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Vegan meat is the future to a greener Earth

There was a time in my life when I tried to go vegan.  I gave up meat and turned to tofu and a lot of soybean based products in the hope to replace the meats with a more plant based and healthier option.

I failed.

The tofu taste was disgusting to my sensitive palate and even now, the thought of its scent makes me very, very sad.

So imagine my amazement when I found out about Beyond Meat, the 2009 founded company that just won the 2018 Champions of the Earth Award, which is the UN’s highest accolade for the environment along with, Impossible Foods. Both are producers of revolutionary plant-based meats which are alternatives to beef.

What is even more interesting is that these plant-based meat alternatives are outperforming grass fed beef in the fast food arena around the world, including the USA and Canada.

This is great news for anyone who understands the need to preserve and nurture the Earth as livestock cultivation is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

This is a distressing fact in and of itself as greenhouse gases are basically responsible for and the hole in the ozone layer and thus climate change.

With the advent of these plant based meat alternatives having proven to be sustainable choices, it means that being ecologically conscious no longer translates into  giving up on taste and enjoyment.

“This proves that positive climate action can taste even better!” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment said. “Saving the planet requires something of a gastronomical rethink in some parts of the world, and Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods prove that this doesn’t mean our taste buds are making the sacrifice.”

Founder  and Chief Executive Officer of Impossible Foods Dr. Patrick O. Brown, explains that he knows that the big global problems are not the responsibility of someone else and agreed that in order to save the planet, it would be important to pleasantly appeal to the world’s tastebuds.

“This problem wasn’t going to be solved by pleading with consumers to eat beans and tofu instead of meat and fish. And it wouldn’t be enough just to find a better way to make meat; to succeed we would need to make the best meat in the world.”

The vegan meats by these companies have already outperformed grass-fed beef burgers by at least 40% at Luna Grill, and were sold out at Taco Bell in the USA, as well as at  A&W locations in Canada and was recently added to a burger chain in Italy, called ‘WellDone’.

So how can a vegan meat switch really make any difference? Is it just because it tastes better?

Well not only has many reported that the vegan burgers actually still taste like burgers, but this seemingly simple food choice equates to a greener world.

Here’s how.

Americans switching from beef to plant-based patties would be the equivalent of taking 12 million cars off the road for an entire year–or saving enough electricity to power 2.3 million homes.

A study coming out of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, which conducted a ‘cradle- to- distribution’ life cycle assessment of the popular vegan burger, discovered that the Beyond Burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less energy, has 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use than a quarter pound of U.S. beef. That means a 41-square-foot plot of land can produce just one beef burger for every 15 Beyond Burgers.

 

 

 

Going green in Toronto with these community apps

Toronto is growing to be an environmental city with greener buildings, more emphasis on city cycling, and vegan restaurants popping up everywhere.

Alongside the new green trends sweeping across the urban landscape, apps that focus on sustainability and green initiatives are gaining in popularity as well. From biking apps to basic trading, there are many different ways to engage with your digital environmentalist side. Women’s Post has compiled a short list of interesting and revolutionary apps below:

BIKO

BIKO is a new cycling rewards app that recently launched in Toronto after having success in Bogota Columbia, Mexico City, Vancouver. For every kilometre cycled, the app will give one ‘biko’ point. Potential prizes you can receive with these ‘biko’ points include free coffees, beer, helmets, cycling parts, and discounts at partnering restaurants. The rewards are relatively easy to obtain, especially if you are a commuter cyclist, as exemplified by a free Jimmy’s coffee that costs 10 Biko points. The app also offers cycling maps across the city and you can record your cycling routes to share with other friends who use the app.

My City Bikes Toronto

This cycling app is useful for beginner cyclists and offers several links to cycling maps in Toronto, biking rules, and bike stores where equipment is offered. It also offers cycling paths specific for families, road and commuter paths, and safe paths for women to travel on at night.

Bunz

Bunz is a community sharing app where you can trade an item in exchange for another. The app is extensive and offers trades for items, a chat link to let people know about events in the city, job offers, and helping people with volunteer opportunities. It is a great way to connect into Toronto’s urban community and to find anything you need without an expensive price tag attached.

Live Green Toronto App

Live Green Toronto is an app that uses an interactive map to help people living in the city find green businesses easily, while updating to find the best ‘green deals’ available. Live Green also pledges to plant a tree every time 20 deals are claimed, which is a positive initiative towards living green in the city. It also provides green business owners with a way to reach more customers through the app.

