‘Nearly One in Four in U.S. Have Cut Back on Eating Meat’

Justin McCarthy and Scott Dekoster for Gallup:

Nearly one in four Americans (23%) report eating less meat in the past year than they had previously, while the vast majority (72%) say they are eating the same amount of meat. […]

Certain groups are more likely than others to say they have eaten less meat in the past year:
• Women are about twice as likely as men to report having cut down on meat consumption.
• Nonwhites report having reduced meat in their diets at a higher rate than whites.
• Midwesterners are less likely to be reducing their meat consumption than adults in other parts of the country.
• About one in four residents of cities and suburbs have reduced their meat consumption, while residents in rural areas are less likely to report having done so.

This follows the report that 4 in 10 had reported trying plant-based meats in 2019.

‘The New Food Economy isn’t dead, but it’s not new anymore. Long live The Counter.’

One of the best food writing sites on the web changed its name. This part of how things are changing resonated with me:

When we launched in 2015, “the new food economy” was a term used by scholars to describe one of the largest cultural sea changes of the past 50 years—a profound shift in the way Americans think about eating, and a sweeping re-evaluation of the values that drive food production. 

But in 2020 the new food economy isn’t really new anymore. Organic is a $50-billion-dollar business. Large meatpackers are buying shares of plant-based burger companies. Terms like “regenerative agriculture” appear on the side of your cereal box. In other words, it’s no longer a revelation that eating is a matter of civic participation. Americans crave connection to their food. And the broad, transformational values that once felt niche to some—the desire for a more just, transparent, and sustainable food system—are no longer fringe concerns. They’ve gone fully mainstream, and the stories we cover make front-page news. 

‘Can Vegans And Ranchers Work Together To Rebuild The World’s Soil?’

Brian Kateman for Forbes:

The agriculture sector is one of the biggest emitters of CO2. A 2018 study published in Nature concluded that Americans need to eat 90% less beef and 60% less milk to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius.

But as awareness spreads around the benefits of a plant-based diet on the environment, a growing regenerative agriculture (RA) movement says livestock is actually integral to shaping farming practices that will save the planet.

The world’s soil has been degraded by humans via their management of animals—ploughing, intense grazing and clear-cutting—and according to the United Nations, it will be completely degraded in the next 60 years. […]

While there is growing awareness of RA, it has some way to go before it becomes mainstream. But, beginning this year, food made from RA practices will have its own food label.

The Regenerative Organic certification will be applicable to foods made of organic agricultural ingredients, sourced from farms that practice pasture-based animal welfare and prioritize soil health, biodiversity, land management and carbon sequestration.

Clearer labeling and a better world. I like it.

‘The Future of Recycling Is Sanitation Workers Rejecting Your Bin’

Leslie Kaufman for Bloomberg Green:

The team tags the trash prominently with an OOPS label reminiscent of a hotel “do not disturb” sign. It has two purposes. The first is to lightheartedly explain to the owners what they’ve done wrong. The tag includes illustrations of most common forbidden categories, such as plastic bags. The second is to tell the recycling trucks not to pick up. Residents either fix the problem or forgo service.

“Zero tolerance brings the quickest compliance,” says Cecilia Shutters, the technical adviser for Feet on the Street, the program Atlanta is using to corral its residents into better recycling behavior.

Deliberately rejecting recycling might sound like a rough tactic, but for city recycling programs these are desperate times. For about two decades, the U.S. and most of the world sent much of its dirtiest recycling to China, where cheap labor sorted through the mess extracting valuables and dumping the rest. But in 2017, China severely tightened rules for taking contaminated trash.

The fallout has been dramatic. Five years ago, China took 40% of America’s recyclables, according to the National Waste and Recycling Association, a Washington, D.C. area-based industry advocacy group. Now almost none of it goes to China.

Americans and their recycling programs are going to have to evolve following the loss of China. We’re years, if not decades, behind because of our dependence on them — and now that they’re not taking anymore, we’re drowning.

“Look, the way we’ve taught people to recycle is horrendous,” says Susan Collins, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute, a California nonprofit group. “No other country does it like this.” In Japan, some towns demand that residents sort trash into 45 separate categories, including separate bins for pillows and toothbrushes.

We need to take more baby steps soon. We’re not ready for 45 separate categories, but we have to start somewhere.

‘Personalized nutrition could be the next plant-based meat, worth $64 billion by 2040, says UBS’

Maggie Fitzgerald for CNBC:

Imagine receiving customized nutrition advice based on your personal biologic or genetic profile. That’s the “future of food,” according to a UBS analyst, who sees diet personalization as the next plant-based meat.

