This page is here for you to get an over-view of some powerful and important aspects of why there is growing movement towards plant-based eating and vegan living, presented in short reference-based facts, so you can get a clear understanding relatively quickly.
These are provided under the main headings of environment, animal welfare and health simply to make easier for you to navigate.
To learn more and go further down the rabbit hole, please get a cup of tea, or something stronger, and browse through the blogs.
WE EAT THREE TIMES A DAY EVERY DAY, FOR MOST OF OUR LIVES AND IT IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL THINGS WE CAN CONTROL THAT WILL AFFECT THE PLANET WE LIVE ON – THE OCEANS AND RIVERS, RAINFORESTS, WILDLIFE, GREENHOUSE GAS EMMSIONS, WATER QUALITY AND MORE. IT IS WHY GREENPEACE AND THE UNITED NATIONS IS PUSHING FOR US TO GO PLANT-BASED.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. [i]
Transportation exhaust is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions. [.i]
Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector primarily involve fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air, and marine transportation.
Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?”
Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame.
Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame.
Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.
Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 2050.
Energy related emissions expected to increase 20% by 2040.
US Methane emissions from livestock and natural gas are nearly equal.
Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day. [xi]
Converting to wind and solar power will take 20+ years and roughly 43 trillion dollars.
Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals.
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
Source: calculation is based on http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294 analyses that 51% of GHG are attributed to animal ag.
Reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately.
Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually.
Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually. [ii] [xv]
Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption. [xv]
Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US. [xv]
Jacobson, Michael F. “Six Arguments For a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could Save Your Health and the Environment. Chapter 4: More and Cleaner Water”. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.
Californians use 1500 gallons of water per person per day. Close to Half is associated with meat and dairy products.
2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
(NOTE. The amount of water used to produce 1lb. of beef vary greatly from 442 - 8000 gallons. We choose to use in the film the widely cited conservative number of 2500 gallons per pound of US beef from Dr. George Borgstrom, Chairman of Food Science and Human Nutrition Dept of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, "Impacts on Demand for and Quality of land and Water." )
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print
477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.
5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture. [xv]
Jacobson, Michael F. “Six Arguments For a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could Save Your Health and the Environment. Chapter 4: More and Cleaner Water”. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.
Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today.
Gerbens-Leenes, P.W. et al. "The water footprint of poultry, pork and beef: A comparitive study in different countries and production systems". Water Resources and Industry. Vol. 1-2, March-June 2013, Pages 25-36
Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. [xix] [iv]
Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in many ways. In addition to the monumental habitat destruction caused by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, predators and "competition" species are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poison waterways. The overexploitation of wild species through commercial fishing, bushmeat trade as well as animal agriculture’s impact on climate change, all contribute to global depletion of species and resources. [XIX]
"Risk Management Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2004Hance, Jeremy. "How humans are driving the sixth mass extinction". The Guardian. 20 October 2015
Livestock operations on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded deadzones around the world in our oceans.
Largest mass extinction in 65 million years.
2-5 acres of land are used per cow.
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work.
Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
Nearly half of the contiguous US is devoted to animal agriculture.
The US lower 48 states represents 1.9 billion acres. Of that 1.9 billion acres: 778 million acres of private land are used for livestock grazing (forest grazing, pasture grazing, and crop grazing), 345 million acres for feed crops, 230 million acres of public land are used for grazing livestock.
1/3 of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver. [xviii]
Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
"Desertification, Drought Affect One Third of Planet, World's Poorest People, Second Committee Told as It Continues Debate on Sustainable Development". United Nations Sixty-seventh General Assembly: Second Committee. 8 November 2012
Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US.
This doesn’t include the animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction or in backyards, or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the US. [v]
A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. [vi]
130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually. 5 tons of animal waste is produced per person in the US. [xii]
In the U.S. livestock produce 116,000 lbs of waste per second:
*pigs are raised twice per year, (a total of 148.3 million per year) so on any given day in the United States there are about 74 million pigs.
*turkeys are raised three times per year (a total of 233 million per year) so on any given day in the United States there are 77 million turkeys.
*broiler chickens are raised 5 times per year, (a total of 8.69 billion per year) so any given day there are1.74 billion broiler chickens.
Dairy Cows produce (120 lbs. x 9.32 m.) = 1.1184 billion lbs.
Cows produce (63 lbs. x 83.68 m.) = 5.27184 billion lbs.
Calves produce (30 lbs. x 34.3 m.) = 1.029 billion lbs.
Pigs produce (14 lbs. x 74.0 m.) = 1.036 billion lbs.
Sheep and Goats produce (5 lbs. x 7.84 m.) = 39.2 million lbs.
Turkeys produce (.87 lbs. x 77.0 m.) = 66.99 million lbs.
Broiler Chickens produce (.5 x 1.74 b.) = 870 million lbs.
Laying Hens produce (.25 x 350.7 m.) = 87.675 million lbs.
*Total manure produced in one day is 9.519105 billion lbs.
*Total manure produced in one year is 3.475 trillion lbs.
*This is the equivalent of over 6.611 million lbs. per minute. (This does not include any animal raised outside of USDA Jurisdiction, backyards or fish raised for aquaculture)
Animals produce Enough waste to cover SF, NYC, Tokyo, etc,
based off 1lb of waste per 1sqft at 1.4 billion tons.
*Total manure produced in one year is 3.475 trillion lbs. (From above calculation.)
3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
We could see fishless oceans by 2048.
90-100 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year. [vii]
As many as 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean each year.
For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill. [viii]
As many as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded.
Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.
Fish catch peaks at 85 million tons.
40-50 million sharks killed in fishing lines and nets.
Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.
The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops.
Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.
26 million rainforest acres (10.8m hectares) have been cleared for palm oil production. [ix]
136 million rainforest acres cleared for animal agriculture.
1,100 Land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years. [x]
Further reading on Sister Dorothy Stang.
USDA predator killing of wild animals to protect livestock.
Washington state killed the wedge pack of wolves.
More wild horses and burros in government holding facilities than are free on the range.
Ten thousand years ago, 99% of biomass (i.e. zoomass) was wild animals. Today, humans and the animals that we raise as food make up 98% of the zoomass.
414 billion dollars in externalized cost from animal ag. [xvi]
80% of antibiotic sold in the US are for livestock.
World population in 1812: 1 billion; 1912: 1.5 billion; 2012: 7 billion.
70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour.
Oppenlander, Richard A.Food Choices and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
Throughout the world, humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food each day.
There are 7.5011 billion people on earth
Based on rough averages of water at .5-1 gallon (.75 gallons) x 7.5011 billion = 5.626 billion gallons of water and 7,605 metric tons of food produced per minute = 24.143 billion pounds of food per day.
Worldwide, cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day.
of cows 1.468 billion cows
We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people.
Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to livestock.
82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries.
15x more protein on any given area of land with plants, rather than cows.
Soybeans protein content (dry) is 163.44 grams per pound
The protein content per acre of soybeans is 163.44 g x 3,150 lb. = 514,836 g per acre
Beef can be produced at 205 pounds per acre
Beef protein content (raw) is 95.34 grams per pound
The protein content per acre of beef is 95.34 g x 205 lb. = 19,544.7 g per acre
The average American consumes 209 pounds of meat per year.
World Population grows 228,000+ people everyday.
Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year:
Vegan: 1/6th acre
Vegetarian: 3x as much as a vegan
Meat Eater: 18x as much as a vegan [xvii]
Robbins, John. Diet for a New America, StillPoint Publishing, 1987, p. 352
Eishel, Gordon, et al. "Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs and dairy production in the United States". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Vol. 111 No. 33 June 2014
1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food.
1.5 acres can produce 375 pounds of beef.
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food. [xx]
Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. [xiv]
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
Further reading on US food disparagement law
Further reading on Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)
The problem with the Allan Savory's grazing approach.
For more on our diet and the environment please check out
Hens in battery cages
Hens spend their lives in artificially lit surroundings designed to maximise laying activity. Each hen has to share the cage with between 3 and 20 other hens, that can allocate space less than that of an A4 sized piece of paper per hen. This is insufficient room to act on natural instincts and behaviours like wing flapping, grooming, preening, stretching, foraging and dust bathing. They are forced to stand on wire their whole lives.
Like the broiler chickens, they are “debeaked” at a few days old with no pain relief. In factory farms this is done because when hens are confined to a cage, they often become so frustrated that they resort to pecking or bullying their cage mates. Debeaking is therefore routinely used by egg producers to limit the damage that hens can cause to one another. It is not needed when hens are given more space and the ability to fulfil natural instincts.
Flocks are sometimes force moulted, rather than being slaughtered, to reinvigorate egg-laying. This involves complete withdrawal of food (and sometimes water) for 7 to 14 days or sufficiently long to cause a body weight loss of 25 to 35%. This stimulates the hen to lose her feathers, but also reinvigorates egg-production. Some flocks may be force moulted several times.
Hens can naturally live up to 10 years, but in the egg industry they are slaughtered as soon as their egg production slows at an average of 18 months old.
The proportion of caged eggs sold in supermarkets has fallen from 75% to 49%over the past decade in Australia, demonstrating what the consumer wants.
McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks and Subway have all committed to phase out cage eggs in their stores and in the USA major companies are committing to move away from cage eggs. Almost 200 US companies have pledged to use only cage-free eggs by 2025. This list includes major grocery and fast food chains, which are collectively responsible for purchasing half of the 7 billion eggs laid monthly.
Males are not able to lay eggs and have not been selectively bred for their size or meat quality, male chicks are generally considered unsuitable for meat production, and accordingly, are slaughtered following hatching.
The permitted methods of slaughter include carbon dioxide gassing or maceration (grinding of live chicks). As many as 12 million male chicks are killed this way each year in Australia and hundreds of hundreds of millions in the USA and the rest of the world.
About 90% of chickens in Australia and 95% in the US are raised in intensive factory farms. Current industry codes allow chickens to be stocked at densities as high as 20 birds per square metre. This leaves each fully grown chicken with personal space approximately the size of an A4 page.
High stocking densities have been shown to cause a number of welfare concerns for broiler chickens, including increased rates of mortality, diseases such as breast blisters, chronic dermatitis and leg disorders, reduced walking ability and behavioural activity, and disturbed resting patterns.
Chickens are subjected to artificial lighting for long periods to increase feeding time and productivity, and to control aggression resulting from high stocking density.
Standing on a floor increasingly comprised of their own faeces unable to see sunlight and lacking personal space, chickens kept in intensive conditions experience various issues that compromise their welfare. They are not able to perform some of their most fundamental behaviours such as roosting and nurturing their young.
Important to note, pigs are as affectionate and intelligent as dogs. This has been backed by science and it is so much so, that some people keep them as companion pets.
In Australia, pregnant pigs are permitted by law to spend a significant portion of their lives confined to 'sow stalls'. These are small metal and concrete cages barely larger than the mother pig’s body, restricting her so she cannot even turn around. Pigs on average will be impregnated and give birth four times over two years before being killed.
After giving birth, sows are confined in a ‘farrowing crate’ that barely allows them to move to “protect” their babies for around 6 weeks. When pigs have babies in the wild they create nests and do not harm their babies. These confined crates used in factory farms are only used to maximise profit in the smallest space.
Sow stalls have been partially banned in the United Kingdom, Sweden and New Zealand, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Finland and nine US States.
Here in Australia, major retailer Coles’ own brand pork products have been sow stall free since 2013, while Woolworths has also committed to sourcing all of its fresh pork meat from farms that only use stalls for less than 10% of the sows’ gestation period.
Yet still it has not become law across Australia.
pigs FOR MEAT
90% of pigs raised for meat are housed in factory farms. Crowded in concrete-floored pens inside shed with no natural materials.
On average there are 10 000-40 000 pigs per shed.
They have their teeth clipped and tails docked routinely with no pain relief, due to the fighting that occurs when pigs are kept this confined in unnatural environments.
1.5 billion pigs are slaughtered world-wide for their meat every year.
5 million in Australia
10.6 million in the UK
121 million in the USA
700 + million in China (1/2 the worlds pork)
Smithfield Foods Inc., currently the world’s biggest pork company with over $15 billion of annual revenue, was bought by China’s WH Group in 2013 from its American owners for $4.7 billion. It does pigs like it was manufacturing parts of a car.
China is now running two seven-floor sow breeding operations, and is putting up four more, including one with as many as 13 floors that will be the world’s tallest building of its kind.
Where China used to rely on backyard pens, growing numerous different species of local pigs that were preferred for the traditional dishes, more and more it is now relying on the specific breed of pig that has been genetically bred to grow the biggest at the quickest rate. These native pigs are quickly vanishing. Some already, like the Longyou black and Ding county, have disappeared. Others, such as the Bama from Guangxi province, the Wujin from the mountainous regions and the Bamei from Yunnan are all endangered. The problem is when you destroy the biodiversity in animals and then keep tens of thousands of them in crowded spaces, diseases can spread easily. These animals are also pumped so full of antibiotics they become antibiotic-resistant, which makes factory farms a breeding ground for new strains of dangerous bacteria and viruses or easily spreadable places for old ones.
WHEN AN EPIDEMIC HITS, THEY ARE INCREDIBLY VULNERABLE.
WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HAS HAPPENED…
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND WELCOME AFRICAN SWINE FLU.
African Swine Flu causes pigs to suffer fever and bleeding, before dying in less than a week. It has almost a 100% mortality rate and there is no vaccine for it, and with industrial farming set up the way it is, it is very hard to stop contamination. It first hit the pig population in China late last year but now with the Year of the Pig in full swing, almost 1 million pigs have had to be killed over the past few months in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease further.
A 2013 study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that 162,000 tons of antibiotics are consumed in China each year, with 52% going to animal husbandry (In the US 80% of antibiotics are consumed by livestock each year). Knowing that industrial farming, especially for pork has exploded in numbers since then, we know the amount used is much higher now in 2019.
Some of these antibiotics added to the animals feed and injected are amoxicillin, tilmicosin, florfenicol and chloramphenicol, which are used on humans to treat infections. There are others used too and farmers can obtain and use antibiotics without a prescription. The antibiotics are used as growth promoters, for profit reasons, and to try and combat the rampant bacteria spread that happens in these conditions yet still, in the pig industry, a mortality rate of 15% is considered acceptable.
A huge issue with farming pigs, and other animals in these conditions is the amount of waste produced. A farm with 5,000 pigs produces as much waste as a town of 20,000 people ( at least, as some studies show pigs produce 8 times as much waste as humans) and yet have no sewage treatment system.
And there is no sewage system for pig waste, so they create huge lagoons, as large as football fields, next to the farms, where all the waste and chemical wash runs into.
From these lagoons, there is consistent documentation of some of it overflowing into surrounding fields and then into drains, streams and rivers, contaminating them with nitrogen, antibiotic resistant bacterias and salmonella.
Documented millions of gallons a year runs off and pollutes the countryside from these "hog farms", most publicly reported are the ones in the state of North Carolina, where past hurricanes caused over 22 million galleons has spilled out, causing environmental catastrophes.
The health implications of the spread and contamination of air, water and land with hydrogen sulphide and ammonia is a serious problem for local resident with people who live near pig factory farms having to live with the acrid stench of the putrid pig waste and the resulting respiratory and eye illness that this causes. It can be so bad that they have to stay inside their houses or if outdoors, need to cover their faces.
The well worth a read, journalist piece, 'Boss Hog; The Dark Side to Americas Top Pork Producer', from the Rolling Stone in 2006, is a decade old, but still the same issues apply just are found in more countries now as the industrial size hit farms went global.
COWS FOR BEEF
The approximately 25 million cows raised for beef in Australia spend part of their lives grazing grass outdoors on farms.
They are subjected to dehorning, branding and castration without pain relief. Due to the climate in Australia, over-grazing occurs commonly over much of Australia because rainfall, and therefore feed supplies are often erratic. (When droughts hit, the cows - and other animals - often starve. According to industry reports, on average, around 9% of steers die each year and 6% of females die before slaughter.)
80% of cows raised for beef then are transported to feedlots to spend 50-120 days being “fattened” up.
There are around 400 accredited feedlots throughout Australia.
In natural conditions and environments, cows spend up to 12 hours per day grazing on grass. Cattle are ruminants and are not physiologically adapted to eat cereal. In a feedlot, they are fed an unnatural diet of grains (and antibiotics) to get big quick, while kept in a high-density stocking ratio with thousands of other cows.
Cattle in feedlots suffer pulpy kidney, foot rot, respiratory disease( 50%-90% of cattle mortality in feedlots), heat stress, feedlot bloat and acidosis. In summer, cattle are often without shelter existing in dust bowls and in winter they stand in wet, muddy puddles.
Australia has approximately 3% of the world’s cattle, with the US, Brazil, China India and the EU being some of the top producers internationally, processing 100-200 million cattle each per year. Many farms also raise their beef in feedlots in these countries. On a single site, large outdoor feedlots may contain from 2000 to over 100,000 cattle.
Australia is the third largest beef exporter in the world, exporting 68% of beef and veal raised in Australia to overseas to 100 markets. Some of this export (approximately 6%) is done by live export, which the majority of Australia’s population is against. Despite many exposes and the public demand for it to stop, Australia is the world's largest exporter of live sheep and one of the largest exporters of live cattle, by sea, for slaughter.
The demand for grass-fed beef - meat from cows that are not finished in feedlots - is growing. In the US, the sector grew from $6 million in 2012 to $89 million in 2016, driven by consumers concerned about sustainability, health, and animal welfare.
Cows live for approximately 25 years naturally but will be killed before the age of two.
Australia has 1.6 million dairy cows.
The number of dairy farms has fallen by almost three quarters since 1980, and halved in the last 20 years, to 5,699 in mid-2018. Changing business has pushed a shift to larger, more intensive operating systems with greater economies of scale, with more than 1000 herd a head.
Dairy farms are still mostly owned and operated by Australian families but Australia’s milk processing - turning raw milk into dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter - is dominated by multi-national companies. Australia exports approximately half of the production of milk.
The dominant breed in Australia is the Holstein, accounting for around 70% of all dairy cattle in Australia and the majority world-wide.
Dairy cows are also forced to endure dehorning, branding and tail docking with no pain relief.
80% of Australian dairy farms are pasture-fed, meaning the cows in Australia do get to graze in open paddocks. This is not the case for most dairy farms in the US, Europe and China.
50% of these Australian, pasture-raised farms also supplement feeding their cows over 1 tonne of grain/supplementary feed each year.
In 2010, it was estimated that 2% of Australian dairies are now a feedlot-style systems like overseas. Since that time, there has been significant growth in the intensive dairy industry with new proposals for large intensive systems across Australian dairy regions.
Currently organic dairy makes up just less that 10% of the production of milk in Australia. Certified organic dairy farms adhere to strict regulations which define how animal health and welfare and environmental sustainability are managed. The use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers and GMOs are not allowed, instead they use natural composts, manures and other preparations to improve the soil’s capacity to grow pasture (which in turn feeds the cows). Organic standards also prohibit cows being confined to a feedlot – they must have continuous access to pasture
Selective breeding and genetic manipulation has resulted in production of cows who produce enormous amounts of milk. The modern dairy cow can produce about 35-50 litres of milk per day—about ten times more milk than her calf would need. The udders become huge and with the machine operated milking, 10-15% of dairy cows in a herd suffer from mastitis, a severely painful condition that can kill the mothers.
To ensure she continues to produce high volumes of milk throughout her life, a dairy cow is forcibly impregnated so that she gives birth to a new calf every 13 months.
The babies of the dairy cows are taken from their mothers, often only hours after being born. Mammals have very strong bonds between mother and child, and this forced separation causes both cows and calves suffer. Farmers report the mother bellows for days when her child is taken.
While a proportion of female calves are kept as replacements for the milk producing herd, those females who are not required and all male calves are considered ‘wastage’ and are slaughtered shortly after birth. They are transported for up to 12 hours to the slaughter house and in the led up, the calves can go up to 30 hours without any milk by law. Calves will normally suckle five times a day.
Approximately 450,000 unwanted dairy calves are slaughtered in Australia each year.
The bobby calf issue applies to both conventional and organic systems, although some smaller organic and biodynamic farms choose to rear bobby calves on the farm until they are a few months old. This is not a common as it costs farms to maintain bobby calves on farm. (They want the milk to sell, not for the babies as intended by nature)
Each year tens of thousands of dairy cattle are shipped overseas from Australia for breeding.
Dairy cows will be slaughtered at 4- 7 years or below, once their milk production slows.
There are approximately 250 million cows producing milk around the world.
The US has lost 90% of its dairy farms since 1970 and over the past decade a decline of about 30%. There are now around 40,000 farms. Most of these are small farms, which are currently struggling financially due to price restrictions from processing plants and super giants. A portion of America’s milk comes from farms with generally between 1000-5000, but some have tens of thousands of cows on wha they call, mega-dairies.
California is the number one dairy state but the industry is moving through other states with the intention of growth.
There are 9.4 million dairy cows in the USA. The majority of them are reared on these intensive concentrated farms - factory farms.
Intensive dairying forces dairy cows to live in large sheds with hard flooring and significantly reduced space. Many of these systems introduce a stall-style system where cows live separately and are given barely enough room to stretch their legs or move around. This restricted space can deeply affect cows who are naturally motivated to exercise, and can result in cows exhibiting abnormal behaviours, such as tongue-rolling or excessive licking and grooming. Cows are meant to graze on grass - but when kept on intensive farms they are fed an unnatural diet of grains.
Cows in the USA may be dosed with bovine growth hormone (rBGH) which has been banned in the UK and EU.
A dairy-industry study found that by the time they are killed, nearly 50 percent of cows are lame because of standing on concrete flooring and filth in intensive confinement.
The bobby calves that are not killed immediately are kept in cramped pens or tiny crates, where they’re prevented from moving much so that their flesh will stay tender. In order to make their flesh white, the calves are fed a diet that is low in iron and has little nutritive value. They frequently suffer from anaemia, diarrhoea, and pneumonia before being killed at only a few months old as veal.
The EU is one of the biggest dairy producer’s with, 23 million dairy cows. Within the EU, Germany has the most at over 4.2 million dairy cows. Roughly 20% of these dairy cows in Germany are chained and most of them spend their lives perpetually pregnant in cow sheds and feedlots designed to further boost supply with just a third getting to graze.
There is currently no EU legislation specifically on the welfare of dairy cows. While the dairy tradition was for the small farms, the trend for the mega-dairy continues through Europe, with all the same issues of animal welfare.
In one investigation in EU, 68% of farms in Denmark, 63% in Spain and more than 50% in Germany of dairy farms visited were depriving them of the chance to graze in fields in the summer, as well as winter.
The UK has 1.9 million dairy cows and, like across the world with fierce pricing competition, the number of dairy farms has dropped by two-thirds over the past decade, to around 9,500.
The UK now faces the questions what will happen with Brexit with dairy-production in price wars and animal and environmental standards. The UK public has campaigned to attempt to keep the mega-dairy out of England but investigations reveal there are at least 21 ‘mega-farms’ with over 700 dairy cows per farm.
Research conducted by DEFRA said that only 30 percent of the farms thought they were traditional pasture-based dairy farms.
China is now the world’s leading importer of milk, as well as its fourth-largest producer, with 12 million dairy cows.
There is a mega-dairy in the north-East of China that is as big as Portugal.
It is the worlds largest dairy with over 100,000 cows.
Large amounts of cow manure resulting in brown stinking water were running off into streams and used veterinary drug packaging were littering the surrounding grounds.
In these farms, the cows are milked three times a day for an 8 minute cycle on a rotary system.
The Chinese government is promoting a shift away from village farms and giving subsidies and free land to factory farms like Mudanjiang’s Mega farm.
In 2017, the US dairy industry sold $577 million in dairy products to China, nearly a 50 percent increase over the previous year.
The European Union is currently the biggest dairy exporter to China, according to the US Department of Agriculture, with a share of nearly 50 percent. New Zealand follows, with a 33 percent share of the market. Australia has nearly 7 percent, followed by 6 percent for the US.
