Vegan children’s comic, The English Family Anderson chapter 4, continues. For the story so far, click here 🙂
(NB Our comics were designed to be viewed on a laptop or desktop, but if you are viewing this on a phone and the pictures are too small to read the text, any Android smartphone has the ability to enlarge any part of the screen according to Technolong. They say this feature is located under Accessibility and is called Zoom Gestures. To turn on the zoom mode, go to the phone settings, select “Accessibility”, and then “Gestures for zoom”.
After turning it on, if you tap the screen three times and do not release your finger, the image will enlarge and you can move it by moving your finger across the screen. As soon as you release your finger, the magnification turns off.
The second option is to tap and release your finger three times, then the image will enlarge and remain enlarged up to three repeated taps. You can move the enlarged image with two fingers, and zoom in and out by pinching and spreading your fingers.)
Balloons Blow is dedicated to educating people about the danger and destruction that released balloons can cause.
“Balloons Blow…Don’t Let Them Go! That’s the message we’re trying to get out. When we first started cleaning Florida’s beaches over 20 years ago with our parents, we would never find balloons. As the years went on we would find a few more here & there. Now, both in our 20’s, we continue our weekly beach cleanups & every year we find more & more balloons. Of course we collect much more washed up plastic than ever, which has caused us to eliminate wasteful plastic from our lives & try to encourage others to do so as well. But the disturbing thing about balloon pollution is that it is “celebrating by littering.”
We have collected thousands of balloons since we started keeping track in 2011. Although the Mylar balloons are more visible, we find many more latex balloons, perhaps because the balloon industry spends millions of dollars falsely marketing latex balloons as “biodegradable,” “environmentally friendly” and “safe to release.” However, it is these latex balloons that are especially deadly as their burst remnants actually mimic the food of many creatures.”
“It is very alarming, the amount of trash that gets washed ashore on our beaches, but it is particularly troubling that people release balloons on purpose to celebrate, to honor loved ones, or to just mindlessly watch it float away. This is the reason we had to create this website. It is dedicated to educating people about the danger and destruction that released balloons can cause.
Animals – marine & terrestrial, wild & domestic – commonly mistake them for food causing intestinal blockage, or get entangled in any attached strings, both leading to a slow and agonizing death.
Dangerous & costly power outages caused by Mylar balloons contacting electrical power lines effect hundreds of thousands of people each year. Helium is a nonrenewable resource critical in the science & medical fields.
There are countless websites & Facebook pages promoting balloon releases. Balloon sellers actively continue to deceive the public, pushing the sale and release of this wasteful, single-use product – resulting in the intentional release of millions of balloons. The industry falsely claims that balloons are harmless in the environment, but we show proof their claims are not true: Balloons Blow photo gallery.”
“There are laws prohibiting balloon releases in several states in the U.S. and many countries around the world, yet many unknowing celebrators, grieving groups, and others, are arranging balloon releases worldwide. Honoring a loved one or celebrating by releasing balloons is irresponsible – like littering, it should be discouraged (including sky lanterns).
We are hopeful people will begin to understand the hazards and get creative & Earth-friendly with their celebrations, like these environmentally friendly alternatives, and we will keep trying to get the word out that: Balloons Blow…Don’t Let Them Go!“
If you know of anyone planning a balloon release, or if they’re intending to buy balloons at all, get over to Balloons Blow for advice on how to persuade the organisers to choose an environmentally-friendly alternative, (I will put a permanent link to them in our sidebar). Most people who do these things have absolutely no idea of the damage they’re causing, so be gentle, be kind, and hopefully when they know the truth they will do the right thing.
We wanted to provide a quick update on the Sentience Bill ahead of today’s debate. This afternoon at 14:30, the House of Lords grand committee meet for the second time this month to continue reviewing suggested amendments to the bill.
Two particularly important amendments being debated today are calling for invertebrates, like crabs and lobsters, to be included in the bill. If the Lords agree that these amendments should be made, then we’re a big step closer to getting these animals protected!
At the time of critical debates such as this, it is essential to show how much support there is for this issue! Make sure to show your support today by completing our two actions. They only take a few minutes and make a massive difference:
These things happen legally because crustaceans and molluscs are not included in the Animal Welfare Act.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell the UK government to end these cruel practices and make it mandatory to treat these wild animals humanely – WITHOUT PAIN AND SUFFERING! – it will only take you a couple of minutes and it has to be NOW because they deciding right now whether to include crustaceans in the Sentience Bill and the Animal Welfare Act.
