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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 The new food guide turns that outdated thinking on its head, giving nutrient-dense and fibre-rich plant foods the prominence they deserve.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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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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Take Action for Animals: Government Now Accepting Comments on Agriculture Policy

Animal Justice September 14, 2016

The federal, provincial, and territorial ministers of agriculture have just released the Calgary Statement, which outlines priorities for the next wave of agriculture policy. The government is now seeking feedback on these priority areas until November 30, 2016.

Please fill in the short questionnaire and make three main points:

One, that the government needs to regulate animal agriculture–many people are shocked to learn  there are no on-farm animal welfare standards to protect upwards of 750 million animals killed for food each year. The industry’s own unenforced codes of practice are inadequate, and no substitute for independent oversight. The government is concerned with maintaining public trust in our food system; even standard industry practices are unacceptable to most people, and public trust in both the government and the sector will continue to erode are these cruel practices continue to be exposed.

Two, that farming animals is an environmental disaster. Animal agriculture accounts for at least 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Research shows it’s unlikely global temperature rises can be kept below two degrees Celsius without a shift in global meat and dairy consumption. (Two degrees Celsius is considered by climate scientists to be the crucial tipping point to avoid irreversible global disaster.) What’s more, governments–including our own–have been negligent in giving this issue the attention it needs. The government needs to shift research and support away from animal farming and towards plant-based farming and innovation.

Three, that plant-based food innovation is poised to be a major economic force, with investors like Bill Gates and Li Ka-shing recognizing its importance for sustainable, healthy, and humane food systems. Canada already boasts many groundbreaking plant-based innovators like Gardein and Daiya, and should do more to support such promising new companies. Instead of subsidizing cruel and unsustainable animal agriculture, the government should subsidize plant-based foods.

Thank you for speaking up for animals. They desperately need our voices.

Animal Justice

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