Posts on eating habits

מקבץ פוסטים שפורסמו במקור ב-Animal Rights in Israel (דף פייסבוק, כיום For Anonymous Animals, בבעלות עמותת אנונימוס).


Israeli health food market expands fast

An Ido Efrati story for TheMarker provides updated data about the Israeli health food market, with much attention to vegan processed food:

* The plant-based milk section has grown by 22% during the first half of 2013.
* Sales of meat analogues total 254 million NIS a year.
* Many coffeehouses and restaurants offer new vegan dishes; as a result, 250 branches gained a Vegan Friendly approval.
* Greg's 90 branches offer a full vegan menu, in response to a 30-40% rise in the demand for vegan items during the last year and a half.
* Landwer cafe's 25 branches offer several vegan dishes that account for 10% of their food sales.

The original story (in Hebrew).


A new restaurant has been recently opened inside the Tel-Aviv Museum of Art. The restaurant serves foie gras (the fatty liver of force-fed ducks and geese) despite the fact that force-feeding is illegal in Israel. The legal future of foie gras import is currently under discussion.

Earlier today, Anonymous for Animal Rights published a status exposing the sale of foie gras in the museum, and the public protest soon led the museum to publish an announcement: "We are checking the issue of serving foie gras at 'Pastel' restaurant in the museum. The checkup will be completed in two weeks. Until then, the foie gras dish is off menu."

The quick reply is encouraging, yet it is not decisive. Please let the museum know that the price of serving animal body parts that have been produced by an illegal method is too high. The museum depends on its art-loving visitors – many of whom are tourists – not on the restaurant's diners.


Good news for cows!

For the first time after years of steady rise, dairy product sales in Israel stabilized in 2012, with no rise in sales at all. The reduction in consumption becomes apparent now as data for the first half of the present year have been released: overall sales (by quantity) dropped by 1%. In comparison, the Israeli market of milk "substitutes" is flourishing, with quantities rising by 17% during the first half of 2013.

The reasons for the reduced dairy consumption are yet unknown. Reasons could be economic, but the change may also indicate an ethical shift, as veganism spreads throughout Israel at unprecedented speed. The dairy industry is based on taking by force the milk of genetically manipulated cows. The yield per cow in Israel is the highest in the world, as a result of severe manipulations. Recent years saw increased exposure of these facts.

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Meatless Monday in the Israeli Parliament? A new initiative

MK Rabbi Dov Lipman has launched an effort to establish a Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) Caucus to promote Meatless Monday. The upcoming winter seat of the Knesset will include a discussion attended by members of all parties, in an attempt to raise awareness of the environmental and health benefits of reducing meat consumption.

In addition, MK Lipman works to establish Meatless Monday in the Knesset's restaurant, which is prompted to serve more vegetarian options on Mondays.

In the short period since the last elections, rabbi Lipman proved an exceptionally progressive and effective voice for animals, including an effort to outlaw the trade in foie gras. The Meatless Monday initiative, reported since September 28 in many media outlets, is a different kind of effort, helping to protect animals by demonstrating that meals without meat are a viable option.

MK Lipman's started his new campaign after meeting Miki Haimovich, a media personality who is leading Meatless Monday in Israel with success in several large institutions. Mrs Haimovich is certain that other MKs will follow Lipman and join the project.

(Note, that all media reports on this topic quote the same deceptive data about Israeli meat consumption per capita. Indeed, consumption seems to drop recently, but it's far from the 18 kg per capita a year mentioned in all the reports. The 18 kg claim refers to cattle meat only, while the meat of other animal species, and especially chicken meat, accumulates into around 90 kg per capita a year).

Read MK Lipman's own presentation of the story

Read a Jerusalem Post report


Veg nutrition addressed by Israeli health authorities

Vegetarianism, and even more so veganism, is spreading very fast in Israel. Health authorities, however, adjust slowly.

On 1 October, the Israeli Society of Pediatrics and the Director of Public Health Services in the Ministry of Health published a 5-page document, titled Guidelines for Babies' Nutrition in Vegetarian and Vegan Families – 2013. It is the first document of its kind, and it mentions only 3 references, the latest of which is the Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets, published in 2009. Disturbingly, much of the information presented in this authoritative Position was lost in the Israeli version. The new document opens as follows:

"Vegetarian providence, rationally consumed, may provide all the nutritional needs from infancy to old age. Babies who receive a vegetarian menu grow well when their diet contains all the required food ingredients (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, iron, etc.) in adequate quantity, according to the nutritional guidelines for all babies their age."

