Art First, Eat After – Carve up your Fruit & Veg Japanese-Style

In Japan’s culture, its long tradition of exquisite perfection in every field of art and craft, there is always a spiritual dimension. The famous tea ceremony, bonsai, Zen gardens, shodo (calligraphy), netsuke (miniature sculptures), martial arts, to name but a few, all have certain qualities in common: “harmony, asymmetrical balance, artlessness, impermanence, and unity with the universe.” H.E. Davey (quoted from ‘The Serious Intensity of Being’ in Animal Art)

Food carving is one Japanese art form I have never come across before, but apparently it has a long and rich tradition, and goes by the name of mukimono. If you visit Japan and have the wherewithal to dine at one of its more classy restaurants, you may find a mukimono creation garnishing your meal. gaku-6

It’s hard to believe artist Gaku can create these exquisite edible plant wonders in a matter of just minutes. If you think about it he has to. Once you cut open an apple for instance, it will very soon discolour with oxidisation.gaku-2



What does he do with his completed creations? He eats them of course!


The pics on his Instagram account are even more amazing – check them out here. Really, you should.











Next-level Food Carving on Fruits and Vegetables by Gaku – Colossal

Intricate Fruit & Vegetable Carving by Gaku – Happy Braing

Related posts

Cake Anyone – A Slice of Surprise

The ‘Serious Intensity of Being’ in Animal Art

Dairy in Decline? It’s Not That Black & White

Down on the dairy farm, US farmers are weeping into their breakfast cereal. Because milk is hitting the headlines once again. Honestly though, when is it ever out of them? Not that that is surprising since we are drowning in a deluge of the stuff, here in the UK, in Europe, and in the US too.
american-flag-793891__340It seems that across the pond, people are losing their appetite for dairy. Americans are buying 37 percent less of it than they did 50 years ago.That’s quite a drop.
On the other side of the scales, plant-milk sales have shot up to a $1 billion.“Veganism has turned mainstream”, and plant-based milk brands are winning a huge customer base, admits the industry’s own paper, The Dairy Reporter.
This downturn in dairy and upturn in plant-milks no doubt have something to do with the US’s colossal ‘cheese mountain’.¹ It would take each woman, man, child, infant and babe in the country devouring an additional 3lbs of the stuff to make any significant impact on the surplus.

(Dave Schilling for the Guardian suggests a few absurd ideas of what to do with all the excess, such as towing it out into the Pacific Ocean to make a large floating island. “It’ll be a great place for cruise ships to stop for a cheesy photo opp. Plus, you can take a hunk of it home, like the Berlin Wall.”)

Meanwhile back in the US, dairymen with their heads screwed on have been quick to implement the ‘if you can’t beat’em, join’em’ principle, and are busy knocking down cowsheds and planting almond groves in their place. The number of Californian almond groves has nearly doubled over the past decade.²

But of course there are many who are simply not willing to bow to the inevitable and are putting up a fight. What they hope will be their weapon against the ever-growing unwanted surplus of their dairy products and rocketing sales of plant milks is the proposed Dairy Pride Act. Dairy Pride in case you didn’t know – I didn’t – stands for “Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk, and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act.” Hmm.

This would mean unless Almond Breeze, Silk, White Wave et al,  are “the lacteal secretion… of one or more healthy cows,” (yummy) you won’t be able to call them ‘milk’. Because calling them milk is so confusing to the poor consumer, right? They might buy almond milk thinking it comes from cows. (Heavy irony in case you can’t tell.)

Emily Byrd gives us Dairy Pride Explained, her witty assessment of the contentious issue. It’s well worth a read. She imagines a few alternative product descriptions if the DP bill passes into law:

  • Cream of Wheat might have to called “liquefied wheat”
  • Almond Milk  – “nut juice”
  • And my personal favourite, peanut Butter – “peanut sludge”
But Dairy Pride is more than just a joke. The Animal Legal Defense League sees its dangers:

It’s “a blatant attempt by the dairy industry to stifle the rise of plant-based products that many consumers choose as healthier and more humane alternatives by prohibiting such products from using “milk” or “cheese” in their names.”

And, “designed to discourage people from purchasing healthy and humane alternatives to dairy milk products and to ensure the continuation of cruel factory farming despite consumers’ growing interest in products that don’t require animal cruelty.”

 If you agree with them please sign & share ADFL’s petition against the bill here

Tell Congress to Dump the Dairy Pride Act here

The Good Food Institute lawyers call the Act unconstitutional. Read more here

dutch-flag-889734__340Meanwhile over on this side of the pond and across the channel, Dutch dairy farmers too are wringing their hands and crying into their porridge. The Dutch dairy industry, now at four million cows, has been told it’s got too big and bloated and the EU is not happy.

This time it’s not just about stemming the flow of the white stuff into the European milk lake. Brussels says dairy farmers need to put a lid on the spiralling levels of phosphates in feed and of nitrates in fertilizer use, both well over EU permitted limits for their country. What is the problem with that? Neatly explained for the layperson like myself here.

So on 1st March this year the Netherlands, Europe’s third largest producer of dairy, began a painful program of shrinking the industry by 5%, down to 2015 levels.