Stop lobsters, crabs and other shellfish being boiled alive by uploading a selfie to show the government you support Crustacean Compassion’s campaign.
The government is still undecided about including crustaceans in the new Sentience Bill, so please, no matter where you’re from, upload a selfie to tell the British government to do the right thing. This is an opportunity we’ve never had before. Thanks to Crustacean Compassion we are closer than ever to getting some protection for these horrifically abused animals. Don’t let it slip through our fingers. Add your picture to Crustacean Compassion’s selfie wall now!
Hillside is now home to over 4000 rescued animals but their work doesn’t end there. They also conduct investigations into the way animals are treated on farms and have repeatedly exposed and published the horrors found there. They say they have always known that one of the main reasons animals are left to suffer in factory farms is because people have little or no idea about the immense cruelty involved in their ‘food’ production.
We have supported Hillside’s amazing work for many years now so we’re thrilled to be able to donate 100% of the royalties from our Luke Walker series of books 😀 For every Luke Walker book sold in our Lulu shop, Hillside will receive £1, so if someone you know has a birthday coming up, why not get them a present full of funny stories they’ll love that will also help the animals they love? ❤
I’m thrilled to tell you that issue 3 of the LUV4All (Love Unity Voice) magazine is out now and free to read here. It’s full of wonderful articles by wonderful people and I’ve been given permission to share it with you. First up is something by Dr Will Tuttle that’s right on the money!
“Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
The spinning fury at the core of our culture, animal agriculture, not only exploits and destroys the lives and purposes of animals, it does the same to humans as well, and we see this playing out now with this draconian lockdown of healthy people, eroding mental health, human rights, and economic independence, and destroying countless small and medium businesses (including vegan ones).
In my lectures over the years, I’ve described animal agriculture as a Trojan horse: on the surface it appears to be a helpful gift, but on closer examination, and with deeper understanding, we see clearly that it is an utterly harmful force in our individual and collective lives, incessantly damaging the health of our ecosystems and society, as well as our physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being.
Animal agriculture is also the hidden cause of the COVID pandemic, and of the dominant narrative that is imprisoning billions of people in fear and confusion in their homes, and eroding our capacity to speak up and defend our basic freedoms. We are reaping the harvest that we have been sowing for decades and centuries. This is our banquet of consequences. Our culture has created a vast system of animal enslavement that heartlessly condemns billions of sentient beings — whose interests are as significant to them as ours are to us — to lives of misery, terror, and pain. Their purposes are stolen and they are reduced to mere material units of production in a rapacious economic system that sells them by the pound. They are impregnated on rape racks, their offspring immediately stolen, exploited, and killed, and all are forcibly vaccinated and drugged, tracked, microchipped, mercilessly mutilated and oppressed, and brutally killed in an unnecessary, ugly, surreal prison-world devoid of meaning and respect. Animal agriculture defines our society.
Those of us who purchase the flesh and secretions of these unfortunate beings, which is most of humanity worldwide, are the causal forces propelling this system ever onward with the flood of money we spend — votes we cast — driving its ongoing and reckless devastation. Thus, as we persist in engineering and imposing a dystopian future on billions of beings, we now see the gaping maw of a dystopian future looming before our eyes. Mandatory confinement, separation of family members, loss of basic freedoms, forced vaccinations, routine microchipping, mass tracking and surveillance: all these standard factory-farm practices are now being openly discussed and planned by health officials, pharmaceutical representatives, and government agencies. What we relentlessly inflict on farmed animals we see manifesting in our human world, and, ironically, we seem powerless and strangely uninspired to stop it.
Why is this? Why are we so unable to see the obvious and respond with clarity, vitality, and solidarity to these insidious existential dangers to us and to our children? Why are we immobilized by fear and mesmerized by the voices of authority, unable to connect with either our intuitive wisdom or to think critically about our situation? Why the nearly-blind allegiance to mainstream media narratives and medical-pharmaceutical forces that we should by now have learned to question? Why do we find those relative few who dare to speak up and question the dominant COVID narrative to be so threatening?
