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News at Brighter Green

Executive Director Mia MacDonald Quoted in Civil Eats Article 1/26/15

Executive Director Mia MacDonald was quoted in Advisory Board member Anna Lappe's article on Chatham House's recent study on peoples' understanding of climate change and food, particularly meat production. You can view the Civil Eats article here.

New Report Released by Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition on the Unsustainable Impacts of Livestock and Soybean Production in Paraguay 1/22/15

Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition, published a new report entitled, "Meat from a Landscape Under Threat: Testimonies of the Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock and Soybean Production in Paraguay". You can access the report here.

Brighter Green Featured in NYC Meatless Monday Press Release 1/22/15

Brighter Green and Executive Director Mia MacDonald were featured in NYC City Council Representative Helen Rosenthal's press release on the push for NYC to adopt the Meatless Monday campaign.

Executive Director Mia MacDonald Appears on Our Hen House's Highlight Reel Podcast Episode 1/10/15

Brighter Green Executive Director Mia MacDonald appears on Our Hen House's highlight reel episode on January 10th. The original TV episode can be viewed here.

East African Girls' Leadership Initiative Program Update 1/10/15

Brighter Green and Tribal Link released a January Program Update on the East African Girls' Leadership Initiative. You can access it here.

Brighter Green and Humane Society International Publish COP 20 Policy Recommendations 12/4/14

Brighter Green and Humane Society International published a policy recommendation document on animal agriculture and climate change for the COP 20 meeting in Lima, Peru. You can access the document here.

Brighter Green Releases Summary on Forthcoming Nature's Rights Paper 10/14/14

Brighter Green released a summary of a forthcoming nature's rights paper entitled Nature's Rights: Rivers, Trees, Whales, and Apes.

Jim Harkness Positively Reviews "What's For Dinner?" 10/6/14

Jim Harkness Senior Advisor on China at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy positively reviews "What's For Dinner?" and interviews Executive Director Mia MacDonald.

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The Assertive Vegetarian

March 24, 2015 4:03pm
Filed under:
Jian Yi headshot

Documentary film director, Jian Yi

This blog entry was originally written by What's For Dinner? director Jian Yi on a train ride to Beijing on World Vegetarian Day (October 1) 2014.

What’s For Dinner? and Vegucated have had six successful screenings in Guangzhou. Much gratitude is due to the efforts of our friends at GAFA, Young City, Yi’he Vegetarian Restaurant, the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, the South China Normal University, the South China University of Technology, and the Guangdong Food and Drug Vocational School.

My arrival in Beijing today coincided with this year’s World Vegetarian Day. Restaurants and snack bars populate the modern, spacious waiting hall of the Guangzhou South train station. And yet not one offers a hot vegetarian breakfast. Every neatly packaged bun sold in the convenience stores contains meat, and the situation is no different at the fast food restaurants. Perhaps you will say that McDonald’s does not traditionally offer vegetarian food? But McDonald’s traditionally does not offer fried Chinese bread sticks either; a fact which does not seem to stop them from being sold at Guangzhou South station.

Lunar New Year of “any ruminant horned animal”? - Celebrating the Year of “Yang”

February 27, 2015 2:04pm
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Chinese charater "Yang"

February 19th was China’s Lunar New Year’s Eve. In New York City, all of midtown by the Hudson River was lit up by beautiful fireworks put on by the Chinese Embassy. According to the zodiac, this lunar year of 2015 is the year of “Yang.” It is not uncommon for “Yang” to be interpreted as ram, sheep or goat both in China as well as in western media.

In China, the character pronounced as “Yang” has a general meaning of all Ovis (sheep, goat, ram and other goat-like horned animals). As seen in the Chinese ancient Bronze character to the left, “Yang” looks exactly like the head of a ram. The right image is the modern Chinese character of “Yang,” which appears less like a ram or a goat, but still can be intrepreted as an animal with horns.

Crossing the Equator: What’s For Christmas Dinner?

December 23, 2014 10:00am

“Agrochemicals violate human rights: A tribute to Silvino Talavera.”

No matter where we are, there is one thing in common for the end of year holidays, whether you’re celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or another festival: food. Special dishes. Holiday meals. Gathering around a table. It’s time to be merry and stay happy, to try and forget about sorrow and anger, and often, to give up asking too many questions—questions that may lead to the truth, and the truth can be inconvenient.