This is a promising introduction, showing some new openness in the habitually veg-hostile establishment. Yet, hostility has not disappeared. Vegetarianism/veganism is presented as an object of special nutritional counseling, veganism is labeled "extreme", and much of the document is dedicated to potential deficiencies. Unlike the ADA's Position, the new document presents very dull options to overcome deficiencies (which in any case are not unique to vegetarians or vegans). Furthermore, the Israeli document ignores the health benefits associated with "vegetarian diets", in sharp contrast with the Position, which states:

"The results of an evidence based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals."

The ADA's Position (the association is now called the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) is somewhat outdated and lacks comprehensive information on veganism, but it is still highly recommended.

Hopefully, the Israeli health authorities will soon catch up with their American colleges.


Israeli health authorities copied a dairy industry marketing document

Not a day passed since we covered the lame attempt of Israeli health authorities to address vegetarian and vegan nutrition, and an inquiry by an Israeli web page team reveals a sensational connection between Israeli health authorities and the milk industry.

On January 2012, Israel Association of Family Physicians and Israel Pediatric Association published a short paper titled Milk and Its Products – Nutritional Advantages. This document, signed by the chairmen of both associations, cites 11 sources. Nevertheless, the single direct source is omitted: a marketing booklet of the dairy industry.

The 24-page booklet is authored by the Israeli Dairy Board's "scientific consultant" as a scientific-style marketing tool. It was published in September 2011. The Israeli Dairy Board is a private company that includes mainly representatives of various interests within the dairy industry, in addition to some government and consumer group representative. It was established in order to advance and protect the dairy industry, while marketing and enhancement of dairy consumption are among its prominent roles. Scientific validity is certainly alien to the goals of the Board.

The web page Milk – Facts or Myths reveals that the entire paper signed by the Israel Association of Family Physicians and Israel Pediatric Association has been copied from the Israeli Dairy Board's booklet. Most of the work was simple "copy and paste" of selected sections. Some editing was added, mainly due to wording constraints of a shorter document. At one point, a reference was added by the copyists, but the other ten sources listed are a selection from the references mentioned in the booklet's copied sections.

The Milk and Its Products – Nutritional Advantages paper reach nutrition and health professionals who believe that it is a well-balanced scientific opinion, not suspecting that it is a mere marketing paper. These professionals distribute the false claims further to unsuspecting public. This is how cow's milk becomes "wholesome" to humans.


Israeli extreme sports goes vegan

Congratulations! Earlier this week, ultra-marathoner Ariel Rozenfeld won the 100 km (62 miles) Sovev HaEmek race, setting a new course record. Forty years old Rozenfeld is vegan and he reveals that his performance improved greatly since he gave up all meat products, and improved once again since he gave up dairy products and eggs as well.

Yesterday (Tuesday), a unique swim took off: the Cyprus Israel Relay Swim for Youth at Risk. 6 amateur swimmers, Oded Rahav, Udi Erell, Doron Amosi, Luc Chetboun, Ori Sela and Ben Enosh (the vegan in the group) plan to set a new world record after completing the longest open water relay swim in history. They will swim a total distance of 380 km (236 miles) in six days. The crew's boat carry a large sign: Save the Planet – Go Vegan. Good luck!

More about Ariel Rozenfeld (in Hebrew)

More about the Cyprus Israel Relay Swim for Youth at Risk


Veganism in Israeli mainstream media

The new issue of the leading Israeli health and lifestyle magazine, Menta, dedicates a detailed article to veganism. Under the title A Vast Guide: How to Become Vegan in 6 Healthy Steps, Revital Gal points out that veganism turned much more common in Israel over the last couple of years. To those who struggle with making the change, she suggests the following points:

1. Discover meat, milk and egg substitutes;
2. Save time in the kitchen by preparing grains and legumes in advance and keeping them refrigerated;
3. Keep your vegan diet cheaper than an omnivore diet, thanks to grains and legumes;
4. Reject junk food;
5. Make sure that you consume enough calcium, omega 3, iron, and vitamin B12;
6. Eat out, with the help of the standard mark and the Go vegan application.