India is the world's largest producer and consumer of dairy. Since 2004 the government passed a law banning the slaughter of any cow but this does not mean there is not an issue with animal welfare throughout the country. The law also has meant that many cows are simply transported across the boarder for slaughter.
There is 40 million dairy cows and 70 million farmers earn a livelihood through dairying - not only with cows, but also buffalo. While the mega-dairy is not the trend in India, there has been a few smaller scale dairies operating with 100 cows per herd.
Due to cows being considered sacred in India and more farmers are swapping cows for buffalo. They already provide India with half the milk. Their “output” of 5.2 litres of milk a day is about a quarter less than what the country’s Holstein-cross cows average, and it’s much less than the 28 -40 litres yielded by cows overseas. (During peak lactation, a high-yielding cow may produce as much as 60 litres per day)
Global environmental costs of China’s thirst for milk.” Global Change Biology. 2018.
COWS for LEATHER
Cows are not the only animal used for leather production, but they are the main one.
Once the hide are removed from the dead animals, they are then tanned to stop them from decaying. 90% of tanning is done with Chrome around the world today, rather than vegetable.
The top five countries for tanning are Brazil, China, India, Italy and Russia.
Overall, the Chinese leather industry produces nearly 4 billion square feet of leather per year - more than double the next highest producer.
There is the detrimental environmental impact raising cows has, (see under Environment) and there is also a major issue with tanning.
Scientific America says the tanning industry is one of the top ten pollutants in the world today.
Much of the leather is now tanned in developing countries, such as India and China, because of cost savings. However both China and India both have substandard environmental and humanitarian conditions in these factories. Workers in them are paid extremely low wages and suffer from respiratory infections, skin diseases, cancer, eye problems and sterility as well as there being a much higher rate of birth defects in the children of the workers.
The rivers around the tanneries are subjected to constant flux of waste from the tanneries, where consistently they are not being treated correctly. This means toxic byproducts, such as chromium, sodium sulphide, lime, dyes and animal proteins etc are washed into the water ways that are lifelines to the populations that surround them. Many of these rivers are officially “dead,” turned into toxic sludge and unable to support any marine life. Locals have no choice but to bath with this water. It also then leaks into water tables and poisons surrounding farmland.
Some of the two worst examples are in the area of Hazaribagh in Bangladesh and the Chinese state of Zinji.
New environmental standards and regulations were stated a few years ago, but this has still not been translated into many of the factories in China and India.
The meat from sheep is most widely consumed from babies - lamb. They are killed at an average of 6 months old, sheep live to approximately 14 years old in nature.
Australia has a population of approximately 70 million sheep (2018). This number has more than halved in the last 30 years ago -in 1990 we had 170 million sheep. This is due to a number of factors including a move to cropping instead, volatile meat and wool prices and harsh droughts.
Australia is the world largest exporter of sheep meat, and is the world’s second largest producer of lamb and mutton. Australia slaughters 22.9 million lambs per year on average.
Sheep being transported to slaughter can have their water supply cut off for 48 hours (sheep over 4 months old) or 28 hours (lambs under 4 months old) at a time.
Fatality of lambs being born in winter is as high as 10-15 million per year, as they freeze to death in the first few days after birth from exposure to cold weather, usually at night, or a lack of shelter and food. Some are abandoned by their mothers; others are too small to survive, usually when born a twin or triplet.
Other welfare issues below are being called to change by many fashion houses listening to rising consumer demands for better animal welfare standard and at the minimum pain relief. This is still not routine though.
Lambs are born with a long tail but are put in a restraint device and have their tail cut off with a hot bald or knife. On some farms, lambs will instead have a rubber ring tightened around their tail so that it will wither and drop off.
To manage the flystrike, farmers have been mulesing for years, where the skin is sliced from the buttocks of lambs without anaesthetic to produce a scar free of wool, faecal/urine stains, and skin wrinkles.
Mulesing involves cutting a crescent-shaped slice of skin from each side of the buttock area; the usual cut on each side is 5 - 7cm in width and extends slightly less than half way from the anus to the hock of the back leg in length.
“Flystrike” is a major problem for sheep in the Australian wool industry. Blowflies lay their eggs on the skin of the sheep and then they hatch into larvae, which feed on the sheep’s tissue, producing inflammation, general systemic toxaemia, and even death.
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), agreed in 2004 that it would, by 2010, phase out the practice of mulesing. However in 2009 announced it would be reneging on this promise of working to a deadline. There has been no new deadline set, but consumer demand is growing.
For the past few years, sheep producers have been encouraged to use a local anaesthetic when carrying out the process after great pressure from animal welfare groups and high-end brands buying their wool. But it is not mandatory and it is self-regulated, with statistics from the wool industry now saying 21% of wool comes from sheep mulesed with pain relief - 80% without any form of anisethic . The industry has also been looking into alternatives to mulesing, those that have been experimenting have had good results.
The percentage of wool from non-mulesed sheep made up just over 10 per cent of Australia's entire export clip this season (2018)
Choosing genetically proven to produce a bare area around the back end. The trait is highly heritable, which means most of the offspring will end up having a smaller risk of getting flystrike - but this of course takes time to be seen through generations of sheep.
Changing the time of shearing, so sheep have the least amount of wool when there is the highest risk of flystrike, usually in summer
“Crutching” more regularly to remove the wool around the back end of the sheep and decrease the chance of providing that wet wool environment.
Application of chemicals can also keep flies at bay for as long as 12 weeks.
During 'surgical' castration, the bottom of the lamb's scrotum is cut, his testicles are pushed out and cut off. Or a rubber band is placed around them.
Normally this is done with no pain relief.
Sheep farming also causes significant land degradation and erosion, like all grazing of hard-hooved animals. An issue sheep farmers and the sheep face in Australia is the severe droughts they suffer cyclicly such as in 2018 when a huge percentage had to be slaughtered “before they were not correctly finished” because of malnourishment - they were starving.
Due to the drought conditions, sheep feedlots are increasingly popular in Australia. Like the beef feedlots, this is where they “finish” the lambs by keeping them in a confined space with intensive grain feeding, where they will not graze but be fed a mix of around 60% grain and 40% roughage. The number is steadily on the increase and after countless hours attempting to find the percentage of lambs finished in feedlots, I have had no luck… yet there are many many examples of them. They are given 1 meter squared per lamb and generally 500 sheep per pen. If more than 4000 sheep they must have 5 square metres each and thousands to tens of thousands per farm.
Like beef feedlots, you have then the issues of "‘full ration feeding’ and animal health issues associated with confined feeding which as salmonella, acidosis, (15% of deaths) coccidiosis, pulpy kidney, grain poisoning and worms. As well as the environmental impact of having to deal with excessive excrement from having many animals in a condensed space.
New Zealand has around 27 million sheep and killing approximately 19 million lambs per year. NZ export 88% of the lambs they kill.
They banned mulesing due to animal welfare concerns.
IN 2003 NZ also banned the live sheep trade after Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of 57,000 sheep on board the MV Cormo Express.
However they still allow the export of animals for breeding purposes. According to the Ministry of Primary Industries, in 2017 the country exported more than 8 million live animals overseas including 8.5 million day-old chicks (about 5.7 million of which are incubated eggs ready for hatching), 27,306 live cattle for breeding and more than 15,000 kilograms of bees.
Of this, just 123 head of sheep were exported from New Zealand throughout 2017.
Methane (CH4) is the largest contributor to New Zealand's national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, and it also comprises 45% of all emissions in terms of global warming potential. Per capita, New Zealand has the largest methane emission rate (0.6 t per person per year)—six times the global average. The methane comes primarily from enteric fermentation in ruminant livestock, and sheep are the greatest single source.
China has the largest sheep flock 175 million and produces 1/3 of the world’s sheep meat. Yet it is still the number one importer of sheep meat.
In northern China, overgrazing and over-farming has lead to the loss of nearly a million acres (about 400,000 hectares) of grassland each year to desert. Like the rest of the farming movement in China, sheep farming has moved significantly indoors into large industrial sheds - factory farming - feedlots.
The US slaughter around 2.2 million sheep per year.
Lamb and Sheepskins and Wool
Sheep are bred and grown for both their meat and their wool.
Australia is the largest producer of wool.
We are also the only country that performs mulesing to sheep.
More than 70% of the sheep in Australia are pure-bred Merinos, with other breeds and crossbreds making up the remainder. Merino sheep are used for both their wool and meat. Wool produced from Merino sheep is finer than wool produced from other breeds, and is in more demand for fashion currently.
A fully-grown Merino ram in a high-rainfall area can produce about 4–10 kilograms of wool each year, this is the amount to make approximately five average men’s business suits.
The percentage of wool from non-mulesed sheep made up just over 10 per cent of Australia's entire export clip this season (2018)
There are approximately 26,000 wool growers in Australia. Of these, approximately 3,100 produce some non-mulesed wool.
A sheep/lamb skin is when the hide - the skin - is removed and tanned with the wool intact. These are used for prams, rugs, furniture, fashion, Ugg boots etc. Ninety per cent of sheepskins produced in Australia export to China.
Live Sheep Export
Every year, around three million live animals are exported from Australia for slaughter overseas. The majority of these are sheep. The rest are mostly cattle.
1.7 million sheep were exported live to eight countries, mostly in the Middle East in 2017.
They are transported on vessels that carry up to 85000 sheep. Stocking densities allowed by Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) are much higher than any land-based feedlot or intensive housing system.
Once on board an export vessel, animals can be confined with no space, no ventilation and in filth and extremely high temperatures for up to 5 weeks.
Over the years, more than 3 million Australian animals have died, often horrifically.
Before being transported, sheep are transferred from a pasture-based diet to unnatural concentrated pellets, which some sheep understandably reject. These sheep that don’t take to this new diet can develop salmonellosis and die, accounting for around half of sheep mortalities.
High temperatures and poor ventilation can contribute to fatal heat stroke. Trapped in what is essentially a ‘giant oven’, extremely heat stressed animals collapse before literally being cooked alive. Other heat stressed sheep may die slowly over the following days. Those who survive the heat stress, will continue to suffer in the hot mix of excretment that is now littered with the decaying bodies of their dead companions.
More than 100,000 litres of urine and faeces accumulates on a typical live export ship every day sheep are on board. The ship won’t be ‘washed out’ until after they’ve disembarked. Animal waste generates ammonia gas and with tens of thousands of animals excreting in a confined space for up to 5 weeks, there are high ammonia concentrations on board vessels. This irritates the animal’s eyes, nasal cavities and respiratory tracts, resulting in crying, coughing and nasal discharge.
In 2013, more than 4,000 Australian sheep died on board the Bader III as temperatures in the Gulf soared — turning the ship they were traveling on into a floating oven.
The deadliest sheep voyage of the past 10 years departed Adelaide with 44,713 sheep on board on August 2013, picking up another 30,795 sheep in Fremantle five days later.
Heat stress claimed 4,050 sheep in a single day as the wet bulb temperature reached 38C when the ship arrived in Qatar.
The voyage of the Awassi shown in Ullah’s footage left Fremantle on 1 August 2017 with 63,804 sheep on board for Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. More than 2,400 sheep, or 3.76% of the total load, died on route, above the mandatory reportable mortality rate of 2%.
20,000 Australian sheep were brutally massacred in Pakistan in 2012. One by one they were stabbed, clubbed and buried alive. Some still alive hours later.
61 regulation breaches were documented in only 3 nights in Indonesia – including extreme cruelty to cattle, who were being cut up while still alive.
In Kuwait it has been documented again and again that sheep are illegally sold at a notoriously cruel market with the animals panting in distress during 50 degree days, stuffed into car boots, dragged onto concrete slabs, into private residences and local abattoirs – all to face cruel un-stunned slaughter.
In August 2012 an Australian ship carrying approximately 22,000 sheep was blocked from unloading in Kuwait and Bahrain after local authorities claimed that the animals had scabby mouth disease. The sheep had already been at sea for 33 days and were left on board for almost two weeks longer, suffering in temperatures of up to 38 degrees. Eventually the sheep were unloaded in Pakistan, where it was later reported that around 9,000 of the sheep had been killed on suspicion that they were diseased.
Once livestock reach their port of destination the animals are outside the control of Australian law. The Australian Government cannot ensure that exported livestock are slaughtered humanely once they have left Australia. Despite claims by the government and industry that this system protects Australian animals, Australian Government regulation does not have legal effect in foreign jurisdictions.
For example, stunning before slaughter is not a requirement for exported animals and there is huge amounts of evidence showing inhumane slaughter and handling practices that do not follow Australian laws and standards done to Australian sheep.
Under Australian Government regulation the animals are not permitted to be sold to individual buyers, however, ‘leakages’ from approved supply chains occur regularly.
Evidence has shown that individual buyers in some countries will often transport sheep in car boots and on roof-racks in temperatures that may exceed 40°C. To prevent the sheep from moving their legs are tightly bound together with wire.
Sheep have been documented being herded into a slaughterhouse, and then dragged to have their throats are cut and they are left to bleed to death over a drain. Cattle have had their tendons slashed and sometimes their eyes gouged in order to bring them down and, finally, their throats cut, often with blunt knives requiring multiple cuts, and are left to bleed to death.
In 2011, Australia suspended its live trade to Indonesia for six months after ABC TV 4 Corners investigation showed graphic footage of animals being great and widely mistreated.
Legislation to phase out live sheep exports within five years and end the trade to the Middle East during the northern summer passed the Senate but in October 2018 this bill to ban live sheep export failed to pass the Upper House because the Morrison government stepped in and stopped the bill from even being debated in Parliament.
Animals Australia took the Federal Government to court, to establish that the decision to ship 58,000 sheep into the furnace of the Middle East’s summer was unlawful, but before they even got to trial, the Federal government conceded that the animals were exported unlawfully BUT not for the same reason… court documents showed that the Department of Agriculture made a legal error in granting the permit. This means the Department of Agriculture, already under investigation for regulatory failures) permitted these sheep to be exported without legal authority or a valid lawful export permit.
If (hopefully when) the livestock trade is shut down, Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said it was possible for them to be processed - slaughtered - here.
In 2018 the licence of Australia’s biggest exporter, Emanuel Exports, was suspended “pending a full review of the company’s response to a show-cause notice” as to why its licence should not be cancelled.
Israel has been in support of stopping the trade due to animal welfare issues, they introduced a bill in 2018, at the same time, 228 lawyers in Israel signed a petition for live shipments to cease and 60 rabbis also condemned live exports. This is continuing to be debated there.
A 2012 survey found that 78 per cent of Australians believed live exports were cruel and 74 per cent were more likely to vote for a political candidate who promised to end live animal export.
LABOR has committed to ending Live Export if voted in May, 2019.
In 2003 NZ also banned the live sheep trade after Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of 57,000 sheep on board the MV Cormo Express.
90% of commercial turkey meat in Australia and around the world is raised in factory farms.
Inghams Enterprises Pty Ltd is the largest turkey producer in Australia, followed by Bartter which now markets Steggles. On average, five million turkeys are killed annually in Australia for meat.
Worldwide, over 650 million turkeys are slaughtered each year for meat.
Turkeys are crowded in sheds with 15,000 -25,000, forced to live in a space roughly the size of an A3 sheet of paper. Living on a litter of rice hulls, straw or wood shavings, these sheds are not cleaned until the turkeys are sent to slaughter, up to 3 months from the time they arrive.
They have their beaks ‘trimmed’ with hot blades, as like the chickens kept in sheds, the frustration the turkeys experience unable to fulfil basic instincts while living in overcrowded areas, leads to fighting. This is not needed on free-range pasture raised farms. Beak trimming has been banned in some European countries such as Norway, Finland and Sweden but the UK, US and Australia still allow it to continue.
Toe removal is also performed on male breeding birds which can result in open wounds, blood loss and pain.
Desnooding is practiced to minimalise cannibalism. This is where the long fleshy appendage extending from the front of a turkey's head over its upper back is removed with an instrument or pulled off.
Turkeys have been genetically modified to gain weight rapidly. In nature, these birds can run and fly, but on factory farms, most struggle to walk under the weight of their unnaturally heavy breasts. This rapid growth puts enormous pressure on their heart and immature skeleton. They suffer from leg weakness, joint problems and bone fractures.
The abundance of faeces and inadequate air ventilation in the sheds produces a proliferation of ammonia, which causes burns, respiratory infections, ulcerated feet and irritated eyes.
They are routinely fed antibiotics for both accelerated growth and because disease is rife in these conditions, killing off 10% of the turkeys in 3 months before they even reach the slaughterhouse.
The lack of space and confinement means they are unable to perform any natural instincts, even the basic of perching. They don’t get to see the sun or breathe fresh air. Lighting is orchestrated to alter normal sleeping and eating sequences, principally to multiply the birds’ consumption and limit movement. These methods, however, wreak havoc on the functioning of the body and result in a multitude of diseases and problems.
There are two main commercial breeds of turkey in Australia, the Nicholas White and the Hybrid. The "genetic material" of these breeds is imported from the US and Canada. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, without artificial insemination performed by humans, this variety of bird would become extinct in just one generation. This is because they can not reproduce without intervention.
The male turkeys are 'milked'. A worker holds down the turkey in a bent-over position and then grabs the turkey's penis, stroking and masturbating it until it ejaculates. The semen is collected, laced with extenders (a liquid to preserve fertilising ability) and antibiotics, and then injected via syringe into the female turkey.
This is repeated once or twice a week until the breeder turkeys are slaughtered at one year of age. Australian prohibits sexual contact with animals but farm animals are excluded from these laws because sexual contact is needed for artificial insemination procedures. These turkeys are held on separate breeder farms with each farm holding up to 7000 hens. These turkeys are called layers and are kept in shed with flocks of up to 3000.
All factory farmed turkeys never meet their mothers. Whereas, naturally, the mother turkey would communicate with her chicks while they are in the egg and following their birth. In intensive turkey farming, , fertile eggs are transferred to the hatchery. This means that the chicks are denied their natural start in life.
After 28 days in an incubating cabinet the poults are hatched. At a day old the turkey chicks are transported to growing sheds with up to 25,000 chicks the same age. The lighting is dim and the heat is kept permanently high. Many chicks die from heat, stress, heart attack, bullying, or starvation since many are unable to find the food and water points without the guidance of their mothers.
The UK kills 14 million turkeys per year.
The USA produces 46% of the worlds turkey meat.
In 2015 they experienced an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza which affected the turkey industry poorly for obvious reasons, including the 7.5 million turkeys who had to be killed to stop the spread. Chile is now the biggest turkey importer to China.
Eating Animals, Johnathan Safran Foer
“What we casually refer to as “fish” is in fact a collection of animals of fabulous diversity. According to Fishbase - the largest and most often consulted online database on fishes - 33,249 species, in 564 families and 64 orders, had been described as of January 2016. Thats more than the combined total of all mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. When we refer to “fish” we are referring to 60% of all the known species on Earth with backbones.” Jonathan Balcombe
Currently, less than two percent of our oceans are set aside as marine reserves, making it all too easy to exploit their resources. Overfishing and destructive, wasteful fishing practices are threatening the health of our oceans and food security for communities everywhere.
As a result of commercial fishing, 90 percent of large fish populations have been exterminated in the past 50 years.
50% of all fish populations are fished to their full capacity.
1/3 of the totals world fish catch is not fed to humans.
Due to this overfishing, problematic fishing practises and inadequate regulation of international waters, the stocks of fish are being taken much faster than they can replenish. We must ask ourselves, is there really a way, with a population of over 7 billion people, we can eat from our oceans sustainably??
There have been total collapses in fisheries such as with Peruvian coast anchovy, the Canadian cod and now the Atlantic salmon. In 2008 the UN did a report showing the world fishing fleets are losing $50 billion a year due to depleted stocks - for example in the last decade, in the north Atlantic region, commercial fish populations of cod, hake, haddock and flounder have fallen by as much as 95%.
Fishing in todays world often means big boats with big nets.
There are over 23, 000 seaborne factories, that can stay in the ocean for weeks at a time, complete with refrigeration and canning operations, plying the worlds oceans. They are not limited by how many they can catch, but how many are left to be taken.
These big nets drag up and kill all sorts of sea-life resulting in huge amounts of "by-catch".
1/4 of all fish fished are considered by-catch, which basically translates to rubbish as they are thrown back into the ocean - dead.
This by-catch includes dolphins, turtles, sharks and many other species including endangered ones, especially from the bottom trawling used to catch prawns. The bottom trawling has the extra destructive effect of damaging the ocean floors and coral reefs.
There is endless information and studies out there highlighting the very real and current threat of overfishing.
There is also now numerous published scientific reports debunking the myths that
-fish have no memory (they do)
-fish have no feelings (they have pain receptors and yes, can and do feel pain and suffer)
Fishes are also incredibly intelligent, they use tools, work together helping each other, parent in many different ways, some mate for life, some care for their young in their mouths, play and feel joy.
yes, they look and express very differently to us, and land animals, but this is what is wonderful about them.
Plus they have been around longer than us.
I will cover some issues around the world of fishing, marine life and sustainability. By no means is this sufficient to cover all the fish, the studies etc… you need a lifetime and a website dedicated to only that. But I hope you gain an insight and learn a little more from what you read here.
Around ¼ of the world’s catch is by-catch.
turtles, seals, sharks, dolphins, seabirds and unintended fish species that get tangled up in the fishing gear. Usually they are thrown back into the ocean and are often dying or are already dead. The fishing methods used to catch Tuna, Blue Grenadier (or Hoki) and wild-caught Prawns yield some of the highest levels of bycatch.
There is also the issue with ghost fishing nets, when fleets abandon or loose synthetic drift nets or bottom set gill net, that then entangle and kill other marine life. While there has been improvement for some industries, still today, 300,000 whales and dolphins die from being caught in these ghost nets fishing nets.
Australia has pretty good standards as far as fishing goes.
BUT Australia imports 72% of the seafood we eat.
Canned fish such as Tuna and Salmon, frozen fish fillets, Prawns and Squid are the major imported items.
Last year, in 2018, more than 50% of seafood came from factory farms - aquaculture.
At first it may seem a solution to the situation of plummeting fish stocks, but it only fuels the problem. Reasons vary from needing to feed farmed fish, FISH FROM THE OCEANS, pollution from the farms, sea lice, escaped farmed fish that breed with wild fish and use of medication.
SALMON AND FISH FARMS
Data illustrates that instead of providing a solution to depleting fish stocks, the intensive marine aquaculture of carnivorous species creates another source of pressure for fisheries, where exploitation leads to further expansion and intensification.
There are many issues with salmon farming - and these generally apply to other types of fish farming, including:
Excessive use of chemicals, such as antibiotics, anti-foulants and pesticides, or the use of banned chemicals can have unintended consequences for marine organisms and human health.
Wild salmon get their colour from eating krill and shrimp. The flesh of farmed salmon is grey, and is coloured by astaxanthin, a manufactured copy of the pigment
DISEASE AND PARASITES
Viruses and parasites transfer between farmed and wild fish as well as among farms, presenting a risk to wild populations or other farms.
Escaped farmed salmon can compete with wild fish and interbreed with local wild stocks of the same population, altering the overall pool of genetic diversity.
NUTRIENT POLLUTION AND CARRYING CAPACITY
Excess food and fish waste increase the levels of nutrients in the water and lead to oxygen-deprived waters that kill aquatic life.
Salmon farming often employs a large number of workers on farms and in processing plants, potentially placing labor practices and worker rights under public scrutiny. Additionally, conflicts can arise among users of the shared coastal environment.
Salmon are highly intelligent fishes, designed by nature to navigate oceans. Keeping them encaged with hundreds of thousands of others causes them stress, these fish have stunted growth and can be seen floating lifelessly at the surface. Research concluded that depressed fish exhibit behaviours and brain chemistry almost identical to those of very stressed and depressed people.
