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Canada’s New Food Guide A Triple Win for Health, Environment & Animals

Animal Justice January 22, 2019

OTTAWA—After years of research analysis, stakeholder and public consultation, and message testing, Health Canada has published an updated version of Canada’s Food Guide.

In a groundbreaking move, the familiar “meat and alternatives” and “dairy and alternatives” categories are gone. Instead, the food guide is organized around guidelines, emphasizing the intake of plant-based proteins and fats, and water as the beverage of choice.

Anna Pippus, a lawyer and plant-based food policy expert with Animal Justice, said:

“The new food guide offers a glimmer of hope that truth and integrity can prevail. For too many years, Canada’s food guide has compromised our health, environment, and animals by emphasizing meat, dairy, and eggs as being foundational in our diets. The new food guide turns that outdated thinking on its head, giving nutrient-dense and fibre-rich plant foods the prominence they deserve. Plant-based foods are associated with long and healthy lives, and they’re the foods Canadians should be eating more of. It so happens that these foods are also better for the planet and for animals.

“It’s also encouraging that Health Canada is recommending that the government use policy tools to help ensure good food choices are the easy food choices for Canadians. Plant-rich diets are a triple win for health, environment and animals, and they should be easily accessible to everyone, regardless of age, income, location, or ability.”

Though groundbreaking in their organization and emphasis, the new eating guidelines are not actually a major departure from the previous guide, which said to “have beans, lentils, and tofu often” and to “satisfy your thirst with water.” However, those important evidence-based recommendations were obscured by an undue emphasis on meat and dairy following decades of intense industry lobbying.

In the past, animal industries successfully applied intense pressure, resulting in increased recommended servings of meat and dairy products in previous versions of the food guide. During the latest revision process, to protect the integrity of the food guide, Health Canada announced that the food industry would not be permitted closed-door lobbying meetings, instead inviting food companies to participate in the regular public consultation process.

The meat and dairy industries attempted to get around this rule by lobbying other departments and individual politicians. A search of the federal lobbyist registry shows that dozens of meat and dairy industry representatives heavily lobbied MPs and other decision-makers in an attempt to influence the food guide in favour of the their industries. The federal Agriculture Committee staged hearings and issued a formal recommendation that the government align the food guide with agricultural business interests.

Animal Justice applauds Health Canada for safeguarding the integrity of the process and resisting industry attempts at influence.

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For more information, contact:

Anna Pippus
apippus@animaljustice.ca

 

 

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Build Your Own Cruelty-Free Cheese & Charcuterie Board

Animal Justice December 19, 2018

The holiday season is upon us!

For many, this time of year represents peace, love and joy. But for animals confined on Canadian farms, there’s nothing kind or joyful about this time of year.

Tragically, holiday feasts often fuel the nightmare that is modern farming. Cows used for dairy are forcibly impregnated, have their babies stolen, and are sent to slaughter when their milk production declines. Animals killed for meat suffer from the day they are born until the day they are trucked to slaughter—often confined for their entire lives in dark barns, are denied everything that’s natural to them, and are killed at only a fraction of their natural lifespan.

But with so many plant-based holiday treat options available, it’s possible to have exciting seasonal eats without the cruelty!

We’ve teamed up with plant-based chef Amy Longard to bring you this incredible guide to building your own animal-free holiday cheese and charcuterie board!

Below are Amy’s top brand choices and products to make a compassionate spread of your own:

Cheeses – Daiya (Farmhouse Blocks), Culchered, Earth Island, Field Roast (CHAO Creamery), GUSTA, Happy Heart Vegan Gourmet, Miyoko’s Creamery, Nuts For Cheese, Truffula (available in Edmonton, Alberta), Vegan Stokes, VegCheese, VegNature, Violife, and Fauxmagerie Zengarry.

Meat Alternatives – Beyond Meat, Field Roast, GUSTA, Tofurky, Real Fake Meats (available in Halifax, Nova Scotia), The Very Good Butchers, and Yam Chops.