No less important is the Menta initiative to open a weekly market in HaTachana site in Tel-Aviv. The market will be devoted to health food with vegan orientation, in cooperation with several vegan groups and professionals. It will open on 25 October.


Meatless Monday at the Knesset

Yesterday (Monday) the new Meatless Monday Lobby held its first meeting at the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament). The Lobby was launched by MK Rabbi Dov Lipman after meeting the prominent promoter of Meatless Monday in Israel, media personality Miki Haimovich.

MK Lipman reports on his Facebook page:

"I am happy to inform you that in the near future the Knesset will be joining the "Meatless Monday" movement. […] The day began with a successful meeting with the Speaker of the Knesset, MK Yuli Edelstein and the Director-General of the Knesset Ronen Plot. It continued with a festive meeting with the participation of Minister Amir Peretz, Minister Gilad Erdan, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, MK and former Knesset speaker Rubi Rivlin, and MK's Dov Henin, Ruth Calderon, Shimon Solomon, Tamar Zandberg, and Itzik Shmuli. All understand that reducing our meat intake will improve the environment and our health."

The Meatless Monday campaign received further encouragement on Sunday from the Prime Minister himself. Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah, met Haimovich at their home, and were very supportive. Sarah revealed that their son, Yair, has been a vegetarian over the last couple of years, and her own father was a vegetarian as well. The Prime Minister and his wife consume but small amounts of meat thanks to their son.

The positive response to the new initiative at the Knesset reflects a dramatic change all over the country. Several years ago, any Israeli politician who spoke in favor of reducing meat consumption needed exceptional integrity and devotion. Now, however, speaking of reduction becomes mainstream, and the MKs public support should make decisive pro-animal views more easily heard.

Read about launching the Meatless Monday Lobby.


Meatless Monday at the Prime Minister's official dinner

The President of France's three-day visit to Israel happened to occur at the beginning of the week. François Hollande's visit was therefore a good opportunity to learn whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would adhere to his Meatless Monday commitment during an official event. Rulers' dinners are traditionally loaded with dead animals,and so was the first dinner with Hollande, at the Prime Minister's home. Nevertheless, on the second official dinner with Hollande, at the Presidential Residence, Benjamin and Sarah Netanyahu asked not to be served meat.

The Netanyahus' adherence to Meatless Monday was revealed only a week ago. Now it is turning into an ordinary piece of gossip, reported casually as a "celebrity" item. It is easy to feel disappointed that vegetarianism is not taken more seriously by both the Prime Minister and the media, yet in fact it is a great leap forward. Apparently, avoiding meat has become so popular that it was approved at least as a graceful addition to the image of Israel's leading politician. Some further exposure to Netanyahu's Meatless Monday would hopefully change the image of meat avoidance itself. Netanyahu has the right charisma to turn meat avoidance into a thinkable option for anyone throughout the Israeli society.


New vegan menus in Israeli restaurant chains

Earlier this week, Domino's Pizza added vegan pizza to the menu of its 48 Israeli branches. The vegan pizza contains soy cheese and vegetables, and according to the company's website, it was produced in response to "a Facebook post that attracted thousands of Likes."

Landwer's Coffee, a 30-restaurant chain, announced that next month it will launch a new menu that includes an 8-item vegan section. According to a TheMarker story on new vegan initiatives, the Landwer vegan menu was developed after some small-scale tests. Now the chain managers assess that adding the vegan options will increase the chain's revenue by 20%. An inside survey revealed that 40% of the customers are interested in vegan alternatives to existing items, and they intend to prefer them over non-vegan existing items.

Two additional chains are adding vegan menus these days: Vaniglia ice cream chain (14 branches) added several vegan flavours, based on nuts, soy and rice; and Aroma café chain is adding a 6-item vegan menu (to be available soon) throughout its 115 restaurants.


2013 a vegan year, according to Israeli media

Israeli newspapers are busy with attempts to sum up the passing year, and veganism gains unprecedented attention.