-Hundreds of thousands of Washington State–farmed Atlantic salmon were accidentally released into the Salish Sea after their underwater net pens collapsed at a salmon farm near Cypress Island. The potential victims: local wild fish, many of them endangered or threatened, which will now face increased competition for food and habitat.
-A study published in Conservation Biology reported that non-native Atlantic salmon were found in over 80 wild salmon spawning streams in British Columbia, with feral juvenile Atlantic salmon having been discovered at three locations.
Theses escapes happen across the globe in salmon fish farms. Last year, Arnarlax lost 200,000 salmon at its Laugardalur pen, when the fish had to be moved in icy waters after an outbreak of bacterial kidney disease (BKD). In January, a tear was reported at a pen containing 157,000 salmon.
Atlantic salmon are rarely found in the wild today, Lovera says, due to habitat destruction, dams, and overfishing. “There are not many left,” she says. “They’re not in good shape, numbers-wise.” The United States currently imports most of its for-consumption Atlantic salmon from farms in Norway, Chile, and Canada, augmented by domestic production in Washington and Maine. Cooke Aquaculture, which owns the pens involved in the August 2017 salmon spill, owns most of Washington’s net pens as well as salmon farms in Canada, Scotland, Chile, and Maine.
Atlantic salmon are raised in net pens in open marine waters; in a conventional setup, a mesh net is suspended within a framework of wood, plastic, or steel, held in place by weights. Fish can escape the pens due to heavy storms, damage from boats, vandalism, or just poor maintenance.
Open net-cage salmon farming is currently one of the most harmful aquaculture production systems and poses environmental threats in all regions it is practiced.
The pens pose environmental hazards even if the fish don’t escape.
POLLUTION AND DISEASE
The open nets permit the flow of waste, parasites, bacteria, and diseases into surrounding waters, where can infect native fish stocks and surrounding wild populations of salmon.
A typical salmon farm holds 720,000 fish with an average weight of 5 kg when they reach market size.
Waste from all of these fish builds up under the pens smothering portions of the ocean bottom, contaminating the marine ecosystem and depriving species of oxygen.
Or the bulk of waste may be carried away from the farm site by ocean currents, but this too ends up collecting in another place and causing pollution
The cramped environments in fish farms allow for disease to spread rapidly from fish to fish.
Amoebic gill disease is a parasite which thrives in warm water, making it a common threat to fish in Australian farms, particularly during summer. The parasite deteriorates their gills, making it difficult for fish to get enough oxygen, eventually causing heart collapse and death if left untreated.
There are a range of other viruses, bacteria and parasites which can affect fish in farms, often with tragic results. In 2018, more than 1 million fish died from pilchard orthomyxovirus (POMV) in fish farms in Tasmania.
Other diseases they suffer from is parasites and lice. There is also the danger of the chemicals that are used to fight disease and parasites.
Sea lice are tiny saltwater crustaceans that attach by suction to salmon and leave lesions, lessen resistance to disease, and reduce growth. When open-net salmon farms contain large numbers of crowded adult fish, they can also contain epidemic-level numbers of the lice.
While sea lice don’t harm humans who eat infested fish, they can be lethal to salmon by creating open sores and infections. A female sea louse lays 22, 000 eggs during her 7 month life span. v
“Wild salmon close to fish farms are 73 times more likely to suffer lethal sea lice than juveniles not adjacent to fish farms,” according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The department points out a farm can elevate levels of sea lice up to 100 kilometres from a pen, which endanger native salmon passing through. Juveniles “catch” the parasites and bear them on their seaward migrations.
Sea lice affected 75 percent more sites in 2015 than in 2014 in Scotland farms.
Sea lice are credited for causing massive die-offs of the wild pink salmon off the Canadas Pacific coast.
Research papers showed that the levels of chemicals used to kill sea lice have breached environmental safety limits more than 100 times in the last 10 years.
The salmon farming companies are also using mechanical ways to trim the lice from the fish. These range from pumping the fish through water hot enough to make the lice let go of their hosts, to churning them as if in a washing machine. Both have devastating effects, such as in 2016 when the heating of the water on a Skye fish farm led to the accidental slaughter of 95,000 fish.
Another 20,000 died in another incident.
In 2018, a Tassal farm in Tasmania killed 30,000 fish during a 'bathing' treatment, citing 'human error' as the cause. In 2015, 85,000 salmon suffocated to death in a salmon farm in Tasmania due to a change in oxygen levels.
Even the fed can cause pollution.
The salmon are fed pellets which can pollute surrounding waters when the pellets fall through the netting to the seafloor or are dispersed in our waterways with the currents, along with the massive amounts of fecal waste the fish produce.
And if all that weren’t enough, farm-raised Atlantic salmon are still carnivorous, so the industry depends on other fish for fish oil and fish feed.
Common practices require more than a pound of fish meal to produce a pound of salmon. Salmon feed is made, in part, from fishmeal and fish oil.
Over two-thirds of the total global salmon aquafeed production is produced by two companies: Skretting (Nutreco) and Ewos (Cermaq).
Attempts to shift salmon feed away from marine sources due to rising costs and reduced availability introduces entirely new issues and concerns:
Byproduct feed – in Canada, farmed salmon can be fed byproducts from poultry processing such as feathers, necks and intestines;
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – farmed salmon can be fed genetically modified soy and canola;
The environmental impacts of growing genetically modified organisms has not been adequately assessed.
“What we are seeing now is a chemical arms race in the seas, just like on the land farms, where the resistance of plants to chemicals is growing. In fish farms, the parasites are increasing resistance to chemicals and antibiotics. There has been a 10-fold increase in the use of some chemicals in the past 18 months.” The farms are now turning to mechanical ways to delouse the fish, he says. “They are using hydro-dousers, like huge carwashes, and thermal lousing, which heats them up.” There is also the spectre of GM salmon, with companies engineering GM plants for their omega-3 to feed the fish, and a US company given permission to develop GM salmon.
Whichever way you look, the breeding of carnivorous fish is a nightmare. It is environmentally, socially and economically bankrupt. It’s coming to a crisis point for the industry. “
Staniford, Scientist and Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture
MAMMAL DEATH AROUND FISH FARMS
Open net-cages attract marine mammals who are natural predators of salmon. Whether a salmon farm obtains a license to shoot the mammals that threaten their stock or they drown in the nets surrounding open net-cages, the death of seals, sea lions, porpoises and birds is a cost of farmed salmon production that is hidden from the consumer.
Reports and footage shed light on the magnitude of marine mammal deaths caused by entanglements in salmon farm predator nets, such as:
Documents have revealed that more than 8,700 bullets have been fired at seals around aquaculture sites in Tasmania since 2013. The ABC reported that there have been incidences of seals being blinded and deafened as a result of being hit by one of these beanbag bullets.
September 2011, DFO posted the counts of marine mammals shot or drowned at active salmon farms during the first quarter of 2011. A total of 141 California sea lions were deliberately shot; 37 harbour seals were reported shot or drowned in the nets.
In April 2007, 51 California sea lions were found dead at one of Creative Salmon’s open net-cage fish pens in Clayoquot Sound. At least 110 sea lions drowned in Creative Salmon’s nets in Clayoquot Sound in 2007, with 46 sea lions dying in their nets in 2006.
Salmon is the biggest-selling seafood in the UK. Most UK production is carried out by six Norwegian companies. There are about 250 salmon farms off the west coast of Scotland and its islands
Norway and Chile dominate the world’s 20 largest salmon producers. Of the twenty largest, 11 companies have their head office in Norway, six in Chile, while the United Kingdom, the Faroe Islands and Canada have one each. Plans to open the largest 2 million head salmon farm in Scotland.
Norway banned using antibiotics in fish feed, though additives designed to curb the lice also find their way into the food chain
China has launched a project for the large-scale cultivation of salmon in the cold water mass of the Yellow Sea
AUSTRALIA SALMON FARMS
In Australia we have our salmon farms in Tasmania' and the Australian Marine Conservation Society, publishers of Australia’s independent sustainable seafood guide downgraded the farmed fish’s rating from an amber “Think Twice” to a red “Say No” due to ongoing environmental concerns.
Their assessment was based on reported environmental impacts, including the dramatic falls in oxygen levels in the harbour that created dead zones on the seafloor, the loss of industry certification by key players Tassal and Petuna and the death of 1.35 million fish from pilchard orthomyxovirus, POMV, a disease exacerbated by environmental stress. “If the salmon is running out of oxygen, so is everything else.”
There were additional concerns around the industry’s detrimental impact on the rare and endangered Maugean skate fish and poor interactions with Australian fur seals.
WHAT ABOUT WILD SALMON?
THEY ARE ABLE TO ACCELERATE FASTER THAN A SPORTS CAR, CAN DIVE 250M IN LESS THAT ONE MINUTE, AND WHEN ALLOWED TO LIVE OUT THEIR LIVES, CAN GROW UP TO 700 KILOS.
Eating tuna is like eating a tiger. The largest Atlantic bluefin tuna outsizes the largest tiger… they are an apex predator and both the Atlantic and Pacific tuna are endangered.
Yet the more rare they become, the more valuable as a commodity they also are. One can sell for over a million dollars making them a hunted, species.
Tuna is a desired fish -we eat it in cans, in sushi, feed it to our cats, like there is a never ending population of tuna in our oceans, but our insatiable appetite for tuna has driven many of the tuna species to the brink of extinction.
Atlantic Bluefin tuna stocks have been driven to just 3% of their 1960s numbers – a decline of 97%. Tuna are apex predators – top of the food chain with not many natural predators. Taking too many apex predators out of our oceans disrupts the entire ecosystem.
Tuna are slow-growing and long-lived fish, meaning they take a long time to get to an age of sexual maturity in order to reproduce. This means populations in decline take a long time to recover. Also, current practices of taking juvenile Bluefin Tuna out of the oceans and placing them into sea-cage farms to be fattened means they are killed before they are able to produce young.
If you are going to eat tuna, perhaps ask yourself, would you eat a tiger?
If so, according to Greenpeace it’s best to look for ‘100% FAD-free* and pole and line caught’ Skipjack Tuna from the West and Central Pacific, which is the most “sustainable” tuna stock.
Whereas Yellowfin, Albacore, Bigeye and Southern Bluefin Tuna are all endangered, overfished or near-threatened.
With around 2.6 million tonnes of tuna caught in the Western Pacific Ocean and 800,000 tonnes in the Indian Ocean each year.
The most populated species of tuna, the Skipjack, which is also the most fished, is sadly largely used as feed for our domesticated cats as pet food. If you have a cat, perhaps you might want to ask yourself if you feel the cat could survive on another type of food, rather one that is being over-fished.
A big issue is the way tuna is caught- by Purse Seines, gigantic nets that scoop up anything in its reach and its often done using Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD's), used to attract tuna and the other marine life in.
While the Australian Tuna Industry has got behind not using FAD's in our waters and removed FAD's from their supply chains, they are still used around the world.
Especially in the Indian Ocean, where 90% of tuna is now caught using FAD's.
What are crustaceans that we are fishing?
crabs, lobsters, crayfish, yabbies, shrimps, prawns, krill
Often they are considered not to feel pain due to their different bodies and expressions then us, but research is showing they do have aversion to painful stimuli and remember it and avoid it in future if presented with it again.
Lobsters can live to 100, and are solitary, except when mating and it goes against their nature being kept in a tank with other lobsters as they are in restaurants. They take long-distance seasonal journeys and can cover 100 miles or more each year, so restricting them in a cage is also very stressful to them.
Crabs have well-developed senses of sight, smell, and taste, and research indicates that they have the ability to sense pain. They have two main nerve centers, one in the front and one to the rear, and—like all animals who have nerves and an array of other senses—they feel and react to pain. Dr. Robert Elwood, a professor of animal behavior at Queen’s University Belfast who has studied crustaceans for decades, says, “Denying that crabs feel pain because they don’t have the same biology [as mammals] is like denying they can see because they don’t have a visual cortex.”
It is unthinkable that we would be sold a live chicken or lamb to kill at home and boil alive. Why do some people think of lobsters and crabs differently?
There is as much evidence for pain in crustaceans as there is in many vertebrates
Prof Robert Elwood
All of the following methods have been described as inhumane by the EU's Animal Health and Welfare Scientific:
Live boiling. During this process lobsters and crabs thrash, try to escape, and shed their limbs, known to be a sign of stress.
Trawling for prawns and shrimp is one of the worst types of fishing for the marine eco-system and by-catch. And there have been total collapses of markets due to over-fishing in certain parts of the world already.
While catching crabs in pots limits by-catch, and there are claims that some are more sustainable then others, we always must keep in mind, that already numerous crabs are over-fished to the point of almost extinction. If we continue to fish the other crabs at this rate, they too will meet this fate.
Over the last five years, the annual krill catch has jumped from just more than 100,000 tons to several million tons per year because with new technologies they can literally vacuum them up from the Antarctic Ocean at unprecedented rates.
Krill is a tiny crustacean, like a shrimp, and it forms part of the plankton level in our oceans. It can be hard to get emotionally moved to save such an “unlovable” species — but its survival is imperative to the survival of the entire ecosystem of the Southern Ocean. As a keystone species at the bottom of the food chain, huge numbers of other Antarctic species — whether they eat krill or not — are directly or indirectly affected by how abundant krill are.
It is a very serious question you need to ask yourself next time you are popping your krill oil supplement; is it worth risking the seals for? Is it worth risking the penguins and whales for?
Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd are vocally against the krill oil trade, both calling for an extension of the reserve status given to the land into the Antarctic waters in order to protect this vulnerable ecosystem. Currently, the fishing in Antarctic waters is regulated by The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The 25 members of CCAMLR include the key krill-fishing countries.
European Food Safety Authority) (2005) "Opinion on the “Aspects of the biology and welfare of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes” The EFSA Journal, 292, 1-46
Elwood, R., and Magee, B., (2013) "Shock avoidance by discrimination learning in the shore crab (Carcinus maenas) is consistent with a key criterion for pain", Journal of Experimental Biology, vol 216: 353-358
Morelle, J., (2013) "Further evidence crabs and other crustaceans feel pain", webpage, accessed 12-3-16
Appel, M & Elwood, R (2009), 'Motivational trade-offs and potential pain experience in hermit crabs' Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol 119, no. 1-2, pp. 120-124
BBC, (2009) "Crabs sense and remember pain" accessed 12-3-16
Magee, B., & Elwood, R. W. (2016). Trade-offs between predator avoidance and electric shock avoidance in hermit crabs demonstrate a non-reflexive response to noxious stimuli consistent with prediction of pain. Behavioural Processes, 130, 31-35
Sharks are among the most threatened marine animals worldwide. Recent estimates suggest that populations of many large sharks have declined by 90% or more in areas where they were once abundant.
Almost 100 million sharks are being killed each year, with fishing rates outstripping the ability of populations to recover, scientists have estimated.
That’s over 10,000 every hour.
Many shark populations have declined from overfishing and bycatch in pelagic longlines, gillnets, handlines, and bottom trawls.
The demand for shark fins to make soup, where they literally slice the fins off these majestic creatures and throw them back into the ocean to die a painful death, has annihilated shark populations – although recent work suggested that demand for fins has finally begun to fall.
School shark was the flake and chips staple for Australians in the 1970s but the nation's love affair with the deep fried fish impacted school shark numbers.
Despite being almost endangered, it currently legal in Australia to commercially fish for school, scalloped hammerhead and gulper sharks, blue warehou, dogfish, orange roughy, eastern gemfish and southern bluefin tuna. All of these fish are categorised by government as ‘Conservation Dependent’, which is a category that acknowledges that these species are under threat from fishing, but can still be fished.
A number of scientific studies have demonstrated that the depletion of sharks results in the loss of commercially important fish and shellfish species down the food chain, including key fisheries such as tuna that maintain the health of coral reefs. As important apex predators, sharks have shaped marine life in the oceans for over 450 million years and are essential to the health of our oceans, and ultimately to the survival of humankind.
The health of the ocean is extremely important for our survival and the health of the sharks is important for the ocean. The ocean produces more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, removes half of the atmosphere’s anthropogenic carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas), and controls our planet’s temperature and weather.
As the apex predators of the oceans, the role of sharks is to keep other marine life in healthy balance and to regulate the oceans. Studies are already indicating that regional elimination of sharks can cause disastrous effects including the collapse of fisheries and the death of coral reefs.
Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood.
I include different methods so those interested who still consume seafood can take into account the affect on the fishes, the greater ecosystem. It is also important to consider the way the animal dies, as numerous studies in the last few years confirm beyond doubt that, yes, fish to feel pain and suffer.
Crushed - when huge hauls are brought in and the nets are tightened around hundreds or millions of other fish, they can be crushed to death. (Eg, Purse Seine)
Suffocate - when fish are hauled onto the boat, and out of water, they suffocate, without the ability to get oxygen from air.
Suffocate on ice - Putting any marine life on ice may render them still but not unconscious, so they still suffer just for longer and without being able to move ( just imagine that for yourself). At room temp it takes a salmon two and half minutes to lose consciousness and 11 minutes to die, yet on ice, it can take up to three hours to die.
Bleed out - Cutting the fish to bleed it to death. When fish are killed in aquaculture, they are generally either stunned with a blow to the head and then have their gills slit to “bleed out” but they can also be put in ammonia baths (banned in Germany due to cruelty) decapitated or electrocuted.
Decompression - When deeper dwelling fish is hoisted to the surface, they can suffer from all types of terrible inflications such as their oesophagus turning inside out, the eyes popping, embolisms etc.
Hooked - hooks through any part of the fish do cause the fish pain, sometimes death, even when removed and thrown back into the water.
Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing seafood sector, likely to overtake all other methods of seafood production within a few years time.
It now produces over 50% of the world’s seafood - with 2018 we saw more fish taken from aquaculture than the oceans and rivers.
It has been hailed as both the saviour and the ruin of the oceans. So which is right?
Antibiotics may be used to stave off disease. There are also issues of fish welfare, pollution, land degradation and impacts to native fish populations and eco-systems.
Carnivorous fish raised in farms are fed wild caught fish in the form of fishmeal (pellets comprising small schooling fish species). It takes up to 2kg of fishmeal to produce 1kg of farmed Salmon, which places even more pressure on wild fisheries.
Different methods of aquaculture have different impacts on the environment, so it is worth knowing how your seafood was farmed. Here is a look at some of the most common methods of Aquaculture employed in Australia today and their pros and cons.
Also check out the Fishing Techniques page, to learn how wild fish are caught.
Open Aquaculture Systems: Sea-cage (active feeding)
Open sea-cage aquaculture refers to the rearing of aquatic species, within enclosures in natural waterways. Open systems are being implemented in a wide range of environments including freshwater rivers, brackish estuaries and coastal marine regions. Floating mesh cages are anchored to the seafloor and vary in size depending on the scale of operation and the species cultured.
Young fishes are sourced either from hatcheries or wild populations, and grown out in pens until a marketable size has been reached.
Some rapidly developing open systems in Australia include yellowtail kingfish, southern bluefin tuna, Atlantic salmon, trout and barramundi.
One of the primary objections relates to the requirement of fishmeal to feed carnivorous species. In some cases the conversion ratio may be in the order of more than 5kg of fishmeal to produce just 1kg of marketable fish.
Other significant issues include increased disease and parasite transmission due to high fish densities, the risk of escape and interbreeding with wild populations, and reduced water quality resulting from the accumulation of faecal waste.
For a detailed look at this method of aquaculture, read the GoodFishBadFish series: Exploring Open-Pen Sea Cage Aquaculture
Open Aquaculture Systems: Sticks, ropes, racks and cages (passive feeding)
The culture of numerous shellfish species is carried out in systems open to natural waterways. Larval stages may be collected from the wild or produced in hatcheries. These are then placed into the water column by methods including attachment to sticks or ropes, or containment in cages. The main species cultured with these methods are mussels and oysters. As these species are filter-feeders, they are capable of extracting nutritional requirements from the water column, with no fishmeal being added.
Semi-closed Aquaculture Systems
Semi-closed aquaculture refers to the land-based production of a species, in which water is exchanged between the farm and a natural waterway. Waste water is released from the ponds into the local waterway, whilst the farm is replenished with fresh water pumped back into the system.
Prawn farming is the predominant form of semi-closed aquaculture.
The black tiger prawn is the primary species being farmed in Australia, whilst banana, kuruma and brown tiger prawns are also being produced.
Semi-closed aquaculture operations can have really bad effects on coastal ecosystems. As ponds require continual water exchange, they are often located adjacent to waterways, where coastal wetlands and mangroves are reclaimed for development.
The result is a vast loss of habitat which is critical for the young stage of many species. Constant outflow of water may also reduce surrounding water quality.
Closed Aquaculture Systems
Closed system aquaculture refers to the land-based rearing of aquatic species in raceways, tanks and ponds.
Closed aquaculture systems are primarily used for freshwater species with silver perch, barramundi, yabbies and marron amongst the most common marketable species in Australia.
The same problems apply with feeding the fish, disease, welfare - the pro for this type of farming is that wild populations are not exposed to the lice.
OPEN SEA AND RIVER METHODS
Pole and Line Fishing
Pole and line fishing is a traditional method by which predatory fishes are captured one-by-one on hook and line.
Major pole and line fisheries target tuna species such as skipjack and albacore, however there are also numerous operations targeting tropical reef fishes.
Pole and line fishing is generally thought to have a minimal impact on habitat and fish stocks, however, localised depletions are still occurring as so many people fish for recreation. Bycatch rates are generally low. Ghost fishing through lost fishing gear is also an issue of concern.
Dive Fisheries and Hand Collection
Dive fisheries typically involve hand collection of the target species, Abalone and rock lobster, sea cucumber and sea urchins are common.
Dive fisheries are considered to have less of an impact on the surrounding marine ecosystem then other methods. However, intensive hand collection can cause localised stock depletion.
Pots and Traps
Pots and traps can be used to catch a variety of fish and crustaceans. Mud crabs, blue swimmer crabs and rock lobster are species commonly targeted with these methods. The structure generally consists of a mesh body, with one way entrances leading into a baited enclosure. These techniques have a relatively low impact on habitat and are highly selective.
The entanglement of sea turtles and marine mammals in marker ropes is a leading concern in pot and trap fisheries.
Dredging is a technique primarily targeting bottom dwelling molluscs such as scallops and clams. The dredge comprises of a steel bar with rigid teeth attached to its base. As the dredge is towed behind the vessel, the catch is ploughed from the seafloor and collected in a mesh net or cage.
Dredging is amongst the most destructive methods of fishing in these habitats and is highly unselective, with high levels of bottom dwelling fish and invertebrates often caught as by-catch.
Purse seine fishing is a technique targeting pelagic (surface/open ocean) schooling fish such as tuna and mackerel. The vessel surrounds the school with netting before bringing the bottom together into a purse-like enclosure .They can take total schools of fish in this manner, with catches of half a million fish taken at a time or for the bigger species hundreds of thousands in one catch.
Open ocean longlining vessels deploy expansive lengths of baited hooks, whilst pursuing apex predators such as billfish, tuna and sharks. These lines are commonly between 10-100km long, and have thousands of baited hooks spaced consistently on branching lines (snoods). They can be run along the seafloor or on the surface.
The major concern in pelagic longline fisheries is that of bycatch. Seabirds such as albatross and petrels frequently drown after being caught diving for the baited hooks and they cause the entanglement of sea turtles and marine mammals.
Also the fish can be impaled in the hooks for hours or even days and suffer during a much longer period.
Pelagic (surface/open ocean) gillnets are systems of netting with highly specific mesh sizes. Gillnets as long as 2.5km, are placed vertically in the water column with the use of buoys and weights. Large fish become entangled in the net (commonly around the gills)
Due to the large expanses of netting, by-catch of turtles, diving seabirds and marine mammals is of great concern.
Trawling involves the towing of large nets behind one or more fishing vessels. Pelagic trawls rely on filtering enormous volumes of water in order to increase catch success. Net are HUGE, several hundred metres wide.
