Let’s Celebrate World Meat Free Day

By David Alexander, Toronto Vegetarian Association Executive Director Monday is World Meat Free Day. It couldn’t come at a better time. 2016 is shaping up to be a milestone year for environmental advocacy and education. And front-and-centre is the question of what we eat and where it comes from. In January, the United Nations declared 2016 to be International Year of Pulses in honour of lentils, chickpeas, beans, and other legumes. The UN promotes pulses because they pack a nutritious protein punch. They can be grown with less land, water, and energy than what’s needed to raise livestock. And unlike cows, pulses don’t emit massive amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 25-times as potent as CO2. In March, Oxford researchers studied the potential of a global shift towards plant-based eating. They estimated this could save millions of lives and reduce food-related emissions by 30-70%. The study, reported by Reuters, detailed health benefits from eating less red meat, more fruits & vegetables, and fewer calories overall. They estimated the economic benefits of such a shift would save more than $1 trillion worldwide. Canadian environmental champion David Suzuki is also on board. In April, he penned an article imploring Canadians to eat less meat. His article cites the negative effects of methane and nitrous oxide emissions from animal agriculture. “The environment… Read More

Filed under: News Sustainability

Save the Planet With Your Fork!

by Lucas Solowey, Interim General Manager Millions of people worldwide come together each year on April 22nd to celebrate Earth Day. In an effort to make our planet cleaner, greener and more sustainable, today many organizations are urging people to pick up a broom, change their light bulbs, recycle or buy a hybrid car. What if we told you that you could do more for the planet by eating a veggie burger than driving a hybrid car? That’s right: by going veg, we can reduce the impact of climate change, rainforest destruction and pollution, while saving water and other precious resources. In fact, raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars, planes and other forms of transportation combined. (Click here to learn more about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture) The Toronto Vegetarian Association works to inspire people to choose a healthier, greener, more compassionate lifestyle through plant-based eating. In the spirit of Earth Day, we have some fun, easy and delicious recipes for you from local chefs and TVA business members. Why not make the world a better place while enjoying a tasty meal with friends and family? Check… Read More

Filed under: News News from the Toronto Vegetarian Association Sustainability Toronto Veg Blog Uncategorised

Shrimp and tsunamis

Industrial shrimp aquaculture is one of the main reasons for the destruction of coastal mangrove forests. These wilderness areas act as a natural buffer against stormy weather. Areas with intact mangrove zones suffered fewer human deaths due to the Dec 2004 tsunamis. The tsunami disaster that occurred in the Indian Ocean is beyond comprehension – over 200,000 people dead, scores more injured, and massive destruction. Earthquakes and tsunamis are unavoidable, but the severity of this disaster could have been greatly lessened had healthy mangrove forests and coral reefs been conserved along these now devastated coastlines. Instead, these vital protective buffers known for reducing flood and storm damage, have been uprooted for unsustainable developments such as industrial shrimp aquaculture, tourism and urban expansion. Like other supposedly “natural” disasters – mudslides after torrential rains or drought and desertification in Africa – there’s a human-made element, according to Meyer Brownstone, former chair of Oxfam Canada and Oxfam International (as reported by NOW Magazine, Jan. 13, 2005). Brownstone used to manage a project on Sulawesi Island off the coast of Indonesia. Sulawesi was one of the places devastated by the recent tsunamis. During the 1990s, coastal mangrove forests still served as a windbreak that… Read More

Filed under: Sustainability

Fish and sustainability

Why Eating Fish is Not a Good Alternative to Eating Other Animals Oceans are being depleted Wild fish stocks are in serious decline. Humans have become increasingly effective at tracking down schools of fish using sophisticated sonar and satellite technologies. Capture methods include drag nets that rake the ocean floor, longlining – using miles of baited hooks, and dynamiting coral reefs to scare fish into nets. Nets reel in a great number of non-targeted species including seabirds, turtles, seals and dolphins. Biologists calculate that around 27 million tonnes of fish are wasted per year because they are the wrong kind or size. Marine mammals frequently get tangled in fishing gear — a problem that kills 1,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises around the world every day (CP June 16, 2003). Shrimp boats that drag the bottom are the most wasteful, scooping up 10 kilograms of other marine life for every one kilogram of shrimp. A recent global study, published in the international journal Nature in May 2003, concludes that 90 percent of all large fishes have disappeared from the world’s oceans in the past half century. “There is nowhere left in the ocean not overfished,” says Ransom Myers, a fisheries biologist… Read More

Filed under: Sustainability

Beyond Earth Hour: A planet at “steak”