It is because animal agriculture not only exploits animals, it exploits us. As we exploit and abuse, we will be exploited and abused. Each one of us, as we purchase meat, dairy, or egg products, becomes an invisible killer to the cows, pigs, hens, and fishes we are exploiting. We directly but invisibly cause terror, pain, and death, and we compound it further by eating it and feeding it to our vulnerable and innocent children, ritually indoctrinating them as we were. We are the invisible killers, but we repress this awareness, and project it outward, impulsively terrified of invisible killers, which seem to be everywhere.
We spend billions on military defense to protect ourselves from lurking terrorists, and now are even more frightened by microscopic enemies, the hordes of viruses, pathogens, and other unseen agents of death arising and projected from our unfaced violence.
This is our shadow: our repressed awareness, guilt, and shame, propelling us to give our power away to authorities in the vain hope they will protect us. At war with animals, nature, and each other, we make war on invisible viruses as well, completely failing to understand them in our fear-based materialist delusion. We see and suspect enemies and threats everywhere because we are the enemies and threats, and our fear sends us into the waiting arms of the merciless global conglomerates, who provide both the narrative and the toxic “solution.” They will profit from us more in power even than in dollars. They have purchased both media and government, and we find ourselves, the wounded and programmed dominators of animals, increasingly dominated by impersonal forces beyond our control.
There is but one way to human freedom, and to a world of health and harmony, and that is the way of ahimsa — non-harmfulness to other beings — a vegan world of respect for all. We will be worthy of understanding and appreciating ourselves and everyone on this beautiful and abundant planet when we dismantle the entrenched narrative of human superiority and entitlement. A new story is yearning to be born in our human culture. It has ancient roots, and this current emergency (emerge-and-see), if we respond appropriately, can put us on a higher path of liberation and healing.
Click here for the conclusion of this article and links to more of Dr Tuttle’s writing.
Liberia faces many challenges after the terrible civil war that ended in 2003. It is considered one of the poorest countries in the world. The country recovering process is faced with high unemployment rate, poor infrastructure, low literacy rate, and the Ebola crisis in 2014/2015 that killed over 4,000 people nationwide and further affected every sector of the country. Amidst all of these enormous challenges to national stability, animal protection is not considered as a priority issue. The animal protection issue is seen as a new concept and as a result many animals suffer needlessly.
The UK government has unveiled plans to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening.
The proposals form part of an eight-week consultation, launched by Defra secretary George Eustice in England and Wales on Thursday (3 December 2020), seeking views on how to better protect animal welfare during transport.
“We are committed to improving the welfare of animals at all stages of life. Today marks a major step forward in delivering on our manifesto commitment to end live exports for slaughter,” said Mr Eustice. “Now that we have left the EU, we have an opportunity to end this unnecessary practice. We want to ensure that animals are spared stress prior to slaughter.”
This is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC NEWSbut we must remember that nothing is definite yet. This is just a consultation and the government is also consulting on alternative proposals to further improve welfare for all animals in transport. These include:
Reduced maximum journey times
Animals being given more space and headroom during transport
Stricter rules on transporting animals in extreme temperatures
Tighter rules for transporting live animals by sea.
That’s why it’s vital we act now!
We have to let the government know just how much support there is for an outright ban of live exports.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) are saying that live exports are an “important trade option for farmers” and wants Defra to consider its alternative plan for an assurance scheme to “ensure all animals travel in the best possible conditions and that they arrive at the approved and final destination in the best possible health”.
If we don’t shout louder and harder than those farmers, we could miss out on this amazing and unprecedented opportunity.
TELL THE GOVERNMENT THAT NOTHING SHORT OF AN OUTRIGHT BAN IS GOOD ENOUGH!
Trawling for prey at more than a thousand feet under the surface, scalloped hammerhead sharks rely on a special oil in their livers to survive the crushing pressures of the deep.
Shark liver oil, or squalene, is a fatty substance that provides vital buoyancy for this critically endangered species and many others. But it’s also used by humans as a boosting agent in vaccines, called an adjuvant, that improves the immune system and makes vaccines more effective.
As the world’s pharmaceutical companies scramble to create a vaccine for COVID-19, at least five of the 202 vaccine candidates rely on squalene sourced from wild-caught sharks.
One candidate is a vaccine developed in Australia by University of Queensland, in partnership with the Australian biopharmaceutical company CSL and its subsidiary Seqirus. The as yet unnamed vaccine contains the squalene adjuvant MF59, which is sourced from a variety of shark species. It entered human clinical trials earlier this year and, if successful, will result in an initial production of 51 million doses.