Captured fish are funnelled into the back section of the net which is known as the cod-end. This method is commonly used to catch schooling pelagic species such as tuna and mackerel.
By-catch is high with shark, marine mammal and seabirds can be significant, particularly to dolphin pods pursuing shoaling fish. Tens of thousands of sea turtles get snagged on these and drown every year.
Super trawlers can drag their nets through the water for several hours, if a dolphin, shark or turtle becomes enmeshed it's highly unlikely that they'll be able to escape. These animals will then either drown — or be crushed to death by the sheer weight of the fish around them.
Seafloor trawling hauls HUGE nets, across the ocean floor.
Fish such as flathead, flounder and orange roughy are commonly targeted with the use of seafloor trawls.
Bottom trawls causes high amounts of damage to the seafloor in fragile habitats. It is one of the worst for the marine ecosystem and terrible for by-catch.
i personally do not believe any type of fishing is sustainable anymore with our population numbers, but include the types here for you to gain greater understanding. you can use the guides, goodfishbadfish and the app if you feel to make more mindful choices around your fish consumption.
I encourage you to read Paul Watsons view on eating seafood as it sums up my sentiments exactly.
We are feeding fish to cats, pigs, and chickens, and we are sucking tens of thousands of small fish from the sea to feed larger fish raised in cages. House cats are eating more fish than seals; pigs are eating more fish than sharks; and factory-farmed chickens are eating more fish than puffins and albatross.
With other factors like increased acidification, global warming, chemical pollution, and ozone depletion causing plankton populations to decline, we are waging a global assault on all life in our oceans. The fish cannot compete with our excessive demands. We have already removed 90% of the large commercial fish from the sea. Chinese demand for shark fins is destroying practically every species of shark in the ocean.
Whereas the fishing industry once targeted and destroyed the large fish, they are now focusing on the smaller fish, the fish that have always fed the larger fish. Of the top ten fisheries in the world today, seven of them now target the small fish. If the fish are too small to feed to people, they are simply ground up into fishmeal to feed domestic animals and farm raised salmon or tuna.
Aquaculture has also now emerged as the most wasteful utilization of fish and is the economic engine driving the intensive exploitation of small fish.
And now Japanese and Norwegian fisheries are extracting tens of thousands of tons of plankton from the sea to convert into a protein rich animal feed.
This week a report on the State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture released by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concludes that 80% of all marine fish stocks are currently fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion; including stocks of the 7 largest prey fisheries. Very few marine fish populations remain with the potential to sustain production increases, and more have now reached their limit than ever before.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not taking an animal rights position on this issue when we say that people must stop eating fish and stop eating meat that fish are fed to. Our position is based solely on the ecological reality that commercial fishing is destroying our oceans.
We all know this. We are all aware of this diminishment. We feel it in our gut. The ecological reality is not only staring us in the face, it is kicking us in the teeth. The problem is that we are in absolute denial and we refuse to acknowledge that by stripping life from the seas, we will be undermining the foundation for our survival on land.
Paul Watson, SEA SHEPHERD
Kangaroos are native only to Australia. They are our icon, used to represent sports teams, our airline, businesses and more, but we also shoot millions of them every year.
Australia has slaughtered over 31.5 million kangaroos in 10 years, which makes it the largest killing of land-based wildlife in the world.
There are around 50 species of kangaroos, but when the population is calculated, the number is generally totalled together, which influences the indication of how many of each species there actually are.
The four larger species are killed by both ‘harvesters’ for the kangaroo industry and farmers as pests, and are the Red kangaroo, Eastern and Western Grey kangaroo and the Common Wallaroo.
Of 58 species of kangaroos that were in Australia at European settlement, eight are now extinct and a further 14 are threatened with extinction. The loss of these species is part of a wave of extinction that has seen at least 29 species from Australia’s unique mammal fauna disappear forever. Many of these species were thought to be able to sustain harvests - but didn’t.
Australia already has the world's worst record for wildlife extinctions, with 23 birds, 78 frogs, and 27 mammal species (including kangaroos) having vanished forever since Western settlement.
Victoria actually stopped commercial shooting in 1982 because 85 per cent of the state had less than one kangaroo per square kilometre. The commercial kangaroo industry is active in four of the mainland states: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
There has been a push in Victoria to reopen the harvest of kangaroos there, this push coincided with the minister of Agriculture being given the care of “Wildlife”, perhaps a conflict of interest?
The four species of kangaroos are killed for two reasons, firstly because farmers find them to be a pest even though numerous government studies have concluded that they do not compete for food or water with stock or cropping, unless in extreme drought conditions. Just a few of these include the six year study found only slight evidence of competition between sheep and kangaroos in times of extreme drought (Edwards et al. 1995; 1996). Another study also concluded that Red Kangaroos have little or no impact on either the body mass or reproductive output of sheep or the growth and survivorship of lambs. (McLeod 1996) One sheep consumes as much as 5 kangaroos, one cow as much as 12 kangaroos – cited in Olsen & Low 2006.
Considering over 53 % of Australia (81% of Queensland) is used as agricultural land, this does not leave too much space for Australia’s wildlife to live without being on the land of farmers. Add the pressure of urbanisation and roads, kangaroos have lost most land that they are considered welcome to be on.
Normally in NSW and still in other states, farmers legally are required to obtain a permit to kill kangaroos on their land. However there is no policing occurring and no previous legal action taken where farmers have killed kangaroos with out these permits. Australia’s farming land is vast and hard to manage considering this.
NSW introduced new laws in 2018 to permit farmers to kill kangaroos after just an email or a phone call. They do not need to “tag” the carcasses of kangaroos - which was the manner they were managed, despite there being many loop holes in even this protocol.
Kanagroos, “protected wildlife,” are also killed for the kangaroo meat industry, which supplies meat to Australia and exports overseas.
In 2001, 75% of the kangaroos slaughtered for meat, went to pet food. The industry has been marketing heavily to promote it for human consumption.
The campaign is that kangaroos are the environmentally friendly option for meat due to the reasons that kangaroos do not put extra pressure on the land or water, as cattle and sheep do. This is true. The campaign also is how they get to live a life of freedom, not caged like in factory farms. This is also true.
However if every person in Australia (26 million) had a kangaroo steak, once per week, we would run out of kangaroos in a year or two. Causing the extinction of a wild animal would not be classified as environmental.
To provide Australians only one small portion of kangaroo meat per week, 22 million kangaroos would have to "harvested" a year. The total population of kangaroos would need to be 151 million to support this offtake. This is more than five times the 30-year average population of 27 million, to provide one serving of meat per Australian a week.
Kangaroos cannot be farmed. They have the ability to stop a pregnancy when stressed. They also develop capture myopathy: a syndrome of complex primary and secondary pathological changes in many organs, particularly in skeletal and cardiac muscle that may: i. be precipitated by prolonged muscular exertion, e.g. pursuit by predators or during capture and restraint; ii. occur as a result of fear and anxiety without overt physical activity, e.g. during close confinement or placement in an unfamiliar environment; and iii. cause acute death or lead to chronic debility.
Shooters who kill the kangaroos are called harvesters.
They used to kill both female and make kangaroos for the meat and skin industry.
When harvesters shot the female kangaroos, they would either bash the joey over the head to kill them, or leave them to die a slow death of starvation and exposure. This happened to over 500 million baby kangaroos per year. When the international population found out about this, there was an outcry. Some countries would not import the meat due to this. To combat the issue, a couple of years ago the Kanagroo industry has made it a ‘male-only’ kill.
The issue with this is:
If the harvester shoots a female kangaroo, they leave them there to die and no one will know due to the impossibility of monitoring in such vast isolated locations.
Kangaroos live in mob structures. The males spend their lives preening and grooming themselves to attempt to become the alpha male. The alpha male gets to impregnate all the females for a few years until challenged by the next alpha male who wins. The alpha is the strongest, biggest and fittest male in the mob. Nature has evolved this way very deliberately to pass down the stonrgest genes to the future generations, to help the survival of the kangaroo in the harsh Australian climate and to hep protect them against epidemics (think of the Tassie devil, where one disease will cause a whole species to become extinct)
Now the harvest is killing only males, are targeting the large ones for the most price for the meat, they are killing off the alpha males. The ones who pass down the strong genes. Numerous observations from people in the field show that this is impacting the size already of the Kanagroo and will impact what the kangaroo looks like in the future. They will become smaller and weaker as we remove the strongest, healthiest genes from the gene pool. Removing the alpha males is also destroying the natural regulation of the mob strucute.
In notes taken by Bev Selway at a South Australian Kangaroo Management Meeting in November 2001, (imagine now!) questions were raised about the small sizes of kangaroos being killed. In response the participants noted that “there are not many big 'roos left, just this garbage stuff", another that "To see a big kangaroo is a rarity". Also noted were comments that "If you keep shooting the big stuff, you only have runts” and “ If you keep this up you will only be left with runts". More comments included " We are not taking a cull, we are harvesting the best" and "Some skins we get are the size of handkerchiefs"
For example the Red kangaroo in 1960 average age was 12 and 35kg now it is 2 years old and 18kg.
Kangaroos are shot in the wild, in often extremely remote locations and at night, when they are most active. Without independent oversight, issues of non-compliance, welfare and potential cruelty are not able to be addressed. While shooters are required by Commercial and Non-Commercial Codes of Practice to aim to shoot a kangaroo in the brain and therefore achieve an instantaneous death, studies show this is not the case, with some data collected even indicating the figure of body shots being as high as 40% which would mean the Kanagroo suffered before dying.
Research by the RSPCA in Australia and Animal Liberation NSW has suggested that around 120,000 kangaroos a year are inhumanely killed but the number could be much higher (according to Thinkk [University of Technology Sydney] up to a million), as there is no one there to monitor the many kangaroos shot – but not killed outright – that will escape into the bush to die a slow, painful death. Dr John Auty, veterinary scientist and former Chief Agronomist, says: "Shooters often have a thorough contempt for the law. They commit cruelty on a regular basis."
A former commercial kangaroo shooter decribes a shoot: "The mouth of a kangaroo can be blown off and the kangaroo can escape to die of shock and starvation. Forearms can be blown off, as can ears, eyes and noses. Stomachs can be hit expelling the contents with the kangaroo still alive. Backbones can be pulverized to an unrecognisable state etc. Hind legs can be shattered with the kangaroo desperately trying to get away on the other or without the use of either. To deny that this goes on is just an exercise in attempting to fool the public."14
To count the population of the Kanagroos in Australia, a huge country, many guesses come into play.
While on the news, kangaroos are labelled to be in “plague proportions”, many scientists have indicated that in areas of harvesting, entire local populations are completely gone. This is even though the photos in the press show big mobs gathering into particular areas during droughts, as they come to find food, making it appear there is an abundance of them (which there are in one area but we must remember it does not represent the rest of the country)
Yet, since 2001 there has been an overall drop of 12,577,598 kangaroos in the areas where they are hunted (according to the Australian Government's own figures).
Analysis of NSW government count data obtained under FOI by scientist Ray Mjadwesch showed up to 64% of NSW western survey transects are returning zero counts of kangaroos.
Also recorded by the Government is the entire kangaroo population halving in years when there are significant droughts.
In Western Australia alone, Red Kangaroo estimates showed the population to be 638 185 in 2016, the lowest since 1981. In 2001 the estimate was 2,742100, showing a serious significant decrease, especially when considering correction factors have increased.
The only places kangaroos are safe from persecution of the cull are in the 8% of the state that are national parks.
Female kangaroos often have a joey either at foot or in the pouch. While this gives the illusion they breed quickly, reports confirm that up to 70% of joeys do not survive the first year of life. It takes about 18 months for a joey to be fully weaned. Thus a kangaroo can raise only one joey to independence per year and of these only 30% will survive.
Studies have found that during drought up to 100 per cent juvenile mortality can occur, with up to 40 to 60 per cent adult mortality. Flooding rains also cause mass or epidemic mortality events in kangaroos as well as diseases. As an example, in 1998 some 300,000 counted kangaroos died suddenly over two weeks in a 30,000 square kilometre area in south-western Queensland and north-western New South Wales.
Some reports to the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change amplify concern about kangaroo populations.
For example, 'Kangaroo monitoring: Hunter and Central Tablelands commercial harvest zones design and analysis of helicopter survey,’ shows that in one case 26 actual, counted kangaroos were multiplied by 1,456 to become a final population of over 37,000 animals in the Armidale region. That occurred in 2007. In the central tablelands, 1,362 actual, counted eastern greys were extrapolated into a population of 535,600.
This occurs because of their methodology in counting popualtions. When you look at the actual numbers of population counts over the last 10 years, it shows correction factors have continued to increase. This gives the impression that the kangaroo population is increasing but if you keep the correction factors the same across all population counts, the figures show that kangaroo numbers are actually they are decreasing.
“The number of transects has often doubled from one survey session to the next. Transect widths have been narrowed without a corresponding lowering of detection factors. Transects overfly national parks and other non-shooting areas, with those numbers applied to surrounding empty landscapes. For example, roughly half the transects in the central tablelands shooting zone overfly national parks and other non-shooting kangaroo habitat. Those non-shooting areas are removed from the equation to further inflate extrapolated densities of empty landscapes. Transects that continually show no kangaroos over regional landscapes have been dumped. This has happened for parts of western New South Wales. Finally, correction or detection factors, a number by which actual, counted numbers are multiplied, are continually increased. This can result in the multiplying of actual counts by up to 300 to 500 per cent. So this flawed methodology is how we see biologically impossible jumps in the number of kangaroos-the so-called population explosions.
In the Bourke kangaroo management zone, the latest survey report asserts that from 2011 to 2012, a year bookended by drought in rural New South Wales, kangaroo populations apparently increased by 249 per cent. Yet this nonsense of a population growth rate of 249 per cent in one year has not been challenged. Growth rates of 50 per cent or more are regularly reported by the department's consultants, but that would require true male-female parity, every female successfully raising young to independence and no animals at all dying for 12 months.” Lee Rhiannon, GREENS
In 2009 Russia banned the importation of kangaroo meat after consistent bacterial E.Coli contamination and human safety fears. Russia was the biggest importer, taking 70% of kangaroo meat and the Australian Government invested at least $400,000 to attempt to get the market open again with no luck. More recent government testing also found violations of health and safety regulations.
Canada has also banned the importation of kangaroo meat.
From June 2018 kangaroo meat has been removed from all major UK supermarkets.
California banned kangaroo goods again in 2015, despite the department of agriculture paid $143,000 to the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia to pay US firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips to lobby senate members.
The Food Empowerment Project lodged an official complaint, claiming the Australian government did not properly register the lobbying.
The biggest importers currently are Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands followed by South Africa. Yet the industry is focusing their efforts to get into China. China still has not approved kangaroo meat imports.
The head of the Kangaroo Industry, John Kelly, had an under-cover investigation into his personal possum meat business, Lenah Meats and it was aired by the ABC. The footage exposed cruelty in the slaughterhouse of terrified, bloodied possums being chased by workers across the killing floor. John Kelly took them to court due to the filming being taken without his consent… which was argued that if there is nothing to hide it would not matter?
The South Australian Government put in 1.8 million dollars towards the upgrade of the processing facility of Macro Meats, one of the largest Kanagroo processing plants in Australia, owned by Ray Borda. He was the largest individual sponsor in the greyhound racing. He pulled out sponsoring after the Four Corners expose but continues to own and race greyhounds.
All meat for Macro Meat must be driven to processing plant in SA near Adelaide. It can take 3 days of driving to get there from northen queensland.
Kangaroo carcesses are now allowed to be in chillers for 14 days between shooting until they are processed. It used to be 7 days but in the investagtion leading up to 2009 many tags where found to be over 10 days old. Instead of addressing the issue of the hygiene of such long periods, the government lengthened the time that it was considered acceptable to 14 days.
Macro Meats exclusively supplies kangaroo meat to Australian supermarket chains.
TOURISM AND KANGAROOS
Between $2.7 and $5.5 billion of the $71.3 billion tourism industry results from wildlife tourism, with kangaroos the most popular attraction. The Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC) says 67.5 per cent of all international tourists want to see native animals, but most are disappointed not to see them in the wild, only in zoos.
Australia used to also hunt whales for an industry but now makes millions through whale watching. Many people point out we could do the same with our wild kangaroos rather than killing them in masses.
Industrialised farming uses chemical fertilisers made from fossil fuel derivatives that are used to add nutrients to the soil and may include the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds. While there may not be effects shown immediately from ingesting chemicals from herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other stimulants used in industrial vegetable and meat and dairy from factory farmed animals, the health risks come from when these are consumed, in small amounts over periods of time. Such as when we eat, three times a day, every day, for years - food that is grown with these chemicals.
A build-up of these toxic chemicals in the human body can lead to various diseases including cancers, as well as having neurological, mental and reproductive effects.
Industrialised agriculture tends to grow large mono-crops of single food varieties, which results in reducing biodiversity.
Organic farming nourishes the soil using organic fertilisers such as compost and controls invasive species through a mixture of companion planting, crop rotation, use of cover crops, natural pest control, hand weeding and animal grazing. In organic farming genetically modified seeds are not permitted and requires seeds to be organically grown. Organic farmers will often save seeds from previous crops and use rare and heirloom seed varieties, preserving the biodiversity of our food.
There are currently no laws in Australia to protect the use of the word ‘organic’ being used on product labels unless they are being exported. To be certain that you are purchasing truly organic, check it has been certified organic by one of the seven recognised certification bodies that are accredited and audited by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS). You can also buy ‘chemical-free’ fruit and vegetables from farmers markets, who may grow their food organically but do not want to certify - this requires getting to trust and know your farmers!
2018 Dirty dozen
These are the EWG’s 12 highest pesticide containing vegetables and fruits, found in 2018. They recommend buying these organic when possible. To learn more, check out EWG.
Strawberries, nectarines, spinach, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomoto, celery, potato, capsicum, peppers
In Australia, consumers may be misled by the fact that labelling legislation does not require producers to disclose information about farm production methods and there are numerous advertising terms often used, such as with eggs: caged, battery, barn-laid, free-range, open-range, range, grain-fed, free-to-roam, omega-3, bred free-range, organic and biodynamic. It makes it hard to navigate especially when packaging uses positive imagery and ambiguous terms like ‘farm fresh’ or ‘grown nature’s way’ to describe animal-derived food products. In this way, producers shield consumers from the realities of intensive farming practices. There are some labels that can only be used when certified certain standards have been met, but then there are others, that may give the impression of high standards, but are not…
Voiceless believes a nationally consistent approach to labelling legislation is the best approach for honest welfare labelling and consumer choice, including:
a mandatory labelling regime for all animal products clearly indicating the farm production method;
a uniform set of defined terms of farm production methods that are linked to uniform animal protection standards;
a regulatory monitoring and enforcement system (through consumer protection legislation) that ensures compliance with labelling laws;
an extensive public education campaign to assist consumers in understanding the various production standards and systems and the descriptions on the labels;
a ‘traffic light’ labelling system that differentiates between low, medium and high levels of animal welfare, also linked to the animal protection standards; and
the placement of photos or images of animals on the products that reflect the animal production system used.
Effective, enforceable and nationally consistent truth in labelling legislation is the only way that consumers can make truly informed choices.
WHAT WE DO KNOW:
Organic Meat and Dairy
Cows, hens and pigs on certified organic farms, including dairy farms, can only be fed certified organic feed. They are not permitted to be fed routine antibiotics or other medication.
Bobby calves on organic dairy farms are still taken from the mother and killed, unless a specific farm chooses not to.
Organic standards prohibit cows and sheep being confined to a feedlot – they must have continuous access to pasture.
Use of synthetic chemicals and fertilisers on pasture is prohibited.
Currently organic dairy has 10% of the market share in Australia. Organic dairy is the largest organic category in organic food world wide, with 19% of the global market in 2016.
Australian Certified Organic is one of six government-approved organic certifying bodies who mandates that chickens always have access to the outdoors during daylight hours, no matter what their age. ACO caps outdoor stocking rates at 2500 to 4800 birds per hectare (the range depends on whether paddock rotation is used). In the shed, chickens can be stocked at 12 birds per square metre (compared to 20 birds per square meter in factory farms), and artificial lighting is capped at 16 hours per day, with at least eight hours of continuous dark per night.
Humane Choice offer higher welfare conditions than RSPCA Approved and FREPA, and are often as good as the ACO standard
FREPA accredited free range chickens are only let outdoors when they're 'fully feathered'. There's no cap on the amount of chickens per metre in the outdoors, and in the shed they are stocked at up to 15 birds per square metre. There is also no specified limit on the amount of artificial light used.
RSPCA Approved is not free range. This standard allows meat chickens to be raised intensively in sheds with stocking densities of up to 17 birds per square metre, and up to 20 hours per day of artificial lighting, bright enough to encourage foraging and activity. These conditions don't compare well with the other standards we looked at.
The RSPCA standard also requires perches and hay bales to encourage chickens to be active and build muscle strength. While this is an improvement on the Model Code of Practice conditions, it stipulates only 2.7 metres of perching per 1000 birds – that's a big squeeze.
Free range pork labels
If you want your pork to have been born and raised outdoors (for their whole life) avoid 'bred free range' and 'outdoor bred' labels and instead look for products with one of these labels:
Australian Certified organic
Australian Pork Certified Free Range
PROOF – Pasture Raised On Open Fields
Pigs raised under the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) standard are the most likely to have been raised free range with high welfare conditions. Unfortunately, certified organic pork is not listed as available from Coles or Woolworths on their online shopping sites, and isn't available at Aldi.
RSPCA Standards don't require pigs to have access to an outdoor or range area, but where they do have access, there are additional 'outdoor' standards. Yet the logo you'll see on packages in store is the same for either standard so it's not possible to work out if the animal was raised free range from this label.
The new Free-range Labelling for Eggs in Australia allows misleading free-range egg labels; egg cartons will have to display stocking densities, but there’s no actual requirement for the chickens to go outside. Some free range standards allow for the chickens to be confined in sheds until they're fully feathered, packed in at stocking densities of up to 15 birds per square metre under almost unrestricted artificial lighting. The definition of free-range is now able to include hens raised in stressful large stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare. For a higher-welfare stocking density, 1,500 hens per hectare is a more acceptable limit, as previously capped by the poultry code.
The RSPCA does not require that farms provide hens with access to an outdoor range area to receive the RSPCA paw of approval.
The only way to be 100% certain that your eggs have come from hens that haven’t been fed a GM diet is by purchasing certified organic eggs
According to a 2014 survey, 68% of free range egg consumers in Australia decide to purchase these products over cage eggs due to animal welfare reasons.
While cage eggs make up the highest market share in terms of volume of grocery eggs sold to consumers, free range eggs represent the highest value for the egg industry. As at 30 June 2016:
• Cage eggs accounted for 49.5% of grocery eggs sold, but were only valued at 37.3% of the market share.
• Free range eggs made up 40.7% of grocery eggs sold, but were valued at 50.6% of the market.
Consumer group CHOICE estimated that of the 696 million grocery eggs sold as free range in 2014, 213 million (over 30%) did not meet consumer expectations of what the label requires.
According to survey data, consumers expect that free range eggs come from hens who:
• Have substantial space to move around freely, both indoors and outdoors
• Have lived in systems with low outdoor stocking densities, consistent with the Poultry Code (1,500 birds per hectare).
• Have lived in systems with low indoor stocking densities, lower than that of barn systems.
• Can and actually do go outside on most ordinary days.
• Are not routinely debeaked or force moulted.
Unfortunately, a significant proportion of eggs labelled ‘free range’ do not meet these expectations. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’), has brought a number of cases against producers who have either described eggs as free range without meeting free range expectations, or where producers have incorrectly labelled cage eggs as free range.
The new free-range standards do not meet any of the above consumer expectations. Free-range can not be trusted as a label for higher welfare for the hens.
barn laid eggs
They come from hens kept in a cage-free system. Instead, hens are kept within a shed - which is better than a cage, but they do not have access to an outdoor range and still must endure all the other issues that come in the factory farming method. These include, mutilations with no pain relief, over-crowding, artificial lighting, no fresh air, unnatural diets that include antibiotics and medications.
