Windsor Castle for serving a vegan banquet during an eco-minded interfaith conference.

Windsor Castle, for serving a vegan banquet during an eco-minded interfaith conference.

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Windsor Castle, for serving a vegan banquet during an eco-minded interfaith conference. Hosted by Britain’s Prince Philip, the Many Heavens, One Earth: Faith Commitments for a Living Planet conference gathered nearly 200 religious leaders from around the globe this past November. Initiatives included printing sacred books, such as the Bible and the Koran, on environmentally friendly paper, and introducing eco-tourism policies for religious pilgrimages. The banquet menu featured a roasted pear salad with cobnuts and steamed celeriac; portobello mushrooms stuffed with artichoke, red onion, and thyme on pearl barley; butternut squash risotto; and roasted root vegetables. The vegan meal not only accommodated various faiths’ dietary requirements—observant Muslims and Jews shun pork products, and religious Hindus avoid meat and eggs—it also supported the conference’s promotion of sustainable practices. A new study by the World Watch Institute, a global issues research organization, found that 51 percent of all CO2 emissions worldwide are directly attributable to livestock and their by-products.

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NASA, for green-lighting research using squirrel monkeys to test how harsh radioactive environments might affect astronauts traveling through deep space on interplanetary flights. “It is still largely unknown how this radiation would affect human behavior on long-duration missions,” says NASA spokesman Grey Hautaluoma. Animal advocacy groups counter that the genetic and physiological difference between primates and humans make any conclusions suspect. In a federal petition to halt the research, the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine called the experiments “cruel, unnecessary, and lack[ing] scientific merit.” They also may violate the Sundowner Report, NASA’s own principles for the ethical care and use of animals, which requires researchers to consider the scope of societal good that may come from an experiment utilizing animals. “Interplanetary human travel is, at best, a highly speculative aim for the foreseeable future,” the petition stated. “To put animals through radiation tests now in anticipation of such an enterprise is in no way justified.”

–Rachel Dowd

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