Tens of millions of sharks are caught and traded internationally each year—both legally and illegally—the majority for their meat and fins but roughly three million or more for their squalene. It takes the livers of between 2,500 and 3,000 sharks to extract about a ton of squalene.
Conservationists fear that increased demand for squalene for vaccines, among other uses, could further imperil shark species, a third of which are vulnerable to extinction.
“This is an unsustainable demand to place on a finite natural resource like sharks,” says Stefanie Brendl, founder and executive director of Shark Allies, a California-based conservation non-profit.
Only about one percent of squalene ends up in vaccines, and most goes into cosmetics such as sunscreen, skin creams, and moisturisers. Even so, as the global population booms, the need for vaccines will only increase in coming years, Brendl notes, adding that some medical experts suggest that people will require multiple doses of vaccines against COVID-19.
“We’re not saying that vaccine trials should stop, but if we keep viewing sharks as an easy solution and don’t consider the alternatives that exist, then we’ll just continue to use [squalene] as a template for vaccines,” Brendl says.
In light of declining shark populations, some biotech companies are looking for other sources of squalene. Plants such as sugarcane, olives, amaranth seeds, and rice bran, for instance, all contain the substance. While plant-based alternatives are being tested in studies and clinical trials, regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have yet to approve them as part of a final vaccine product.
Brendl says the onus is on pharmaceutical companies to begin developing viable alternatives to shark squalene to present to regulators. She points out that Novavax, an American vaccine-development company, is already using an alternative squalene adjuvant, Matrix-M, in clinical trials for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Matrix-M is made from the bark of the soapbark tree, which is abundant in Chile.
Though the company has deemed the soapbark adjuvant as safe, it has not yet been evaluated as part of a final product submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
However, the Infectious Disease Research Institute found that pharmaceutical-grade squalene produced by the American biotechnology company Amyris met, and in some cases exceeded, the safety and purity profiles of shark-based squalene, according to Chris Paddon, Amyris’s lead scientist.
Amyris is banking on sugarcane as a solution to shark-based squalene, he says. In southeastern Brazil, the company is growing thousands of acres of the bamboo-like sugarcane to be processed into squalene. Just 24 acres of sugarcane could, in theory, produce enough squalene to support one billion COVID-19 vaccines.
Because growers can control the way sugarcane is grown and harvested, it’s possible to ensure the quality of the squalene, Paddon says. “When you use animal products, there are impurities that come with them because of the environment they’re raised in and the places where they’re processed.” Furthermore, Paddon says, growing sugarcane is also cheaper than catching sharks and removing their livers.
Sign this Shark Allies petition demanding that the US/FDA (Food and Drug Administration of the United States of America), the UK/MHRA (The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency of the United Kingdom), the EU/EMA (The European Medicines Agency), the National Medical Products Administration of China, and all vaccine producing companies use non-animal squalene in all vaccines.
COVID-19 brought tourism to a halt in Thailand and put tourist elephants in danger of a fate worse than death! Many elephants and their handlers (mahouts) were forced to walk back to their villages but, at the camps on the route home, there was no food or work. It was heartbreaking to see and even harder to imagine that these gentle elephants would probably be forced back to work in the illegal logging industry once they reached the villages. While elephant rides involve tremendous cruelty, being forced into the logging trade is a ring even lower in the hellish inferno of animal abuse.
The Pandemic Is a Once in a Lifetime Chance to Save Pachyderms! CLICK HERE NOW!
Facing such urgency, Thailand’s elephant lovers put on their thinking caps, scrambling to come up with a way to keep these innocent elephants from being sold into the unimaginably harsh logging trade. The new non-profit Gentle Giants was born, in partnership with Save Elephant Foundation whose founder, Lek Saengduean Chailert, is a world-renowned conservationist and elephant expert.
On May 3rd, 2020, after walking for 3 days, a herd of 11 elephants reached their village. The tribe welcomed their elephants with open arms and so much love. For many of the elephants, like 7-month-old Lanna, it was their first time in the village. For others, like Mae Jaa who is the eldest elephant of the group, it was returning to a home she had left long ago.
The rescue group started with 11 elephants. In three short months, it was 38. They are trying to bring another 20 elephants in so they won’t be sold to the logging industry. There are hundreds of elephants in need. Many are being sold into the illegal logging business and to Chinese businesses. We must make sure that, when the tourism borders open, none of these elephants are sent to the circus or to beg on the streets. Gentle Giants is creating a beautiful ripple effect; a chain of love. They are not only helping the elephants, but their caretakers, the villages, local farmers, farm pickers, truck drivers, contractors, supply stores, etc.