Ontario Nature Forest Foraging Guide

The Ontario Nature Forest Foraging Guide is a fantastic fit for nature lovers who want to teach themselves and their families about the various types of plants and trees in Ontario. It provides information on how various plants and trees grow in each season, and whether they are edible or not. A few of the plants including burdoch, willow, yarrow, and birch. It offers pictures of the plant and where to spot it as well. Definitely a cool app for people who love looking for plants and trees in the forest.

There are many sustainable apps and these are a few options that are specifically being used in the Toronto area. Whether it be cycling, re-using items, or hiking in the forest, trying to engage in as many environmental activities when living in a large city is essential to keeping the world clean!

Which are your favourite green apps in Toronto? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Ontario’s cap and trade program is finalized

Ontario has finalized their cap and trade plan, which will place a carbon tax on high-polluting industries that are contributing to climate change. The climate change legislation was passed on Wednesday and emphasizes the importance of accountability and transparency when investing proceeds for the cap and trade into green businesses through the Greenhouse Reduction Account.

The cap and trade program is a part of the bigger Climate Change Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. By placing a “cap” on carbon emissions and allowing companies to sell off or “trade” unused credits for a profit, it will help limit and lower emissions in the province. Ontario joins Quebec and California, which have cap and trade programs in place already.

Ontario is expected to generate $1.8 to $1.9 billion per year to invest in environmental initiatives in the province through emission auctions. The cap and trade program is scheduled to take effect on July 1 2016. Regulations were determined on Wednesday, including greenhouse gas emission caps, compliance regulations, auction and sale of allowances and distribution of allowances.

The Chamber of Commerce urged Premier Kathleen Wynne to delay the cap and trade program for one year. Criticisms result from a lack of transparency as to where the proceeds of the cap and trade program are going. Many industry leaders that will be affected by cap and trade are reportedly confused about the regulations that will be put in place, though it appears they are more concerned about how they will be affected financially. The program is set to continue despite these trepidations.

On a positive note, Manitoba has joined the cap and trade plan with Ontario and Quebec, but will limit their program to the 20 largest polluters in the province. This will help balance industry competition and outsourcing to neighbouring provinces that aren’t forced to participate in cap and trade, which has become a relevant concern of the program.

Ontario will give a four-year exemption to industries that are especially vulnerable to cap and trade, including steel or cement manufacturing. Emission targets were also released in the report, indicating the exact allowances that will decrease annually to allow existing companies to adjust to the new program. In 2017, emission allowances are 142, 332,000 tonnes, which will decrease over four years to 124, 668,000 in 2020.

Though the cap and trade program will be a difficult adjustment initially for companies, it will soon become an integral part of doing business while taking the environment into consideration. This is an opportunity for green businesses to take the lead and for Ontario to set an example for the remaining provinces that cap and trade is the only way to make climate change protocol the foremost item on the agenda.

Toronto goes green at Green Living Show

The Metro Convention Centre was an environmentalist’s paradise this past weekend, packed with green vendors, discussions about important issues and electric cars ready to be test-driven.

The Green Living Show was held from April 15 to 17 and was packed full of green enthusiasts. The decor was clean and crisp, with several green plants dotting the venue. It was a large indoor show to navigate and it kept my daughter and I busy all day. There was a lot to see at the show and among my favourites were the presentation of the Canadian Green Car Award, Every Tree Counts, and the Ecoparent Village. There were also several delicious samples offered by different food vendors to keep us energized throughout the day.

As an environmental buff and a deep hater of the car, the Canadian Green Car Award was the highlight for me. The winner of the 2016 Canadian Green Car Award, an award given to the best plug-in hybrid available on the market, the Chevrolet Volt. Other winners on display were the Nissan Leaf for the best battery-electric car, and the Hyundai Sonata for the best hybrid.

DSC_0693
My daughter “driving” the Nissan Leaf.

We got to explore the Nissan Leaf further, which was on display in the plug n’ drive area. Guest attendees could practice plugging the vehicle in to the charging station. It was a nice ride, and had a slick black interior. The vehicle was indiscernible from a regular vehicle aside from the front where the electric charger is plugged in. It was fun to take pictures in the car and see its features up close and personal.

The NudyPatooty Booth
The NudyPatooty Booth

There were several great products for women in the show. One of the most interesting companies was Damiva, who provided a lubricant for vaginal dryness of menopausal women. The product has no hormones and is an organic alternative. Another one of my favourites was NudyPatooty, a shirt made with organic bamboo that can be worn under silk shirts to avoid sweat stains, which is a very innovative idea. It would be the perfect solution for those nervous presenters who are concerned about ruining that silk blouse at a business meeting.

