The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of changes in food production and consumption toward fewer animal-based products and more plant-based food production and consumption. Experts have warned that the unnatural and unhealthy conditions of intensive animal farming could lead to the rise of new diseases that threaten public health.
VHS’s work to support diet and food system change that benefits animals, people and the planet has continued in the midst of the pandemic. We’ve participated in two important food-related government consultations recently – the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s proposed changes to guidelines for meat alternative products and the Vancouver Park Board’s Local Food Action Plan. In our submissions to both consultations, we reiterated the importance of government support in improving public education and access to plant-based food.
We’ve also been hard at work on a cost-benefit analysis that demonstrates the impact of enacting a food purchasing policy for municipalities that replaces 20 percent of animal-based products with plant-based foods. This report allows us to engage with municipal decision-makers and encourage a transition toward policies in favour of more plant-based foods.
Over the holidays, we compiled an animal-free shopping guide to share humane gift ideas and promote local products and businesses in a time when many are struggling due to the pandemic. The list includes restaurants, food, beverage and dessert companies, as well as pet, beauty, cleaning, bedding and clothing products.
2021 got off to an exciting start for our farmed animal programming, with the addition of a new staff person joining the VHS team! Julia McCann joins us as a Program Coordinator for the Go Veg and Plant-Based Plates programs. From Ontario, Julia moved to B.C in 2019 and is thrilled to be living on the West Coast. She completed a Masters of Environmental Studies from Queen’s University and is passionate about developing sustainable food systems. Her background includes work and volunteering with non-profits in food security/justice, emergency food distribution, community gardens, sustainable and local agriculture and community development. We look forward to Julia’s help in expanding the reach of our farmed animal programs.