For just $4 dollars a month, or 50.00 dollars a year, you can sponsor Baby Lanna or any other of the gentle giants. By sponsoring these gentle giants, you are supporting them to remain home and out of the tourist and/or logging industry. Your sponsorship will give these gentle giants the opportunity to stay within the forest roaming free among their own. Each elephant has their own story and personality. Your sponsorship will go towards food, care, medical treatment and their mahout’s wages.
Your sponsorship will include a Sponsorship Certificate, a photo of your sponsored elephant and a Gentle Giants personalized sponsorship badge, which you may use as your social media profile picture. Your sponsorship will keep these Gentle Giants in the forest and their natural habitat. They will be able to enjoy their lives as elephants; roaming free with their herd, their family. Their days of long hours walking under the scorching heat with tourists on their backs will have been left behind. Now, no chains will clank around their feet. You are saving these beautiful Gentle Giants and helping the community coexist and thrive with them. It also makes a great gift!
You might remember that back in August, Plant Based Health Professionals worked on the World Plant Milk Day Campaign and did an interview with the Times newspaper calling for a replacement of free school milk with fruit and vegetables or plant milk. Unbeknown to them, this prompted a letter to RT Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, from Dr Hilary Jones (TV doctor) on behalf of The School & Nursery Milk Alliance. Who even knew about this organisation?!
‘We are a coalition of organisations from the early years, education, health and dairy sectors who are committed to promoting the benefits to children’s physical and dental health and wellbeing that arise from drinking milk in learning environments’.
The following is Dr Shireen Kassam’s response to that letter.
Dear Dr Jones, I am disappointed to learn that you continue to promote cow’s milk consumption in children and the free school milk programme. You state that milk has ‘unrivalled nutritional content’. In my view, the nutritional content of milk is only unrivalled if you are a baby cow. There is no requirement for milk consumption beyond weaning, as evidenced by the fact that 70% of the global population have lactose malabsorption, which can manifest as intolerance. Europeans have indeed adapted to digesting dairy beyond weaning but even then, up to 30% are not able to digest the main sugar lactose. For those with lactose intolerance, consuming dairy can be distressing, leading to abdominal pain, diarrhoea and nausea. The school milk programme excludes and discriminates against those with lactose intolerance, often children from ethnic minorities in the UK.
With this is mind, Health Canada has removed dairy from its most recent food guide. The healthiest hydration for children and adults is in fact water. You however state various health benefits of dairy consumption for children, such as boosting energy, aiding concentration and maintaining a healthy weight but there is no such conclusive evidence. In fact, a review paper from earlier this year summarising the current evidence for milk consumption in one of the world’s most highly respected medical journals concluded that milk was not required for optimal health in children or adults. The authors conclude that there is no convincing evidence that milk consumption promotes a healthy weight, improves bone health or reduces the risk of any chronic illness. In fact, they highlight that milk consumption has the potential for harm, including an increased risk of eczema, asthma, acne, prostate and endometrial cancers.
You claim that dairy consumption helps maintain a healthy weight in children, yet a randomised study found no benefit of dairy consumption for reducing body fat or weight. You also state that omitting dairy from the diet could lead to malnutrition, including Kwashiorkor — a form of protein malnutrition — especially when consuming a rice-based vegan diet. Yet, when meeting calorie requirements, scientific studies have shown that a healthy plant-based diet provides more protein than is required for any age group.
Neither I nor Plant-Based Health Professionals UK are recommending a rice-based vegan diet in place of free school milk. The study you cite raising concerns about the use of plant milks leading to malnutrition was conducted in children aged 4 to 14 months, when breast milk is considered the optimal source of calories and nutrients, and these data cannot be extrapolated to school-aged children. Studies have shown that the growth, health and nutritional status of vegetarian and vegan children are within normal range and comparable with non-vegetarian children. It is widely accepted that nutrients found in milk, including calcium, can be obtained from whole plant sources and fortified plant milks if preferred. Fortified soya milk, the most appropriate alternative to cow’s milk, has similar quantities of protein and calcium as cow’s milk, with benefits for heart health and breast cancer reduction. The absorption of calcium from many green vegetables is also greater than that from cow’s dairy. This information is supported and endorsed by major dietetic associations around the world including most recently the BDA in the UK.