Personalized nutrition could generate annual revenues as high as $64 billion by 2040, the firm said. […]

UBS said it sees four major industries capitalizing on this opportunity: Medical diagnosis firms to extract and interpret test results; Technology companies to develop wearable tech and integrated platforms for users to receive ongoing interactive feedback; Food producers to meet nutritional demand; And, food delivery companies to meet consumers’ increasing demand for convenience.

My dream is to readily and easily be able to understand if I’m getting all the things I need. I have no idea how a smartwatch or phone could discern that, but I’d love to see it happen. Now, my fingers will be crossed until 2040.

‘Four in 10 Americans Have Eaten Plant-Based Meats’

Forty-one percent of Americans report having personally tried a plant-based meat, with age being the biggest factor in whether they have done so. About half of adults younger than 50, versus 26% of those 65 and older, have eaten a plant-based meat.

Income and age had the largest effect in their report. And most who tried them reported they would try them again.

‘The Alphabet Soup of Responsible Investing Needs a Good Stir’

Mark Gilbert for Bloomberg Opinion about the shortcomings of responsible investment opportunities:

Investors continue to pour funds into passive investment products that aim to replicate the performance of benchmark indexes. They’re also increasingly keen that their money gets used to influence corporations to stop damaging the planet and improve social inclusiveness. Unfortunately, many of the products designed to achieve both objectives currently fall short on the goal of responsible investing.

The shift in emphasizing environmental, social and governance issues puts pressure on the index providers to come up with benchmarks that more accurately reflect the concerns investors are attempting to express by allocating capital to ESG investment products. Currently, though, even dedicated ESG indexes have shortcomings that many investors are probably unaware of.

The U.S. Vegan Climate exchange-traded fund, for example, tracks a $124 billion index created by Beyond Investing that excludes companies engaged in a laundry list of potentially harmful activities, including animal exploitation, human rights abuses and fossil fuels extraction. While the $14 million ETF’s top five holdings — Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Facebook Inc., Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. — may all meet those criteria, they’re hardly the first names that spring to mind when thinking about the words vegan or climate. And there are many other examples.

But Gilbert sees a way out:

There are two main routes whereby ETF providers can meet the implicit demands of clients allocating money to passively managed ESG products. The first is to use their collective muscle to prompt index providers to increase the granularity of the benchmarks used to shape asset allocations. Improving the discrimination of ESG indexes would go a long way to ensuring investors aren’t being hoodwinked into products that aren’t as green or socially savvy as they first appear.

The second is trickier. Excluding companies deemed to be damaging the environment or being socially irresponsibly isn’t enough to move the needle. Engaging with the boards of those firms and using the clout of a shareholding to force them to change their ways is much more effective.

After BlackRock announced last week that it would try to shift its focus to try to reflect its values, I hope we continue to push this discussion into wider forums. Voting with cash is the strongest vote we have.


Anna Starostinetskaya for Vegnews:

Nearly one in four (23 percent) of new product launches in the United Kingdom in 2019 were labelled “vegan,” according to data compiled by market research firm Mintel. Last year, the UK overtook Germany as the world’s top producer of vegan products after Mintel’s figures showed that one in six (16 percent) of new UK product launches in 2018 were vegan.

Staggering. Almost one in every four products. Go UK go!

‘Why Cauliflower Wings Started Appearing on Every Bar Menu’

Alicia Kennedy for Tendlerly:

I’ve been trying to figure out the origin of the cauliflower wing as a bar food staple to no avail. In the early 2010s, vegan bloggers had begun to figure out that hunks of the vegetable could be breaded, fried, and dunked in hot sauce just like the tofu and tempeh wings of yore, with PETA putting out their recipe way back in 2012. The folks behind Brooklyn vegan restaurant Toad Style, who’ve recently brought their cauliflower wings back onto the menu, tell me they remember seeing them at a Super Bowl party in 2013 — it turned them from Buffalo tempeh lovers into cauliflower believers.

I’m almost positive the first I had them was at Mohawk Bend, which opened in 2011. The item was a staple on their menu from the get-go and always recommended by servers (because it’s delicious, duh). It was undoubtedly the first place I saw it in LA. Within a year or two, I saw it on the menu at Sage down the street — and now it’s everywhere.

I can’t think of a vegan dish that’s traveled further and faster. This was THE vegan evangelist before Impossible and Beyond burger came into our world. And it’s still doing work. It really is everywhere, and the universality has made for more variety and exploration — aka more joy. Tempura-style, beer-battered, new sauces, and more and more… and every single one has been a wonderful addition to a dish that is still in its infancy.

As we crest into a mildly healthier world, though still fried, this vegetable is giving everyone a crunchy, lighter option in our deep-fried existence.