The Dutch government is paying dairy farmers to stop farming dairy – crazy world we live in! Wouldn’t we all love to be paid for stopping doing something? So much for the free market beloved of capitalists.

Is this enforced Dutch dairy slim-down good news? Of course it is. It means fewer animals to endure the life of suffering that is the lot of the dairy cow.

But the dark side of the program will see 100,000 of these gentle creatures sent to an even more untimely death than is the norm. I’m not sure that knowing they will be saved further suffering is much consolation for the sadness of seeing over the next couple of months those 100,000 individuals’ lives snuffed out.

globe-868846__340So yes, markets for dairy are shrinking in America and Europe. That’s the good news. Worldwide the picture is not so bright. The global trend for dairy is not down as it looks from our western perspective, but up. And up by a lot. According to the milk production facts from the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO):

In the last three decades, world milk production has increased by more than 50%, from 500 million tonnes in 1983 to 769 million tonnes in 2013.

2020_symbolAnd global sales, though slowing a little, are expected to keep on growing. So while the US domestic market is shrinking, futurologists for the US Dairy Exporter Council (USDEC) actually forecast a positive outlook for their exports.

“We are encouraged to see that, despite the recent prolonged soft export market, long-term global dairy demand fundamentals are still in place that will again pressure available milk supplies,” said USDEC President Tom Suber. “This should bring both higher prices and a resumed export upside for U.S. suppliers.”

USDEC’s latest report says: “Growth will be driven by economic and population dynamics in developing countries.”

And it looks like Dave Schilling can forget about his fantasy cheese island in the Pacific, since cheese is identified as presenting “the most significant growth opportunity for the U.S. dairy industry.” Seems they are confident of shifting that particular mountain after all.

So the future is looking bright for the world’s dairy farmers. But bleak for the environment.


Bleak too for those of us who are fighting for the environment and animal rights.
But most of all for the 264 million dairy cows in the world right now, and the even greater numbers to come.


Please don’t forget to sign and share those petitions. Thank you!

And please support the Vegan Society’s Grow Green plan for the future of food here

¹ A Cheese Glut is Overtaking America – The Wall Street Jopurnal

² It’s Finally Happening – Dairy Farmers Are Converting to Almond Groves – One Green Planet

Read more about the Dairy Pride Act here

March 18th 2017

Some good news: Large Dairy Company Ditches Dairy after 90 years and Starts Producing Plant-Based Milks Instead


Dutch dairy cull plan agreed by EU – Farmers Weekly

5 Global Dairy Trends for 2020 for U.S. Exporters – U.S. Dairy Export Council Blog

Statistics: Dairy Cows – Compassion in World Farming

Related posts

Will New Pea Milk Spell the Demise of Dairy?

Mountains of Cheese, Lakes of Milk, and What We Can Do about it

Why Cows Need Their Friends

I’ve seen you in the meat aisle

Fruits of the Earth as you’ve never seen them before

Which to you looks more appetising, this – lives wiped out in bloody violence –
or the luscious feast for the eyes from nature’s bounty pictured below, that also just happens to be kinder to the planet, to indigenous peoples, and to animals.

30 Fascinating Photos That Reveal What Food Looks Like Before Harvest Time | True Activist by Brianna Acuesta 

(Special thanks to JoAnn Chateau for sharing the goodness with us)

It’s crazy how little we know about the origins of our food.

When people say that humans often don’t know what is in the food they consume, they’re usually talking about highly processed foods found at the store or at fast food restaurants. What many people don’t think about, however, is that the origins of the healthy food they eat can be just as bizarre as the processed products.

Below are photos of foods that are grown around the world that most people have never seen in their natural element before. These photos give a startling insight into the world of food that many ignore, even when it comes to healthy food items.


Peanuts grow low to the ground.
Photo: Bored Panda


Cashews dangling from a limb.
Photo: Bored Panda


Brussels sprout plants growing in a garden.
Photo: Bored Panda


Cacao growing on a tree.
Photo: Bored Panda


Sesame seeds growing, stalks and pods.
Photo: Bored Panda


Cranberries growing, blooms, berries, bog.
Photo: Bored Panda


Pistachios growing from a tree branch.
Photo: Bored Panda


Pineapple plants growing in pot and in the ground.
Photo: Bored Panda


Vanilla pods hanging from a vine.
Photo: Bored Panda


Trees branches with almond blossoms or nuts.
Photo: Bored Panda


Two views of a kiwi orchard.
Photo: Bored Panda


Green and ripe black pepper berries hanging from a tree.
Photo: Bored Panda


Colorful banana tree.
Photo: Bored Panda


Cinnamon trees with rusty orange bark.
Photo: Bored Panda


Saffron being harvested by hand.
Photo: Bored Panda


Pomegranate blossoms and fruit growing on trees.
Photo: Bored Panda


Avocados hanging from a tree.
Photo: Bored Panda


Wasabi growing from the earth.
Photo: Bored Panda


Flowering artichokes.
Photo: Bored Panda


Coffee tree boughs.
Photo: Bored Pnda


Dragon fruit on the staulks.
Photo: Bored Panda


Jabuticaba growing on a tree.
Photo: Bored Panda


Mature capers in an open seed pod.
Photo: Bored Panda


Quinoa growing in a large field
Photo: Bored Panda


Ripening dates hanging from a palm tree.
Photo: Bored Panda


Asparagus growing straight up from dirt.
Photo: Bored Panda


Tea tree with white blossoms.
Photo: Bored Panda


Persimmons hanging from a tree with few leaves left.
Photo: Bored Panda


Starfruit hanging from a tree
Photo: Bored Panda


Mangos hanging from a tree.
Photo: Bored Panda

Which food surprised you the most? Please share, like, and comment on this article!