I agree wholeheartedly with you that our children need access to high-quality nutrient rich food. The foods most associated with health promotion in children and adults are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Yet only 18% of children in the UK eat five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. We should be promoting the consumption of these foods in schools, which are inclusive of all communities and supported by strong scientific evidence. It is time we put children’s health before the vested interests of the dairy industry.
Dr Shireen Kassam,
Founder and Director of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the mainstream media were not interested in Dr Kassam’s response to Dr Jones’ letter so she has published it online here and on social media and hopes we will all share widely.
It’s easy to feel hopeless with the state of the world as it is. Every year it gets hotter, animal suffering increases, and the powers that be do nothing to address it. In fact they continue to subsidise it.
But then something comes along to really lift your spirits.
Refarm’d is a new plant-based drink subscription service, sourced lovingly from ex-dairy farmers.
WE HAVE THIS CRAZY IDEA
We want to turn all dairy farms into animal sanctuaries and we need you to convince these farmers to join the movement.
We work with farmers to transition from milk production to focus on producing plant based drinks and convert their farmland into an animal sanctuary.
We believe that by uniting together with farmers and providing them with the tools they need to move away from the dairy trade, we’re offering a viable new opportunity for their businesses to be part of the growing plant based movement.
We will assist the ex-dairy farms to sustainably and locally source the ingredients to produce plant based drinks on their farms. The farmers’ land will be converted into an animal sanctuary for their cattle that are no longer being used for dairy farming.
Show your interest (no payment, no commitment) in buying fresh plant-based drinks from them and let us do the rest!
As much as the animal agriculture is terrible on multiple aspects, – [the animal suffering, the environmental destruction, the damage to human health] – we cannot forget the farmers in these industries as well.
We believe the big majority of farmers are good people, that do care for their animals, but have just grown in an environment that normalizes animal exploitation so it has become a part of their identity, making it hard to take a step back and make changes.
The industry is in danger and most big companies have noticed it and adapt to the new market in order to survive. Small companies, family businesses however are the ones suffering the most. Lack of money, lack of time and lack of information make it hard on them to go in the right direction. The pressure, the insecurity as well as the very low buying prices (often selling for less than production costs) make for very uncomfortable living conditions.
We want to include helping the farmers in our mission to create the future of farming.
Farms are actually ideal places to become an animal sanctuary. They already have the land, the animals and the people that care for them [they wouldn’t be short of volunteers – I’d love to help look after the cows!]. No need to move animals, they can stay as a herd, nor to use more resources like land to create a new sanctuary.
Farmers joining our program have to give up any form of animal exploitation totally and to fully transition to an animal sanctuary.
Animals are put under legal protection and farmers under contract. Regular inspections and veterinary checks are performed to make sure of the animals’ well being.
The sanctuary is not working with donations. Instead, a part of the plant-based drinks price is dedicated to sustain these animals.
So what Refarm’d need is enough people to tell them they’re interested so that they can go to the farmers and say – look, if you convert to plant-milk production, we’ve got the market ready and waiting for you. It’s scary for farmers to take the plunge, they need to know they can make a living from plant milk.
They need us to tell them “If you make it, we will buy.”
So go on, get over to Refarm’d and tell them you’re interested (there’s a button to click if you scroll down the homepage). Then you fill in a short questionnaire. It asks you what country and town you live in, and how much milk you would want to buy per week, and whether you would want it delivered, or whether you’d pick it up from the farm. Added bonus: it comes in refillable glass bottles! NB VERY IMPORTANT: when filling in the questionnaire you have to click NEXT and it takes you to what looks like a blank page, but it isn’t blank. You have to scroll up to find a couple more questions including name and email address and you can leave a comment or ask a question. Make sure you finish it otherwise they won’t be able to get back to you 😀
Brussels – European Union policy makers are being urged to help farmers transition away from animal agriculture and towards plant-crop farming in order to capitalise on the growing trend in plant-based eating. Speaking at an event this week at the European Parliament organised by Humane Society International/Europe, farmers, ecologists and academics agreed there is an urgent need for the EU to support transition farming to help farmers adapt and seize the economic opportunity of consumer diets shifting away from meat, dairy and eggs.