On November 28 and 29, 2014, Brighter Green’s Mia MacDonald and Wanqing Zhou joined environmental and rights advocates at the International Strategy Meeting on Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock and Feed Production and Threats to Community Conservation in Paraguay. The meeting and field trips were organized by the Global Forest Coalition, an international non-profit network of organizations based in Paraguay and the Netherlands.

Mia MacDonald Talks Brighter Green on Our Hen House TV

December 5, 2014 10:00am

Mia MacDonald (far right) and Josphat Ngonyo (far left) filming Our Hen House TV

Mia MacDonald was recently on the season 2 premiere of Our Hen House TV. The 23rd episode featured Mia, along with well-known animal activists Josphat Ngonyo (founder and executive director of The Africa Network for Animal Welfare) and Gene Baur (president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary).

The show is co-produced with Brooklyn Independent Media, ventures into the under-explored world of animals rights with a sense of humor, a passionate heart, and more than a few opinions on the state of animal rights. The show is an extension of the popular podcast under the same name.

The Hummingbird and the Climate Summit

September 24, 2014 10:35am
Hummingbird

The humble symbol of climate activism, a hummingbird.

This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post on September 23, 2014.

Co-authored by Wanjira Mathai, director of the wPOWER Project at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi and Chair, Green Belt Movement


Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate, was fond of recounting a children's story she'd been told on a visit to Japan. A huge fire breaks out in the forest, runs the tale. The animals are transfixed and overwhelmed by the conflagration. All of them but a hummingbird, who resolves to do something. She flies to the nearest stream, dips her beak into it, and drops a bead of water onto the flames. The elephant, the lion, the giraffe, and the other animals laugh at her, as she flies back and forth over and over again. "You're just a tiny hummingbird," they jeer. "What difference do you think you can make?" The hummingbird replies: "I'm doing the best I can."

For many who heard Wangari tell the story, the message of maximizing our abilities and passions for the greater good rather than descending into cynicism or despair was galvanizing. Wangari embraced this interpretation wholeheartedly. Yet it's clear that a more challenging, even provocative message lies within it. That message has more relevance than ever as hundreds of thousands of people, us among them, marched Sunday in the streets of New York demanding their leaders take urgent action to address climate change, and as heads of government, industry, and civil society gather at the United Nations for an unprecedented global-warming summit.

The Farm Sanctuary Movement Reaches Asia

September 18, 2014 10:54am
Filed under:
Tied up Indian dairy cows

Tied up Indian dairy cows

As social awareness increases over dietary choices, industrial farming methods, and animal welfare, more individuals are choosing a vegan lifestyle while simultaneously the farm sanctuary movement is becoming a global phenomenon. Farm sanctuaries provide a retirement home for animals removed from the agricultural industry, and often build community awareness regarding animal behavior, healthy eating habits, and the environmental impacts of our diets. In India, two such farmed animal sanctuaries are changing the country for both animals and people, by creating safe homes, building vegan communities, and implementing humane education efforts.

Activism in China: Q&A with Associate Wanqing Zhou

August 7, 2014 10:00am
Premiere at Vegan Hut in Beijing

Outside of the film's premiere at Vegan Hut in Beijing

This blog originally appeared on the Our Hen House website on July 23, 2014.

Today, I'm excited to tell you about a screening tour across China of the 30-minute documentary WHAT'S FOR DINNER? Providing a unique look into the rapid growth of industrialized animal agriculture in China, the film follows various people in Chinese society—from a retired pig farm worker to a vegan restaurant owner—and examines the impacts of the country's huge shift in food production and consumption on sustainability, public health, food security, climate change, and animal welfare.

WHAT'S FOR DINNER? is a production of Brighter Green, a public policy "action tank" on environment, animals, and sustainability, for which I've been fortunate enough to work this summer, in addition to my internship with Our Hen House. You may remember Brighter Green's important work from OHH's interview with Jessika Ava on Episode 216 of the podcast, or from Jessika's collaborative feature with Brighter Green Executive Director Mia MacDonald on the expansion of industrialized dairy production in Asia, based on Brighter Green's latest policy paper, "Beyond the Pail: The Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia."

