Stella McCartney is making it easier for other fashion brands to be animal-friendly

Designer Stella McCartney is taking what I’ll call a “Tesla approach” to fashion.

Tesla wasn’t happy with today’s batteries and wanted better ones for its electric cars, so the company constructed a massive factory devoted to improving battery technology and building better products. Next, it’ll sell those batteries to other electric car manufacturers, bringing the whole industry along.

McCartney–a lifelong vegetarian–is doing something similar with silk. Fast Company reports:

McCartney’s latest venture is a collaboration with Bolt Threads, an eight-year-old startup that has created a product called Microsilk, which is bioengineered to mimic the chemistry and strength of real silk created by spiders in nature. The resulting material will be a triple win if it can be produced at enough scale to be used in fashion: No insects are killed or harmed, the use of petroleum is limited, and manufacturing it does not require resources like land or water.

But rather than leave other labels in the dust, McCartney wants to bring them along with her. She knows that by developing and using environmentally friendly materials in her own collections, and talking about it, she can apply pressure to luxury fashion and all apparel to follow suit. Ultimately, her goal is to make real cultural change in the world.

 

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The unthinkable has happened: Gucci has stopped using fur (for the right reasons)

Though sadly, Bloomberg’s Robert Williams can’t stop himself from taking a swipe at animal-rights activists in the lede.

Italian fashion house Gucci plans to drop animal fur from its collections, showing how concerns about responsible business practices that originated with the Birkenstock brigade have galvanized an industry known for its celebration of excess.

The Milan-based maker of $1,000 fur-lined slippers, part of French luxury conglomerate Kering, will sell its remaining fur items in a charity auction, the company said in a statement Thursday, citing the “deprivation and cruelty suffered by fur-bearing animals.”

The move, effective next spring, comes as high-end brands join consumer-goods giants like Unilever and Nestle SA in responding to growing ethical, environmental and social awareness among consumers, especially millennials. The luxury industry’s use of animal skins has become a touchstone of these concerns for protesters who have flocked to fashion shows around the world.

Two escaped piglets lead the charge against America’s vicious “ag-gag” laws

The outstanding, controversial, and–let’s be honest–devilishly handsome Glenn Greenwald has written a magnificent piece about animal rights activists and their efforts to undo America’s ag-gag laws. Recently, the activists have gotten some help from two little piglets who escaped from a factory farm in a brazen break-out that’s led to interstate chases, search warrants, and plenty of talk about freedom of speech:

The factory farm industry and its armies of lobbyists wield great influence in the halls of federal and state power, while animal rights activists wield virtually none. This imbalance has produced increasingly oppressive laws, accompanied by massive law enforcement resources devoted to punishing animal activists even for the most inconsequential nonviolent infractions — as the FBI search warrant and raid in search of “Lucy and Ethel” illustrates.

The U.S. government, of course, has always protected and served the interests of industry. Beginning when most of the nation was fed by small farms, federal agencies have been particularly protective of agricultural industry. That loyalty has only intensified as family farms have nearly disappeared, replaced by industrial factory farms where animals are viewed purely as commodities, instruments for profit, and treated with unconstrained cruelty.

Lately, opposition is emerging from unusual places. Utah federal judge Robert J. Shelby, an Obama appointee who is a lifelong Republican, recently struck down the state’s ag-gag law on First Amendment grounds, noting in his ruling:

For as long as farmers have put food on American tables, the government has endeavored to support and protect the agricultural industry. … In short, governmental protection of the American agricultural industry is not new, and has taken a variety of forms over the last two hundred years. What is new, however, is the recent spate of state laws that have assumed an altogether novel approach: restricting speech related to agricultural operations.

It’s not pretty, but it’s an important read.

One small step for man, one giant leap backward for pigs and other lab animals

Lately, I’ve been feeling optimistic about the field of medicine. Animal testing is slowly, surely being phased out, and scientists are working on a host of advances like lab-grown organs and organs on chips that could reduce our reliance on pigs, rats, and other lab animals even further.

So, it’s a little disheartening to read this:

Researchers at Harvard University and the nearby biotech startup eGenesis used CRISPR-Cas9, a new gene-editing method that replaces unwanted segments of DNA with “desirable” ones, to allow pig embryos to develop without harboring pig viruses that are harmful to humans.

