBox Vegan Snack Box Giveaway

UrthBox Vegan Snack Box

If you love healthy food and snacks as much as we do, you are going to love this! We’re giving away two large UrthBoxes packed with healthy non-GMO vegan foods and snacks from UrthBox.

What’s UrthBox? This company offers the one of the best ways to discover new healthy non-GMO foods and snacks. They are one of the fabulous vegan subscription box companies focusing on full-size non-GMO foods, snacks and beverages.

Healthy Snacks Delivered Monthly

Starting at just $9/month, UrthBox will send you a monthly box of healthy full-size Vegan snacks delivered to your door. Products include snack bars, superfoods, nuts and seeds, trail mixes, dried fruit and vegetables, chips sweets and chocolates, new age beverages and more. This is a great way to discover healthy new brands for your home, the office or on-the-go every month.

This week we’re giving away a large UrthBox to two lucky contestants!

A subscription to UrthBox can make an incredible gift for a friend or family member who is trying to eat more health conscious, or it could be the ultimate office box surprise. Please keep in mind that not every type of Urthbox is Vegan, so you’ll need to specifically select their Vegan type of boxes when ordering.

So don’t miss out on this amazing chance to score a box full of incredible vegan food. Click here to enter now!

Australia to Ban Super Trawlers

a beautiful ocean view

One of the greatest enemies of the oceans, the super trawler, is set to be permanently banned from Australian waters.

Super trawlers are massive ships—well over 100 meters long—that decimate fisheries by scooping up tens of thousands of fish at a time. Many of them even carry large-scale processing units and freezers, enabling them to stay at sea for weeks on end. If you’re looking for one of the key villains behind the fact that most of the world’s fisheries are in decline, look no further than super trawlers.

Beyond the vast numbers of fish they kill, the giant nets these ships drag on sea floors permanently damage fragile ecosystems. In fact, the impact these ships have on ocean floors is frequently compared to plowing virgin land.

By any sensible standard, the construction of these ships amounts to an environmental crime. But by pillaging the oceans to an unprecedented degree, these ships clearly generate enormous profits for their owners. And money has a way of subverting the political process, particularly where laws protecting the environment are concerned. Just like the meat industry is able to get many of the seats at the table where regulations over meat safety are set, the fishing industry likewise wields considerable influence among governments whose waters hold the most valuable fisheries. All too often, the industry pushes to maximize profits by opposing catch limits, even though this shortsightedness can destroy a given fishery’s long-term viability. One of the starkest examples of this occurred in Newfoundland during the 1980s and 1990s, when fishing groups delayed the government from issuing a moratorium against fishing despite a collapsing codfish population. The waters off Newfoundland, which were formerly one of the most abundant habitats for codfish in the world, have never recovered—and the ecosystem has changed to favor lobster rather than cod.

But this week, Australia has given us a glimmer of hope that sanity can win out over greed. Every political movement, including the animal rights and conservation movements, is based on precedent. Now that Australia has taken the lead by permanently banning super trawlers, it’ll be far easier for other countries to follow suit.

Unilever Drops “Just Mayo” Lawsuit

just vegan mayo

The most stupid lawsuit in the entire history of stupid lawsuits has just been dropped, thanks in no small part to the litigators realizing that it was, well, a stupid lawsuit with zero chance of success. Mayo giant Unilever, which owns the Hellman’s and Best Foods brands, has dropped its lawsuit against Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo, just one day after the small startup announced it had attracted another $90 million in financing.

Unilever filed the lawsuit against Hampton Creek for violating truth-in-labeling laws, since there is an obscure 1957 FDA regulation specifying that mayonnaise must contain eggs. Unfortunately for Unilever, the company was itself selling healthier mayonnaise-style products that didn’t live up to the FDA’s definition either. What’s more, after filing its lawsuit, the company began quietly modifying its website to alter references to these products.

As is typically the case in this sort of thing, Unilever isn’t admitting wrongdoing, and instead issued a mealy-mouthed non-apology over the incident:

Unilever has decided to withdraw its lawsuit against Hampton Creek so that Hampton Creek can address its label directly with industry groups and appropriate regulatory authorities.

For its part, Hampton Creek likely owes Unilever a massive thank-you for generating a level of publicity that money can’t buy. Dozens of major media pieces covered the incident, nearly all siding against Unilever for bullying and displaying a level of dickish intent rare even among multinational food conglomerates.

So now, the “Mayo Wars” will be won, not in the courtroom but in the marketplace. Given that Just Mayo’s the better, healthier product, don’t be surprised if one day it edges past Hellman’s/Best Foods as the #1 selling brand of mayo.