A HaAretz page of short titles claims that 2013 was "The last year when it was acceptable to eat cheese and meat; this is the time to purchase soy options." Among the many HaAretz end-of-the-year articles, three focus on food: one of them a typical carnivorous text, while the other two are pro-vegan. One of HaAretz editors, Ravit Hecht, titled her end-of-the-year column "The year when meat-eaters came into the closet" and added: "2013 is the year when I started to be ashamed that I eat meat. […] Even though I eat meat only when it is served to me – I take an integral part in a murder industry, because I am the consumer. I noticed that a positive answer to the question whether I eat meat locates me within a growing order of people who always murmur a few additional words about the infrequency of their eating meat or eggs."

Time Out Israel sums up food-related issues of 2013, and "Vegan" is the first section in this article. Journalist Shiri Katz claims that "The sticker logo Vegan Friendly has already appeared on almost every window of a food house in town [Tel-Aviv]. This year quite a few talked-about vegan restaurants were opened, with culinary value in itself and not only for the sake of animal protection."

Beyond sensational journalistic writing, there is an actual reduction in the consumption of animal products in Israel. We will bring you the statistics when it is available for the entire year.


Meat-eating, worm-eating

A huge worm was pulled a few days ago out of the body of a 76 years old woman. The worm probably entered the woman's intestine through meat eating.

The woman arrived to Poriya Hospital in Tiberias afer she suffered prolonged stomach ache. The doctors inserted a miniature camera into her digestive tract, and were surprised to see that the view is blocked by a moving object. Then they pulled the object through the mouth of the anesthetized patient, and it turned out to be a 4.4 meters long beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata). The doctors told a Yediot Aharonot reporter that the patient probably ate undercooked beef about twenty years ago; the meat contained worm eggs, and one of them hatched and slowly grew over the years to an immense size.

The eggs of beef tapeworms are found in contaminated human feces, and when they reach cattle food (through sewage on fields used to grow feed, for example) the cattle eat them. In the small intestine of the cow larvae hatch, penetrate the intestinal wall, enter the bloodstream and migrate to muscle tissue, where they can survive for years and still be infective when humans eat the dead animal. The worm matures inside the human small intestine, where it can live up to 25 years. Taenia saginata infection may cause allergic reactions, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, obstruction of the bowel, stomach ache and weight loss. Other species of tapeworms are also found in fish and pigs, and they infect humans in a similar manner.

Meat-transmitted tapeworms are not the only worms that threaten humans. Contaminated vegetable food is also a risk. Nevertheless, meat is more risky.


A new poll: Israel is turning veg

A new poll by Panels research company presents a dramatic shift toward more animal-friendly eating habits in Israel. The poll, published in several newspapers (2 January) focused on nutritional changes of the respondents during the year 2013:

5% turned vegan.
11% have a family member who turned vegan.
14% have a close friend who turned vegan.

4% turned vegetarian (doubling the percentage of vegetarians).
12% have a family member who turned vegetarian.
16% have a close friend who turned vegetarian.

23% reduced their meat consumption.
18% reduced their dairy products consumption.
13% consider going vegetarian or vegan soon.

No doubt the poll indicates a revolution in the eating habits and attitude toward animals among Israelis. The specific numbers, however, should be addressed with caution. Asking people whether they are vegetarians, for example, tends to yield a higher percentage of "vegetarians" compared to asking them how frequently they consume beef, poultry, and fish (many self-defined "vegetarians" eat birds and fish, or eat any kind of meat infrequently). On the other hand, even if the actual new eating habits of the respondents are less decisive than the definitions used in the survey, the change is still most dramatic. Such a great change in consumption has a direct effect on the number of animals exploited in the industries, and we will present these changes as soon as statistics for the entire year will be available.


How can you find a vegan meal in Israel?

Go Vegan is a location-based smartphone application for finding vegan dishes, currently available in Israel and California. Developed for Anonymous for Animal Rights by volunteer Yehuda Goldner, the application was launched about a year ago. Recently version 4.0.2 has been released, with full English interface.

Go Vegan tracks the user's location and finds vegan dishes in restaurants nearby. At the moment, Go Vegan maps over 10,000 vegan dishes in all sorts of restaurants, including non-vegan and non-vegetarian ones. Using the application, you can view big visual representation of dishes sorted by food categories, restaurants and other criteria. After selecting a dish, you may read users' reviews and get directions to the restaurant. Information about dishes is provided by both users and restaurant owners.

The developer invites users from outside Israel and California to contact him in order to expand the availability of Go Vegan beyond these countries.

To the application

Read about the application (a year ago) in HaAretz