Little Caesars in the U.S. Is Offering Vegan Pepperoni at Its Locations Nationwide

Field Roast’s vegan pepperoni is made with pea protein, features fat marbling to mimic its pork-derived counterpart, and is spiced with pieces of fennel, cracked black pepper, garlic, and paprika.

Source: Veg News

Dutch Company Received Funding to Scale Up Cell Cultured Leather

Biotech company Qorium has raised €2.6 million in a funding round led by Brightlands Venture Partners. The funding will allow it to scale up its technology for producing cell cultured leather.

Founded in 2014, Qorium recently succeeded in developing proof of concept of its product. The cell cultured leather takes 99% less water and 66% less energy to produce than conventional leather.

It also eliminates the need for the first two phases of the tanning process, which are notoriously polluting. And since only a few bovine skin cells are required to produce the leather, the methane emissions produced by livestock could be vastly reduced.

“We look forward to providing real high-quality leather made in a dramatically more sustainable way than conventional leather,” said Stef Kranendijk, co-CEO and co-founder at Qorium. “This will be a game-changing, revolutionary transformation of the current leather market.”

Demand for leather alternatives is growing rapidly, with companies seeking to replace conventional leather in everything from car interiors to watch straps. By 2025, it’s estimated that the market will be worth $89.6 billion. But to date, most alt-leather companies have focused on plant-derived materials such as pineapple leaves and cactus skins.

“More and more users of leather, particularly the premium high-end brands in the leather fashion, footwear and automotive industry, want all the properties of real leather without the tremendously high negative impact on the environment that comes with livestock rearing,” said Rutger Ploem, co-CEO and co-founder at Qorium. “Qorium provides exactly that.”

Source: Vegconomist

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COVID Falls From America’s #1 Killer to #7 by June

A steep rise in vaccination rates has dropped COVID-19 from the first to the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, a new analysis shows.

The disease was the third leading cause of death for much of 2020, but became the leading cause of death in December 2020 and early 2021, reaching a peak of 3,136 deaths per day in January 2021 and far surpassing U.S. deaths from heart disease and cancer during that time.

Heart disease is typically the number one cause of death (about 2,000 a day), while cancer claims about 1,600 lives a day, according to the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker. The tracker provides up-to-date information on trends and issues that impact the performance of the health system.

COVID-19 dropped to the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in June 2021, with an average of 342 deaths a day.

Heart disease was again the leading cause of death (2,101 per day) in June, with the others being cancer (1,614), accidents (474), stroke (451), chronic lower respiratory disease (377) and Alzheimer’s disease (351), according to the report.

COVID-19 deaths have fallen sharply as vaccination rates have surged in recent months. As of June 30, about two-thirds of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

However, it appears that the federal government won’t achieve its goal of getting at least one shot into the arms of 70% of adults by July 4 due to lagging vaccination rates, particularly among younger adults and residents of certain states.

The total number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States as of June 30 was 604,656, and nearly all deaths have been among unvaccinated people, the researchers reported.

A recent KFF poll found that half of unvaccinated U.S. adults said the number of cases is so low there is no need for more people to get vaccinated.

But if vaccination rates plateau, COVID-19 could remain among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, despite the availability of safe and highly effective vaccines, according to the Peterson-KFF report.

Source: HealthDay

What’s for Lunch?

Vegetarian Set Meal at Hidamari Café in Tokyo, Japan

The price is 1,430 yen plus tax.

Dating First Cases of COVID-19

David L. Roberts, Jeremy S. Rossman, Ivan Jarić wrote . . . . . . . . .


Questions persist as to the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence is building that its origin as a zoonotic spillover occurred prior to the officially accepted timing of early December, 2019. Here we provide novel methods to date the origin of COVID-19 cases. We show that six countries had exceptionally early cases, unlikely to represent part of their main case series. The model suggests a likely timing of the first case of COVID-19 in China as November 17 (95% CI October 4). Origination dates are discussed for the first five countries outside China and each continent. Results infer that SARS-CoV-2 emerged in China in early October to mid-November, and by January, had spread globally. This suggests an earlier and more rapid timeline of spread. Our study provides new approaches for estimating dates of the arrival of infectious diseases based on small samples that can be applied to many epidemiological situations.

Author summary

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, questions still persist as to its origins. Evidence is building that its origin as a zoonotic spillover occurred before the officially accepted timing of early December, 2019. We date the origin of COVID-19 cases from 203 countries and territories using a model from conservation science. We use a method that was originally developed to date the timing of extinction, and turn it to date the timing of origination using case dates rather than sighting events. Our results suggest that the virus emerged in China in early October to mid-November, 2019 (the most likely date being November 17), and by January, 2020, had spread globally. This suggests a much earlier and more rapid spread than is evident from confirmed cases. In addition, our study provides a new approach for estimating dates of the arrival of infectious diseases in new areas that can be applied to many different situations in the future.


Uncertainty still persists around the origin of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the resulting COVID-19 disease. While an origin as a zoonotic spillover in the Huanan Seafood Market, Wuhan, sometime during early December, 2019, has been proposed [1], this has been called into question [2–4]. This uncertainty arises due to both the presence of earlier potential COVID-19 cases, and the fact that most phylogenetic analyses put the most recent ancestor at between mid-November and early December, 2019 [5].

Uncertainty around origination dates extends beyond the suggested zoonotic overspill in China to all countries where SARS-CoV-2 has spread. For example, in France the first case of COVID-19 was recorded as January 25, 2020, however a recent retrospective review of medical records from patients in intensive care unit (ICU) with both influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms and pulmonary ground-glass opacity admitted between December 2, 2019, and January 16, 2020, (14 patients of 58) identified one patient as having COVID-19 who had been presented to the emergency ward on December 27 [6]. In the United States, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected through retrospective RT-PCR testing of a woman who had become ill on January 31, 2020, and died on the February 6, 2020, over 3 weeks before the first recognised case on February 26 [7].

Here we repurpose extinction models from conservation science to estimate the potential for earlier cases than has been reported of COVID-19 in 203 countries and territories. Further, we examine exceptionally early cases to determine the likelihood that these cases contributed to the country’s current infection or if they were isolated outbreaks that did not lead to the current lineage of cases. As such we specifically date the origin of cases that resulted in the virus taking hold in each country.

Within the discipline of conservation science, a number of models have been developed to infer or date extinction events based on a series of sightings of a species. Interest lies in determining whether a species still persists, having not been sighted for a period of time. If it is assumed the species is extinct, interest then lies in determining when extinction occurred. The application of these models has been proposed in a number of areas beyond extinction modelling to determine end points, particularly the Optimal Linear Estimation (OLE) method developed by Roberts and Solow [8], including geological stratigraphy [9], archaeology [10], phenological studies [11], and phylogenetics [12]. Based on a series of COVID-19 cases, interest lies in dating the original case. Such a knowledge is critical for our understanding of the spread of this disease.

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Read more at PLOS Pathogens . . . . .