(This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and

Eat Plants   Eat for the Planet

Go Vegan!


30 Fascinating Photos That Reveal What Food Looks Like Before Harvest Time

Related posts

Cake Anyone? A Slice of Surprise



Time to Start Thinking Cake!

Between April 15-30 people in every continent of the world (except I imagine Antarctica!) will be baking luscious  goodies for vegan cake sales, and we are all invited to join in the party. Anyone anywhere any group or individual can organise their own sale and use the proceeds however they choose, a local sanctuary, hunt sabs, badger watch, animal charity.

You don’t even have to be vegan to join in the fun. There are just 2 rules:
  • Goods sold must be vegan. For baking, most importantly this means no dairy or eggs.
  • Don’t have/do anything that contributes to or promotes the use/harm of animals.


Why Participate

  • It’s a fun way to introduce people to the joy and tastiness of vegan foods.
  • Raise money and awareness for your favorite cause(s).
  • Be part of an event that will publicize the many benefits of an animal-free diet.

 How to Participate

  • Plan to hold a vegan bake sale sometime between April 15-30.
  • Let us (and the world) know by using our handy sign-up form (preferred) or emailing us at Also, please promote on social media.
  • Hold the bake sale.
  • Follow up if you can. Please let us know how you did and/or how much you raised so we can include it in our count. Send photos, or a link to a blog post, whatever you’d like to help us celebrate and inspire others.

How It Works

Groups of all sizes hold vegan bake sales to support their favorite causes. Each group customizes the details to suit their preferred size, style, location, and beneficiaries, according to their strengths and interests.

Open to any group… you do not need to be part of a vegan or animal advocacy group to participate, as long as the treats and other materials don’t use animal products or promote the use of animals.

We also recommend an easy option for individuals who want to participate but are short on time or resources. Instead of selling treats, do a vegan treats free give-away at work, school, or a community event. Pair with vegan literature for a bigger impact.

We are here to help! Here are vegan baking tips, bake sale tips, and a bake sale checklist to get started.

Why Vegan

Most people are against cruelty to animals. Yet, there is inherent cruelty in the use of animals for food.

While it is common to think that dairy and egg industries are less cruel than meat industries, in fact they result in more suffering for the animals during their lifetime, and animals used for eggs and dairy are still slaughtered for cheap meat.

Vegan bake sales are a fun and friendly way to demonstrate that vegan food is delicious in addition to being better for health, the environment, and animals.

For everything you need to know, click on Vegan Bake Sale

Go have fun, and help the animals!

New Year New Start

Reminding us of just about everything that really matters in life:

No better way to kick start 2017

Kind to yourself

Kind to others – human and nonhuman

Kind to the planet

Try vegan this Veganuary

For the Sake of the Animals Don’t Give Up – Awesome New Support for Veg*ns

Whatever sort of problem we experience as veg*n animal advocates – and we all have a few, whether it’s being ridiculed or trolled, feeling utterly isolated among family and friends, struggling with the diet, right through to compassion fatigue and burnout – there is a totally awesome new venture all ready to give each of us the individual support we need. And this support means we can stay strong fighting for the animals.

It’s called The Animal Activist Support Line

The sad facts are these:

  • 84% of vegetarians and vegans resume eating meat, according to Faunalytics
  • Nearly half of those said they just found the diet too difficult
  • Nearly half said they were influenced by their significant other when they lapsed
  • A huge 63% said they couldn’t hack sticking out from the crowd

None of that is good news.

Veg*ns can also get depressed, or even suffer from PTSD. I certainly know of a young vegan who was still suffering from PTSD a year after a visit to a slaughterhouse which was part of an animal Husbandry college course. You know what it’s like – just when we think we’ve already seen into every vile corner of the human heart, we come across a new obscenity of animal abuse exposed on Facebook, and feel such crushing sorrow and emotional pain. Sometimes we wonder if we have the strength to go on. Or even if there is any point. Do those thousands of petitions we sign make any difference? Do those demos change anything, or do people just think we’re fanatical cranks? Does all our social media action help at all? Do people even look at the leaflets we hand out, before they drop them in the nearest bin?

The wonderful Animal Activist Support Line is there to help. You can choose from

  • 24-hr email support
  • 24-hr online chat
  • 24-hr texting support
  • Daily email affirmations – cute animals dropping into your Inbox to bring back your smile!

The Support Line says

We’re here to help with

  • Burn-out & compassion fatigue
  • Depression, anxiety, isolation, & stress
  • Unsupportive friends/family
  • Difficulty transitioning to a veg lifestyle
  • Activist in-fighting
  • Concerns about effective activism

We can provide

  • Non-judgmental support
  • Crisis intervention & support
  • Help getting involved in animal rights
  • Self-care strategies
  • Resources about effective activism
  • Answers to questions

As you can see, if you’re one of the lucky veg*ns who is sailing happily along with no need of support, you will still find useful activism resources on the website. Plus we can donate to this invaluable service, which has the potential to make a big difference in bringing down that huge figure of 83% of veg*ns who fall by the wayside.
Whatever way we choose to use this service, it ultimately goes to help the animals, which is what we are all about.
Please tell your friends!