Sustainable Table have put this together to help navigate different labels and what they mean.
Grass-fed beef may still come from cows that have spent some time in a feedlot or eating a grain-based diet, but it must be for less than 60-100 days even though consumer and producer sentiment around this indicates that it is misleading and damaging to grass fed producers.
Organic beef can be sourced from the grass fed beef production chain, however the vast majority of grass fed producers are not certified organic. This is because they may still use chemicals for fertilizer, weed and insect control, and for animal health management.
Grain-fed means cows have been raised for a certain amount of time on a feed-lot. Grains are not a natural food for a cow to eat.
In 2006 a study was done, were researchers compared the fatty acid compositions of three kinds of feeding of cows. Each group contained 18 Australian cattle. The first group was fed grains 80 days before slaughter, the second group was fed “by-product feedstuff” for 200 days, and the third group was grass-finished and grass-fed.
Group #1: Short Term Grain Feeding (80 days)
Group #2: Long Term Feedlot Rations (150-200 days)
Group#3: Grass Feeding (Life time)
The results showed the grass-fed cows had more omega-3’s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Just 80 days of grain feeding was enough to destroy the omega-3 content of the beef. CLA content plummeted in the same amount of time. It is healthier for the cows, and this is reflected in the flesh, if you so choose to eat it.
Pasture raised means the animal has lived its life outside on pasture and not in sheds. This doesn’t mean having ‘access’ to pasture but actually eating, playing, grazing and often sleeping and birthing outside with access to adequate shelter to be used as required.
‘Pasture’ is what it means - extensive areas of grass and vegetation fit for grazing.
To be eligible to use the “certified pasture fed” label in Australia, cattle must have had access to graze in pasture for their entire lives and not be confined to feedlots for the purposes of intensive feeding. Organic beef is pasture raised, as is organic pork and chicken, but not always visa-versa.
Links to the welfare standards in food labelling are below:
When choosing to eat meat, for high animal welfare standards in Australia such as explained above, there are producers and suppliers that provide as described above, and you can find directories of these below:
Meat, dairy and egg products, and some entertainment industries such as horse or greyhound racing, involve the slaughtering (killing) of animals, whether directly for human consumption, or as “waste products” of the industry. Most of this killing is carried out at slaughterhouses, also known as abattoirs, which operate primarily for human consumption. Animals deemed unfit or unsuitable for human consumption are killed at similar, but generally much smaller, facilities called knackeries. By-products from slaughterhouses or knackeries that are not for human consumption are processed at facilities called rendering plants; sometimes the rendering plants are located within the same facility.
Slaughterhouses can range from being huge industrial facilities with hundreds of workers, to small sheds with only a handful of employees, or even backyard operations run entirely by the owner of the property. There are roughly 250-300 commercial slaughterhouses in Australia, though many of these are no longer operating. The slaughterhouse workforce in Australia consists of around 25,000 employees. It is a predominantly young workforce with around half of all workers younger than 35.
In 2016, there were 278 licensed slaughterhouses in Britain.
Travel distances are key to stress levels of the animals before slaughter, with the longer an animal travels in a truck, the more stressed it is when it arrives at an abattoir. Food and water can be stopped for time periods before slaughter, when travelling. For example:
Most animals slaughtered for food in Australia have their throats cut open with a knife (referred to as “sticking”) so that they can be bled out. Prior to this, they are typically meant to be unconscious (though as of 2011, 15+ abattoirs in Australia have permission from state governments to slit the throats of fully conscious animals, as part of the religious practices of “halal” and “kosher” slaughter). There are three main methods of ‘stunning’ intended to make animals unconscious before slaughter: captive bolt, electric, and gas chambers.
Captive bolt stunning
Also called “percussion stunning”, this method produces a physical shock to the brain. The captive bolt, if used correctly, causes irreversible damage to the animal’s brain, and can be used on cattle, pigs, sheep and goats as well as horses and camels, although electrical stunning is more common for pigs and sheep. The captive bolt method of stunning is used throughout the world, and due to the minimal running costs is the preferred method in many developing countries.
There are two main varieties of captive bolt gun: penetrating and non-penetrating.
A penetrating captive bolt gun fires a blank cartridge, propelling a short bolt (metal rod) from the barrel through the skull bone and producing concussion by damaging the brain or increasing intracranial pressure, causing bruising of the brain. Some types of penetrating captive bolt guns have a handle and a trigger, while others have a hand-held barrel which, when tapped against the skull of the animal, sets off the cartridge explosion.
A non-penetrating captive bolt gun features a blunt bolt with a mushroom-shaped tip, which strikes the forehead of the animal with great force and immediately retracts, causing concussion and rendering the animal unconscious.
Electric stunning renders the animal unconscious by passing an electric current through the animal's brain. It is the usual method of stunning for pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry.
For pigs, sheep and goats, a low voltage alternating electric current is applied by means of two electrodes, which are placed on either side of the brain (or underneath the jaw and on the back of the neck) using tongs.
For poultry, an electrified water bath is used. Birds are shackled upside-down by their feet and dragged through a trough of water that is charged with a low voltage current. Birds that lift their heads (or are smaller than normal) manage to avoid the bath and go on to be painfully killed without stunning.
Because electric stunning does not usually cause damage to the brain, animals will regain consciousness if not quickly killed and bled out.
Also called “controlled atmosphere stunning” or “controlled atmosphere killing”, this method involves placing animals into a container or chamber which lacks oxygen and contains an asphyxiant gas (one or more of carbon dioxide (CO2), argon or nitrogen), causing the animals to lose consciousness and, if left in the chamber long enough, to die.
The vast majority of pigs killed for food in Australia are stunned in carbon dioxide (CO2) gas chambers. While there are different models of chamber used, the more common variety is roughly 7-10m deep; the gas, being heavier than oxygen, sits below the level of the entrance. Inside this type of chamber, there are 5 or so steel cages known as gondolas. Pigs are forced by use of an electric prodder into the gondola (3 at a time for 5-6 month old “growers”, or 1 sow), which is then lowered into the gas. Hidden camera footage inside these chambers (Corowa slaughterhouse NSW, Big River Pork slaughterhouse SA) shows that the pigs suffer immensely, screaming and thrashing for air and trying desperately to escape as the gas suffocates them. The gondola eventually comes up the other side of the chamber and tips the unconscious pigs out onto a bench where they are shackled before having their throats cut open.
It is becoming increasingly common for poultry slaughterhouses to use gas chambers for stunning and killing, rather than the traditional method of electric stunning.
Australian law dictates that all animals must be stunned so that they are insensible to pain prior to slaughter. However, there are exemptions given to a number of abattoirs (15+ as of 2011) to meet a small demand in Australia for religious slaughter (all kosher and some halal products).
While all commercial chicken abattoirs in Australia attempt to stun chickens prior to slaughter (including halal chicken), some halal killing of sheep, cattle and goats does not involve pre-slaughter stunning.
Halal slaughter of sheep involves the cutting of both the carotid arteries and jugular veins. If they are not completely severed, the animal is then supposed to be stunned.
Cattle are kept in an upright position with the head and body restrained. After their throats are cut, they are stunned with a captive bolt pistol. Compared to sheep, cattle have an extra blood supply to the brain through the back of the neck, so cutting their throat does not lead to unconsciousness as quickly.
Kosher slaughter does not involve stunning. Kosher meat must be slaughtered in a particular way so as to be “fit and proper” for people of the Jewish faith to consume, and must not contain any blood. The animals must be killed by a rabbi specially trained in religious slaughter. A sharp knife is used to cut the oesophagus, the trachea, carotid arteries and jugular veins in one action. Excessive pressure on the blade is forbidden. The animal is raised so blood flows out and this is then covered with dirt. Failure to do any of these acts correctly means the animal is considered unfit to eat.
Investigations showing cruelty
Export abattoirs require a Department of Agriculture vet to be on site during the slaughter process, but domestic meat abattoirs are only required to employ an internal animal welfare officer. Yet even with an external vet, there were 55 reports of animal welfare breaches at Australia export abattoirs between 2009 and 2011, including many relating to ill, injured, moribund or "DOA" animals at export facilities. The breaches ranged from animals with pink eye and gangrene infections to ingrown horns, broken limbs and cattle in the very late stages of pregnancy, some full term and calving on arrival. Emergency slaughter was often required, yet in many cases it was not clear what action, if any, state authorities took after receiving incident reports from Department of Agriculture vets.
The NSW Food Authority recently uncovered animal welfare breaches at all 10 of the state's domestic slaughterhouse.
Despite this, there's still no way of knowing which meat-processing facility your supermarket steak has come from.
Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White says the lack of independent oversight in domestic abattoirs leaves farm animals "incredibly vulnerable". Animals Australia, together with the RSPCA, has called for the introduction of CCTV in all domestic abattoirs to increase transparency in an effort to protect both animal welfare and consumer interests.
As the repetitive undercover investigations reveal cruelty going unchecked, it seems that Government regulation and audits are failing.
Just some common examples seen in the under-cover exposes are:
Animals not being stunned correctly and still being conscious when having body parts removed
Workers being violent with the animals - kicking, punching or over prodding them with electrical stunners
Workers swearing at the animals or laughing at them while physically hurting them
Below are again, just some recorded investigations of slaughterhouses.
November 23rd 2016:
Over 1,000 videos were sent to authorities cataloging abuses to cows, week-old calves, goats and sheep. But one pig suffered worst of all. She was still conscious after being struck four times with a captive bolt gun. She thrashed and moaned, desperate for help or mercy, as workers stood over her swearing, and even laughing at her pain. Then they shot her. Twice. Her ordeal at the hands of these slaughterhouse workers lasted longer than six agonising minutes.
May 8th 2014: In a world-first, video has been released from inside the gas chambers of a NSW slaughterhouse owned by Rivalea — the 'biggest' and the 'best' in the business. Footage shows pigs screaming and thrashing as they gasp for air inside the abattoir's gas chambers. One lame pig, unable to enter the gas chamber, is dragged, kicked, and shocked repeatedly with an electric prod.
March 21st 2013: Turkeys are being sadistically abused at an Ingham's slaughterhouse in NSW. An investigation by Animal Liberation, aired on ABC's Lateline, has revealed workers repeatedly kicking, punching, and kneeing birds, as well as slamming them into walls and stomping on them — apparently for fun. One worker even tried to rip the heads off live birds.
Jan 18th 2013: Cruelty charges have been laid against the Sydney slaughterhouse and one of its ex-employees, following an RSPCA investigation sparked by the footage taken by Animal Liberation NSW. Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors had been inspected four times in the year before the footage was taken. What happened when the inspectors left?
May 18th 2012: In response to shocking footage filmed by Animal Liberation NSW at a Sydney slaughterhouse, the NSW Food Authority has conducted a review of all domestic slaughterhousesin NSW that kill sheep, cattle, goats and pigs. What they found was even more shocking: Animal welfare breaches were uncovered at every domestic slaughterhouse in NSW, including "incompetency of slaughtering staff" and ineffective stunning — meaning some animals may have been fully conscious at slaughter. Sadly the NSW government's announced package to address these problems does not include installation of CCTV, but rather relies largely on training and more self-regulation.
Nov 24th 2011: Victorian authorities closed down a slaughterhouse in Gippsland after Animals Australia provided footage of animal welfare breaches inside the facility. In just 90 minutes enough evidence of cruelty was captured of the final moments of a group of young pigs to have this slaughterhouse's license withdrawn.
“For nearly six months, I worked undercover inside Quality Pork Processors (QPP) QPP kills about 1,300 pigs every hour operating under the high-speed pilot program. That’s more than 21 pigs per minute, making QPP one of the fastest pig-killing facilities in the nation.
QPP has widely been considered a model for the USDA’s nationwide expansion of the pilot program through NSIS, but when no one thought the public or USDA was watching, behind the slaughterhouse’s closed doors, I documented pig carcasses covered in feces and abscesses being processed for human consumption, and workers – under intense pressure to keep up with high line speeds – beating, dragging, and electrically prodding pigs to make them move faster.”
A veteran USDA meat inspector from Texas describes what he has seen: "Cattle dragged and choked... knocking 'em four, five, ten times. Every now and then when they're stunned they come back to life, and they're up there agonizing. They're supposed to be re-stunned but sometimes they aren't and they'll go through the skinning process alive. I've worked in four large [slaughterhouses] and a bunch of small ones. They're all the same. If people were to see this, they'd probably feel really bad about it. But in a packing house everybody gets so used to it that it doesn't mean anything."
This is not to say that all workers, or all slaughterhouses have these obscenities occurring however, the findings are consistent enough to confirm there are animal cruelty cases systemically through the slaughterhouse industry and, at the least, it begs the need for CCTV.
There are around 75 abattoirs that slaughter pigs in Australia.
Eighty five per cent of pigs are slaughtered at seven export abattoirs across Australia.
““We do 4,000-4,500 pigs a week, whereas the super-abattoirs can do 6,000 a day.”
Australia’s largest poultry processing establishment kills and processes 33 million birds per year, or 630,000 birds a week.
Fast slaughter times and internal policing increases the risk of animal cruelty but also, importantly, food safety.
In Australia, all certified organic meat has been slaughtered in a certified slaughterhouse facility as per the Australian Certified Organic Standard requirements. ACO has 21 slaughterhouses accredited as organic. One of their priorities is to make sure that the organically raised animals they slaughter and their dead bodies are not contaminated with biological or chemical agents from animals who were not raised organically. While killing is done in the same manner, there are some small tweaks outlined for organic slaughtering such as:
6.2.3. Social groups shall be maintained and not mixed at the holding pens to point of slaughter.
6.2.6. Where stock are to be held longer than 24 hours from time of beginning of transport to kill, certified organic feed and potable quality drinking water shall be made available to all stock. In such instances, clean and dry areas shall be made available for stock to lie down. At no time shall certified stock have access to uncertified feeds or pasture.
6.2.9. Processing runs of certified stock shall take place first run of the morning. Where this is not possible, full clean-down procedures shall take place from unloading ramps through the entire abattoir/processing operation to ensure no cross-contamination. This shall include steam pressure or equivalent wash down of internal facility contact surfaces where sanitisers, bleaches and other cleaning agents have been used.
6.2.10. Animals shall be separated from sight of beasts being slaughtered.
6.2.11. For bovines, animals shall be rendered unconscious prior to shackling and hoisting.
Free-range is slaughtered at same slaughterhouse as industrial raised meat.
animals in experimentation
Animals are still used in experiments. Millions of them every year.
Some experiments are medical, some agricultural (even for pet food) some in education, some for beauty products, some for silly things like stationary.
From all the research I have read over the last decade, animal tests are unneeded. (Even if those doing them, think they are.)
Most are outdated. (We have incredible technologies now, where no animals are needed)
Many are not useful. (Most tests on animals cannot be taken as working the same on humans, with 95% of drugs tested ‘successfully’ on animals fail when they are translated to humans.)
Globally, many breeds of animals are used in testing including dogs, cats, monkeys, mice, rats, rabbits, sheep, pigs, primates. These animals are often referred to as ‘products’, not animals.
One animal dies in a laboratory in the USA every second, in Japan every two seconds and in the UK every twelve seconds.
Animals use in research & teaching, Australia 2016
approximate total number of animals used in Australia in 2016 to over 9 million.
OF THESE there were 6000 dogs and more than 1500 cats, some exotic animals and hundreds of primates
INSTEAD OF ANIMALS
In the case of cosmetics, the manufacturer could choose ingredients that have been used for a long time, and so are likely to be safe.
If the chemical is a new one, the first test could be the QSAR computer analysis to predict its likely irritancy. In the next stage, a number of in vitro (test tube) tests could be used.
If the product is shown to be safe by this set of tests, it can then be trialed by human volunteers.
THE PROBLEM WITH USING ANIMALS
The main problem with animal research which claims to relate to the causes of human disease or development of human disease therapies, is that animals are not humans. Results with ‘animal models’ of human diseases can therefore be very misleading. Similarly, results from animals predicting toxic side effects of drugs can be wrong.
The human genome has now been cloned, which means that researchers can work with human proteins expressed in immortal cell lines, which can be grown in large quantities in the laboratory. This means that researchers no longer have the excuse that animal experiments are the only available option to research human disease and cellular function. By working on human proteins, researchers can acquire knowledge which is directly relevant to human function. Equally importantly, where the disease concerned has a genetic basis, researchers can work on the ‘faulty’ protein which is produced as a result of the ‘fault’ in the gene concerned and which causes the disease
Animals kept for experimentation spend their lives in captivity, often in steel barren cages, with barely enough room to sit, stand, lie down, or turn around, where they suffer from extreme frustration, loneliness and fear, fear because of the terrifying and painful procedures that will be performed on them.
The complete lack of environmental enrichment and the stress of their living situation cause some animals to develop neurotic types of behavior such as incessantly spinning in circles, rocking back and forth, pulling out their own fur, and even biting themselves. After enduring a life of pain, loneliness, and terror, almost all of them will be killed.
Even with no testing, just keeping animals in these environments is cruel and causes them suffering.
Then there are the tests they are forced to endure. Some may be lucky and not have a ny pain to suffer through. Then it goes on a scale to horrendous.
Examples of animal tests include forcing mice and rats to inhale toxic fumes, force-feeding dogs pesticides, and dripping corrosive chemicals into rabbits’ sensitive eyes. Then there is tubes forced up primates’ nostrils or down the animals’ throats so that experimental drugs can be pumped into their stomachs, they are given infectious diseases and then used as test subjects for experimental vaccines, and military testing where primates were exposed to anthrax and infected with botulism and bubonic plague, or monkeys have holes drilled into their skulls, metal restraint devices screwed into their heads, and electrodes inserted into their brains.
Even if a product harms animals, it can still be marketed to consumers.
Conversely, just because a product was shown to be safe in animals does not guarantee that it will be safe to use in humans.
There are the experiments that allows animals to be burned, shocked, poisoned, isolated, starved, drowned, addicted to drugs, and brain-damaged. No experiment, no matter how painful or trivial, is prohibited – and pain-killers are not required. Even when alternatives to the use of animals are available, the law does not require that they be used—and often they aren’t.
SOME OF THE ANIMALS
I dont believe that a mouse is less important than a dog. Or a baboon more than a rabbit. I dont believe any animal should be tortured. I will mention only a very few animals here, but I encourage you to learn more. It may break your heart, but that may mean you may be moved to change who you support with your dollar. And maybe even help these animals…
Dogs, especially the bread, Beagles are used in testing too. Beagles are preferred chiefly because they are easy to handle and because they have short hair which is easy to maintain.
I shared my life with Toco, a beagle for over ten years. He was cheeky, loving, constantly running away to follow scents…. and the idea that there are thousands of beagles like him, being tested on, is insanity.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Testing of Chemicals (1993), which as the standard guidelines for the conduct of toxicity tests recognised by most regulatory authorities, specify that in certain common types of toxicity tests two species of animals should be used – one a rodent (eg rats or mice) the other a non-rodent. The preferred non-rodent is a dog and the preferred dog is the beagle.
More than 60,000 dogs are tormented in U.S. laboratories every year.
6000 dogs in Australia are experimented on yearly.
Every year in the U.S., more than 110,000 primates are imprisoned in laboratories, where most of them are abused and killed in invasive, painful, and terrifying experiments. While it is well known that nonhuman primates are sensitive, intelligent beings
It would shock caring Australians that every year hundreds of non-human primates are being tested on in Universities and institutions around the country. Three primate breeding facilities supply these Australian researchers with animals for experimentation — 'supplemented' by the importation of animals from overseas countries where poaching and habitat destruction is a significant cause of plummeting wildlife populations, with some breeds of macaque monkey being critically endangered almost to the point of extinction.
However, for all our apparent similarities, the results of animal experiments on non-human primates cannot be directly applied to humans — meaning that, ultimately, hundreds of primates are being killed every year in tests that have viable animal-free alternatives.
AUSTRALIA and OVERSEAS
Animal testing was banned in the UK in 1998, in the European Union back in 2009 and extended the ban to imports in 2013, meaning that not only was it banned to test on animals, but also stopped selling products that were tested on animals.
India, New Zealand, Norway, Israel, Taiwan and Switzerland imposed a similar ban on testing cosmetics on animals.
In 2018, California made it illegal to sell any cosmetics that test on animals.
It was only during the 2016 Election campaign that the Australian Government committed to introduce a cosmetic animal testing ban and on February 14, 2019 that bill package passed an important milestone by passing the Senate.
What does that mean exactly?
It means Australia has joined the EU and the UK in effectively banning cosmetic animal testing in Australia.
The ban comes into affect in July 1, 2020 and it will not affect any cosmetics products currently on the shelves as it will apply to animal test data obtained from tests conducts on or after 1 July 2020.
There is no animal testing for cosmetic ingredients currently being undertaken in Australia. The ban has been designed so there will be no incentive to conduct tests to meet the information requirements for introduction of chemicals used solely in cosmetics in Australia.
YET there are still products sold in Australia that are tested on animals, the tests are just done overseas.
THIS IS THE NEXT STEP…
For brands who strive to be cruelty-free, there can be a deal-breaker; China.
China is the only country that requires, by law, cosmetics to be tested on animals.
China is also the largest cosmetics market, making up almost 20% of the global market with over $3 billion in revenue. This means that in order to be truly cruelty-free, brands have to forego a huge percentage of the beauty market.
Even if they don’t test on animals themselves, in order to sell to the Chinese market, cosmetics brands must pay for their products to undergo third-party tests on animals.
THIS MEANS ANY PRODUCT BEING SOLD IN CHINA IS TESTED ON ANIMALS AND IS NOT CONSIDERED CRUELTY-FREE.
What to look for when shopping for cruelty-free cosmetics
Third party certification
There are over a thousand companies certified cruelty-free and that number just keeps growing. There are several independent third parties that certify products as having not been tested on animals, including Choose Cruelty Free, the Leaping Bunny and PETA . These organisations:
compile lists of companies that sign statutory declarations promising they do not test nor allow others to test on their behalf any products or ingredients on animals
do not certify companies that sell their products in markets like China, where animal testing is required.
Published studies, reviews and reports on animal experimentation compiled by Australian veterinarian Dr Andrew Knight
For the alternatives to animals in teaching, and a good place for conscientious objectors to seek assistance, visit Learning Without Killing.
For details of which products are not tested on animals visit Choose Cruelty Free.
animals in entertainment
Elephants, tigers, and other animals that circuses use to entertain audiences do not stand on their heads, jump through hoops, or balance on pedestals because they want to.
They perform these and other difficult tricks because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t.
To “train” these wild animals to perform for our entertainment (not theirs), circus trainers abuse them with whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks (heavy batons with a sharp steel hook on one end), and other painful tools of the circus trade.
Video footage of animal training sessionsshows that elephants are beaten with bullhooks and shocked with electric prods.
Circuses easily get away with such routine cruelty because the government doesn’t monitor training sessions and handlers are cautious when they’re in public.
Circuses travel nearly year-round and the animals are confined to trailers or trucks. Elephants are chained, and big cats are imprisoned in cramped, filthy cages, in which they eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and urinate—all in the same place.
They remain caged and are chained in arena basements and parking lots even when the circus has “arrived”.
2009 scientific review 'Are wild animals suited to a travelling circus life?' by the University of Bristol in the UK confirms that it is impossible to satisfy the behavioural and welfare needs of exotic animals in travelling circuses. The scientists conclude that "the species of non-domesticated animals commonly kept in circuses appear the least suited to a circus life."
Australian Federal government lags terribly and disappointingly behind over 43 countries that have implemented bans. So instead local councils take the matter seriously and 40 councils - and the ACT - in Australia have banned exotic animal circuses from performing on council land.
Stardust Circus still uses wild animals — including African lions and rhesus macaque monkeys.
It's the largest animal circus in Australia and one of only two still operating in the country. Lennos Bros is the other.
