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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 The new food guide turns that outdated thinking on its head, giving nutrient-dense and fibre-rich plant foods the prominence they deserve.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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Authorities Investigate Footage of Pigs Crammed in Sweltering Manitoba Transport Truck

Animal Justice August 3, 2018

BRANDON, MB—The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating potential animal protection law violations after viewing footage showing pigs crammed into a transport truck, pushed together and climbing on top of each other, on a sweltering day in July. The footage was captured outside the Maple Leaf Foods pig slaughterhouse in Brandon, Manitoba by members of Manitoba Animal Save, who also recorded the temperature inside the truck at nearly 40 degrees Celsius.

“It was heartbreaking to see the animals crammed in next to each other in such unbearable heat,” said Cheryl Sobie, an organizer with Manitoba Animal Save. “Some animals were panting and foaming at the mouth, which we know means they’re heat-stressed. Others seemed to have given up. If this were a truck full of dogs, people would rightfully be outraged. There’s no reason not to extend the same consideration to pigs, who are equally sentient. Sadly, our group regularly documents farmed animals in similar conditions, leading us to believe it’s common across the country.”

“Federal law prohibits crowding animals in transport, and guidelines indicate that animals must be given even more space on hot days,” said Anna Pippus, an animal rights lawyer for the animal law non-profit Animal Justice. “However, animal protection laws in Canada are weak, vague, and under-enforced. This is a case in point. Business-as-usual in Canada’s animal farming system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Government must hold transporters accountable for routinely putting profit and convenience ahead of the basic needs of the vulnerable animals in their care.”

Pigs don’t have sweat glands and have no way to cool themselves in sweltering weather aboard unventilated metal trucks. Transport trucks aren’t equipped with fans or water sprinklers, but pigs are transported every day of the year regardless of weather.

Canada’s animal transport laws haven’t been updated in four decades and have been criticized by experts as being the worst in the western world. Pigs can be trucked for up to 36 hours without a break for rest, food or water. Government data show that in 2017, over 14,000 pigs arrived at slaughterhouses dead, having died en route.

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The footage can be seen here.

For more information, contact:

Cheryl Sobie
manitobaanimalsave@gmail.com

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

 

 

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Over 800 Million Animals Were Killed for Food in 2017 in Canada

Animal Justice April 18, 2018

OTTAWA—Data released by the federal government and analyzed by Animal Justice shows that over 800 million farmed animals were killed in Canadian slaughterhouses last year. This record-breaking figure is a steady increase over previous years, up from 771 million in 2016 and 750 million in 2015.

The growth is largely because Canadians are switching to chicken and away from beef and pork because of health concerns. Chickens are much smaller animals, so it takes many more of them to meet the demand for meat previously absorbed by larger cows and pigs.

However, a large body of evidence demonstrates that diets rich in animal foods and low in plant-based foods have negative health consequences. Predominantly plant-based diets that include legumes (such as beans, lentils, and tofu) are associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, and obesity, and with increased longevity.

In 2016—the most recent year for which data is available—Canadians consumed 87.56 kilograms of meat per capita (this figure includes food waste). Globally, according to the OECD, this number is only 34.3 kilograms. The OECD also points out that the global meat industry “has significant environmental and health consequences for the planet.”

Paradoxically, the number of vegans and people choosing to consume less meat continues to grow, especially among young people.

“As Canadians become more aware of the negative impacts of the meat industry on animal welfare, the environment, and our own health, our first step is often to replace red meats with chicken,” said lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “However, many don’t realize that this trend is actually worse for animals. Since chickens are so small, it takes many more of them to satisfy our intense demand for inexpensive meat. On modern Canadian farms, chickens endure heartbreaking cruelty from birth to death. Genetically selected to grow so quickly, many become lame, separated from their families, confined indoors for their entire lives, and ultimately killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan.”

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For more information, contact:

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

 

 

Join the Animal Justice mailing list

Yes, I want to stay in touch! 

Animal Justice

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