The Gross Bee Happiness Program

Did you know that the Kingdom of Bhutan, a nation that rarely hits the headlines, has a Gross National Happiness program? His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo (I promise, I did not make that up) has proclaimed

“Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”

Bhutan sounds like my kind of place! But what has that got to do with bees? All will be revealed. Meanwhile, here are some figures that make for less happy news:

Loss of commercial honeybees in the UK since 2010 – 53%

Loss of wild honeybees in the UK since 2010 – 52%

Loss of solitary bees in the UK since 2010 – nearly extinct

Loss of bumblebees in the UK since 2010 – unknown

Loss of commercial honeybees in Europe since 1985 – 45%

Loss of commercial honeybees in the US in 2008 since 1947 60%

sun-flower-216356__180-1That all mounts up to very bad news for bees. What is true for bees is true for butterflies and other insects too. Which sounds alarm bells loud enough to warn us that the natural environment is ailing, in the UK, in Europe and in the USA, and urgent action is needed to restore health to nature and save our threatened food security.

It’s a complex problem but it is possible to identify three of the main factors in the frightening decline of bee populations:

  • The widespread use of pesticides, especially neonicotinoids
  • In the US, the practice of trucking bees around the country to pollinate crops
  • Industrial, and in particular monoculture, farming

All three are linked, of course. Neonics were covered in my last post, so on to:-


I think it may have been in 2006, when CCD (colony collapse disorder) made its debut in news editors’ vocabulary of acronyms, that I first heard about the practice of trucking hives of honeybees around America. I could scarcely believe what I was hearing. It sounded insane. Yet it was and still is big business. Hackenberg Apiaries, for instance, trucks 3,000 hives the length and breadth of the country each year. Scientific American gives us a neat summary of how bee-trucking works:

And this is where Bhutan’s program for Gross National Happiness makes its entry. The program has “Four Pillars” and one of them is Environmental Conservation. That includes eradicating pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilisers from their food production, which makes Bhutan the first ever organic nation. The Bhutanese bees are happy bees. You could say Bhutan is the bees’ knees!

So, short of emigrating to Bhutan, what can we do to make our own personal contribution to bring back the bees?

Here is my own Gross Bee Happiness program

(I promise, every single step is easy to do and, apart from the first which is longer term, can be done in the blink of an eye, and a few taps on the smartphone or laptop keys)

  1. honeybee-24633__180Sign the Let’s Eat Better Together Pledge and help save bees with every mouthful. “To protect our bees, we need to change what we eat. It’s simple: less meat, less junk, and more plants” Friends of the Earth
  2. Add your name to the Greepeace campaign – sign here
  3. Stop Bayer suing the EU for saving the bees – sign here
  4. Buy organic “Consumers can rest assured that every time they purchase an organic product, they are supporting pollinator health,” says Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs, the Organic Center
  5. Make our own bee hotel – the five star luxury of the Grand Beedapest is NOT required! Friends of the Earth 4-step instuctions here and video here
  6. Join the Grow Wild campaign, an initiative to cover the UK with native wild flowers for the butterflies and bees. Order your free pollinator-friendly wild flower seeds here. “Any space can be transformed – from balconies to old boots, streets to shared spaces, boxes to buckets.  Anyone can sow and grow wild flowers – it’s quick, easy and fun” and “small actions lead to big changes,” say organisers the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
  7. US residents sign the Pollinator Protection Pledge. If you have a garden in the United States, it will also be automatically added to the National Pollinator Garden Network – a part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
  8. Greenpeace email to US Senators to support Pollinator Recovery Act – sign here


The bees will thank us!

Very short video of amazing artwork at Kew inspired by bees!


6th December 2016 General Mills Gives $4 Million to Increase Bee Habitat by 100,000 Acres in the Next 5 Years – One Green Planet

When Bees Go Extinct, These Ten Foods Will Follow

Related Posts

A Night at the Grand Beedapest Hotel

Make Your Own Seed Bombs for Bees


Scientific American: The Mind-Boggling Math of Migratory Bee-Keeping

One Green Planet: Industrial farming has changed life for bees for the worst

The Ecologist: Bee collapse is the result of their enslavement in industrial monocultures

The Farmers’ Weekly: Organic farming boosts biodiversity and bees

The Organic Center: The Role of Organic in Supporting Pollinator Health

Food Manufacturing: Organic farming practices are bee-friendly

Psyche Journal of Entomology: Effects of Long Distance Transportation on Honey Bee Physiology





The Plant-Powered Teen behind the Earth Peace Foundation

The lovely young person in this picture  – no, I don’t mean the piggy one, though she is gorgeous too – as I was saying, this lovely young person and I have two things in common. First of all we are both committed vegans for the animals, the environment and the planet. And second, like many others we both draw inspiration from Albert Schweitzer. For her, “Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace” and for me his philosophy of “Reverence for Life” – one and the same thing of course.

