Who doesn’t like a little pea in their milk?

Yes, I make puns like that because I’m nine.

But seriously, by some accounts, pea protein is the next big thing, and could help make an even bigger dent in the dairy industry. Here’s how one company’s doing it:

While dairy milk sales are dropping–one report suggests that total sales will fall 11% between 2015 and 2020–nondairy milk is predicted to grow from a $2 billion market in the U.S. now to nearly $3 billion in 2020.

In the past, consumers often tended to choose nondairy milks because regular milk wasn’t an option for them–they were vegan, or allergic to dairy. But the leading reasons now are nutrition and taste concerns; sustainability is also a driver. Milk has a large carbon footprint because of the production of grain for cows, methane from cow burps and manure, and the energy used to produce and distribute the final product. In a life-cycle analysis, Ripple calculated that it produces roughly a third of the emissions of dairy for a glass of milk because the main ingredient, peas, takes far fewer resources to produce–and peas don’t burp. Almond and soy milk have similarly low carbon footprints (though because almond milk has far less protein, if you compare the carbon footprint on the basis of protein, its footprint is significantly worse than dairy). Almond milk also has a much larger water footprint….

If consumers are choosing nondairy milk just to be more responsible (rather than because they can’t digest lactic acid, for example), Ripple believes that taste is critical. “Those motivations are more wants and desires, so if those aren’t met in the products they’re using, they’ll just switch back to milk,” says Lowry.


Anyone tried this cookbook yet?

Vegan Food for the Rest of Us sounds like a great addition to my shelf. From an interview with the author (conducted by Joe Yonan, no less):

I can say uncompromisingly that the moral edge goes to those who don’t eat meat. That said, food is very important to people emotionally, and it’s important to recognize that. Giving up food that has meant so much to you your whole life is a very big project. So do it gradually.

People should become morally more rigorous in their thinking, but better about cutting themselves slack. Food means more to us than sustenance — it’s comfort and family. You’re asking a lot of yourself to make dietary changes. So honor yourself and do your best.

Growing human skin in labs to curb animal testing

This is well worth a read:

Growing human skin in a petri dish isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the name L’Oréal. Yet the French cosmetics giant, whose other brands include Lancôme, Maybelline New York, Ralph Lauren Fragrances and The Body Shop, also produces gelatinous, dime-sized blobs called EpiSkin.

The company’s researchers use the lab-produced tissue to test the efficacy of ingredients and tolerance of products before they go to market. This is part of a larger, ongoing effort within the scientific community to reduce and replace the use of live rabbits, mice and other laboratory animals in tests and experiments.

Holy cow: Americans are eating about 20% less beef

That headline might seem like great news for our bovine friends and the environment, but sadly, there’s more to the story:

U.S. beef consumption fell by nearly one-fifth — or 19 percent — on a per capita basis from 2005 to 2014, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said Wednesday in a report. Eating less beef resulted in pollution reductions equal to removing 39 million cars from U.S. roads.

“I’m used to bad news on climate, but this is a rare bright spot,” said Sujatha Bergen, the study’s lead author and a policy specialist in NRDC’s food and agriculture program.

“It doesn’t mean that we’ve done all we can, but it’s very motivating to know we’ve made some emissions reductions,” she said.

But keep reading:

Lance Zimmerman of CattleFax, an industry information service, noted that record drought in Texas and other cattle-growing areas drastically lowered the headcount of cattle in recent years.

U.S. beef production has since recovered, but not all of that extra meat stayed home. The United States was a net exporter of beef from 2011 to 2013, meaning that even though the nation was producing more beef — likely resulting in higher emissions — Americans weren’t actually the ones eating it, Zimmerman said.

Globally, meat consumption is expected to soar by nearly 73 percent by 2050 unless people make a concerted effort to cut back, the Food and Agricultural Organization estimated.



Impossible Burger, achievable goals?

If you haven’t gotten your hands on an Impossible Burger yet, sit tight. The company that produces the plant-based patty at the heart of the sammich wants to see it on 1,000 restaurant menus by the end of 2017:

The burger is currently available at 11 restaurants, including 3 that launched it on March 23. But by the end of the year, the company expects to supply 1,000 restaurants. It just signed a deal to have the burgers featured in the San Francisco Giant’s baseball stadium.

For the company, achieving scale is a critical part of achieving its mission. Brown started working on the project while thinking about the problem of climate change; raising cows and other animals for meat is one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases. It also uses and pollutes more water than any other industry, and drives deforestation. But he realized that the majority of the world wouldn’t voluntarily go vegetarian for those reasons.

“Billions of people around the world who love meat are not going to stop demanding it, so we just have to find a better way to produce it,” he says.

Organs-on-chips point to a brighter future for lab animals

I first heard about Harvard University’s Wyss Institute and its (now hyphenated) organs-on-chips back in 2015. Since then, the Institute has continued to refine the technology, and it’s launched a start-up called Emulate, Inc. to license it. If you’re not familiar with the chips –and why they might eventually bring about the end of animal-based lab tests–check out the Institute’s informative website.

Just to be clear, I don’t think the chips will be in widespread use tomorrow or next year. However, the accuracy they promise and the conversations they’ve sparked about the validity, necessity, and cruelty of animal testing is really, really encouraging.