Every Friday I post the most interesting vegan news articles and blogs I’ve read. This week in vegan news …
1. Bill Gates backs vegan diet
Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and a vegetarian, penned an article for Mashable on the future of food. In “Food is Ripe for Innovation” Gates writes: “The global population is on track to reach 9 billion by 2050. What are all those people going to eat? . . . Meat consumption is expected to double by 2050 — it seems clear that arable land for raising livestock won’t be able to keep up.”
The answer is plant protein, says Gates.
There’s plenty of protein and necessary amino acids in plants, including the world’s four major commodity crops — rice, maize, wheat and soy.
The problem is that instead of feeding these crops to people, we’re feeding most of them to livestock. And so we’re caught in an inefficient protein-delivery system. For every 10 kilograms of grain we feed cattle, we get 1 kilogram of beef in return. The calorie kick-back is just too low to feed a growing world population.
Food scientists have done a lot of research on why humans crave meat, and the plant-based alternatives are getting to the point where they’re just as good as their animal counterparts, says Gates. A chicken alternative that tastes as good as chicken, an egg alternative without the high cholesterol of eggs, and dairy-free cheeses with drastically reduced fat–these are all being worked on and improved daily.
2. Are bears committing suicide in protest of bile farms?
At the end of January, Wildlife Extra News reported that captive bears were committing suicide to escape the horrors of gall bile farms. Bear bile is used primarily in China and other Asian countries for medicines, and it’s a hot commodity. It’s so valuable that “the price of a gall bladder costs as much as a packet of heroin in the black market.”
Around 12,000 bears are currently held in bile farms, some of them confined to cages so small the bears cannot stand up or roll over. Removing the bile is an extremely painful process done at least twice a day and the “solitude, pain and fear will drive bears to madness.” Wildlife campaigner Louis Ng met a bear who was refusing food in an attempt to starve herself to death. The behavior was not uncommon, said the owner of the farm.
Other bears have been known to chew off their own limbs [when driven mad in confinement]. One incident in China saw a mother bear escape from her cage, run over and strangle her cub to death, then kill herself by intentionally running into a wall.
Ng is setting up a bear rescue center in Laos where bears can be rescued and rehabilitated.
3. Is Your Medicine Vegan? Not likely.
Veganissimo A to Z, written by German authors Reuben Proctor and Lars Thomsen, was recently translated into English for the first time. After reading the guide, Eliza Barclay at NPR concluded “the byproducts of dead animals, it seems, are lurking in everything from diet supplements and medicine to sporting goods and electronics.”
The most troubling issue for many vegans is medicinal. Lactose, gelatin and cochineal are common in many medications. When it comes to life and death, just how far are some willing to go for their beliefs?
Even medicines completely free of animal ingredients are mandated to be tested on animals before getting FDA approval. Often that leaves vegans facing a dilemma and decisions aren’t so black and white. Do you refuse to use certain medications as a vegan?
4. Vegan Google searches keep on growing
Finally, it seems like veganism is getting more popular every day. Compassion Over Killing shared a nice graphic showing the increasing rate people have searched for the term “vegan” throughout the years.