Sadly for me, there the resemblance ends. Because this teenager is a wonder and has already accomplished more in her 14 years on the planet than I have in my … well, I don’t think I’ll divulge just how many years.

So meet Lila Copeland. At 8 years of age, already an activist, Lila’s CV included marching with fellow activists for GMO transparency and animal welfare, working to pass Prop 37 “California’s Right to Know” Act, as well as protesting factory farming.

By 10, this vegetarian-from-birth went vegan. And what a vegan she is, with a passion for sharing information with her peers, on “factory farm cruelty on animals, the cruelty of slaughter, the viability of living vegan, and how important that is to the planet.”

Age 11 she set up the Earth Peace Foundation. We can certainly see the influence of Dr Schweitzer in its mission statement:

We are for achieving peace between all species and preserving the earth’s ecological soundness for future generations

On the EPF’s website, informative videos, a reading list and useful web links. Best of all, “A Guide for Young People Going Vegan (and how to help your parents chill)”

Watch the video she made for Al Gore, Kevin Wall and the United Nations when she (then 13) discovered from Morrissey that unbelievably, animal products were on the menu at the climate change event Live Earth last year.

2016 sees Lila working on her latest project, the Healthy Freedom Campaign, to get vegan meal options in Los Angeles schools five days a week. No need for her to rely on just words for the benefits of the plant-based diet. As a Junior Olympian in long distance running and a keen surfer, shes’s the perfect demonstration of the fitness and energy vegan foods provide.

This is Lila with guess who addressing the LA schools board just last month, in her bid to get vegan meals into school cafeterias.

Lila Copeland Pamela Anderson Healthy Freedom Campaign LAUSD school meals vegan

As well as Pamela Anderson, she brought into the meeting Cowspiracy’s Dr Michael Klaper, athlete Torre Washington, and some notable health experts to explain the connection between animal products and heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. But what is more persuasive than vegan talk? Why vegan food of course. The schools board were treated to some tasty hot food samples, and were in Lila’s words, “blown away”.

Her ambitions are not small. (I guess we could have worked that out from the Earth Peace Foundation!) From LA to nationwide – Lila wants to see her Healthy Freedom Campaign taken up at federal level by 2020. And with a video like this, how can she fail?

This is how Lila shares her recipe for success with other young activists:

Be prepared “to be told no 100 times before you get a yes. If you get fatigued, just think about the animals who are dying every minute of every hour of every day against their will and you will have the strength to keep going.”

If there are inspiring passionate young vegans like Lila in the next generation, there’s hope for planet Earth yet.


Like Lila’s EPF Facebook page 

Sign petition following Lila’s plea to the Live Earth event, to ask world leaders for urgent action on climate change



One Green Planet

Earth Peace Foundation


Which is Your Burger of Choice for the Future of Food?


So let’s dive straight into the world of the ‘mad professors’ who are turning science fiction into science fact – starting with the inventor of the first ever, headline-grabbing, off-the-scale expensive, cultured-meat burger.

London 2013 was the scene of this man’s showstopper – biting into his own homegrown, or rather ‘lab-grown’ burger in front of a select audience of journos, foodies and chefs. A $330,000 burger, made from meat grown in a petri dish using bovine stem cells. You need to grow 15,000,000,000 cells to make a whole burger, by the way. I guess he must have counted.

The man was Mark Post, who incidentally really is a professor. Previous to his burger-barnstormer, he’d taken to the stage in America, before hundreds of pig farmers and meat processors and without as much as a blink, told them what they were doing was causing undue animal suffering and environmental damage. Now that’s my kind of guy!

The Prof sees this as the future of meat: from a small number of donor animals (many billions fewer than currently exist to satisfy the world’s appetite), we can ultimately get all the burgers, chops, and chicken pieces desired, without harm to the cows, pigs, or chickens.

However bad the news gets about the impact of meat on health and on the environment, he’s certain it won’t stop people wanting to keep right on eating their burgers and steaks. 

And the OECD agrees with him. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that the demand for meat in North America will increase by 8 percent between 2011 and 2020, in Europe by 7 percent and in Asia by a whopping 56 percent.

The Prof does not have the petri dish all to himself. Just two months ago, the American company Memphis Meats fried up the first ever lab-made meatball, coming in at $18,000 per pound. A bit more expensive than IKEA’s, but still a bargain compared with Post’s burger. Apparently you can barely tell the difference between the new age meatball and the old school kind, though I’ll have to take their word for it.

Yet another company, Modern Meadow, has shuffled up next to them on the bandwagon, proffering another novel nibble, lab-grown “steak-chips”. And Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society US was there to try it out. “My mouth was not exactly watering as I took my first bite of ‘meat’ in nearly three decades,” he said. “But I did it with a clean conscience. In fact, not a single animal died or suffered for my palate or plate,” since the steak-chips were also, of course, grown in a petri dish. He added, “If you think that process sounds strange, you’ve never visited a slaughterhouse.” He’s clearly hopeful about the role of this new technology in the future of the Humane Economy.

Modern Meadow has another trick up its sleeve – it grows leather. Though in this super high tech world, we should be saying, ‘biofabricates’. You grow lettuce. You biofabricate steak-chips and leather.