If you agree that lions, elephants and other wild animals should not be trained with force, or kept in captivity and made to perform, you can either protest, send emails to your local government or simply avoid supporting circuses with these wild animals and go and see the many others with incredible consenting HUMAN performers. If you are not sure, simply google how they train the animals in the thousands of undercover investigations that are every where on the internet, making sure there is no denial over how cruel it is. Once you see, it becomes hard to be able to justify.
By July 2017, nine European Union member states had outlawed the use of wild animals in circuses, and both Ireland and Scotland implemented bans last year. Environment secretary Michael Gove has introduced a long-awaited bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circusesacross England
Here’s the list of countries that have introduced or implemented bans on circuses that use wild animals:
• Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Costa Rica
• El Salvador
• The Netherlands
Also Madrid and 9 other Spanish regions.
Many cities and counties in California—including Encinitas, Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, Marin County, Oakland, Pasadena, and West Hollywood—have already passed bans or restrictions on the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling acts. But State Senate Bill 313 would make the ban statewide, as New Jersey and Hawaii have already done.
There is a big difference between a rescue centre, sanctuary and a park for human entertainment.
They are often marketed the same.
But they are not.
The best way to see what is what is whether the park/sanctuary is set up for the animals or the people…
Birds in tiny cages = not for the birds
Crocodiles piled together in dense living = not for the crocodiles
Rides/bathing/painting/ constant patting/ sitting on laps = not for animals…
It can be very confusing. Confronting. Disappointing when you go thinking you are supporting the animals and go to find you paid money to fund a place that seems to be abusing them.
What to do? If you go to these places, write reviews on Tripadvisor and take photos.
Google is a wonderful tool. Really. Spend 10 minutes before you go to a place.
This issue is across all animals…. some particular ones include -
Elephants are highly endangered. Across Asia, thousands have been rescued from industries and placed in ‘sanctuaries’ BUT there is a real sanctuary and again, there is entertainment.
Real sanctuaries will limit contact with the elephants, with visitors observing them from a distance the majority of the time.
Riding or allowing bathing sessions with elephants can mean the elephants are constantly around people, which is intense for them.
“In order to ensure they are safe around humans, the baby elephants must be broken in – a brutal and distressing process known as ‘crushing the spirit’,”
“They are kept in a tiny pen to prevent movement, with their legs tied tightly. They can be severely beaten with sharp objects, screamed at and starved of food and water, which can last for several days or weeks. The psychological impact then means that the fear of being beaten will ensure that the elephant ‘behaves’ around tourists.”
Unfortunately, riding elephants is still one of the most popular tourist activities in Asia.
A two-year study by World Animal Protection (WAP) in 2017, investigating 3,000 elephants at tourist venues across Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Laos and Cambodia, found that 77% of them were living in inadequate conditions that were “severely cruel” and “deeply concerning”.
This included being chained up when not performing, with no interaction with other elephants, a poor diet, and stress-inducing noise levels. It also found that there had been a 30% rise in the number of elephants at tourism venues in Thailand since 2010.
Some common observations:
Chaining of elephants so they have very limited movement - particularly of the bulls (males)
Limited diet - for example, just one or two plants such as pineapple leaves
Isolation from others - limited opportunity for touching or other normal social
Little or no veterinary care
Unsuitable, unyielding ground such as concrete, which is harmful to their feet
Bright sunlight where it may be up to 40 degrees with limited shade
Rides - saddles may be left on all day and insufficient cushioning may cause discomfort
Use of hooks, sticks and other tools to control the elephant - causing pain if used inappropriately
Elephant painting may seem peaceful, but in reality the training of an elephant to be compliant to the mahout’s movements of their ear and directing the movement of their trunk, would only be achieved through threat of pain.
The more popular riding elephants is, the more they are used for entertainment rather than being released into the wild or placed in real sanctuaries…. there are wonderful places you can visit to see elephants and support them still, that do not involve riding or bathing them… but do we really need to to enjoy them, especially when we know they have suffered to do so for us?
When looking into dog sledding, they really do seem to enjoy it. But like any industry that involves animals, we look at the full picture to then make our decision whether we want to support it or not.
Dog sledding includes
the place and manner of which they are homed and cared for, and
what happens to them after they are no longer needed (or able) to pull the sleds
Just like pet stores, or even egg farms, the issue often is not with the owners of the end business. Many pet stores, dog-sledding companies and egg farms alike, have wonderful standards and love and nurture their animals but what of the origin of the animals. Where did these animals come from?
In the case of dog-sled dogs, they come from breeders - or more namely put in this case, puppy-farms. Sled Dog the award winning documentary, and other undercover investigations, uncover that many of these breeding compounds have really terrible conditions for the dogs - where dogs are kept tied to metal posts, in plastic barrels or wood “houses” and forced to breed over and over.
"AT THE BREEDING COMPOUND AT ONTARIO’S CHOCPAW EXPEDITIONS, THE LARGEST KENNEL IN NORTH AMERICA, DOGS CHAINED TO PLASTIC BARRELS STRETCH AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE. THE DOGS LIVE IN A SIX FOOT CIRCUMFERENCE OF WET MUD AND PUDDLES. SOME ARE DRIVEN MAD BY THE CONFINEMENT, SPINNING ON THEIR CHAINS UNTIL THEY ARE STOPPED SHORT, OVER AND OVER AGAIN."
Then in the actual dog-sledding operations, approximately 150 - 300 dogs are kept at a time. Homing this many dogs means they are often kept tethered on chains, or at best, in pens. Some of them have the space to allow them to run free in large areas during the days when they are not pulling sleds, but this is not regulated and with such large packs, it is easier to manage if they are kept tied up or in their pens - unable to really socialise, which dogs innately need to do.
And what about off-season when there is no snow and no business?? What happens to the hundreds of dogs then? I am not sure, but the account from one of the dog "mushers" made me wary;
“The dogs that do grow up are chained for their entire time as adults. Only seasonally when in race training, when actually racing or during tour operations do they get exercised, and then perhaps once a day or once a week. As soon as they finish work in the sled team they are returned straight back onto the chain, there is no free time to move about freely, run or socialise with other dogs ever.”
In 2010, Whistler was in the worlds spotlight, rocked by the mass slaughter of 100 dog-sled dogs, that were shot, execution style, because of being "surplus" and unwanted for the tourist business. Even though this large scale cull was not the norm in the industry, it showed that there is no regulation around how the dogs are treated and what can happen when animals, dogs specifically in this case, are viewed as commodities - replaceable equipment - rather than beings.
What is even more concerning to me, is that this high-profile slaughter did not change tether or culling rules; instead, B.C. issued guidelines on humane ways to shoot unwanted dogs.
sea worlds/ swimming with captive dolphins
Both these award winning films will teach you more than anything I write will. And if you go to or are thinking about going to any aquariums or places where they keep dolphins or whales, then you really do owe it to them to watch these first.
This is a very brief overview
Dolphins in captivity are generally caught from the wild.
The majority of them come from a “cove” in Japan, Taiji, where the Japanese herd them in from the oceans and then catch thousands to trade to shows and, which many people do not realise, slaughter thousands more.
So firstly, when you support a show with a dolphin in it, you have also supported what goes on with the slaughtering of tens of thousands of dolphins in Japan. Dolphins are slaughtered by stabbing them with spears to bleed them to death, or a metal rod is inserted into the spinal cord to cause paralysis.
Ric O’Barry, used to train dolphins for the popular US TV series Flipper until one, Kathy, died. He is convinced that Kathy intentionally closed her own blowhole and committed suicide because of her distress from being in captivity. He has spent the following 40 years campaigning against dolphins in captivity and, latterly, the Taiji hunts.
The dolphin hunters make approximately $32,000 -250,000 USD for each live dolphin that can be trained.
Even looking past the slaughter of tens of thousands of beautiful dolphins, the “lucky” ones who are then taken forcibly from their family, transported across the globe and put into tanks and forced to do tricks or swim with humans, suffer greatly.
In the wild, dolphins swim up to 60 miles each day, but in captivity, they’re confined to chemically treated concrete pools. This is especially traumatic for them since they communicate through sonar.
Former dolphin trainer Doug Cartlidge maintains that highly social dolphins are punished by being isolated from other animals: “You put them in a pen and ignore them. It’s like psychological torture.”
In wild, dolphins can live into their 40s and 50s―some have been documented to be more than 90 years old. But more than 80 percent of captive dolphins whose ages could be determined died before they turned 20.
Many high profile people, airlines and even countries are banning or boycotting places that keep dolphins in captivity.
In the UK, Switzerland, India, the US, Canada and many other countries - dolphin captivity has been banned, or legislative moves to phase it out are well underway.
Although Australia is one of the world’s most vocal advocates for dolphins living in the wild, we are well behind in protecting captive dolphins.
Keeping whales in tanks. Does this make sense? How did they get there? Do they suffer when they are there?
Whales, like dolphins are highly intelligent mammals, that live in family groups and swim the world oceans, swimming 40 miles a day on average—not just because they can, but because they need to, to forage for their varied diets and to exercise. They dive 100 to 500 feet, several times a day, every day. They communicate through sonar. Like humans, their brains are highly developed in the areas of social intelligence, language and self-awareness.
When you keep them in barren tanks, ripped away from family, forced to live either in isolation or in very close proximity to another whale or dolphins who they may OR MAY NOT get a long with, it cause them huge amounts of grief, sadness and sometimes even aggressive behaviour, which is not seen in the wild.
They also get sick. A lot. Orcas kept in tanks spend most of their time swimming in endless circles, causing their tall dorsal fins to collapse to one side. Dorsal fin collapse happens to 1% of wild orcas. 100% of captive male adult orcas have collapsed dorsal fins.
And die much much younger than any whales in the wild.
There are currently 59 orcas in captivity at sea parks and aquariums throughout the world. Some are wild-caught; some were born in captivity. A third of the world’s captive orcas are in the United States, and all but one of those live at SeaWorld’s three parks in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio.
Blackfish the film created a world wide cry out against what is going on, to get and keep whales in captivity.
-SeaWorld, which has a park in San Diego, announced that it would be ending its captive orca breeding programaltogether, saying its current orcas will be the last generation to live at SeaWorld parks. Although 20 orcas and many other cetaceans continue to live and perform at its facilities, the company is increasingly focuses its marketing on its amusement park rides.
While this is a good step, any one campaigning for the welfare of these animals is campaigning for their freedom into sanctuaries.
-At the federal level in the USA, repeatedly there has been a bill introduced to phase out captive orca displays across the U.S.
-In Canada, a federal bill is poised to pass later this year that would ban all captive cetacean displays—not just orcas, but all dolphins, porpoises, and whales.
Eleven orca whales and 87 belugas languish in several rectangular sea pens in Srednyaya Bay in Russia’s Far East. Four Russian firms that supply marine animals to aquariums caught them over the course of several months in the summer of 2018, but just in April 2019, Russias government and from intense international pressure, Russia is saying they will release 97 of them slowly back to the ocean. But there is still fear others will head to Chinas sea parks.
China now has 76 operational sea parks, with another 25 under construction.
Australia has no whales in captivity but does keep dolphins and seals - who suffer just like the whales.
Just a couple of individual whales and their sad tales -
-Lolita, the oldest living orca in captivity is still being held in a barren, concrete tank in Miami’s Seaquarium after arriving there 46 years ago almost to the day. For over four decades she has been forced to survive in a space that is smaller than the guidelines require for an orca her size; being only 35 feet wide from the front wall to the work island with the shallow depth of 20 feet. It is the smallest tank in North America; a dismal reality for any marine animal; especially for a 20 foot intelligent and emotional orca that in the wild would swim the distance of oceans with her pod as company.
Lolita comes from a southern pod of Puget Sound orca whales that are endangered, with estimated less than 80 of them left in the wild after large numbers were brutally rounded up over a period of ten years between 1965 to 1975 and killed or put into captivity.
The reports show that despite from being “lovingly cared for,” Lolita suffers from ongoing tooth pain, dehydration and an inflammatory eye condition requiring daily drops. Yet most upsetting is the medical records and observations relating to the attacks Lolita has endured last year from her fellow captive orcas. Over fifty times the orcas scraped Lolita’s skin with their teeth causing open, bleeding wounds.
-Hugo, the other orca that was also kept in Miami’s Seaquarium over 20 years ago, was so tortured by his living conditions he would bash his head against his tank walls so hard that eventually, he killed himself through a brain haemorrhage.
-Kayla died. She was a 30-year-old killer whale living at SeaWorld Orlando. If she’d been living in the wild, she’d likely have lived into her 50s, and possibly as old as 80. Still, Kayla lived longer than any captive-born orca in history.
Whilst some zoos may contribute in small ways to conservation projects, if we consider how many zoos there are around the world (there is a zoo in pretty much every city), and how many animals are taken from the wild to be put in the zoos - perhaps zoos are not always conserving wild animals but actually removing them from the wild.
It is true zoos can play a role in conservation of some species, this is a small portion of the animals zoos work with. As Tim Zimmerman pointed out in an article for Outside magazine last year, the Association of Zoos & Aquariums reported that of all the animals at the 228 zoos it accredits, only 30 species are being worked with for recovery. And of those 30 cases, most can’t be re-introduced into the wild. So the species will exist, but never as they once did.
This is not to say that people who work at zoos do not care greatly for these animals. They do. But keeping these animals in artificial environments - whether they be the barren ones or the “prettier” ones - can’t come close to matching the space, diversity, and freedom that animals want and need. This deprivation—combined with relentless boredom and inability to fulfil natural instincts - causes suffering in the animals in the zoos. When considering visiting zoos, we must consider what we are supporting.
It is important to note that -
Zoos exist primarily for profit.
A zoo can teach you a lot about how animals behave in captivity but will teach you very little about the behaviour of animals in the wild
in 2013 Costa Rica declared that it would be closing all its zoos and releasing the animals who are able to be rehabilitated to the wild.
Animals in captivity across the globe have been documented displaying signs of anxiety and depression. These traits are largely uncommon amongst healthy and happy animals in the wild.
These traits include rocking, swaying, excessively pacing back and forth, circling, twisting of the neck, self-mutilation, excessive grooming, biting, vomiting.
We already know that certain species simply do not and cannot thrive in the zoo setting: elephants, bears, wolves, whales, dolphins, chimpanzees, orangutans, lions, and tigers, just to name a few. There are scientists now pushing for a reform in the manner we are keeping these animals in captivity. Many zoos have relocated their elephants to sanctuaries.
Surplus management strategies are one of the best-kept secrets of modern zoos. One that shocks anyone who learns about it, like in 2014 when a healthy 2 year old giraffe named Marius was killed and cut up in front of spectators at Copenhagen Zoo.
In response to widespread criticism, Copenhagen Zoo's Scientific Director Bengt Holst defended the decision, saying that the zoo had a surplus of giraffes and that this is something that's "done every day", just not in the public eye. Just a short time later, Copenhagen Zoo was in the news again for killing four healthy lions to make room for a new male lion they wanted to breed. The relevant zoo standards in Australia would allow a similar judgement to be made about 'surplus animals' in zoos here, but these 'management' decisions are rarely made public.
Zoos also routinely trade and relocate animals who they deem to have outlived profitability or who no longer fit into breeding schemes.
Trading animals with other zoos can be extremely stressful for the animals who are relocated, as they leave behind social bonds and surroundings they have grown accustomed to.
Jenny Gray, chief executive officer of Zoos Victoria and author of a book titled Zoo Ethics: The Challenges of Compassionate Conservation, wrote:
Unfortunately, the bulk of zoos in existence today still fall short of meeting the requirements of ethical operations. At best, 3% of zoos are striving to meet ethical standards, with perhaps only a handful meeting all the requirements.
Gray, J. (2017). Zoo ethics: The challenges of compassionate conservation. Ithaca, New York: Comstock Publishing Associates. [Google Scholar]
Clubb, R. and Mason, G. (2003). Animal welfare: Captivity effect on wide-ranging carnivores. Nature 425, 473–474.[Crossref], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®], , [Google Scholar]
Racing animals is about winning. About the gamble. And not all horses are winners.
So what happens to the rest of them?
Out of the approximate 13 000 that are bred every year in Australia alone, only 300 out of a 1000 will make it to the racetrack, and too many of the other 9000 others will likely find their fate being killed and fed to dogs. Thats right, the breeding of horses for the races is directly responsible for thousands of deaths of horses per year in Australia alone.
The horses that do race can't all be winners and even if they are, they eventually will slow down and lose their dollar value and so are also sold and also often just discarded as "wastage". Literally. Some lucky ones are kept or sold to farms, but the majority are killed. Also slaughtered for pet food, but also some for human consumption overseas.
There are also the horrible accidents that do occur on the racetracks, that even with the designer dressers and champagne, onlookers can't pretend didn't happen... and these are not freak accidents.
ONE RACEHORSE DIES EVERY 2.6 DAYS IN AUSTRALIA.
The Coalition for the Protection of RaceHorses did a investigation into the figures last year and you can read the report, Deathwatch for more details.
In Australia, the horrific scandal behind the greyhound industry was exposed on Four Corners, Making A Killing, revealing, amongst much other cruel practices, 8,000 of these innocent puppies and another 10,000 'retired' greyhounds are being killed every year because they are not simply quick enough for the race tracks.
A mass grave was discovered with the remains of 99 greyhounds killed for this industry.
NINE OUT OF TEN DOGS BORN INTO THE GREYHOUND INDUSTRY NEVER GET TO LIVE OUT A FULL LIFE
Australia is only one of eight countries in the world that continues this outdated industry, (even in the USA greyhound racing is illegal in 39 states) it seems ludicrous to let the practice continue.
With 200 dogs being injured in race weeks, thousands of innocent animals such as piglets, kittens, possums and rabbits being used illegally, tied to lures, flung around racetracks at breakneck speeds, and then mauled to death as live-baiting and all this being done to support a self-regulated industry that fuels the gambling problem in Australia (we spend more money on gambling per capita than anywhere else in the world) and that costs us millions of dollars of government money. It doesn't make sense.
If we wouldn’t let this happen to our own dogs ( any many many people now have greyhounds as pets) then we cannot stand by and let this happen to these dogs.
In Australia and New Zealand, thousands of animals are used in hundreds of rodeo events every year.
Due to their cruelty, rodeos have been banned in England since 1934. They are also banned in several European countries and American states.
Unfortunately, rodeos are legal everywhere in Australia except the ACT.
The animals have to be physically provoked into the frenzied ‘bucking’ movements, these include -
Flank straps, that are placed around the girth and pulled tightly just before the animal is released into the arena, inflicting distress and pain and causing the animal to buck.
Electric prods, are used to shock the animals to move out of the shoot. While against the law it is not uncommon to witness hand-held prods.
Spurs are metal spikes on the back of riders’ boots, which are dug into the animals’ flank to compel the animal to move.
Tail Twisting, Raking, and Pulling, are three methods that inflict pain upon the bull, calf and horses.
There are several events in a rodeo that horses and cattle are forced to participate in:
The animal is provoked into bucking while a rider holds the reins with one hand and attempts to stay on for eight seconds. The unnatural bucking movement has caused animals to break their legs, necks and backs, all while suffering the effects of the vicious provocation.
Calf roping. A calf is chased by a rider on horseback. The rider lassoes the calf around the neck, and then has 30 seconds to jump off the horse and tie three of the calf’s legs. Neck bruising and snapping is common in these events for the terrified calves.
Steer wrestling. Steers are grabbed by the horns and wrestled to the ground in a timed competition. The steers suffer stress, as well as neck, muscle and tendon injuries as a result.
HEALTH AND A PLANT-BASED DIET
The results of an evidence-based review showed that a plant-based diet is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than non-vegetarians.
Furthermore, those on plant-based diets tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. A study in 2018 concluded that those on a plant based diet lower their risk of mortality.
This is a pretty good place to start!
A team at Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, MA, found in its study of nearly 30,000 people that the quality of plant-based foods is "more important than the quality" of animal-derived foods when it comes to dietary health.
Their data map an association between making strong dietary choices for healthful, high-quality plant-based foods and a 30 percent lower mortality rate.
This is important to note - just going plant based will not be guaranteed health!!!
You can not expect to give up meat and dairy and replace them with processed sugars or fast food and reap the health rewards… it will only be a matter of time until you get sick! Plant-based diets really can be so healthy - these below studies are a testament to it, but you must eat a variety of whole foods…pretty please. Be a success story! First and foremost, whether vegan or transitioning to eat less meat, for great health and energy we want to make sure we eat the best quality alive foods - load up on vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, good oils in moderation and fruits. Eat a variety. Eat as organic or pesticide-free as you can. Don't microwave or overcook your food and buzz all the goodness out of it!
Then we want to do what we can to reduce - or learn to cope with or counterbalance- stress in our lives. Meditation, yoga, pranayama, time off your screen, a work-life balance, PLAYTIME - whatever it is you find relaxing and nourishing to your nervous system and mind is not only beneficial to your state of wellbeing, it literally is the best medicine you can give your body. Our state of mind greatly influences what hormones the body produces and in-turn the "running of our system". The more stressed you are, the more nutrients your body uses and therefore requires!
I know the huge majority of us can live a healthy and cruelty-free life if we eat a varied diet of quality plant-based whole foods. In a perfect utopian world all the foods grown would be rich in nutrients and we would absorb all the vitamins and minerals from our food and be bounding with energy with no supplements...
However the truth is, sometimes even when we eat healthy, the soil in our country may be totally lacking a mineral, such as zinc and so therefore so is our food (hello Australia) and with our perfectly imperfect bodies, sometimes we need some support. This is true whether we are eating a plant-based diet or include meat and dairy. When people blame avoiding meat as a cause of feeling tired or illness, I like to remind them that the hospitals are full of people who eat meat in their diet and they are still sick... perhaps, as you will see from studies below, even more so, since research now confirms that plant-based diets actually decrease the risk of many illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED A BLOOD TEST?
Bloods tests can do a few things. One, bring peace of mind and two, flag when there is something of concern - before we have any symptoms so we can address it, and also can help us get to the bottom of when there is an upset with our health to find out perhaps a cause of it. If you are transitioning to a plant-based diet then I usually recommend a blood test before you transition if possible to see your baseline and then one at 6 -12 months. This will be so you can monitor how your body is responding - hopefully confirm it is a healthy option - but if you see results that show nutrient stores decreasing after the second test, it gives you a chance to take some responsibility for what you are substituting the meat and dairy with, and perhaps get some professional support to get you on track!
After that first year, perhaps you can get a blood test yearly for a few years, and then only when you feel either you are curious for a check up or you are experiencing symptoms.
My personal journey has showed my results were always very positive - apart from after my son was born (9 years being vegan)and I was exhausted from lack of sleep, breast-feeding and had stopped looking after myself! ( Any tired parents relate?) I had lower end amounts of iron, Vit D and iodine and my results were good to keep me accountable to focusing on my diet again. Within 6 months of focus and some earlier nights, I felt back to my normal self and another lot of bloods confirmed that.
Then again in 2019, I did them for the first time in a long time, and everything was super high - apart from my B12. Why? I got slack and stopped supplementing over the last year. Perhaps subconsiouly experimenting on myself ( I ALWAYS recommend b12…) I share this, because I want to be open, and my results came back on the low side - still in the recommended scale, but to the low end. And us naturopaths generally like to see them at the high ends! It is a good reminder. Supplement your B12! I got straight onto it, and even have started my B12 injections just to give an extra boost. These are also optional for all vegans, perhaps even once a year to get a good dose!
SUPPORT THROUGH SUPPLEMENTS
By supplementing with certain nutrients you can support your body to be able to function optimally and give it a helping hand in times of needs! I don't believe we want to blindly swallow a plethora of pills, even when they are herbs and vitamins, without having some understanding of when and why we take them. A Naturopath can help you with a program of herbs specifically for your situation - also helping with an absorption issues and finding good quality brands!