A major report from the Rise Foundation recently warned that Europe’s meat and dairy production must be halved by 2050 in recognition of its significant contribution to environmental degradation such as greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss. The EU currently raises 9 billion farm animals for food each year – with more than 360 million of these animals spending all or part of their lives in intensive cage systems – and globally the figure is an estimated 82 billion animals.
Oxford University’s Dr Marco Springmann, and Harvard University’s Dr Helen Harwatt were joined at the Brussels symposium event by ecologist and rewilding expert Alan Watson Featherstone, and Swedish farmer Adam Arnesson who is transitioning his pig farm to grow oats for a plant-milk company. Policy makers were also treated to Europe’s first public screening of BAFTA 2019 award winning short film 73 Cowsabout British cattle farmers Jay and Katja Wilde who sent their herd to a sanctuary and switched to crop cultivation instead.
Alexandra Clark, HSI/Europe’s food policy consultant, said
“European consumers are more aware than ever of the animal welfare and environmental impacts of meat, dairy and egg production. The current level of animal production is simply unsustainable, and the continued growth of plant-based alternatives is inevitable. This presents Europe’s farmers with an exciting opportunity to meet this changing demand by transitioning away from industrial animal agriculture to plant-crop production. With the current reform of the EU’s agricultural policy, MEPs have a clear chance to assist farmers in those transition efforts by shifting subsidies away from propping up industrial animal production, and instead supporting farmers switch to fruit, vegetables, fungi, grains and leguminous crops that are growing in demand from an increasingly plant-based public.”
The EU is currently reforming its Common Agricultural Policy, with a crucial vote planned in the Agriculture Committee in early April. Dr Helen Harwatt from Harvard University believes this is a major opportunity for EU policymakers to take leadership in animal to plant protein agricultural shifts.
Dr Harwatt said:
“Repurposing portions of agricultural land to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will be crucial for limiting warming to 1.5°C. In turn, restoring this land to its natural habitat opens the door for reintroducing animal species, which would help toward tackling the wildlife crisis. Animal to plant protein shifts are essential and policy makers must ensure that policies and support are put in place to help farmers make this transition”
Swedish farmer Adam Arnesson has shifted his farm production from solely animal-based to the cultivation of multiple crops for human consumption including oats for oat milk production. In doing so he has doubled the number of people his output feeds annually and halved the climate impact per calorie.
Farmers Jay and Katja Wilde, who star in Alex Lockwood’s 73 Cows short film, were keen for MEPs to understand that the pressure and fear for the future that many animal farmers feel, could be alleviated if support existed to help them ‘plant for the planet’.
Speaking at the EU Parliament screening of 73 Cows, Jay Wilde said:
“We are thrilled that our film has come to the European Parliament where we hope it inspires politicians to vote for a better future for both farmers and animals. Giving our cows to a sanctuary to live out their years in a safe haven was the best decision of our lives, it became the only decision when sending them to the abattoir was no longer something I could live with. But it’s been a very scary journey too because you’re stepping into the unknown. This shift in farming isn’t just a personal choice, its necessary to protect the environment, so if there was financial and practical support to help farmers like me plant for the planet, it would make life so much easier.”
Spanish MEP Florent Marcellesi said
“We need to leave behind our unsustainable farming model and animal-based diets. Instead, we should turn as soon as possible to ecologic plant-based ones and build a farming model which is sustainable, healthy and respectful to animal welfare.”
Italian MEP Eleonora Evi said
“Climate change is here, it’s already happening. For our sake but also for the sake of every other species on this planet, we need to take action to mitigate its effects by adopting an ‘all hands on deck’ approach. This means opening up the dialogue to different stakeholders. The agriculture sector has one of the highest levels of emissions, and therefore must become part of the solution. The transition to sustainable production methods and re-naturalization of agricultural areas must inevitably be considered.”
Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen said
“If everyone would shift their diets towards plant-based, it would be beneficial for public health, animal welfare, biodiversity and climate.”