Last, but by no means least, is pioneering New Harvest, which says of itself,

We strategically fund and conduct open, public, collaborative research that reinvents the way we make animal products – without animals

New Harvest actually beat the lot of them to the start line. It was seeing inside a poultry farm for the first time back in 2004, that gave Jason Matheny his lightbulb moment. He saw

“Tens of thousands of chickens in a metal warehouse, doped with drugs, living in their own manure and being bred for production traits [eg fast weight gain] that caused them to be immune-compromised”

The horrible experience made him think there had to be a better way to meet the exponentially growing global demand for meat. Once back in the USA he teamed up with three NASA scientists to explore the possibilities of cultured meat production on a large scale.

New Harvest nine years on: Enter Isha Datar, a formidable entrepreneur whose acquaintance we made in This is the Future – Post-Animal Food. She took up the post of Executive Director in 2013. In next to no time she helped bring to birth Muufri, and Clara Foods to produce animal-free milk, and animal-free egg white respectively.

These are the hi-tech players devising ingenious new ways to let us ‘have our cake and eat it’ – meat and dairy eaters can go on enjoying the food they love with the assurance that no animals were harmed in the making. And there are many other positives.

Pros – Lab-grown meat and dairy could

  • cut down the land required by 99%
  • cut down the water used by 90%
  • cut the greenhouse gas emissions compared with livestock farming as it is now
  • practically eliminate pollution and soil degradation
  • obviate the use of antibiotics and prevent the associated growth of resistant bacteria
  • eliminate the use of growth hormones regularly given to cattle, whose adverse effects in humans can be developmental, neurobiological, genotoxic and carcinogenic

Cons – It’s not yet entirely clear

  • how energy use would compare
  • what the health implications would be, though present indications are very positive
  • whether the process can be successfully scaled up to bring the price of a burger down to a level where it doesn’t bankrupt the buyer!

The enthusiasts remain optimistic, but it has to be said that not all animal advocacy organisations and individuals, vegans and vegetarians are enthralled by this remarkable innovation, even if it brings with it the promise of a huge, and hugely welcome, diminution in animal suffering and environmental damage. It may be a fairly painless procedure to extract stem-cells from an animal, but the process still involves exploitation, and for now at least, the serum used to grow the stem cells is also obtained from animals.

But that’s enough of animal stem cells – there’s a whole other hi-tech sector not to be overlooked.

The hi-tech plant based food companies (which featured briefly in The Bright New Age of the Humane Economy) seem to be the poor relations in this technological race to the future. They just don’t seem to have the same headline-grabbing, sensational futuristic pzazz for the general public, although they are the real miracle-workers – forget turning water into wine, they can turn plants into ‘meat’, and this is how it’s done

Taste-test opinions on plant ‘meat’ are mostly positive. The NY Times food writer Mark Bittman for one couldn’t distinguish Beyond Meat’s plant ‘chicken’ from the real thing, and neither could Bill Gates. Mr Gates is enthusiastic about plant based meat’s potential, believing this the best way forward for the Future of Food, and to prove it he’s put his money where his mouth is.

Despite lacking the fanfares of publicity enjoyed by their stem cell counterparts, Beyond Meat and other plant based ‘animal’ product companies have stolen a march on the former, because while stem cell meat has yet to escape the confines of the labs, plant based meat is already on the shelves. Americans can load Beyond Meat’s Beast burgers, meatballs and chicken strips straight into their Walmart trolleys.

Hang on a minute. Did we say poor relations? Did we say lacking fanfares? Did we say no pzazz? Well that’s all changed as of now, because the brand new Beyond Burger has just hit the shelves and is causing a sensation.

Beyond Meat bills its latest creation, the Beyond Burger, as the most meat-like non-meat feat yet. It has been on sale for a single day — Monday, in a Whole Foods in Boulder, Colo. — and is already being compared to, as The New York Times puts it, the “holy grail” of ersatz animal protein: A plant burger upon which a human carnivore would happily snack.
Loaded with 20 grams of protein, this gluten- and soy-free burger even “bleeds” pulverized beet juice, and has the look, smell, and taste of meat.
According to Beyond Meat’s Twitter feed, the first batch of burgers sold out within an hour!

And you won’t find it in the ‘Free From’ aisle either. This meaty feast is sold right from the meat counter.

So that’s animal stem cell cultured meat, and plant-based cultured meat. Both innovations are based on the assumption that people like meat and will want to keep on eating it in some form or another, so we need to find ways to make it more sustainable. Now let’s take a look at option number 3 for a sustainable future of food.

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation has come up with an entirely different solution to the sustainability problem in a world getting hotter and drier. And it’s about as unglamorous as it gets. It’s so low tech it’s positively history. Their answer? Beans. Well, actually legumes, which of course includes all kinds of peas, beans and lentils – foods that humans have eaten for centuries.

Thanks to their high levels of protein, fiber, and other nutrients; low requirements for water and other agricultural inputs; long shelf life; and cultural and culinary relevance around the globe, pulses have been deemed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation:

“An uncompromising enemy of hunger and malnutrition worldwide and a genuine superfood for the future.”

