Another team that I wish we could spend longer with other than during the Natural & Organic Products Europe show – Team Bronner! This year we’ve been working on such an exciting campaign with Dr Bronner’s and Compassion in World Farming – #compassion. To help spread the word to journalists The Spa PR Company organised a lunch at vegetarian restaurant Tibits, which they very kindly invited me along to.

The #compassion campaign sees a portion of sales from select products going to Compassion in World Farming, to help end factory farming. Now, before I tell you all about the fabulous cause and movement, I want to address some of the scrutiny that the campaign has come under. It has saddened me that many vegans who are animal lovers have criticised Dr Bronner’s for supporting a charity that condones the consumption of animals. To quote the Bronner brothers –

Michael Bronner, Vice President “Dr. Bronner’s is so excited to support Compassion in World Farming. We are very concerned about the effect our shopping and eating habits have on the world around us. Compassion is working to improve the quality of life and conditions for farm animals by making broad policy changes – benefiting human health, the environment, and animal welfare.”

David Bronner, President “As a dedicated vegan, I’m proud that my family has stepped up to commit resources over the long-term to take on the terrible plight of farm animals and to promote more compassionate and sustainable dietary choices. One doesn’t have to be vegan to want to reduce the incredible suffering of animals in factory farms and to lower overall meat consumption.”

For me, as a definite non-vegan, and a definite animal lover, I am moved at the effort and the results CIWF has achieved since it launched. Founder Peter Roberts was way ahead of his time, owning a health food shop in 1967 about the same time he started campaigning to end battery cages. His aim was to have done so by 1970. This was a long battle which took 30 years to pass in the EU. They were also behind the banning of Veal crates in Europe, as well as making it compulsory for Sows to have turning room when they are pregnant and a whole host of other milestones. You can read more about the CIWF current campaigns here.

Whenever I hear Mike Bronner recall the story of his grandfather I can’t help but well up inside. It’s a very moving tale which gets me every time I hear it. You can read my telling of the story here. Last year David Bronner also joined Mike at the lunch, but this year we were joined by Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive of CIWF. It was great to hear Philip speak about the history of CIWF, but also about where we are at with farming and agriculture. He described how we are at a new cross road in farming and foods, that the big wigs are pitching as “sustainable intensification”. This is all about supposedly maximising yield on land without impacting the environment. But do we need more food? And is it possible to improve yields without impacting the environment? Well, according to World Hunger, there is enough food to feed the world. And as for environmental impact, we only have to look at what’s happening with the bees to know that some practices in intensive farming are ruining our earth spaceship. Philip shared with us the staggering news that 40 billion bees are flown into California every year to pollinate crops. What in the world are we doing?!

If you’re interested in learning more about intensive farming I recommend picking up Farmageddon – The True Cost of Cheap Meat, written by Philip Lymbery. It’s next on my to read list, as quality meat is something I strongly believe in, and it’s only through our purchasing power that we can make a difference! Whilst Mike Bronner describes Dr Bronner’s as “philosophy on a bottle” what with his grandfather’s messages on the label and how he used his soap as a vehicle for these messages, Philip Lymbery describes the CIWF as “philosophy on a plate”. Now that really is some food for thought!

Back to the food at Tibits, no meat in sight there but there was still an absolutely delicious meal to be had! It was buffet style and there was such choice. Veggie tempura, falafel, chana, quinoa salad, all perfectly flavoured (always a challenge with veggie food if you ask me).

It seems like an annual ritual now to make a flavoured liquid soap with Mike, and it’s something I’m not complaining about. Last year I made Honeysuckle, the first year Rose & Cardamom, and this year Balsam. All flavours right up my street, but probably not going to be bestsellers. It’s only as I sit here writing this that I realise I stuck my product label on upside down and that I drew stars of David to decorate my bottle without realising the relevance. Oh and I should also probably mention that I am in my Dr Bronner’s T-Shirt and next to me on my sofa is the beautiful magazine and progress report update that Dr Bronner’s gave us at the event. It’s a great read, and I was particularly touched by some of the staff accounts of working in the Dr Bronner’s family.

Ryan, PR Director of Dr Bronner’s, very kindly gave me the Cinnamon Toothpaste from Dr Bronner’s to try. Available in the US already, it will be available in the UK come September. Sadly, I don’t think the tube will last quite that long in our house!

From this long post, I would love for my readers to take away a few things –

1) I would never tell people what to and what not to eat, but when it comes to meat always buy the best you can afford – grass-fed or organic if possible. To those who say it’s too expensive, you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you go to your local butchers (plus you’ll be supporting your local area’s business), and besides, what price do you put on the world, and your health?

2) Buy Farmageddon – The True Cost of Cheap Meat, written by Philip Lymbery, and read it!

3) Buy Dr Bronner’s Magic Liquid Soap and help support CIWF.