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How to Lobby Your Political Reps to Support Plant-Strong Eating Recommendations

Animal Justice December 5, 2017

Earlier this year, Health Canada published much-anticipated draft revisions to Canada’s outdated food guide. The proposed healthy eating recommendations would encourage Canadians to eat “vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein-rich foods, especially plant-based sources of protein” and to mostly eat unsaturated fat (found in plant-based foods) over unsaturated fat (found mostly in animal foods).

The proposed healthy eating recommendations would also eliminate the outdated food category and serving size / number format, instead setting out easy-to-follow, culturally-inclusive eating principles. Notably, dairy would no longer have its own food group—a sensible move considering up to 90 percent of some ethnicities cannot digest mammalian milk after infancy.

Unhealthy diets rich in animal foods cost the Canadian economy billions in health care costs and lost productivity. Researchers at McGill University have found that shifting Canadians towards a healthful, more plant-based diet is better for our economy.

And of course, the meat, dairy, and egg industries are a nightmare of cruelty for the 771 million land animals killed in Canada in 2016 alone.

The meat and dairy industries are concerned that the proposed healthy eating recommendations will hurt their bottom lines because Canadians will consume fewer animal foods. In fact, a recent investigation in the Globe and Mail showed that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has been lobbying Health Canada on industry’s behalf. Officials from AAFC warned that, “Messages that encourage a shift toward plant-based sources of protein would have negative implications for the meat and dairy industries.”

If you agree that Canadians deserve healthy eating recommendations that promote our health and longevity, not the short-term economic interests of a few politically powerful industries, take action! Here’s what to do:

Contact your local federal member of Parliament and ask to set up a meeting. Not sure who that is? Find out here.

Review this document, prepared by Animal Justice, outlining the health and economic case for Health Canada’s proposed eating recommendations.

Print two copies of the above document and bring along to your meeting—one to leave with your MP, and one for yourself to refer to.

Contact us afterwards to let us know how your MP responded!

 

Thank you for taking action for animals, our environment, and the health of all Canadians.

Animal Justice

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Have Your Say: Canadian Government Might Ban Advertising Cheese To Kids

Animal Justice July 26, 2017

As part of the Healthy Eating Strategy, Health Canada is proposing to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children. Two approaches are being considered:

  • Option 1: banning advertising food to children if it exceeds 5 percent of the daily value of saturated fat, sugars or sodium; or
  • Option 2: banning advertising food to children if it exceeds 15 percent of the daily value of saturated fat, sugars, or sodium.

Under option 1, companies couldn’t advertise sugar-sweetened yogurt, cheese (even if calorie-reduced), or ice cream (among other foods) to children under the age of 17.

Under option 2, companies couldn’t advertise sugar-sweetened yogurt, most cheese, or ice cream to children under the age of 17. However, they would be allowed to advertise calorie-reduced cheese to children.

Tell the government to go with option 1! The dairy industry has successfully duped children and families into believing that cheese, chocolate milk, and sugary yogurt are a healthy and essential part of the human diet. By disguising their marketing as education, Canadian dairy lobbyists have even snuck their commercial interests into schools. In fact, these saturated fat-laden foods compromise health and can contribute to a lifetime of preventable illnesses like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The dairy industry is also heartbreaking for animals. Mother cows endure back-to-back pregnancies, having each of their babies taken away at birth so humans can take the milk instead. The babies are isolated and killed for veal or used as dairy cows themselves. The mothers are genetically selected to produce unnatural quantities of milk, and often suffer from painful infections (mastitis). When their bodies weaken from the demands of constant pregnancies and lactation at only about a quarter of their natural lifespan, the mother cows are killed for hamburger meat.

Currently in Canada, there are no federally regulated restrictions on the marketing of food to children. But building on a strong body of evidence, in 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States, including Canada, released a set of recommendations calling for policies that reduce the impact of marketing to children of foods high in saturated fat, sugar and sodium.

The Healthy Eating Consultations are open until August 14, 2017.

 

Animal Justice

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Have Your Say: Government Developing Food Policy for Canada

Animal Justice July 12, 2017

The federal government is developing Canada first-ever food policy! A national food policy would address the entire food cycle—from the moment seeds are planted, until the food is prepared and eaten. The policy will set a long-term vision for the health, environmental, social, and economic goals related to food, while identifying actions Canada can take in the short-term. The government’s stated goals are to:

  1. increase access to affordable food;
  2. improve health and food safety
  3. conserve our soil, water and air; and
  4. grow more high-quality food.

The government wants to hear from you before July 27, 2017! This is an incredible opportunity to speak up against unsustainable animal agriculture, encourage the growth of healthful plant crops, and push for improved access to plant-based foods.

Have your say! Visit the consultation website to take the survey. Here are some key points that you may wish to include:

Are there any objectives missing?

There are major current and emerging market opportunities in plant-based and cultured meat, dairy, and eggs. Plant-based replacements for these animal foods are more environmentally sustainable, better for personal health, better for public health (less food-borne illness, pandemic risk, and antibiotic resistance), and better for the animals, who endure intensive confinement conditions under the current system.

Conserving soil, water, and air

Research from internationally respected think tank Chatham House has found that reducing global meat consumption is essential if we are to keep global warming below the “danger level” of two degrees Celsius. Moreover, the public believes it is the responsibility of government to spearhead efforts to address unsustainable consumption of meat.

Affordable food

Plant-based sources of protein are significantly cheaper than animal flesh. At a Canadian grocery store recently, extra lean ground beef was more than five times more expensive than tofu, chickpeas, or red lentils.

The government should develop policies to encourage consumption of healthful, sustainable, and affordable pulses (i.e., beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas). The government should also ensure healthful fruits and vegetables are affordable and accessible to all, and focus on increasing their consumption.

Improving health and food safety

In 2016, Canadians consumed per capita 95.06 kg (209.57 lbs) of animal flesh and 19.93 dozen eggs—far exceeding global averages. Health Canada recommends Canadians eat more vegetables, fruit, whole grains and protein-rich foods, with a focus on plant-based sources of protein. When it comes to food safety, animal farming contributes to antibiotic resistance, food-borne illness, and pandemics.

For our full comments, please see: Animal Justice’s Food Policy for Canada Submission.

 

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Animal Justice

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