Sadly, “The Year of Pulses”, the FAO’s chosen title for their year-long campaign to promote the humble vegetable, is hardly going to scatter stardust on the lowly bean, or make hearts beat faster. Especially not in affluent countries where pulses are seen (not by vegans of course!) as the boring staple of the boring vegan diet, or the cheap food of those who can’t afford meat. Definitely no pzazz around here, even though legumes are the saints of the plant world – they bestow goodness on the soil they are growing in. They have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their root nodules, and so they actually fertilise rather than deplete the soil.

So, doesn’t the UNFAO have the best idea for the future of food, this superfood accessible to everyone? And aren’t the hi-tech solutions, whether stem cell-based or plant-based, a first world luxury? Regardless, the lowly legume may need some mighty PR – your everyday bean burger is hardly going to make a splash all over the front pages like that first cultured meat burger did in 2013.

Let’s just take one last peek into Professor Post’s lab. Whatever we or his critics might think, he remains passionate about his project. His imagination runs ahead of him with bizarre visions: extracting stem cells from a rhino to make a rhino-burger; or from a giraffe or rabbit for more novel ‘delicacies’. And he seriously expects to see the day when we will all have in our kitchen, as standard, right alongside our kettle and toaster, a table-top meat grower of our very own.

Did I hear someone say ‘mad professor’?

What do you think? Which of these options is the future of food?

Click here for more on how lab meat shapes up healthwise.

Quartz for Prof Post’s work

Click here For everything you need to know about cow-less milk and the vegans who are making it. Very interesting it is too.

Wayne Pacelle tries the lab-grown meatball

Beans Could Be the Low-Tech Solution to Food’s Biggest Problems

MFA Blog on the Beyond Burger

Desmoines Register exercising a note of caution on the future of stem cell cultured meat

Click here if you are interested in signing up for New Harvest’s Conference on Cellular Agriculture


It seems that Prof Post’s cultured meat is very far from cruelty-free. See Bite Size Vegan

6th April 2017 – Prof Post to give keynote lecture on “scientific hurdles to producing clean meat on a large scale” on the Modern Agriculture Foundation’s “The Path to Commercialization” conference in Israel May 7th. Source Clean Meat Collaboration – The Good Food Institute


Big Meat, We’re Making You History!

Good news about food keeps coming from America thick and fast. And what’s happening there soon travels across the pond and takes root in Europe too. So just how is plant-based food David faring against Big Meat Goliath?

My post David v Goliath celebrated the arrival on the US scene of the Plant Based Foods Association, a lobbying organisation for innovative plant food companies such as Daiya, Tofurky and Impossible Foods.

But, we would have to be blind not to see that the PBFA is up against a colossus. American Big Meat is the Goliath of our worst nightmares.

A few facts to give you an idea of its size, power, and reach – monstrous, in every sense of the word.

  • Goliath is a many-headed beast. So we have the American Meat Institute, the National Meat Association, the National Chicken Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the National Pork Board – to name some of the biggest industry representatives.
  • They represent an industry worth in total approx. $894 billion p.a.
  • Their job is to get Americans eating more meat. Meat sales are supply-driven, not consumer-driven.Their work is to create demand to soak up the what the industry produces.
  • They do this by lobbying the government, managing PR crises (swine flu, E.coli etc) and staging marketing campaigns – having a billion dollar piggy bank to do it with.
  • In 2015 the beef industry alone spent $39 million on promotion and research, “consumer public relations,” “nutrition-influencer relations,” and countering “misinformation from anti-beef groups.” That last bit would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic for the animals.
  • There is specific marketing targeted at children – can you believe they’ve even devised a “beef education” curriculum for high school? No doubt the inspiration for the Simpsons’ ‘educational’ ‘Meat Council’ movie shown in Lisa’s class – remember the ‘Bovine University’?
  • Have Goliath’s strategies paid off? Big time. Americans eat 60% more meat than Europeans. Every dollar meat producers pays in subs to their meat boards returns $11 to the industry. Without the beef meat board’s activities, for example, estimates are that the industry would be selling 11.3% less beef.
  • And let’s not forget Goliath’s other grotesque heads, the food retail corporations – McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Chicken and so on. McDonald’s US advertising spend is about $1.42 billion – yes billion – annually.
  • In 2014 Big Meat spent $10.8 million in contributions to political campaigns, and another $6.9 million directly on lobbying the federal government. One study confirmed that changes in contributions do change voting behavior and that you can basically “‘buy’ legislators’ votes” without breaking the law.
  • According to Steve Johnson in The Politics of Meatthe meat industry has succeeded in weakening or preventing many new meat-safety initiatives in recent years. 
  • The United States Department of Agriculture has an ambiguous relationship with Big Meat. While USDA is tasked with regulating the meat industry, it also has a role in promoting it. This tension plays out every time the US government wants to give out dietary advice—and the results generally wind up favoring the industry. Leena Shanker
  • The American taxpayer is still being made to turn out their pockets in tax for meat industry subsidies, “despite the fact that meat consumption has come down by a third since the 1970s. The US government hands out $38.4 billion a year to ensure that people have an easy time entering the industry, and that production continues to grow. Nice work, lobbyists. So the government is taking tax dollars from its citizens to pay off the very industry that is destroying the planet. If you’re trying to figure out how that makes sense, we’ll save you the time – it doesn’t”.  One Green Planet

Scary, isn’t it?

