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on 20 January 2015

A recent study from Mckinsey Global Institute (MGI) has revealed obesity now accounts for approximately 5 percent of all deaths worldwide. The global cost of the disease has risen to about $2 trillion. MGI also estimated that more than 2 billion people, about one-third of the world’s population, are now obese or overweight. This trend is only increasing as emerging economies grow. “Obesity is a complex, systemic issue with no single or simple solution.” Write the authors of the study, “The global discord surrounding how to move forward underscores the need for integrated assessments of potential solutions. Lack of progress on these fronts is obstructing efforts to address rising rates of obesity.” Despite the complexity of the issue, the study does encourage several strategies toward combating obesity. While education and personal responsibility are critical elements of any program aiming to reduce obesity, they are insufficient on their own—changing societal norms is key. Subsidized school meals, calorie and nutrition labeling, restrictions on advertising high-calorie food and drinks, and public health campaigns could all help make a difference. Meatless Monday is one such public health initiative that could help. Reducing the meat in ones diet is an actionable way for an individual to combat obesity (and also related diseases such as diabetes.) Studies have demonstrated that people on plant-based, vegetarian diets tend to have a significantly lower body weight and body mass index. This may be in part because plant-based diets are rich in dietary fiber (which is not found in animal products) and fiber contributes to fullness, resulting in lower calorie intake and less overeating. (meatlessmonday.com)

on 14 January 2015

More and more people are hopping on the vegan train these days or at the very least ditching meat and the latest to do so is a super respected chef. Bruno Loubet is an award winning chef and owner of the sustainable restaurant Grain Store in London. In his establishment, the meat is all free range, the fish is sustainably sourced and the herbs and edible flowers are picked from its community garden. Starting in the spring, the menu will also add another sustainable factor: it will feature no beef. “If I didn’t I would be untrue to everything,” said the 53-year-old on banning beef from the menu. “I have not eaten beef for three months. I do eat it if I am in the restaurant somewhere. I am not vegetarian or vegan but I eat much less meat.” Just by ditching beef, Loubet has lost 10 kgs. Meanwhile, Loubet’s wife has taken the full plunge into veganism after finding just how terrible a meat and dairy based diet can be to the planet. “I do say to people, if nobody does anything now, your grandchildren will not live the way you live,” Loubet explains of his concern over the environment and how people’s eating habits affect it. “It sounds like a dark picture but it is a reality that not many people want to face. We will arrive at a point where some people don’t have enough water because of climate change.” Loubet’s stance is not as shocking as Guy Fieri’s though. The french chef has focused on vegetables at Grain Store and says he wanted to start a sustainable restaurant decades ago “but 20 years ago, it was a crazy idea, so I kept it to myself”. Fortunately, times have changed and Loubet joins a movement he calls “the future,” bringing “this idea that you can eat very well by eating much less meat and have exciting colourful tasty food on your plate” to a general audience. (ecorazzi.com)

on 07 January 2015

French film star and celebrity animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has appealed to the European Union to ban the "barbaric practice" of force-feeding ducks and geese to make seasonal delicacy foie gras. According to the Fondation Brigitte Bardot, the 80-year-old former movie icon has the support of Danish Agriculture Minister Dan Jorgensen who has lodged a formal appeal with the EU Commission to impose a ban. Foie Gras, which translates as "fat liver," is protected under French law as "belonging to the protected cultural and gastronomical heritage of France." France produces around 80 percent of the world's foie gras. Denmark, Germany and Finland have banned force-feeding, which involves introducing a tube into the throat of ducks and geese to force an unnaturally large high-starch mixture into their stomachs. (france24.com)

on 05 January 2015

In a bright, modern restaurant in west Tokyo, a quiet revolution is being plotted. About 30 vegetarians have met to discuss how they can convince the restaurants of Japan's capital city to start serving vegetarian food. Tokyo may be the gastronomic capital of the world – with more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city – but it has lagged behind in catering for those who don't eat meat. But with Japan hosting the Olympics in 2020, and the associated influx of vegetarian tourists, the group Tokyo Smile Veggies aim to get 50,000 restaurants – the number of convenience stores in Tokyo – to offer vegetarian dishes by the time they arrive. They plan to do this by hosting workshops explaining what vegetarianism means, by offering recipes and training to chefs, and by getting restaurants that are vegetarian-friendly to display signs. (independent.co.uk)

on 22 December 2014

Hellmann's mayonnaise maker Unilever has withdrawn its lawsuit against the maker of "Just Mayo." Unilever filed suit against Hampton Creek earlier this year claiming the name of the small California company's product amounted to false advertising. The consumer-products giant had said that "Just Mayo" has no eggs and therefore doesn't meet the definition of mayonnaise. It argued that the word "mayo" implies that the product is mayonnaise, and that Hampton Creek was stealing market share from Hellmann's. "Just Mayo's" label states that it doesn't contain eggs. The label features a white egg with a plant growing in front, which is the company's way of showing that they use plants instead of chicken eggs. The lawsuit has been a boon to Hampton Creek, boosting sales of "Just Mayo" and giving the company "the opportunity to tell our story to millions of people." (mobile.philly.com)