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Big Food, Antibiotic Health Risks, Greenhouse Gases, and Vegan Valentine’s Treats

Every Friday I post the most interesting vegan news articles and blogs I’ve read. This week in vegan news …

1. Big Food, Deceptive Tactics, and Lawsuits

cigaretteLast week Dr. Neal Barnard wondered why meat doesn’t have a warning label like cigarettes. This week a report calls for more regulation of big food, claiming they are using tobacco’s manipulative tactics and are contributing to the “growing threat of what are known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the globe – namely cancer, heart disease and stroke, diabetes and respiratory diseases,” wrote Sarah Boseley for the Guardian.

From the denial of tobacco addiction as late as 1994 to the obstruction of traffic-light labeling of unhealthy food and the recent detraction of alcoholic drinks from EU labeling legislation, the tobacco, alcohol, and food industries have all tried to block access to objective health information and to manipulate channels of communication.
-From The Lancet report

“You can’t expect self-regulation to work. It is like having the burglars install your locks. You think it might work and you are safe but you are not,” said Professor Rob Moodie, who led the study.

A new report issued by the Center for Food Safety and Save our Seeds notes that “86% of corn, 88% of cotton, and 93% of soybeans farmed in the U.S. are now genetically-engineered (GE) varieties, making the option of farming non-GE crops increasingly difficult.” Monsanto has filed 144 lawsuits claiming patent infringement and three corporations now control 53% of the global commercial seed market, according to the report.

“Corporations did not create seeds and many are challenging the existing patent system that allows private companies to assert ownership over a resource that is vital to survival, and that, historically, has been in the public domain,” said Debbie Barker, Program Director for Save Our Seeds.

2. Livestock given 80% of all Antibiotics, Poses Health Risk

According to data from the Food and Drug Administration, livestock farms consumed a record 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics in 2011. That’s up from approximately 20 million pounds in 2003 and is nearly four-fifths of all the antibiotics consumed in the U.S. each year.

“The meat industry has been merrily gorging away on antibiotics–and churning out meat rife with antibiotic-resistant pathogens,” wrote Tom Philpott for Mother Jones.

Monday National Public Radio ran a story titled, Pig manure reveals more reason to worry about antibiotics. Antibiotic use isn’t monitored in China, but half of all the world’s pigs reside there. A study published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that manure from pig farms doesn’t just contain antibiotic residues, but that it also carries high concentrations of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

“This increases the risk that antibiotic resistance will move into bacteria that infect humans, and the resulting diseases will be more difficult to treat,” wrote Dan Charles.

3. Vegans vs. Meat Eaters and Greenhouse Gases

Photo by NASA

Living Green Magazine shared a nice infographic on the environmental benefits of going vegan. Among them:

  • If one person exchanges eating meat for a vegan diet, they’ll reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 tons per year.
  • One calorie of animal protein requires 11 times as much fossil fuel as one calorie of plant protein.
  • A vegan diet requires 300 gallons of water a day vs. a meat-eating diet which requires 4,000 gallons a day.
  • Animals raised for food creates 89,000 pounds of excrement per second.
  • 70% of grain and cereals in the U.S. are fed to farm animals.

Then Reuters ran a story with this as its lead:  A nutritious diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables might not be the greenest in its environmental impact, according to a new study from France.

Nearly 2000 French adults kept food diaries for a week, and taking into account nearly all aspects of a food’s life cycle, scientists compared “the nutritional quality of people’s real-world diets and how much greenhouse gas they produced.”

And when [Nicole] Darmon and her colleagues looked at what people actually ate to get a certain amount of energy from food every day, they found that the “highest-quality” diets in health terms–those high in fruit, vegetables and fish–were linked to about as much, if not more, greenhouse gas emissions as low-quality diets that were high in sweets and salts.
-Andrew M Seaman, Reuters

The study compared equal caloric amounts, said Roni Neff, the director of research and policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future. People would need to eat about nine pounds of fruit and vegetables to make up for the smaller serving of meat, and that may not be a realistic comparison, she said.

4. Vegan Valentine’s Treats

Isolated Valentine HeartValentine’s Day came, the one day we stuff our faces with decadent sweets and chocolate to profess our love. The blogosphere was alive with delicious, mouthwatering recipes.

The Opinioness of the World shared 18 tasty vegan Valentine’s treats if you’re looking for somewhere to start.

I tried a chocolate mousse pie courtesy of Vegan Flavorista. It was delicious.

In other sugary news I found out some Girl Scout cookies are vegan. Good news for vegans. Bad news for waistlines. Eat to your heart’s content.



  1. I love that number three. I may well use that at some point and credit you for doing the work to find the source. I don’t think people realise what the difference is in terms of environmental use. Thanks again for a good round-up.

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