Canada has a new climate chief, former Greenpeace activist Steven Guilbeault. This quote, along with the appointment of Jean-Yves Duclos As the new health minister, he has renewed hope that Canada can see real change related to climate, public health and food safety, the latter of which has been made a priority among Canadians in a recent report.
And the timing couldn’t be more crucial as we watch British Columbia be hit by unprecedented flooding and devastation, with thousands of farm animals suffering and dying as a result, offering Canadians a real-life look at the aftermath of climate chaos. .
However, within that hope, it remains a constant and evident concern, a concern that our government has not yet addressed and that encompasses all these important issues: the role that industrialized animal agriculture plays in the climate, health, food and crisis crises. of animal welfare. .
So far this year, the Canadian government has already committed $ 1.7 billion in public money to the animal agriculture industries in the form of subsidies and grants for marketing, abattoir improvement and more. This is in addition to provincial funding, which more recently includes Ontario disburse more than $ 14 million for a new Swine Research Center.
What’s worse is that the federal government is funding this industry despite knowing that, globally, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined, and is one of the major contributors to deforestation, ocean degradation, freshwater pollution, loss of biodiversity, and climate change. usually.
A special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Climate Change and Land published in August 2019 detailed this interconnection between animal agriculture and climate change, stating:
The production of food of animal origin (for example, meat and dairy products) emits greater amounts of greenhouse gases than the cultivation of crops, especially in intensive industrial livestock systems. This mainly applies to commodities produced by ruminant livestock, such as cattle, due to enteric fermentation processes that are large emitters of methane. Shifting diets to a lower proportion of food of animal origin, once implemented at scale, reduces the need to raise livestock and shifts crop production from animal feed to human food. This reduces the need for agricultural land compared to the current one and therefore generates changes in the current food system. From the field to the consumer, this would reduce total GHG emissions.
Subsequent Oxford University research shows that current climate goals cannot be achieved without a shift from conventional animal agriculture.
Surely a former environmental activist is aware of all this. So what are you going to do about it?
In addition, the World Health Organization has classified processed meats as carcinogenic to humans; and red meats such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, and goat, as “probably carcinogenic.” Consumption of animal products has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, which are among the leading causes of death for Canadians today.
Opinion: The federal government must recognize the role that industrialized animal agriculture plays in the climate, health, food and animal welfare crises, writes Jenny Henry @vegan_bumblebee and @LevecqueDarlene. #vegan #cdnpoli
Surely our new lord of health knows all this. So what are you going to do about it?
Although the Canadian government has made some progress in recent years with the latest version of the Canada Food Guide – eliminating dairy as a food group and including a large number of plant-based protein sources in the protein group – we have yet to see this information operationalized in a meaningful way. And while the liberal government commitment Investing $ 1 billion in a National School Meals Policy is also promising, it just isn’t enough.
As long as the federal government continues to support the meat, dairy and egg industries, blatantly investing against our planet, our animals, our health and our future, Canada and Canadians will continue to live behind the 8 ball of climate change and diet-related death.
TO Rising nation, a non-partisan political advocacy group, we are lobbying the Canadian government to shift these harmful subsidies from animal agriculture to a plant-based food system, for the benefit of people, planet and animals.
So we look at Duclos, Guilbeault, and Justin Trudeau with optimism and panic, imploring that this crucial information be recognized and acted upon.
We can turn to countries like Denmark for inspiration, where its government recently announced that it will invest more than 1.25 billion crowns ($ 240 million) to promote plant-based foods as part of a milestone. climate agreement for food and agriculture. The agreement recognizes that plant-based foods must be a “central element in the green transition.”
Surely the Canadian government can see this too? So what are you going to do about it?
Jenny Henry and Darlene Levecque are co-founders of Nation Rising, a nonpartisan political advocacy group that lobbies the federal government to shift subsidies from animal agriculture to creating a plant-based food system.