If you are attending a high-fashion event that requires a gown, but you don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars, check our Rentfrockrepeat. Rentfrockrepeat is a company that rents out designer dresses to help women save costs and recycle expensive clothing.

After a bit of shopping, my daughter and I stopped at the EcoParent village. It was a nice reprise from walking and conversing with vendors, which can become monotonous for children. This area provided Montessori-sponsored toys for kids to play with and it was a hit with my little one. The wooden puzzles and games are a refreshing type of play, and brought me back to the good-old days pre-iphone and gameboy. There was also colouring and crafts. The area was quite small, but it was nice to see organic toys available for the kids.

"Every Tree Counts" exhibit of trees around the city.
“Every Tree Counts” exhibit of trees around the city.

The Green Living Show emphasized on the importance of trees in Ontario. Several booths were dedicated to protecting trees and the importance of planting. There was a large area called “Every Tree Counts”, which taught adults and kids about the importance of parks and trees. Tree planting is often forgotten amidst larger issues such as cap and trade or snazzy new organic products, so this was a smart addition to the show.

The only disappointment was the food area, dubbed the Pollinators’ Plate Food & Drink Pavilion. There was only one vegan option. The Grow-up was provided, which is a delicious vegan eatery but the rest of the food was laden with dairy and meat products. At an environmental festival, I expected more than one vegan alternative. To be limited to one choice definitely didn’t suit the theme of the afternoon. There was also a display of live bees in a slim glass case at the front of the food area for people to look at. Bees are easily stressed in lighted areas when creating honey in the hive and this was not the most animal-friendly decision on the part of the organizers.

The Green Living Show was definitely worth a visit to find cool sustainable products, listen to environmental discussions, and look at the newest electric car market. The show itself demonstrates how mainstream the discussion about the environment is becoming. Gone are the days of backyard granola talk. Instead, big stakeholders are looking into the future of financial and moral gain and, as it so happens, it’s green.

Cap and trade policy kicks off Green Living Show

Cap and trade is one of the hottest topics being discussed at economists’ lunch tables, and now they are inviting environmentalists to join in.

A panel discussion was held Friday to kickstart the Green Living Show with economists, professors and lawyers across different fields to help promote an open conversation about the changes to Ontario’s cap and trade policy. The discussion was hosted by Partners in Project Green, an environmental initiative funded by the Toronto Pearson Airport. This group gathers different organizations across sectors to discuss green business initiatives.

Cap and trade is a policy that places a tax on carbon emissions that exceed a certain amount. It is possible to buy and sell carbon credits, giving companies an economic incentive to develop energy saving technologies in the province. This policy will go into full effect in January 2017.

The discussion at the Green Living Show was led by keynote speaker, Christopher Ragan, who is Chair of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission and also a professor at McGill University in the department of Economics. Ragan discussed the challenges of implementing cap and trade in Ontario from an economist’s perspective, but he made sure to mention the potential of this initiative. Lowering greenhouse emissions is a world-wide necessity and the consensus was that cap and trade is the most cost-effective way to manage this problem.

Ragan sees the role of capitalism as pushing the new development of a clean energy model. He also spoke about the importance of working together in the wake of this economic shift to ensure that all industries and provinces can benefit from these changes.

The panel itself included Senior Fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Celine Bak, Managing Director of the Ivey School of Business, Paul Boothe and Professor of Sustainable Prosperity at the University of Ottawa, Stewart Elgie. These three voices provided the perspective of international business relations (Bak), economics (Boothe), and academia (Elgie).

Bak discussed how innovation on cap and trade will strengthen international relations and bring together larger and smaller innovators to increase productivity of new energy resources. Boothe, on the other hand, spoke about how carbon pricing will help promote electric vehicles. The automobile industry has taken a large hit in recent years and Boothe is hopeful the cap and trade policy will boost this sector by encouraging investment in newer green technologies. Elgie emphasized the importance of government intervention in the initial investments of greener technologies so that they could strengthen their profit in the first five years.

The Green Living Show brings innovators and vendors together that are invested in the future of green energy. Hundreds of people attended the event held at the Metro Convention Centre, which just goes to show that environmentalism is being taken seriously by stakeholders, politicians, and the public. I look forward to the changes that cap and trade will bring to the financial landscape of Ontario — I can only hope that it works just as well in practice as it does on paper.