Up to 20 percent (€ 32.6 billion) of the EU’s entire annual budget is spent on animal agriculture (including feed)
Around 71 percent of EU farmland is used to grow animal feed
According to Euromonitor, in 2017 plant-based milks represented 12 percent of the global fluid milk market, and dairy alternatives are predicted to grow to a market value of €19bn by 2022
Europe is currently the largest market for meat substitutes, having a 39 percent global market share and, with an eight percent annual growth rate, they are predicted to reach a global net worth of €4.2bn by 2020
A 2017 report by Rabobank suggests that alternative proteins could represent a third of total EU protein demand growth in the next five years
The EAT-Lancet Commission found that a transformation to healthy diets from sustainable food systems is necessary to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement
The EAT-Lancet Commission also found that transformation to healthy diets by 2050 will require substantial dietary shifts, including a greater than 50 percent reduction in global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar, and a greater than 100 percent increase in consumption of healthy foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes
Humane Society International’s Forward Food program is one of the largest plant-based culinary training programs globally. Aimed at encouraging universities, caterers, and other institutions to provide more vegan options, Forward Food helps to facilitate diet shifts at scale. HSI believes that by making animal-free food options tastier, more satisfying and widely available, more and more people will opt for meat-free meals which is good news for animals, people and the planet.
Basking Sharks are so named because they’re often seen feeding at the surface of the water where they look like they’re basking in the sun! They are enormous and often spotted in UK waters during summer months.
Apart from their large size, Basking Sharks have:
a very large mouth – this can be well over 1m wide!
5 huge gills which almost encircle the head
and a powerful crescent-shaped tail
They tend to be greyish-brown with a lighter underbelly. Often they have irregular patches, patterns and streaks on their flanks and fins. Using photo-ID we can use these distinct markings to identify individual Basking Sharks.
The largest reported Basking Shark was 12m long. But most don’t get bigger than 9.8m.
The average Basking Shark weighs 4.5 tonnes. Yet, they can weigh up to 7 tonnes!
Basking Sharks eat zooplankton. This includes small copepods, barnacles, decapod larvae, fish eggs and shrimp. They’re one of 3 filter-feeding sharks but are the only species that feeds entirely passively. They swim through the water with their mouth wide open, rather than actively sucking water in. Only closing their mouths to swallow their food. Long comb-like structures on their gills (known as gill-rakers) trap and filter zooplankton. These can strain up to 2000 tonnes of water per hour!
It’s thought that Basking Sharks live for at least 50 years. Males reach maturity at 12–16 years. And females at 20 years (around 4.6-6.1m in length).
Females produce eggs, which develop and hatch inside their body. They then give birth to fully developed young, which are around 1–1.7m long. This makes Basking Shark pups larger at birth than many species of shark are fully grown!
There’s little data on Basking Shark reproduction. But pregnancy is thought to last around 14 months. There’s only ever been one reported catch of a pregnant female (1943), who was carrying 6 pups. This suggests that Basking Sharks give birth in areas of low, or no fishing pressure.
Basking Sharks are quite social. They can be seen on their own, in small groups, or, schools of hundreds. There are many reports of same size and sex groups. Suggesting a strong sexual and age segregation within the species.
Despite their size, Basking Sharks are capable of leaping clear out of the water. A behaviour known as breaching. They seem to breach most when in large groups and during courtship, so this may act as a social or sexual function. It could also help to dislodge external parasites.
Info from sharktrust.org/about-basking-sharks
Basking Sharks are long lived, slow growing and produce few young. This makes them extremely vulnerable to human impacts. Although Basking Sharks are now one of the most heavily protected sharks in UK and EU waters, they continue to face threats from human activities:
Basking Sharks easily become entangled in fishing nets and ropes. Unless fishermen are on hand to quickly release them, they often die. Although some do manage to disentangle themselves. You can sometimes see scarring and abrasions caused by nets on their dorsal fin.
Propeller and boat strikes remain a serious danger for Basking Sharks. Particularly in summer months when they’re feeding at the surface. Basking Sharks rarely evade approaching boats. So it’s common for them to have scarring and sometimes horrific injuries from collisions.
Basking Sharks are very sensitive to disturbance and harassment by people. In all the excitement of seeing Basking Sharks, boats and jet-ski’s often end up striking them. As well as causing physical harm, water-users can also disrupt their natural behaviour. Such as feeding, courting and mating.
Basking Shark fisheries worldwide have all but collapsed. Although in some parts of the world they continue, driven by demand for shark fins. Basking Sharks are also still caught as bycatch in nets intended for other species.
Yesterday I heard a woman complaining at the checkout about how much she had to pay for plastic bags. She complained but she didn’t act. She didn’t make the effort to bring re-usable bags with her. She was clueless. I am daily flabbergasted at the cluelessness of so many people who blindly continue with their destructive habits in spite of the devastation they cause to the planet. Do they think it’s not their problem? Do they think the government will solve it?