HOWEVER, a good across-the-board look at often-needed supplements in times of need and/or when on plant-based diet include;
We need B12 for DNA synthesis, maintenance of the outer protective layer of nerves, red blood cell production and clearing out excess homocysteine. A deficiency of B12 can show with a foggy mind, memory problems, fatigue and shortness of breath plus other nervous system problems we want to avoid. If you are on a strict plant-based diet, this is the number one supplement you should be taking as it is unlikely you get sufficient, if any in your diet.
Basically if you become deficient in B12, you are going to feel it, and it is not going to be doing you any favours! Yet, you may not even notice you are deficient for a period of time, even years, since the body takes awhile for it to register the deficiency.
In the time, before the symptoms are showing, already there are consequences happening in the body - firstly declining blood levels and cell stores, then increased homocysteine in the blood and then the clinical symptoms that can be;
Pernicious anaemia; a second type of anaemia that causes dysfunction of the bone marrow’s ability to manufacture red blood cells and leaves you fatigued,
tingling or numbness in hands and feet,
B12, is made from a bacteria and is found in meat, cheese and eggs - and fermented foods that are fermented with lactic acid bacteria in traditional methods - which means you must supplement it if you are a vegan, but it is not only those on a plant-based diet that need B12 supplementation. Others examples of times you want to up the B12 include anyone who has had gastric banding, when you suffer from Chrons disorder, parasites, or when you drink too much.
But what type of B12? You may have noticed on the back of the bottles there are different ingredients and be wondering what one is the best for you?
The different forms of B12 in supplements are:
Methylcobalamin. This is the most active form in the human body and most readily absorbed
Cyanocobalamin. This synthetic version of vitamin B-12 is created in a lab, which makes it the cheapest supplement option but not the one I recommend.
Adenosylcobalamin, also a natural form but more rarely found in supplements
Methylcobalamin contains a methyl group (carbon and hydrogen) and cyanocobalamin contains a cyanide groups - synthesised in a lab and not found in a living organism such as the bacteria that B12 comes from.
There for I always suggest going for a methylcobalamin form of B12 supplement or in a mix of activated B vitamins.
If you live in the land down under with me, this is another supplement you want to be helping yourself out with because our soil is super lacking in it! Those who eat meat get it because they even have to supplement animals who are killed for their meat with it...
Zinc is essential for our immune system, cell division and growth and wound healing. Look out for those white spots on your nails as a sweet little indicators you may need more. A lacking of zinc can show itself as constant infections that are often hard to overcome, over-sensitivity and irritability and acne. If you are a mama to a child who gets angry easily, is a fussy eater, tires easily and is majorly reactive to things like their socks or sounds, they could very well be in much need of some zinc too!
Vegetarian foods that are high in zinc include;
SUNFLOWER AND PUMPKIN SEEDS, WALNUTS, CASHEWS, EGG YOLKS, ALFALFA, FENNEL SEEDS, OATS, BUCKWHEAT, CACAO, BREWERS YEAST, PULSE, MUSHROOMS, SOY BEANS, BLACK BEANS, LENTILS, SEAWEEDS
All beans and legumes offer great amounts of zinc, however, do be aware that they contain a large amount of phytates on their skin, which are meant to protect them in nature. Phytates reduce absorption of important minerals and occur heavily in beans, nuts, legumes, and grains. Be sure you soak your beans, legumes and nuts first to help remove the phytates and make them more digestible.
But if you are looking for a medicinal dosage, or are showing any symptoms of deficiency, including these foods in your diet won't be sufficient, you have to supplement it for a period of time. I recommend seeing a health professional such as a Naturopath to figure out which product is right for you and how much you should be taking.
Zinc is a vital nutrient, for all of us, and especially our growing children. Not having enough can interfere with them being at their potential. Just some of the actions Zinc is required for include;
CATALYTIC ACTIVITY OF APPROXIMATELY 100 ENZYMES
HORMONAL PRODUCTION FOR REPRODUCTIVE HORMONES AND STRESS HORMONES. THIS MEANS YOU NEED ZINC FOR GOOD QUALITY SLEEP AND COPING WITH STRESS
DEVELOP AND ACTIVATE T-LYMPHOCYTES, NEEDED FOR OUR IMMUNITY
Essential oils need to be consumed and they are essential for providing the building blocks for cell membranes and acting as raw materials that can be converted to other substances that perform special duties in your body such as hormones.When we are lacking in them we may have hormonal imbalances, arthritic symptoms, learning difficulties or skin problems like dermatitis. Consume foods like flaxseed oil, chai seeds, hemp seeds plus supplement with algae or buckthorn oils. They are even doing liquid form of these supplements if you have children who can't swallow capsules.
Fatty acids have three basic, crucial purposes in your body:
PROVIDING ENERGY PROVIDING THE BUILDING BLOCKS FOR CELL MEMBRANES ACTING AS RAW MATERIALS THAT CAN BE CONVERTED TO OTHER SUBSTANCES THAT PERFORM SPECIAL DUTIES IN YOUR BODY SUCH AS HORMONES.
The best way to consume these fatty acids are by including the whole food in your diet such as flaxseed oil, avocados, coconut oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds etc and aim to avoid processed foods and the unwanted types of tran-fats they contain. When we eat a diet high in processed foods you may be susceptible to a common trait at the moment where you have high amounts of omega 3's and not enough omega 6's. However I don't think it is worth getting paranoid about our exact ratios, I believe just cut out the processed foods that often contain heated oils, that are only omega 6 containing, such as safflower and sunflower oils etc and get the real foods, the quality fats into you.
I believe you can consume a healthy amount of oil through your diet and do not need supplements. However when suffering from conditions, there is a time when I believe supplementation at therapeutic doses is a nutritional way to alleviate disease and there are many studies showing the positive effect that EPA and DHA have on healing.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) are what our body converts from linoleum (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic (omega-3) fatty acids. These essential fatty acids pivotal role in health is in regulating inflammatory responses and cell membrane function.
Much of the supplementation you will find on the shelves is in the form of fish oil, with 1 million tons being produced every year-such as cod, krill, sardine. However unless you have been living under a rock, you may realise that we are fishing out our oceans at an unprecedented rate and therefor having the population consume fish oils isn't a sustainable option.
And my motto is if you can live a healthy, cruelty-free, then why not?
Algae are what the fish eat to get their EPA and DHA, so can you...
The direct DHA that is found in the algal oil is specifically good for treating issues related to neural membranes in the brain and the retina, since EFA's, and specifically DHA, make up around 20% of the dry weight of the brain and peripheral nerves. It is also great for pregnancy and breast feeding since this is when the babies brain is at great development and requires the DHA.
You don't get the same amount of EPA directly as you do when consuming fish oils, however your body is capable of conversion when you give it the omega oils to work with. (Although Nordic Naturals USA have come out with an algae oil that is high in both which I am yet to try). EPAs are specifically good for inflammation. If you are suffering from a disorder that is inflammatory, then I suggest a plant-base diet of whole foods ( which will decrease inflammation in itself), increasing the omega 3 oils in your diet with flaxseeds, chia and hemp, and then using one of the many other herbal anti-inflammatory options you can get from your Naturopath. You don't need to rely on fish oil. If you do, make sure you talk to a Naturopath to get a high quality oil.
Some disorders that may benefit from increasing the healthy oils in your diet are:
FEMALE HORMONAL DISORDERS SUCH AS PRE-MENSTRUAL SYNDROME, DYSMENNORRHOA AND ENDOMETRIOSIS OR WHEN PREGNANT OR LACTATING
SKIN DISORDERS SUCH AS ECZEMA, PSORIASIS OR ITCHY FLAKY SKIN
NERVOUS SYSTEM SUPPORT IN DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
LEARNING DIFFICULTIES IN CHILDREN SUCH AS ADHD
We need iodine for a healthy thyroid - which we need for a healthy metabolism! So many more woman are suffering from hypothyroidism these days, with symptoms such as unexplained weight gain, bad skin, tiredness, concentration problems and sensitivity to the cold. (No surprise that iodine is one of the minerals that is interrupted by the Pill and HTR as well as alcohol...)
Iodine is abundant in sea vegetables, such as pulse flakes, nori, wake and kelp, so including these in your diet is important and tasty! Or supplement with Spirulina! If you do an easy urine test with your doctor and are deficient you can also take iodine drops until you are at a healthy level again.
Iodine is a trace mineral that is required for normal thyroid function. It is abundant in our oceans and depending on the location and farming methods, also found in our soils. We do not need to consume huge amounts of iodine to benefit from it essential properties but we do need approximately 150 micrograms per day. Some high sources of iodine are
Seaweed such as kelp, wakame, kombi, nori, dulse flakes (these are the best, dense sources of iodine and you can use them in soups, salads and sushi or even put a dulse flake in your porridge or smoothie and it is almost flavourless)
Iodine is needed by the thyroid as it is a constituent of the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine ( T3). They regulate the metabolic rate; our growth and use of energy and body heat. When they do not function correctly you can develop and suffer from hypothyroidism, with symptoms including fatigue, depression, increased weight, concentration problems, puffy face, sensitivity to the cold, slow heart rate and development of a goitre ( lump on neck from enlarged thyroid gland.) This can be caused by an auto-immune disease, Hashimotos or is attributed to a deficiency of iodine in the diet.
Many of us have low iodine levels today due to a variety of inhibiting factors such as;
the Oral Contraceptive Pill
not enough iodine containing foods consumed
You can find out if you are low in iodine through a urine test done by your doctor. If you are low then you also should be mindful about eating too many goitrin forming compounds that can block thyroid hormone synthesis. These are found in soy products and the brassica family; cauliflower, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, bok chou, turnips, when they are broken down raw. Obviously these foods have extremely good benefits, so I would not stop eating them if I had low iodine levels, I would simply not be having high amounts of them raw, instead I would eat them cooked as it stops the inhibiting process and alternate them with other vegetable types, while boosting my intake of iodine containing foods for a period.
Magnesium is needed for so many functions including nerve and muscle reactions, bone health and energy production. If you are getting the funky eye twitchers (always fun:) or spasms when falling to sleep, you my friend, need some magnesium.
In times of stress or physical exertion, magnesium supplements can be very beneficial. You can always support with magnesium gently through epsom salt baths or even transdermal creams these days. Otherwise some magnesium powder at night before bed will also help you rest well!
FOODS THAT CONTAIN MAGNESIUM -
Avocados, almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts, black beans, tofu,
Seeds such as flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds online, dark leafy greens, peas, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, artichokes, asparagus, brussels sprouts, Raw cacao.
CAN I GET ENOUGH OF?
Ive addressed supplementation above, but still the main questions people are concerned about when transitioning to a plant-based diet are around protein, iron and calcium. Will we get enough without meat and dairy.
The short answer is yes. There is enough iron and calcium in plants for you not to be missing out, if, like I will continue to say, you eat a variety of whole foods and reduce the drinks, smoking, some medications if possible, that excrete them or raise the bodies need for them. When planning a pregnancy, pregnant, or breast feeding it is ideal to be on an iron supplement to support the bodies extra needs. Perhaps when over 50, if you feel you are not consuming enough calcium you can supplement.
Protein is an essential part of our nutrition, making up about 17% of the body’s weight and it is a main component of our muscles, skin, organs and eyes, hair and nails. Our immune system also requires protein to help make antibodies that are required to help fight infections, and protein also plays a role in blood sugar regulation, fat metabolism and energy function.
The human body creates 11 amino acids but must get another 9 from food, which is why we call them essential amino acids. Animal products are complete proteins, meaning they contain all essential amino acids but we must remember that all of these originated from those animals eating plants, or from animals eating other animals who ate plants.
Ultimately essential amino acids are made by plants and then eaten by animals, and we are a human animal and can do the same!
“The world’s strongest animals are plant eaters. Gorillas, buffaloes, elephants, and me.”
— Patrik Baboumian, strongman world record holder
The recommended intake of protein for an average adult is set at 0.75g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day. So an adult weighing 60kg needs 60 x 0.75g per day, which is 45g. When you want to “bulk up” you want to be consuming 1.2 grams per kg or if you are highly active. Both are easily achievable.
1 cup cooked edamame = 29 grams protein
1 cup cooked lentils = 18 grams protein
1 cup cooked black beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas = 15 grams protein
1 cup tempeh = 30 grams protein
1 cup cooked quinoa = 8 grams protein
2 Tbsp peanut butter = 8 grams protein
2 Tbsp almond or cashew butter =7 grams protein
2 Tbsp chia/ hemp seeds = 4-10 grams
1 cup cooked spaghetti = 8 grams protein
1 cup plain soymilk = 7 grams protein
1 cup cooked spinach = 5 grams protein
1 cup cooked broccoli = 4 grams protein
1 slice Ezekiel bread (made from barley, wheat, lentils, millet, and spelt) = 4 grams
All vegetables and grains have protein in them, even if it is a gram. So when we eat a variety of food, this is also added to the days total.
To break it down, for me at 60 kg to get enough protein, an example of a day would be
1 slice sprouted bread(like Ezekiel) with avocado, 1 cup mushrooms, tahini and sprouts, approx 11 grams
Protein shake with plant protein, 1 Tbsp hemp seeds, cup spinach, berries, 1 teaspoon spriulina approx 35 grams
Snack of a handful of nuts and apple 5 grams
or hummus (7) and cut up vegetable sticks or seed crackers (5)
Salad w 1/2 cup rice(4), 1/2 cup beans(7.5) and a variety of vegetables(2)
approx 13.5 grams
Dinner quinoa(8) curry with 1 cup tempeh(30) and sweet potato(2)
approx 40 grams
You can see I achieve certainly enough - as most people easily will if they eat a variety of whole foods, and stock up and use those handy jars of tahini, hummus, seed mixes. But if you were to consume processed food products then you may suffer, but this is not only with protein but on many levels!
I also have a smoothie most days just because I find it an easy way to make it a safety net - I chuck in a whole bunch of nutritious foods and know its wayyyyy better than relying on a coffee for energy. (I love coffee but I TRY not drink them.. as I write this I am detoxing from a little habit that may have formed over the last month with a wonderful coffee shop at the end of the street. Mantra - smoothie not coffee!)
Plant-based protein powders have been shown to work effectively and some research shows when you combine the sources there is a better outcome, such as hemp and pea. You can select from a range such as hemp, pea, rice and soy.
For those wanting to know more specifically about the nine essential amino acids we get from our food, these are below with some plant based sources of each:
Isoleucine: watercress, chard, sunflower seeds, spinach, kidney beans
Leucine: alfalfa seeds, kidney beans, watercress, sunflower seeds
Lysine: watercress, walnuts, peas, lentils, brewer’s yeast, almonds, chickpeas
Methionine and Cysteine: sesame seeds, seaweed, spirulina, Brazil nuts, oats
Phenylalanine and Tyrosine: sesame seeds, kidney beans, spinach, peanuts
Threonine: watercress, spinach, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, kidney beans
Tryptophan: spinach, turnip greens, broccoli rabe, asparagus, oat bran, kidney beans, watercress
Valine: mushrooms, snow peas, kidney beans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
Histidine: apples, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, spinach
As you can see, many of the foods overlap under two or more amino acids, so it’s not that difficult to ensure you are getting a good mix of aminos acids each day. You can also easily add some complete plant sources that contain all nine essential amino acids like quinoa, buckwheat, hempseed, and chia seed. (yes, we didn’t realise they existed decades ago!)
Once you get the hang of any new way of eating, and have made the effort to understand protein sources etc, then I always recommend relaxing around your eating habits. Don’t count calories, don’t record your protein intake - unless you are an elite sportsman perhaps… food is meant to be enjoyment and nourishment and it works synergistically. When we break it down into parts, sometimes we forget to enjoy it and that there is still much we don’t even understand that is deeper than just pulling it apart.
What about if you are an elite sports person, or someone who values training hard. Can we do this on plants still?
A study conducted in 2017, for example, revealed that a non-calorie-restricted plant-based diet burned body fat while preserving muscle—which many professional athletes aim for in their eating methods.
Then there is a host of elite athletes that it is certainly possible, from body builders, to sprinters. These are just a select few of them:
Venus Williams - tennis
Lionel Messi -soccer
Lewis Hamilton -F1 Racer
Jermain Defoe - footballer
Sergio Agüero -footballer
Hector Bellerin - footballer
Carl Lewis - sprinter
Peter Siddle - Australian Cricketer
Tia Blanco - Surfer
Meagan Duhamel -Ice Skater
Kendrick Yahcob Farris — weightlifter
Hannah Teter — snowboarder
Jack Lindquist — track cyclist
WHO/FAO/UNU Expert Consultation (2007) Protein and amino acid requirements in human nutrition. World Health Organ Tech Rep Ser 935:1–265
Young VR, Pellett PL (1994) Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 59(5 Suppl):1203S–1212S
We are recommended to have between 8 mg - 15 mg of iron each day, dependent upon a variety of factors such as menstruation and body size/type, with an additional 15mg a day for women who are pregnant.
There is a difference between iron found in meat and plant sources; meat iron consists of 40% heme iron and 60% non-heme iron, whereas the iron found in plants is 100% non-heme. Non-heme iron is not as readily absorbed as heme iron however the clever body adjusts when you only eat non-heme iron sources, such as when you eat plant-based and it increases its uptake to suit its needs. Perhaps this is why studies show that omnivores and vegans share the same percentage of people who are low in iron… perhaps it is also because if we eat a varied diet of whole foods, with a functioning digestive tract, you should be able to consume sufficient amounts.
IRON PER 100 GRAMS
WHITE BEANS 2.7MG
SOY BEANS 4MG
KIDNEY BEANS 3.1MG
CHICK PEAS 2.4MG
SWISS CHARD 2.2MG
CASHEW NUTS 4.8MG
SPINACH, cooked 3.4MG
DRIED APRICOTS 2.3MG
WHOLEMEAL PASTA 2MG
SESAME SEEDS 9.6MG
Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in our body and is mostly found in our bones. It is important for our bone health, especially after menopause in woman, nerve transmissions, muscle contractions and cardiovascular health. The recommended amount to consume a day is approximately 1000mg, this amount gets a little higher above 50 years old.
A common misconception, that is widely marketed, is that we must have lots of dairy to achieve bone health and that this is the only thing we need for healthy strong bones. If you do consume dairy, always read the ingredients as so many dairy foods are made with a plethora of fillers, thickeners, flavours and lots of sugar. It is also important to buy organic dairy if you want to avoid the transference of medications including antibiotics from the cows milk.
We need more than just calcium for bone health and there are many plant-based foods that are also high in calcium and are easily absorbed by the body.
For bone health you also need vitamin D, so get some sun every week, avoid smoking and too much alcohol and keep up the exercise including some weight resistance.
CALCIUM PER 100 GRAMS IN PLANT FOODS
Brazil Nuts 160mg
Dried figs 162mg
Chia Seeds 631mg
Sesame seeds 975mg (think tahini too!)
Bok Choy 105mg
Chick peas 105mg
TO CONSIDER FOR HEALTH
Stress also comes in the form of what we put into our body. We want to avoid the foods and, when possible, medications that put more pressure on the bodies needs.
Some medications interfere with the bodies need for minerals and vitamins - and while I don't suggest just dropping prescriptions even for a moment - I do nudge you to consider consulting with a naturopath to see if there are alternatives you may be able to exchange the medication overtime with professional support. This isn't possible for every situation, and medicine is a gift we are so lucky to lean on when we need it, but one popular example is with the contraceptive Pill or HRT. Those little pills that hundreds of millions of woman take daily sometimes for decades, interfere with the absorption of B vitamins (riboflavin, B6, B12, and folic acid), vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc. Majorly needed nutrients...
Even if you decide to stay on the medication, you want to be aware of the effects it has so you take empower yourself to then do what you can to soften these. In this case you can take some extra supplementation...
Foods - you know the ones; sugar, processed carbs, soft drinks, too much caffeine, alcohol, artificial flavours and colours - also all put more pressure on our systems. For example tannins (a type of plant compound) found in caffeine inhibit the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium and B-vitamins. Alcohol inhibits the absorption and usage of vital nutrients such as thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc. I am all for having a little sweet or enjoying a good cup of coffee - but don't lean on these foods. Cut them down significantly and make sure they are not the features of your diet, rather they are the special occasions!
Lastly we want to really be true with the state of our body - honestly accepting and acknowledging what weaknesses or illnesses you are dealing with. It is important to be clear with what longterm or short-term systems you may be wrestling with. Our bodies shows us signs in the forms of niggles and discomforts or lethargy as a way of COMMUNICATING with us. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, yes, BUT our bodies are so so so intuitively intelligent. The human aspect of our physical selves can often be our greatest teacher... if we are willing to be in conversation with it.
Many serious illness could have been avoided if we were more open to hearing what our bodies are trying to tell us years before with just some annoying little issues. Too many times these warning signs are ignored... I urge you to be in relationship with your body and seek out a professional that can help navigate how to support your needs!
This goes for times such as pregnancy and breastfeeding or older age too - acknowledging our body needs some extra support and love yourself enough to dedicate time and resources to doing this!
STUDIES ON REDUCING THE RISK OF DISEASES WITH PLANT-BASED DIETS
There's is lots of evidence that vegetarians have a lower risk for cardiac disease. Before I state it, I want to also high light the power of love and peace in the health of our heart. We can eat all the organic vegetables you want, but if you are stressed and stuck in grief or anger, your heart is still not going to be healthy…
In one of the largest studies — a combined analysis of data from five prospective studies involving more than 76,000 participants published several years ago — vegetarians were, on average, 25% less likely to die of heart disease. This result confirmed earlier findings from studies comparing vegetarian and nonvegetarian Seventh-day Adventists (members of this religious group avoid caffeine and don't drink or smoke; about 40% are vegetarians).
In another study involving 65,000 people in the Oxford cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Oxford), researchers found a 19% lower risk of death from heart disease among vegetarians.
A study, conducted by University of Toronto researchers, has shown improved health, and lowered risk of heart disease to be associated with a plant-based diet. Researchers saw improvements in the participants' cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and triglycerides. In fact, over half of participants were able to lower their cholesterol by 15 to 20 percent over a six-month period forecast.
A study from the Netherlands looked at almost 6,000 people; the team found that those who ate a high ratio of plant-derived protein to animal-derived protein were at lower risk of developing coronary heart disease later in life. The research was led by Kim V.E. Braun from the Erasmus University Medical Center, in Rotterdam.
A Brazilian study looked at around 4,500 people and concluded that people who had a diet rich in plant-based protein were 60 % less likely than people who had a diet rich in animal-based protein to develop a buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart.
Compared with their nonvegetarian peers, South Asian vegetarians exhibited:
smaller waist circumference
lower amounts of abdominal fat
lower blood sugar
lower body mass index (BMI)
They were also less likely to gain weight and had a lower mortality rate.
A study done in Hong Kong, showed long-term vegetarian diet is associated with markedly higher fasting plasma AA concentrations and lower concentrations of TAG, UA, and hsCRP. Long-term vegetarians have a better antioxidant status and coronary heart disease risk profile than do apparently healthy omnivores. Plasma AA may act a useful marker of overall health status.
Dr. Dean Ornish, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, completed a similar study with consistent results.
“An optimal diet for preventing disease is a whole-foods, plant-based diet that is naturally low in animal protein, harmful fats and refined carbohydrates. What that means in practice is little or no red meat; mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and soy products in their natural forms; very few simple and refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour; and sufficient “good fats” such as fish oil or flax oil, seeds and nuts. A healthful diet should be low in “bad fats,” meaning trans fats, saturated fats and hydrogenated fats. Finally, we need more quality and less quantity.” Dr Dean Ornish
Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD, a physician and researcher at the best cardiac center in the US, The Cleveland Clinic, treated 18 patients with established coronary disease using a whole food, plant-based diet. Not only did the intervention stop the progression of the disease, but 70% of the patients saw an opening of their clogged arteries. This program continues with great success.
