Just a friendly FYI from “Are We Pushing Animals Over the Edge?,” a study published this month in the Journal of Human Ecology. Can’t wait till the only non-domesticated animals only live in zoos!
Get ready for whey in everything again »
Thanks, Greek yogurt craze.
[Cornell dairy scientist Dave] Barbano, who specializes in filtration methods for separation and recovery of protein, has his sights set on the tiny amount of protein in acid whey. He believes it might be usable as an infant formula ingredient. But first Barbano has to figure out how to extract the protein in a cost-effective way, and his research is just getting underway.
The concept is roughly modeled on the success that cheese-makers have had selling products derived from their own byproduct — sweet whey. Sweet whey is more valuable and easier to handle than acid whey, as it has a lot more protein, and is easier to dry because it isn’t as acidic as Greek yogurt whey. Cheese-makers have developed a lucrative business selling whey protein for use in body-building supplements and as a food ingredient. And Greek yogurt makers are eager to follow suit.
Last year the industry produced more than 150 million gallons of acid whey as a byproduct of making Greek yogurt, and they have no idea how to get rid of it all. Yet. Just wait till they figure out how to make a cheap additive out of it, it’ll be a whey-in-everything party all over again. Like useless dairy byproducts aren’t snuck into enough processed foods already. Like we didn’t have enough reasons to hate the dairy industry.
Read the entire article at Modern Farmer to find out the extent of the decadence and wastefulness of Greek-style yogurt production, facts that you can tell all your yogurt-eating friends as they stand in the dairy aisle, trying to decide between Chobani and Fage. Or, more realistically, you can yell about over a drink with your vegan friends, hoping if you’re loud enough some yogurt-eaters will overhear and mend their ways. Passive-aggressive activism!
[Photo by Jared and Corin via Flickr]
Great job, humanity: Global warming forces ocean fish to new waters »
Global warming is fucking with the fish, and the fish-catching economy is finally catching on. From All Things Considered:
The new study in Nature shows these anecdotes aren’t simply a fluke. Data from fish catches from around the world show it’s happening everywhere the ocean is warming—which is just about everywhere.
So they’re seeing swordfish in Denmark, Mexico-based Humboldt squid in British Columbia, and Atlantic mackerel in Iceland. I wonder what it’ll be like when we’ve made the oceans so hot fish can’t live there anymore. What’ll become of the pescatarians?
"This is suddenly a wake-up call," [Mark Payne at the National Institute for Aquatic Resources in Denmark] says. “It’s a strong suggestion that climate change is here. It’s real, and it’s really starting to affect what we catch and, therefore, what we eat.”
Bye, environment! Nice polluting you!
[Narrow-barred Spanish mackerel photo by Klaus Stiefel via Flickr]
Polluted English waterways are shrinking otters’ penis bones »
All the harmless-to-us chemicals we humans are flushing down our sinks and toilets have effects on the creatures living in our waterways. In England, otters, which made a valiant comeback after being nearly wiped out by chemical pollution, are now turning up with smaller penis bones, which scientists believe is linked to modern contaminants.
Dr Chadwick said: “With many of these contaminants, there can be all sorts of different sources… so it might be things like drugs that we’re taking and they flush through our sewerage systems and end up in the rivers.”
She added that dust from industrial production travelling into the atmosphere could also carry contaminants that end up in rivers as rainfall, even travelling long distances between countries.
Sorry, otters. All those lovely Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals that help us thrive are slowly murdering you.
"People are very quick to say: otters are in our rivers. That must mean rivers are perfect, they’re so clean, everything’s fine again… but it’s not really that simple," said [Countryfile director Anna ] Jones.
[Photo by Keven Law via Flickr]
Pig factory farms are really bad for the mostly poor, non-white people who live near them »
Some really depressing news from EHP about how pig factory farms are and how they impacting the lives of the people who live near them. SPOILER ALERT: it’s not giving them magic powers or helping them live really long happy lives!
Wired breaks it down:
… in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, which finds an association between air pollution and odor in the near vicinity of swine farms, and hikes in blood pressure in local residents. When you put the pieces together — most hog confinement operations are in poor, non-white areas; cardiovascular disease is endemic in African Americans; North Carolina lies within the worst US area for cardiovascular disease, known as the “Stroke Belt” — you can see that anything that makes blood pressure chronically worse is bad news for public health.