Particularly when you stop to think about the individual animals’ lives which are at stake here. We are not just dealing with percentages and unthinkable amounts of cash. Behind all these facts and figures lies the worst figure of all – 9.2 billion animals slaughtered for ‘food’ last year in the USA alone – and that does not include fish and other sea creatures.  Can you even imagine the sea of blood from 9.2 billion animals? Each single one that makes up that 9.2 billion a living being who feels pain and fears death, whose life matters  to him or her – and to us who respect their right not to die to satisfy human appetites.

So next for the pre-match weigh-in, our champion David (in the form of lobby group PBFA) who’s squaring up to Big Meat? Has he got a hope in hell against this colossus? Just now, David is super-small, barely even a Tom Thumb next to Big Meat’s Goliath. At the last reckoning the PBFA boasted a staff of just two women, a pair of formidable and experienced women it is true, but still just two. They are advertising for a part-time Administrative Assistant, if anyone’s interested. When the post is filled staff numbers will rise to two and a half.

PBFA has as of now 38 members and 5 affiliates. Supposing PFBA’s income from fees and donations were as much as – best guesstimate – $100,000 p.a., that’s pretty small beer next to the $17.5 million+ Big Meat spent in one year on political lobbying alone.

Luckily for the animals and the planet, tiny little PBFA is not alone in the battle – history is on its side. One Green Planet’s infographic shows where Big Meat is, in the #FutureofFood – nowhere, or so we hope.

The Future of Food One Green Planet Vegan Plant based dairy-free meat substitute

Here are a few things that are happening:

  • People are cutting back on meat, and turning vegetarian and vegan. In 2014 the number of vegetarians in the USA was 16 million, half of them vegan, double the number in 2009. The numbers keep growing exponentially there and elsewhere in the world. (News came through just this week of a 360% increase compared with 2006 in the number of UK vegans) And interest is still increasing – check out Google Trends.
  • Veganism is becoming cool and trendy.
  • A 2015 study indicated 36% of Americans are open to plant-based eating and 55% plan to eat more vegan foods.
  • And so in spite of Big Meat’s best efforts and with all those billions of dollars at its disposal, meat consumption in the USA has been declining year on year since 2007. 400 million animals fewer were slaughtered in 2014 than in 2007.
  • Mintel identified meat and dairy alternatives as one of the 12 key trends set to impact the global food and drink market in 2016.
  • We’re seeing rapid advances in new food technology. The current meat substitute or alternative protein market is estimated to grow to $5.2 billion by 2020 and according to some estimates, plant-based meats could make up one-third of the entire market by 2050. And we are told those are conservative projections.
  • Silicon Valley’s venture capital elite including Google Ventures are funnelling billions into backing these plant-based food technology startups.
  • Conversely, wealthy institutions are being pressured by shareholders to turn away from unethical investments. Here in the UK for instance, well-known investors including Aviva, Allianz and Alliance Trust have gone public with their concerns about the risks of investing in factory farming operations, calling it a reputational and, potentially, financial risk. There are already investment funds which exclude factory farming companies. If this is being mirrored in the US, it could be a huge game-changer.
  • People are waking up to the environmental costs of meat – greenhouse gases, pollution, destruction of habitat, wasteful use of land and water, not to mention the suffering of farmed animals. Individual states like California are proposing regulation and mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture. And here in Europe, Denmark pushed things in the right direction by recently announcing its intention to tax meat to fight climate change. USA take note!
  • Cultured meat from stem cells has appeared on the scene with a fanfare of publicity. What do we think of it? More on that coming soon.
  • ‘Small is beautiful’ is coming back. There’s a backlash against mega-scale farms that are no better than factories. More on that coming soon.
  • There is a new initiative called the Menus of Change. To influence consumers’ food choices more directly and promote healthier and more sustainable food choices in restaurants, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has partnered up with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to spearhead this new movement. They’ve produced two evidence-based documents detailing the environmental and health impact of meat consumption, and urging chefs to “reimagine the traditional roles for animal and plant protein on American menus.”
  • And finally, good news for PBFA – it is no longer the lone lobbyist pitted against Big Meat. The USA has the newly-formed National Agriculture Advisory Board, thanks to the HSUS. More on that coming soon too.

  Will we live to see David defeating Goliath? Will Big Meat soon be seen by history as a monstrous aberration from human civilisation?  What do you think?

MFA blog  – 2015 study on plant-based eating

One Green Planet – plant-based protein food technology

The Independent – Denmark’s meat tax

One Green Planet & Take Part – Menus of Change

Animal League Defense Fund – California’s proposed regulation of emissions from animal agriculture

Bon Appétit – Impossible Food’s fake meat burger

Marta Zaraska in Salon – Big Meat’s billion dollar ad & lobbying campaigns


14 July 2016 Wayne Pacelle’s blog, A Humane Nation No More Gravy Train for Big Meat? on the Commodity Checkoff Program Improvement Act of 2016 introduced in the US Senate yesterday as S. 3201 seeking to curb the notorious checkoff programs which favour meat megacorps at the expense of small family farms.


%d bloggers like this: