New law could end the sale of dog meat in South Korea…

…though of course, less cuddly animals will still find themselves on the nation’s menus. Anyway, here’s the report:

The South Korean Government recently made headlines with the announcement that they would be banning the import of cruelly-poached animals, including dolphins caught in the infamous Taiji Cove. And the good news has not stopped there — the South Korean Government has set a new amendment bill that will cover animal rights!

Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) had been pressuring the South Korean Government to address animal welfare issues, like the dog meat trade, and garnered “countless” petition signatures from concerned citizens in support of change. CARE explainsSouth Korea’s new amendment bill as such: “The amendment bill includes a clause that gives provision to establish a policy for the protection of animal rights.”


San Francisco bans fur sales. Should we applaud now?

So, San Francisco has banned the sale of fur. The proposal sailed through the Board of Supervisors with no objections.

Anyone surprised?

San Francisco is the ultra-liberal city your Trump-loving aunt Nora brings up when she wants to describe hell on earth without actually maligning Satan’s home turf. “Eat with chopsticks? Are you kidding? I’d rather move to San Francisco.”

Outlawing fur sales is pretty much spot-on brand for San Francisco, is what I’m trying to say.

To be honest, I wonder how many places in San Francisco even sell fur nowadays. I have a hunch that I could count them on two hands. Possibly one.

I also wonder how many San Franciscans have the nerve to wear fur in public. I mean,  it’s not even that cold.

But for those few folks who refuse to give up their beloved pelts–and I’m sure there are a couple–the new law won’t pose much of a problem. Plenty of other places in California still sell fur coats.

In other words, San Francisco is patting itself on the back for passing a law that has limited impact on businesses and consumers. The minks and chinchillas and foxes it saves will no doubt be grateful.

If cows, pigs, chickens, and fish could shrug, I’m sure they would.

Tipping point: Beef lobby is worried about the threat of “fake meat”

America’s dairy industry understands the threat–or to many of us, the promise–of cruelty-free dairy alternatives like soy, coconut, and almond milk. Its lobbyists are working overtime on legislation that would regulate the use of terms like “milk” and (allegedly) prevent confusion among consumers.

Now, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association is grumbling about the growing number of cruelty-free meat alternatives, and it’s preparing to take action in capitol buildings and courtrooms. To vegans and vegetarians, that should suggest that we’ve reached a tipping point:

The association launched what could be the first salvo in a long battle against plant-based foods. Earlier this month, the association filed a 15-page petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for an official definition for the term “beef,” and more broadly, “meat.”

“While at this time alternative protein sources are not a direct threat to the beef industry, we do see improper labeling of these products as misleading,” said Lia Biondo, the association’s policy and outreach director. “Our goal is to head off the problem before it becomes a larger issue.”

Next on my reading list: ‘Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World’

After you’ve been vegetarian or vegan for a while, it’s hard to imagine eating meat ever again. Whether you stopped consuming it for health reasons, environmental reasons, moral reasons, or all three, there’s something about the texture of meat and knowing where it comes from that’ll make your stomach churn.

But that change can be slow to happen, even for dedicated abstainers–and of course many people never experience it because they’re 100% happy eating meat.

So, what’s a planet to do? How do we shift away from cruelty and unsustainable farming practices and toward alternatives that are friendlier toward animals, people, and the environment?

Obviously, the answer isn’t getting over seven billion humans to go vegan. Nor is it changing the definition of meat. (My father will never be seduced by the charms of a portobello burger.)

According to Paul Shapiro’s new book, Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, the answer to this pressing question involves using today’s technology to upend the very way that meat is farmed. Instead of killing cows raised on feed lots, Shapiro says that we’re at the point where we can grow legit meat in labs. Fast Company reports:

For Shapiro, writing this book at this time was just common sense. “We’re quickly reaching peak meat,” he says. “And the question really is: How are we going to feed the coming billions of people on our planet in the next few decades?” Certainly not through large-scale animal agriculture, a key driver of climate change and one of the most resource-intensive and wasteful industries on the planet. In a particularly compelling passage of the book, Shapiro encourages readers to imagine, while walking through the grocery store, over 1,000 single-gallon jugs of water stacked up next to each whole chicken for sale: That is how much water is required to bring a single chicken from farm to shelf, and poultry is far less resource-intensive and environmentally damaging than beef.

Moving down the food chain from meat to grains and vegetables allows more food to be produced, and makes it easier to feed people en masse (we would have much more grain to give to people, for instance, if we did not have to allocate so much of it for animal feed). But global trends are pushing people away from plants and toward more meat consumption: As nations like China and India develop, Shapiro notes that people living there previously on a primarily animal-free diet are now beginning to adjust to a more American-style diet, heavy in meat and dairy (and thanks, in no small part, to the proliferation of fast food empires like McDonald’s across the developing world).

“So we’re at the point where we can try to persuade people in the United States to voluntarily eat less meat, which is a good idea, but we can also try to produce meat with fewer resources,” Shapiro says. “It’s kind of like how you can try to get people to turn off their light bulbs more, but you can also invent a light bulb that’s so energy efficient that it wouldn’t even matter if they left it on.” The idea behind clean meat, Shapiro says, is avoiding the potential pitfalls of calling for a sweeping behavior shift, and instead tweaking the root of the thing that fuels that behavior in the first place.

Vegan fast food may be coming to a drive-in near you

I haven’t heard much about Plant Power, a California-based vegan fast-food chain. Then again, I live in Louisiana, which is a little behind the curve when it comes to plant-based diets. If the company ever decides to plant a flag on this side of the Rockies, though, I’ll be among the first in line for a Holy Guacamole burger–with a root beer float, of course. Forbes reports:

Founders Jeffrey Harris, Zach Vouga and Mitch Wallis started Plant Power Fast Food to combat the impact that the consumption of animal products has had on the health of millions of Americans by providing a plant-based fast-food alternative. “The fast-food industry has successfully answered a need by providing a convenient way to get our meals on the go while at the same time delivering a consistent taste experience. The downside is that, by and large, this type of food isn’t very good for you,” says Harris. “Our goal has been to inspire people to begin to ask themselves some important questions about where our food comes from and perhaps to begin to think differently about their choices. But we’re not doing it in a way that’s preachy or confrontational.”

As well as containing no animal ingredients, the comfort food dishes on offer at Plant Power Fast Food are also free from cholesterol, GMO, artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives, thereby appealing to people who want healthier fast-food options. “We’re really a plant-based, healthier version of McDonald’s, In & Out, Burger King, Wendy’s or Jack in the Box,” says Harris.

Welsh dairy farmers see vegans as an urgent threat

The Welsh may not be concerned about the train wreck that is Brexit, but their dairy farmers sure are worried about vegans. Too bad the farmers don’t understand what they’re doing wrong:

Wales Dairy Show chairman Colin Evans said a rise in vegan celebrities meant farmers needed to “prove” that they “produce food in a healthy manner”….

The dairy show’s Mr Evans said the growth in the vegan movement was worrying for the industry.

“It must be of concern to us. Celebrities are now getting behind promotional drives for veganism or vegetarianism,” he said.

“We must have the answers ready for these people and to prove that we do look after our animals and we do produce food in a healthy manner.” [emphasis mine]

Mr. Evans, vegans aren’t really worried about whether you “produce food in a healthy manner”, whatever that means. They’re worried about the way you treat cows. The difference is significant.

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.