That study, though, is just the latest in a long string of publications that Wing and team, and the community they have been studying, have brought forward over the past decade. During the meeting, Wing gave a comprehensive overview of the major problems with confinement agriculture, setting it within a context of environmental injustice and worsening public health.
Ugh, this shit is so bad for everyone, especially poor, non-white people, the folks who are shit on by society the most are now being literally shit on.
I get it, bacon tastes great, I’m not denying that, but the fact is, there are lots of fatty, salty, smoky foods that taste just as good (or almost as good, if you’re truly a crazy person for bacon) and the price that we pay for this obsession is ruining lives. Just fucking give it up, please, it’s better for your health, and the health of everyone else.
California climate change could put the pika on the endangered species list »
Pikas are related to rabbits. They’re about the size of hamsters, with no tails and round Mickey Mouse ears. They live in rock piles at high elevations, and are adapted to cold temperatures. When it gets too hot, they hide out under the rocks. So [ecologist Joseph] Stewart is trying to figure out if pikas don’t do well in the heat, what will happen to them as the climate continues to warm.
"They’ve been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act because of climate change," he explains to the students. "But when the Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed that petition, they pretty much said that we don’t know enough about how pikas are doing. We need more data."
KQED’s Quest had a neat story this week about local middle school students learning practical science while helping ecologists study the Pika, which could be the first species in California “to be listed as threatened primarily because of climate change. If the state starts protecting animals because of climate change, things that affect the climate, like new fossil-fuel power plants or clearcut logging projects, could be slowed.”
It’s interesting. And cool to hear kids learn about science. Read (or listen! Radio!) at KQED.
[Photo by Chris & Lara Pawluk via Flickr]
International tragedy: Britain’s National Pig Association predicts global bacon shortage »
[T]he European Union pig herd is declining at a significant rate, and this is a trend that is being mirrored around the world. Pig farmers have been plunged into loss by high pig-feed costs, caused by the global failure of maize and soya harvests.
(“maize and soya” means “corn and soybeans,” but you knew that already.)
Global warming is fucking it up for you meat-eaters all over the place: those cows being fed gelatin and sugar instead of corn; the World Water Week scientists predicting our need for water will make eating meat globally untenable. We are running out of water to nourish everything on the planet that needs water (read: everything on the planet), and raising commercial livestock not only requires massive amounts of water, but it contributes to the global warming that makes water even more difficult to get.
It just gets harder and harder to be a meat-loving food-obsessed asshole, doesn’t it. Even with the Today Show inanely calling this whole thing “ham-maggedon” like colossal fuckfaces. At least it’s not “bacon-gate.” I really hate meat-product fetishists.
[Photo: Oklahoma bacon cheeseburger at Native Foods by Jeff Gunn via Flickr]
(Source: The Huffington Post)
The 100 most endangered species, in pictures »
The Guardian, a top newspaper for people with brains, has a gallery of the 100 most endangered species, as listed by the IUCN and Zoological Society of London. It’s depressing! Even more depressing, it’s part of a series called The Sixth Extinction: How humans are driving animals and plants to extinction, which includes articles on how endangered wildlife is being (illegally) traded on the internet, and on Ecuador’s Yasuni Park, “the most biodiverse region on Earth,” where people want to drill for oil because what else do you do with all that wildlife?
I had this conversation the other day about how, as a disgruntled, in-it-for-the-ethics vegan, it’s hard not to wonder if the world would be better off if whatever apocalyptic event happens and wipes out humanity; you know, end humanity, end humanity’s nonstop abuse of animals (among a million other things). Counterpoint: Hoping for the apocalypse is just another way of expressing depression; it’s our responsibility to not be jerks—not contributing to the exploitation of people/animals/the environment, being kind to other people, living well and appreciating how good we have it, and trying to help everyone have it better. Read all the books about the post-societal gangs of rapist cannibal murderers, while striving for utopia.
These 100 species are considered the most endangered not only because there are so terribly few of them left, but because “they have no obvious benefits for humans.” So cool! What do we even do about this? What does it matter if we cause the death of the greater bamboo lemur, or the Amsterdam albatross? They’re not curing our cancer or assembling our shoes or inventing personal electronic devices; fuck ‘em. We won the evolutionary race, we get to decide who lives and dies from now on. Right?