The new research is detailed in a study published in the journal Science on Thursday. In it, the scientists show how they were able to generate 37 designer pigs without active porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) that can be transmitted to humans and are potentially deadly.

The study further increases hope that xenotransplantation — the use of animal organs for human transplant — could one day be used to assist with a shortage of crucial human organs like hearts, livers, and lungs.

But wait, it gets worse:

Before these kinds of transplants are allowed, other genetic changes may need to be made to pigs, and regulators will require tests using lab primates prior to using genetically engineered organs in humans. [emphasis mine]

Look, I get that people need medicine and organs. I get that. It just seems that with all the technology at our disposal, we could find a better way of doing it. Didn’t anyone read Never Let Me Go?

‘But where do you get your protein?” is a dumb question to ask vegans and vegetarians

When people find out you’re a vegetarian or vegan, they ask a lot of questions. Some of those questions are dumb:

Them: Why do you care more about animals than you do about starving babies?

You: I don’t. I care about both.

Them: Whaaaaat? *Brain explodes*

Or the one I get asked by my father:

Dad: I know you don’t eat meat, but you can still have chicken, right?

Me: *Sigh*

Then there are ones that seem less dumb, but are, as the New York Times points out, pretty stupid. At the top of that list: “Where do you get your protein?”.

The recommended intake for a healthy adult is 46 grams of protein a day for women and 56 grams for men. And while protein malnutrition is a problem for millions of people around the globe, for the average adult in developed countries, we are eating far more protein than we actually need.

Most American adults eat about 100 grams of protein per day, or roughly twice the recommended amount. Even on a vegan diet people can easily get 60 to 80 grams of protein throughout the day from foods like beans, legumes, nuts, broccoli and whole grains….

And few seem to be aware that there may be long-term risks of consuming too much protein, including a potential increased risk of kidney damage.

Google makes it easy for employees to eat less meat

Google wants everyone to eat less meat, and it’s devising strategies to achieve that goal. Given the company’s massive workforce, makes sense that Google would try out some of its approaches on its own employees:

One theory: Restaurants need new recipes to compete with so-called “power dishes”–the entrees most commonly found on menus in the United States. Right now, number one is a chicken sandwich, followed by a chicken salad, and salmon. Out of the top 20, only one, a veggie sandwich/wrap, doesn’t have meat. Google, along with a small group of other organizations that are part of the Better Buying Lab, has spent the last six months experimenting with recipes for a new “plant-forward” dish that could make the list…..

The company’s typical strategy is not to try to convert meat-lovers immediately to fully vegetarian food; this is in line with a World Resources Institute study that calculated that if meat-heavy regions cut back on meat 17%, it could reduce their per-person greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by about half. The blended burger, like a similar burger now served at some locations of the fast-food chain Sonic, is a good example of the reduction strategy. The mushrooms, which soak up the flavor of the beef as they cook and add moisture, make the patty taste better while trimming the carbon footprint. The version served at Google has slowly increased the percentage of mushrooms in the patty from 20% to 50%. (Because beef has the highest carbon footprint of any meat, Google says it is particularly aggressive in its work to reduce the beef each Googler consumes). In other dishes, meat might shift from being the center of the meal to a side or garnish.

Nars goes to China and starts testing on animals. Fans aren’t having it.

If you use makeup on a regular basis, I have some disappointing news. Nars–which used to tout its cruelty-free policy–is now testing its lipsticks, eyeliners, and mascaras on animals. That’s because the brand started selling in China, where animal testing is required, at least for foreign companies.

Mashable reports on the change, with a link to an Instagram post where Nars attempts to respond to backlash from fans. If you click through, you can see that…well, it isn’t going so well.

We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen. We firmly believe that product and ingredient safety can be proven by non-animal methods, but we must comply with the local laws of the markets in which we operate, including in China. We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law. NARS is committed and actively working to advance alternative testing methods. We are proud to support the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a globally recognized organization at the forefront of advancing non-animal methods in China and around the world. NARS is hopeful that together, we can work toward a cruelty-free world. For more on the good work IIVS is doing, see: http://bit.ly/2rVjnwV

A post shared by @narsissist on Jun 27, 2017 at 8:18am PDT