Fruits – Grapes, berries, cherries, ground cherries, pomegranate, clementines, and dried fruits like figs, raisins, cranberries or apricots.

Watch how we constructed our vegan cheese & charcuterie board!

Veggies – Olives, sliced raw vegetables, pickled or fermented vegetables (beets, onions, gherkin pickles are always popular), roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, black garlic, etc.

Dips & Spreads – Grainy mustard, hummus, bruschetta, salsa, chutney, jams, maple syrup, and compotes. Check out Amy’s  fig & olive tapenade and zucchini almond dip.

Nuts & Seeds I like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, candied pecans, tamari almonds, and pistachios.

Dark chocolate – Can’t go wrong here!

Bread & Crackers – French baguette and/or a mix of crackers including Mary’s Gone Crackers, Le Pain des fleurs Crispbread, and more.

Decor –  We used pine cones, holly and ivy, pine branches and of course a few nice cutting boards and decorative bowls. Things like micro greens or delicate leafy greens look pretty. You can also use festive household items like mini-lights, ornaments, candles, or whatever you have on hand to jazz up your board.

Many of the above-mentioned cheeses and meat alternatives are available throughout Canada and the US at health food stores, Whole Foods Markets, and most major grocery stores. In Canada, you can also order plant-based cheeses online via Vegan Supply and Yam Chops.

If you’re stuck on what to make for your holiday dinner, be sure to download Amy Longard’s Healthy Holidays eBook. CLICK HERE to get your digital copy. Happy snacking!

 

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Animal Justice Urges Government to Fund Animal Testing Alternatives & Plant-Based Food

Animal Justice August 9, 2018

Animal Justice is urging the federal government to fund innovative industries that save the lives of animals by creating humane, animal-free products. Specifically, Animal Justice is asking the government to invest in developing alternatives to animal testing, and invest in growing Canada’s burgeoning plant-based food sector.

The federal government is currently consulting on 2019 federal budget priorities, focused on economic growth and ensuring Canada’s competitiveness. Animal Justice’s submission, filed last week, suggests opportunities that improve life for animals while supporting animal-friendly economic opportunities.

Animal Justice is seeking funding for the new Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM). The first of its kind in Canada, CCAAM was set up at the University of Windsor in 2017, and has a mandate to develop and promote scientific research, teaching, and toxicity testing methods that do not require the use of animals.

Canadian researchers used over 4.3 million animals in cruel experiments in 2016, an increase of over 20% from 2015. Conventional medical research relies heavily on animal models of disease, even though it is difficult to reliably translate results in animals over to human patients because of significant biological differences between humans and other animals. Scientists around the world are already at work developing animal-free methods because they are more reliable, accurate, and cost-effective. Not only do these animal-free alternatives spare millions of animals from death and suffering, they also represent a significant economic opportunity for Canada as the field grows.

Animal Justice is also asking the government to invest in the plant-based food industry, which is growing at an astonishing rate. People are incorporating more plant-based food products in their diets to protect animals, human health, and the environment. A preliminary draft of Canada’s new Food Guide, released in 2017, also suggests a shift toward recommending that Canadians eat more plant-based foods.

The global meat alternatives market is valued at $4.33 billion and is expected to reach $6.43 billion by 2023. Meanwhile, the global plant-based milk market is set to reach $16.3 billion by the end of 2018.

The federal government has already recognized the economic potential of the plant-based sector, investing $150 million in the industry through the Innovation Superclusters Initiative in 2017.

Canada is already one of the largest producers of flaxseed, canola, oats, and durum wheat, and the third largest producer and exporter of pulses, with the highest yields in the world. With further government investment, Canada is well-positioned to become a powerhouse in the field of plant-based protein. The exponential growth of the plant-based market promises to create a more profitable and competitive economy for Canada, as well as ensuring long-term sustainability in the changing economic landscape.

Have your say! Contact your Member of Parliament to urge them to include animal-friendly initiatives in the 2019 federal budget.

 

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