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Australians can afford to spend more on food that meets higher animal welfare standards. It’s time to demand change from farmers

It’s easy to argue that the intensification of animal farming puts food on the average Aussie battler’s table at a price they can afford. By suggesting we eat less meat, or better-quality meat, it’s easy to be accused of favouring the rich: perhaps only they can afford the grass-fed, organic, free-range alternative?

So let’s take a look at the numbers. The average Australian spends about 14% of their income on food – down from about 19% of income 30 years ago. According to government statistics, total annual expenditure on meat and seafood was only $650 per person in 2015-16 compared with $734 in 1988-89, allowing for inflation (the data for seafood and meat were compiled into one number, unfortunately). We spend less on meat than we used to, and buy more of it. So now, according to the most recent numbers available, each week households spend an average of $13.70 on vegetables and $9.60 on fresh fruit. Compare that to the $40 or more we spend each week on takeaways, fast food and confectionery. Or the 31% of our food budget we spend eating out, a 50% increase on three decades prior. Or the $13 we spend, on average, per household, per week, on our pets.

Related: Matthew Evans, Niki Savva and Tony Birch on their new books and what they're reading in July

Farmers are a business. If they make the same money or more, meeting higher animal welfare standards, they’ll oblige

Related: ‘Is there such a thing as vegan loo roll?’: how to have a cruelty-free home

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Australians are among the biggest meat eaters in the world, but that’s changing. Recent converts to diets with less meat explain their motives

There is a scene in the documentary Blue Planet II where a harlequin tuskfish, a 30cm long inhabitant of the Great Barrier Reef, uses a bump on a coral to break open a clam.

The coral is littered with broken clam shells. The fish clearly uses this spot a lot. It strikes the coral repeatedly until the clam gives way.

If you’re still enjoying sitting down to dinner then what’s the point in reverting?

Related: Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown

Related: ‘Ag gag’ laws: The battle for animal welfare is a battle over informationSiobhan O'Sullivan

I try to be coherent in my own way of life and these products

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Move expected to put pressure on rivals McDonald’s, Burger King and large supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s

KFC is to become the first UK fast food chain to sign up to new European welfare standards for farmed chickens, in an attempt to tackle growing concerns about inhumane conditions in the intensive and large-scale production of meat.

The move by the America-owned chain – 18 months after the blueprint was unveiled – will put pressure on rivals McDonald’s and Burger King, as well as large supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s to follow suit.

Related: KFC and Tidy Planet join forces for waste-to-energy venture

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Highly contagious virus can live for months in processed meat and would have ‘devastating implications’ if passed to live pigs

African swine fever has been picked up in meat seized by port authorities in Northern Ireland, the first time the ASF virus has been detected in the UK.

Officials confiscated more than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products from airport passengers’ luggage in June. Samples tested by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Belfast confirmed traces of the virus, which is highly contagious and can survive for several months in processed meat.

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Investigation exposes how Brazil’s huge beef sector continues to threaten health of world’s largest rainforest

The cows grazed under the midday Amazon sun, near a wooden bridge spanning a river. It was an idyllic scene of pastoral quiet, occasionally broken by a motorbike growling on the dirt road that cuts through part of the Lagoa do Triunfo cattle farm to a nearby community.

But this pasture is land that the farm has been forbidden to use for cattle since 2010, when it was embargoed by Brazil’s government environment agency Ibama for illegal deforestation. Nearby were more signs of fresh pasture: short grass, feeding troughs, and salt for cattle.

Related: We must not barter the Amazon rainforest for burgers and steaksJonathan Watts

Related: The swashbuckling meat tycoons who nearly brought down a government

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The EU-Mercosur trade deal is good news for Brazil’s huge beef industry but devastating for the rainforest and environment

European leaders have thrown the Amazon rainforest under a Volkswagen bus in a massive cows-for-cars trade deal with Brazil and three other South American nations.

The EU-Mercosur agreement – the largest in Europe’s history, according to officials – will make it cheaper for Brazilian farmers to export agricultural products, particularly beef, despite growing evidence that cattle ranching is the primary driver of deforestation.

Related: Revealed: rampant deforestation of Amazon driven by global greed for meat

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How the strange case of a former president secretly taped by industry executives revealed where power lies in Brazil

In Brazilian financial circles 17 May 2017 is dubbed “Joesley Day”. It’s the date when the power and influence of Brazil’s meat industry was exposed in all its ugly glory and gave the stock market a sucker punch.

It was the date that Joesley Batista, at that point one of the controllers of the world’s biggest meat-packing company, family-run JBS, went to meet then-President Michel Temer, and secretly recorded him endorsing payments to a notoriously corrupt politician imprisoned for political corruption.

Related: Revealed: rampant deforestation of Amazon driven by global greed for meat

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Film taken by the charity Animal Equality earlier this year shows the quality of life endured by birds on three farms of one of the UK’s biggest chicken producers. The farms, in Lincolnshire, were holding birds in cramped conditions, with birds found to be lame, struggling to breathe and surrounded by carcasses

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Secret filming at three Moy Park farms in Lincolnshire shows birds that are lame, struggling to breathe and surrounded by carcasses

One of the UK’s biggest chicken producers has been keeping chickens in cramped conditions on three farms in Lincolnshire, including in enormous “double-decker” multi-storey buildings, where secretly filmed footage shows chickens that are lame, struggling to breathe and surrounded by dead birds.

From across their sites in Northern Ireland and England, Moy Park supplies 30% of the British poultry market, including Tesco, Ocado and Sainsbury’s. The supermarkets have told the Guardian they they are now investigating their supply chains after the footage was sent to them.

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Ex-US vice-president says only big solutions can offset impact of systemic shifts and avert disaster

Al Gore has said the global economy requires a fundamental upgrade to become more sustainable in order for the world to survive an environmental crisis and widening social divides.

The environmentalist and former US vice-president said the world was in the early stages of a “sustainability revolution” that had “the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution and the speed of the digital revolution”.

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