[photos, from top: ZSL/IUCN; Baz Scampion/ZSL/IUCN; ZSL/IUCN all via the Guardian]
[link via The Editors’ Desk]
World Water Week advocates a meat-free future, for humanity’s survival »
We’ve talked about the ridiculous amount of water needed to sustain our national (and increasingly international) meat-heavy diet, and by “meat-heavy” I mean “20 percent meat-based.” Well, the scientists in charge of World Water Week, happening right now in Stockholm, are now predicting that a meat-heavy diet is an “impossible alternative” to our continued existence.
If you want to read this year’s WWW report, which is really long but also very interesting, here’s a pdf. If you don’t, definitely read the Guardian's analysis (and the internet is full of analyses), which tells you things like “Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world’s arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals.”
My main question is, why not just advocate a vegan diet? Those dairy cows don’t spring from the foreheads of their mothers, fully formed and ready to make milk.
People hate a smug vegan because people hate smug. So maybe this isn’t a reason to be smug so much as a reason to worry. Will our rich, privileged peers* change their diets to support the future of the planet? I hate selling veganism with the “lose weight, feel great” line, but if that’s what it takes to get people to stop eating so much goddamn meat, then fine. Maybe we should start lying to people. “I used to be 1,000 pounds before going vegan!” “I had a vestigial skull attached to my neck from the twin I absorbed in the womb before going vegan!” “I was a horrible selfish jerk who was almost incapable of empathy, and it showed on my hideous face, before going vegan!”
Because there is no reason to eat animals. Science is on our side. And it’s just disgusting that, in the face of facts like these, people continue to do it.
[Photo: ILRI/Dorine Adhoch via World Water Week]
*By which I mean, people who aren’t starving to death.
The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers update: Is it even worse than they said? »
Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!
Hello! Remember the above video we posted last week (which is now full of commercials)? Well it may not be telling the whole story. An anonymous source has alerted me to these points:
The following comments were sent to the producers—who’ve apparently seen fit to take no action.
The video says: “Livestock are a major contributor to greenhouse gas pollution. Right up there with cars, trains, and planes.” But the authors of that livestock-transport comparison have retracted it.
The video says: “Livestock use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land area.” But the true figure is 45 percent, according to the International Livestock Research Institute.
The video says: “Methane has 21 times more climate-changing power than CO2.” But the true figure is apparently higher—as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses a figure of 25 in a 100-year timeframe and 72 in a 20-year timeframe, while others use figures even higher than 72.
The video says: “Grass-fed beef does less damage to the environment.” But the lead author and a co-author of Livestock’s Long Shadow, a key source for the video, specify that grass-fed beef does more damage than corn-fed beef—as grass-fed cows emit up to 400% more methane, according to Gidon Eshel, another source for the video.
In fact, after the FAO tried for years to correct the misperception that Livestock’s Long Shadow prescribed less factory farming (when it actually prescribed more), it announced last month that it will lead a new partnership with the meat industry, to be chaired by Frank Mitloehner, perhaps best known for his criticism of Livestock’s Long Shadow.
Yet Livestock’s Long Shadow was written by livestock specialists employed by just one of 19 UN specialized agencies.
Conversely, environmental specialists employed by two other UN specialized agencies, the World Bank and IFC, have authored analysis that better supports the video’s general direction. Not even all of the FAO supports Livestock’s Long Shadow, apparently, as the FAO invited those environmental specialists to deliver presentations at their headquarters in Rome and later in Berlin. Those presentations are on the Chomping Climate Change website along with links to numerous citations of those environmental specialists’ analysis.
The New York Times recently published an assessment of the FAO’s new partnership.
Sometimes it seems impossible to get the figures right with the environmental damage of meat. At this point I’m generally just like, “I don’t know which figure is right but they’re all super-terrible enough.” But when you have something like that methane figure, jeez louise! That’s crazy! People are happily chomping down on their “happy beef” all piously while those “happy cows” are farting the planet to hell. Sorry, bros, factory-farmed or free-range, beef spells disaster for the environment.