Small, Smart, & Green: Revolutionizing Organic Agriculture in West Africa

July 24, 2014 3:02pm
Grain Coast, Inc. Logo

Erwin Knippenberg is a guest blogger for Brighter Green.

Brighter Green sometimes features updates on agricultural changes, particularly the global South.


Sam Binda is a farmer like his father and his father before him. He grows okra, African eggplant and other vegetables to feed his family and sells whatever is left at his local market. As a member of CHAP —a community based farming organization—he pools his efforts with his neighbors, sharing tools and know-how. Sam is a Liberian, working to rebuild his country after a brutal 14-year civil war.

A Flood of Refugees

May 30, 2014 10:26am
Climate change is not just poised to affect plants, coral reefs, insects, and non-human mammals. With rising sea levels, increased temperatures, more extreme natural disasters, and reduced agricultural yields, entire human communities are at risk of displacement. The rise in refugees due to environmental causes is projected be one of the most significant impacts of climate change, affecting millions of people worldwide.

Climate Change and Food Security

May 2, 2014 3:35pm

Climate change will continue to affect crop yields significantly.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group II recently published a report titled "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability." One of the major issues that the report raises is that of food security, exploring the connection between mounting pressures due to climate change and agriculture. These links between climate and food are intrinsically tied to inequity.

The Inequality of Climate Change

April 11, 2014 3:58pm

Bangladesh is at risk due to rising sea levels.

The front page of the New York Times on March 28th featured an article on the plight of Bangladesh—one of the countries most vulnerable to the rising temperatures and sea levels due to climate change. This is an example of the inequality of climate change; Bangladesh and other developing nations hardly contributed to the climate crisis, yet they are facing the gravest risks.

Brazil’s New Dietary Guidelines: Cook and Eat Whole Foods, Be Wary of Ads

March 13, 2014 12:11pm
Brazilian homes

Brazilian homes

By Mia MacDonald and Judy Bankman

This blog originally appeared on the Civil Eats website.

What if your national dietary guidelines advised you to cook and enjoy fresh, whole foods, and serve them with friends and family while thinking critically about advertising? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Well, that’s exactly what Brazil’s Ministry of Health is recommending with the “food based” dietary guidelines it issued recently.

Got Milk?: New Policy Paper on Industrialized Dairy in Asia

February 24, 2014 9:30am
Dairy consumption is increasing all over Asia

Dairy consumption is increasing all over Asia

Brighter Green is excited to announce the release of a new policy paper exploring the growth of industrial dairy systems in India, China, and countries of Southeast Asia. The report, Beyond the Pail: The Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia, explores the trend toward increased dairy consumption and production and argues that the growth of industrial systems results in severe consequences for the environment, public health, animal welfare, and rural economies.

Sochi & Environmentalism (& Brighter Green's Primer in Russian)

February 17, 2014 3:53pm
Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi Olympic Park

Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi Olympic Park

Brighter Green is partnering with the Global Forest Coalition (GFC) and Biofuelwatch on a new project studying the intersection of deforestation, climate change, and industrial animal agriculture, in hopes of bringing attention to the connections between these issues at the global policy level. Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition recently produced a primer on this project that can be viewed here. We also recently translated this primer into Russian, opening it up to a wider audience. Russia is a significant importer of meat products from Latin America, where the livestock and feed industries are major players in the region's deforestation.

Russia also has been in the hot seat by environmental standards, as much controversy swirls around the Sochi Olympics. In 2007, when Russia received the bid for the games, the administrators claimed that they would work as hard as possible to be “green” and produce “zero waste,” but the past few weeks have revealed a lack of follow-through on these ambitious (and vague) promises.

American Hippopotamus: The Meat Question

January 8, 2014 8:00am
A yawning hippo in the wild

A yawning hippo in the wild

In 1910, Louisiana congressman Robert Broussard introduced a bill to import African Hippopotamuses to the swamplands of the U.S. Gulf Coast to supplement the U.S. food supply. Author Jon Mooallem’s longform nonfiction multimedia story “American Hippopotamus” published by The Atavist details the origins and tracks the fate of this idea, which ultimately never came to fruition. The piece is a fascinating narrative and profile of two of the proponents of this scheme, who were once enemies fighting on opposite sides of the Boer War: American scout Frederick Russell Burnham (The inspiration for Boy Scouts and Indiana Jones), and Fritz Duquesne.