Beyond Earth Hour: A planet at “steak” Sunday, 23 March 2008 News Release: The Toronto Vegetarian Association calls for greater spotlight on reducing meat consumption in the fight against climate change. TORONTO – With the advent of Earth Hour, led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), on March 29, the connection between energy consumption and climate change will be even harder to ignore. The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA), like WWF, actively promotes smaller carbon footprints and better environmental choices. However, we believe the link between climate change and meat consumption needs much greater public attention and action. “Just as turning off the lights or reducing car usage helps, eating more vegetarian meals and less meat also benefits the environment”, says Stephen Leckie of TVA. “In less than 60 minutes people can indulge their taste buds and help the environment simply by opting for a vegetarian meal.” TVA wants meat consumption to become a higher priority environmental issue given its proven link to climate change. A growing body of research supports the grave environmental costs of meat production:   Raising livestock for food emits more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s cars and trucks. The UN’s Food and… Read More

Filed under: Media Releases Sustainability

Climate change: The inconvenient truth about what we eat

Written by Steve Leckie    With April being a cold month in Toronto so far, it is hard to feel too concerned about global warming. But it is worth noting that the greenhouse effect can cause weather extremes in both directions. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth won an Oscar for best documentary in 2006. The clear message in this ground-breaking movie is that governments, industry and people must cut down on fossil fuel use, and soon. We can also play a powerful role for positive change by adjusting what we eat. Global climate change is directly related to agriculture through the loss of wilderness to farmland, methane released from animals, and energy-intensive fertilizers, pesticides, food processing and transportation. By eating low on the food chain, locally-grown and organic, you can make a significant difference. Why didn’t Gore mention anything about agriculture in the movie? Likely Gore wanted to keep the message focused, and targeted to the political situation in the U.S. The more in-depth book version of An Inconvenient Truth, does suggest buying local and eating less meat. On page 317 it says: Americans consume almost a quarter of all the beef produced in the world. Aside from health… Read More

Filed under: Resource Centre Sustainability

Meat and the Environment: Facts and resources

Facts on meat and the environment Farm animals outweigh people A meat-based diet requires 7 times more land Farm animals naturally inefficient Agriculture vs wilderness Excessive use of energy & water Livestock grazing Fish – plundering the oceans Facing food scarcity Solutions PDF version: view as a two page 124k pdf file that can be printed. Nov. 2006 news update FAO: Livestock a major threat to environment The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization has issued a stunning report on global warming. Livestock production is responsible for more climate change gasses than all the motor vehicles in the world. In total, it is responsible for 18 percent of human induced greenhouse gas emissions. It is also a major source of land and water degradation. Incredibly, 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent) are due to the growing numbers of livestock around the world. It’s not just methane and manure — land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. Emissions also arise from the energy… Read More

Filed under: Sustainability

Five food choices for a healthy planet

Five simple food choices to help the earth. 1. Eat low on the food chain Moving toward a vegetarian diet is one of the most powerful personal choices you can make for a healthier environment. Your ecological footprint (the amount of non-wild land required to sustain you) is greatly affected by the quantity of meat in your diet. Meat-eaters need far more land than vegetarians because they eat domesticated animals that have ecological footprints themselves. On a larger scale it leads to the Earth becoming increasingly out of balance. Populations of non-wild animals have been exploding while wilderness areas shrink and the wildlife they contain become ever more endangered. Based on figures from Statistics Canada, our farm animal population averages around 132 million. Taking individual weights into account, food animals outweigh people by a factor of four to one! All these animals need food, water and transportation, and many require shelter and waste removal. Most of our farmland is dedicated to feeding them. By curtailing our meat consumption we could free up millions of acres of agricultural land that could be returned to forest and wild prairie. Using less farmland also means less soil erosion, less irrigation water, less… Read More

Filed under: Resource Centre Sustainability

Do vegetarians eat fish?

Fish. It’s usually the last meat people give up. Maybe it should be the first. by Steve Hal North Americans have been swearing off beef, pork and chicken in droves lately. Most cite health concerns such as heart disease and cancer, while others express empathy for the environment and animals. But many still consume fish thinking it is healthy or at worst a relatively harmless indulgence. They couldn’t be more wrong! Fish’s dark side — pollutants, toxins and heavy metals Fish are very sensitive to the high number of pollutants in the water around them. As British social critic, Peter Cox says, “describing anything which comes out of this toxic environment as a ‘health food’ is clearly absurd.” Fresh water and inshore fish are the riskiest but pollutants are even showing up in deep sea fish as well. Chemicals gather in their fat and bio-accumulate as the fish ages. When one fish eats another the chemicals are absorbed in the flesh of the predator. The February 1992 issue of Consumers Report showed that PCBs were found in 43% of all salmon, 50% of white fish and 35% of deep sea fish like swordfish. High levels of PCBs are also found… Read More

Filed under: Animal Issues Sustainability Uncategorised