It is important to note, that strokes are very often caused from either or all - hypertension, atherosclerosis, or atrial fibrillation. These can all be improved with plant based diets, as increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and minimizing or avoiding intake of meat and processed foods decreases prevalence of obesity, the heart diseases mentioned including hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes
There is now a clear body of evidence that bowel cancer is more common among those who eat the most red and processed meat. Processed meat consumption has also been strongly linked to a higher risk of stomach cancer.
The World Health Organization has classified processed meats – including ham, salami, bacon and frankfurts – as a Group 1 carcinogen which means that there is strong evidence that processed meats cause cancer.
Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork has been classified as a ‘probable’ cause of cancer. These classifications do not indicate the risk of getting cancer, rather how certain we are that these things are likely to cause cancer.
Processed meat was classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans.
This category is used when there is convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer. The evaluation is usually based on epidemiological studies showing the development of cancer in exposed humans. In the case of processed meat, this classification is based on sufficient evidence from epidemiological studies that eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer.
The strongest, but still limited, evidence for an association with eating red meat is for colorectal (bowel) cancer. There is also evidence of links with pancreatic, mouth and throat cancer and prostate cancer.
In 2015, 15,604 new cases of bowel cancer were diagnosed in Australia. The risk of being diagnosed by age 85 is 1 in 11 for men and 1 in 16 for women. In 2016, there were 5375 deaths caused by bowel cancer in Australia. This represents the second highest number of cancer deaths in Australia.
In the USA there are 101,420 new cases of colon cancer per year and is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and in women, and the second most common cause of cancer deaths when men and women are combined. It's expected to cause about 51,020 deaths during 2019.
Note- Processed meat has been classified in the same category as causes of cancer such as tobacco smoking and asbestos (IARC Group 1, carcinogenic to humans), but this does not mean that they are all equally dangerous. The IARC classifications describe the strength of the scientific evidence about an agent being a cause of cancer, rather than assessing the level of risk.
But we need to realise they are actually a risk to our health!
Eating a diet high in fibre and vegetables is also a good way to decrease the risk of cancers. I do not way say this is the only reason cancer is rampant today. There are many risks in life in 2019 - stress, radiation, pesticides, plastics and chemicals found everywhere, air pollution etc…. BUT there is empowerment in doing what we can.
Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients found in plant foods, support your body’s ability to repair, regenerate, detoxify and heal. You can have these in high doses in supplements, and even infusions, but long-term, real whole foods, high in these vitamins and minerals are needed for a healthy body. Include a range of greens, garlic, herbs, cruciferous vegetables, seaweeds, berries, beetroot, sprouts - and really just lots of vegetables. Studies show the majority of us are not getting enough!
There have been many stories - including my own father and his long-term partner - who have reversed their cancers from changing their diets high in meat and processed food, to a plant-based diet. I must stress, this does not work for everyone. We also know two lovely friends who did this, and did not overcome their cancers… like many friends who went through traditional cancer treatments - some found it worked, others sadly, did not…. all we can do is explore options based on a range of research, get professional support, and then follow what feels right to us… and prey… then it is my belief, it is up to the Gods.
Bouvard V, Loomis D, Guyton KZ, et al. Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat. Lancet Oncol 2015; 16: 1599–600.
Cross AJ and Sinha R. Meat-related mutagens/carcinogens in the etiology of colorectal cancer. Environ Mol Mutagen 2004; 44: 44–55.
Zalatnai A. Pancreatic cancer - a continuing challenge in oncology. Pathol Oncol Res 2003; 9: 252–63
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive disease, but is highly correlated with lifestyle. You can slow the progress or even sometimes have success in reversal of the symptoms with lifestyle and diet changes. Eating diets low in refined carbohydrates, cutting out your processed sugars and alcohol, taking up regular exercise and mediation, and it may surprise some people, that yes, cutting out meat and eating a diet of whole plants also is shown in studies to have a positive affect, not only on reducing the risk of diabetes 2 but also reducing the symptoms.
In studies of Seventh-day Adventists, vegetarians' risk of developing diabetes was half that of nonvegetarians, even after taking BMI into account. The Harvard-based Women's Health Study found a similar correlation between eating red meat (especially processed meats, such as bacon and hot dogs) and diabetes risk, after adjusting for BMI, total calorie intake, and exercise.
Many of the studies done over time have the consistent results that increasing red meat consumption over time is associated with an elevated subsequent risk of T2DM, and the association is partly mediated by body weight, with results also showing added evidence that limiting red meat consumption over time confers benefits for T2DM prevention.
Findings come from the Singapore Chinese Health Study, which recruited 63,257 adults aged 45-74 years between 1993 and 1998, and then followed them up for an average of about 11 years. The study found a positive association between intakes of red meat and poultry, and risk of developing diabetes. Specifically, compared to those in the lowest quartile intake, those in the highest quartile intake of red meat and poultry had a 23 per cent and 15 per cent increase in risk of diabetes.
More than 11% of US adults aged ≥20 y (25.6 million persons) have diabetes; the majority (90–95%) suffer from T2D,4and 1.9 million new cases of diabetes occur each year.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy occurs in up to 60% of individuals with type 2 diabetes1 and is associated with significant morbidity, including gait disturbances, amputations, anxiety, depression and reduced quality of life. The condition manifests with damage to the terminal branches of peripheral nerves and usually first affects small fibers that are responsible for translating pain, light touch and temperature. As neuropathy progresses, large fibers responsible for reflexes and muscle tone are affected, leading to balance and gait problems. Most patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy present with pain, numbness, or abnormal, spontaneous or induced sensations in the lower extremities. Pain occurs in 15–30% of cases.
Plant-based dietary interventions typically improve glycemic control and other factors associated with type 2 diabetes and its complications. In a study of 99 type 2 diabetes patients comparing a low-fat plant-based diet with a more conventional diet, in an analysis limited to participants making no medication changes, HbA1c (percent hemoglobin A1c) fell by 1.2 points in the plant-based group, compared with 0.4 points in the control group. Glycemic control appears to have a key role in the risk of complications. In intervention trials using plant-based diets, improvements in glycemic control, blood lipid concentrations7and blood pressure have been consistently observed, and diet acceptability is similar to that of other therapeutic diets.
In one study improvement in neuropathy pain in diabetes 2 suffers improved greatly after only 20 weeks on a plant based diet.
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
Why would meat cause type 2 diabetes? Several reasons: animal fat, animal-based (heme) iron, and nitrate preservatives in meat have been found to damage pancreatic cells, worsen inflammation, cause weight gain, and impair the way our insulin functions.
FAKE MEATS FOR HEALTH?
Fake meats and dairy products have come a LONNNGGG way over the last few years, and like any food product there are some much better than others in terms of health. These food products can be a helpful "quitting" meat tool, just as puffing on fake cigarettes can help giving up smoking, or as a fun, now and then ingredient. But in general, the majority of them are not something you want to include in your diet all the time, long-term because they are not whole-foods. It comes down to the fact that many of them are heavily processed foods that generally include a large number of ingredients including processed wheats and soys, sugars, synthetic flavours, and huge amounts of salt to make them taste good.
Eat them on occasion, or find the cheeses and fake meats that have the least amount of ingredients. There are many nut cheeses out there that are tasty and healthy - but these are not the ones that look like melted cheddar in general. I do not mean to put down the healthy subsitute options that do exist out there - but do want to raise awareness that you need to look at these products carefully. Just like “gluten-free” or “fat-free” does not necessarily equate to health product, neither does “meat-free”… (It does however mean free of animals :)
INGREDIENTS RED ALERT
There are high amounts of salts, binders and sugars but my primary concern with fake meats is the main ingredient in most which is Textured Vegetable Protein. Textured Vegetable Protein (TSP or TVP as its made from soy or wheat) looks like small, rough, odd-shaped yellow granules that are dry and hard, but if you squish a bigger piece it almost powders itself. It is the substitute for "mince meat" and to eat it, you constitute it with boiling water and add it to recipes or it is used to further make the main ingredient in veggie sausages or patties.
TVP (or TSP) is a factory-made food. TSP is a "defatted soy flour product", made by extracting soybean oil and separating the protein from the whole soybean. This process often requires the use of hexane, a solvent that is actually a byproduct of the gasoline refining process.
"During this process, a slurry of soybeans is mixed with an alkaline solution that removes the fibre, which is separated from the protein in a large aluminium tank through an acid wash. The final product is a curd, which is then spray-dried at high temperatures. This results in a protein powder, which is put through a high-temperature and high-pressure process in a machine called an extruder. The result is TVP."
Soy, especially when processed or GM, can mimic oestrogen in the body and consuming large amounts of soy can really confuse our hormonal system. Therefore I think you need to be conscious when looking at your overall diet of how much you are consuming (and preferably be having it in the organic and whole or fermented forms).
If TVP is made from wheat, then you end up eating a large amount of gluten protein in a highly processed form which studies have shown to be highly inflammatory to our system.
RAISING HEALTHY KIDS ON PLANTS
When we bring our children and their health and diets into the mix, it can stir emotions. So it should. With over half the children obese now in USA and Australia and many suffering from ADHD and even anxiety, their diets (that WE feed them) are less than supportive for these innocent little ones and directly affect their health. Too much sugar, artificial flavours, colours, hydronated fats, and too much factory farmed meat. I believe we can get rid of all of that…
But can we raise them to thrive without any meat at all?
This is what I know.
Billions of Indians are Hindu are vegetarian (not vegan) and raise many many children and continue to do so, without meat in the diet.
I have met at least 30 adults in my life, who have been raised either vegetarian or vegan, and all of them are healthy.
There are not a lot of studies done on vegan or vegetarian children in particular that I could find but three years ago, through their own research the Dieticians association gave them a tick of approval.
According to the American Dietetic Association: “Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence, and for athletes.”
I raise my own children vegetarian.
I choose not to raise them vegan. Why not?
My children eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, very little processed foods BUT they are not keen on legumes. My son also is not keen on many nuts… or sea vegetables, or herbs…and I simply do not trust he gets enough of what he needs without these things.
I feed them organic, pasture raised eggs and they eat organic cheese on their pizzas. Yes, I know this supports the dairy industry - and therefore the killing of male calves and male chicks - this doesn’t feel good. However, intuitively I stick by my decision. I do it with wide open eyes.
Eggs are healthy (from healthy chickens) Cheese, well, thats probably me just being lax…it is once per week for them.
I’ve had both their bloods tested and we did stool samples recently too - as I wanted to check everything as my daughter comes into teenage hood, and my son since birth has had digestive issues….(with gut issues children and adults can experience lower levels of vitamins and minerals!)
We supplement them with zinc, my daughter with iron and both of them with probiotics. They also have my super smoothies all the time, with rice/hemp/pea protein powders, avocado, coconut oils, chia seeds, green powder mixes, nut butters, berries etc…
I share this to be transparent, and to share that it is not always black and white. I STRONGLY believe in being CRUELTY-FREE. But not at the cost of our health. Which is why I am SO passionate about educating those plant-based or moving towards that way, to make sure we take responsibility and do it in a healthy manner. (*Please note, I think this is the same for all parents, for all our children’s diet, meat or not - we need to have a little understanding of nutrition so we can teach them - it is equally, if not more, important that maths, or English, as it will affect their longterm health!)
With our children, it IS possible to raise them vegan and vegetarian - but we must do so with understanding of nutrition and making sure they get what they need for their growing bodies through what plants they do eat, and perhaps supporting them with supplementation in the right areas that they need individually.
I have never wavered in my belief that raising them vegetarian is a healthy option.
They generally are strong and healthy, but like all kids, had their share of infections (especially in that 3-5 year old stage) but now it is a cold once a year. My daughter is tall, my son is short. Does this have anything to do with their diet? Not in my belief. My brothers both ate meat, one is tall, one is short. Do some people like to blame my son’s diet on the reason he is short. Probably. Do I buy into it?
I had a moment where I considered it- and it is when I reached out to my friend, Dr Leila Masson - who is a respected paediatrician. We did some blood work, went through how he was feeling, and I got that reassurance (that sometimes we need as mothers) that it has nothing to do with it. She did help me work though his long standing GUT issues - which is important if your child is vegetarian or not!
If your child wants to be vegetarian, I believe we need to honour this deep calling to not harm another being - but always with the responsibility of substituting the meat for other high protein foods. Get support from a Dr or Naturopath or Nutritionist who is supportive and educated in this area! It does no good to go to a GP who has studied a lot - but not nutrition - and not plant-based nutrition! Getting support from a knowledgable and supportive professional is also helpful as it gets YOUR beliefs out of the way, to focus with clarity on the child. Sometimes we are simply too close to see…
Don’t give them a hard time if you are a family of meat eaters… it will cause the child to feel shame and feel unheard.
Perhaps you can even support them but doing Meat Free Monday as a family.
To raise a child without meat and dairy the same key points apply;
Varied Diet of Whole-foods. Less from a package. More from the Earth. Lots of vegetables!
Reduce foods that cause the body need for more support - that is limit or remove sugar, soft drinks, processed and packaged foods, artificial colours and flavours
Make what they do eat count - try for pesticide free, fresh where possible.
Use pastes such as hummus, tahini, nut butters to get extra protein in sandwiches or wraps.
Snacks of mixed nuts, veggie sticks and fruits, not biscuits and cakes.
Don’t just rely on tofu; try all sorts of beans, lentils, grains, seeds etc to substitute meat
Plant-based protein smoothies are a safety net
Consider supplementing where needed such as zinc, iron, Vit D, B12.
What does a typical day look like for my kids?
Breakfast Options -
Oats with plant based milk, chopped banana and some flaxseeds sprinkled on the top/ My hubby’s awesome pancakes he makes with eggs, buckwheat flour and bananas/ Rye or sourdough toast with avocado and sprouts/tomatoes/ mushrooms/ baked beans/Granola with coconut yoghurt and some fruit
Snacks - Cut up fruit/ vegetable sticks of cucumber, carrot, capsicum, celery with some sort of dip/ tamari roasted nuts/ rice crackers with Vegemite (my son… ) or nut butter/ roasted seaweed/wraps with yummy fillings
Rice/pasta/soba noodles with tofu/tempeh/ beans and 3 vegetables either steams, sauted or raw(we mix it up how it is presented such as friend rice, bimpbimpab bowl, all spread out separately on a big plate, stir fry - but it is all the same in a different look:)
Roasted vegetables/lasagna/vegetable mushroom pie/vegetable soup/mashed potatoes/steamed greens/rice paper rolls/vegetable burgers/risotto/ Mexican burritos or ‘quesadillas’/home made pizzas/ kitachi/curries (not spicy)/dumplings/sushi
This happens maybe once a week at the most as we are conscious of sugar in our home. Sorbet is the winner around here.
This is the new big area of study in recent years and for good reason. Dysbiosis and inflammation of the gut have been linked to causing several mental illnesses including anxiety and depression, which are prevalent in society today. Gut health also affects our immunity with certain cells in the lining of the gut excreting massive quantities of antibodies.
Plant foods help shape a healthy intestinal microbiome - something we need for a health gut. The fiber in plant foods promotes the growth of “friendly” bacteria in our guts. On the other hand, fiber-poor diets (such as those that are high in dairy, eggs, and meat) can foster the growth of disease-promoting bacteria.
A diet rich in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates can affect the microbiota directly and indirectly. Bacteria that thrive on fiber will increase in number and robustness but so will groups of microbes that thrive on the byproducts of fiber degradation. Diverse microbiotas are associated with better health, while low diversity and dysbiosis is associated with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. Lack of plants leads to a mucus-degrading microbiota, allowing greater access to the epithelial cells by pathogenic bacteria - which is when you start seeing problems such as leaky gut.
In 2012, Rob Knight, Ph.D., from the University of California (UC), San Diego, Jeff Leach, Ph.D., the founder of the Human Food Project, and Jack Gilbert, Ph.D., who is the faculty director of the Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago in Illinois, set out to found the American Gut Project. The project counted 15,096 samples provided by 11,336 people across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and 42 other countries and the results also concluded the same - that a more diverse plant-based diet makes for a more bacterially diverse gut.
Specifically, those who consumed more than 30 different types of plants each week had much more diverse microbiomes than those who consumed only 10 or fewer types of plant weekly. Interestingly, the results demonstrated that people who reported mental health issues had more bacteria in common with other people who reported similar problems than they did with the controls…. as we know - our gut microbiome is very important to mental health… but we are still learning more and more about this.
A key study, conducted by De Fillipo and colleagues examined the gut bacteria of European children, and compared with kids who grew up in rural Africa. The diets of the two groups were quite different; European children consumed more processed or ‘Western’ foods compared to the largely plant-based diet of the African children. Amazingly – and perhaps not surprisingly – the bacteria living in the guts of these children were completely different. The African children were found to have more types of bacteria overall, many of which are anti-inflammatory, meaning they help to combat harmful inflammation that increases risk of disease.
Diet is one factor but it isn’t everything and I do like to make sure people realise this—genetics, parasites, aging, stress, and antibiotic use are others factors that can lead to dysbiosis.
Even on a healthy vegan diet, you can experience issues with dysbiosis with the digestive system. If this happens, then I highly recommend going to see a Naturopath, who will work with stool samples, herbal treatments and diet tweaks until you GIT is back in healthy balance!
Lloyd-Price J, Abu-Ali G, Huttenhower C. The healthy human microbiome. Genome Med. 2016;8:51.
Donovan SM. Introduction to the special focus issue on the impact of diet on gut microbiota composition and function and future opportunities for nutritional modulation of the gut microbiome to improve human health. Gut Microbes. 2017;8(2):75-81.
Xu Z, Knight R. Dietary effects on human gut microbiome diversity. Br J Nutr. 2015;113 Suppl:S1-S5.
Chassard C, Lacroix C. Carbohydrates and the human gut microbiota. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013;16(4):453-460.
Dinu M, et al. Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017
You can totally be gluten-free and plant-based.
Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley. The two main proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is responsible for most of the negative health effects, which studies show range from all types of digestive disturbances, to skin problems, tiredness, mental and emotional instabilities, headaches etc. If you experience these symptoms don’t assume it is gluten, but it is good idea to cut it out for 2 weeks and then eat a slice of freshly baked bread, or eat a bowl of pasta, and observe how you feel. It isn’t hard to do, and you might find you are someone who is sensitive!
Some people are gluten sensitive, others may have a more serious issue with gluten. Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance. It affects about about 1% of the population and is an autoimmune disorder, and involves the body treating gluten as a foreign invader. The immune system attacks the gluten, as well as the lining of the gut. To find out if you have celiac disease, there are several blood tests that screen for antibodies. The most common one is called the tTG-IgA test. If that is positive, a tissue biopsy is usually recommended to confirm the results.
Cutting out gluten on a plant-based diet simply means you will choose other grains to eat. If you only slightly sensitive, a bowl of oats in the morning will be fine!
Try amaranth, buckwheat, rice (brown, white, wild), millet, quinoa, sorghum,
You can still eat all the plants, fruits, legumes you want and therefore will still be able to get a sufficient amount of nutrients to thrive!
IBS/CHROHNS/ LOW FODMAP DIETS
Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis are life long gastrointestinal disorders that are collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the conditions are an emerging global disease, with Australia having one of the highest prevalence in the world.
IBD is an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks their own body tissues.- in this case, the gastrointestinal tract. In many ways IBD has more in common with other autoimmune disorders – such as rheumatoid arthritis (which affects the joints), psoriasis (which affects the skin) and lupus (which affects the connective tissue) – than IBS.
Unlike IBD, IBS does not cause inflammation, ulcers or other damage to the bowel but can cause symptoms. Sufferers of IBD are often put on anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs and may find themselves in and out of the hospital getting segments of their intestines surgically removed - this is not the case for IBS. For both, factors such as emotional stress, infection and some foods can aggravate the condition - and therefore with attention can help soothe the conditions.
Can you be plant-based when you suffer from IBS or IBD?
With every disease and recommendation - we are ultimately individuals and respond accordingly. For those who suffer from symptoms from particular foods, it can be scary at the thought of changing their diet once they have found what works for them.
If you are still experiencing symptoms I highly recommending working with someone to see if you can tweak your diet to take the edge off! With no doubt, what you eat will affect these diseases; GLUTEN, Caffeine, alcohol, sugar, processed carbs, artificial flavours and colours, dairy - for most people, all these will aggravate and you will be a more peaceful person with out them.
What about meat? Red meat does cause inflammation in the body. This is something to consider when looking at reducing your inflammation to help your disease. Factory farmed meat and fish are never something I recommend for healthy options - because I do not believe eating meat from an animal kept in those horrible conditions, fed unnatural diets and medications, is a healthy option.
Small amounts of organic raised meat and more sustainable fish is for your own consideration and as far as I could find, not linked to making symptoms worse. I do promote plant based eating, but I also acknowledge that small amounts of meat and fish is high in nutrients for the body. The key to making it a healthy option from what I have researched is where you get it from and the amounts consumed. Quality over quantity.
There was an interesting study where, Japanese researchers took a group of Crohn’s patients in remission, either because they just came out of surgery or because they were able to beat it back with steroids. And for two years half of them ate a semi-vegetarian diet, meaning in this case vegetarian except for half a serving of fish a week, and half a serving of other meat once every two weeks, so less than one serving of meat per week.
200 days into the study all of the patients told to eat more of a plant-based diet were still in remission, but about 20% of the group not told to eat anything different relapsed. After a year 100% of the semi-veg group still symptom free, but the disease re-emerged in half of the standard diet group. And at the end of two years, 92% of the patients told to eat a more plant-based diet remained without disease, whereas the majority of those not given that advise relapsed back in the cycles of drugs, hospitalizations and surgery.
The researchers are exploring the benefits of plant based eating for Chrohns further.
Yet the tricky part in plant-based eating for those with severe digestive diseases comes when they are reacting badly to foods high in FODMAPS.
FODMAPs are short carbohydrates which are found in abundance in healthy plant-based foods. The acronym stands for 'fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols'. Overall FODMAPs are highly beneficial, acting as important 'pre-biotics', food for our healthy gut bugs which help us to build a rich and diverse microbiome.
While the benefits of a diet rich in fermentable fiber are evident, it's a diet that can be problematic for some patients with IBS or Chrohns due to the fermentation (which is good when you have a working GIT but not so fun when you do not!)
You don’t need to eliminate these foods completely, and it is possible to reduce your FODMAP intake while still maintaining a healthy and diverse plant-based diet. Firstly you need to see if you DO react to them - this is when you get support from a Naturopath or Nutritionist who knows about these things, where they will support you through an elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet to two weeks - 6 weeks, to assess whether they're FODMAP sensitive and then how you can slowly repair your gut to handle them down the track.
If you suffer from these diseases, but want to go plant based, get support from a health professional who supports your decision but also be kind to yourself and while you are doing low FODMAP, make sure you are uber focused on making what you eat count! Take your power back by figuring out what triggers you and then make the best choices you can with the options available.
The following are some:
HIGH FODMAP plant-based foods:
Rum, wine, Teas:Chamomile, Fennel, Cocoa powder, Carob
Apples, boysenbery, cheries, figs, mango, pears, tamarilos, watermelon, grapefruit, nectarine, peaches, pears, plums, prunes
Artichoke, asparagus, sugar snap peas, garlic, lentils, red kidney beans, leeks, shallots, soybeans Cauliflower, mushrooms, pumpkin, snow peas
PLANT FOODS LOW IN FODMAPS :
Rocket, bean sprouts, bok choy, lettuce, carrots, chives, capsicum, cucumber, fennel, green beans, kale, eggplant, potato, tomatoes, radish, spinach, squash, turnip, zucchini
Banana, blueberries, mandarin, coconut, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lime, orange, passionfruit, pineapple, raspberries, rockmelon, papaya, strawberries
corn, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, rice
rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk
Almonds, macadamias, pinenuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, brasil nuts
Plant-based diets are becoming more popular world wide.
A 2017 report found that 6 percent of people in the U.S. now identify as vegan, compared with just 1 percent in 2014.
Australia has 12% of the population identify as vegetarian.