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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Plant-based alternatives to meat have found their way into upscale restaurants and fast-food joints alike, but the trend hasn't really cracked Thanksgiving — one of the biggest meat-eating days of the year.
The big picture: Companies have made big strides in re-creating the taste of burgers and chicken nuggets with plant protein, but there are relatively few vegan options for the Thanksgiving turkey.
The backdrop: The most popular vegan alternative to the Thanksgiving centerpiece is Tofurky, which hit the market around 25 years ago. But even that product doesn't aim to re-create turkey's unique taste.
One reason companies haven't attempted a faux turkey is because it's much easier to re-create the texture and flavor of a processed meat product — like burgers or sausages — than it is to mimic something like steak or roasted chicken.
The stakes: While eating beef has the steepest environmental impact — a diet that includes beef has 10 times the climate impact of a plant-based diet — other types of meat-eating hurt the planet, too, Hurowitz says.
But, but, but: "The biggest obstacle to plant-based turkey is how central eating turkey is to the Thanksgiving tradition," says Hurowitz. "It has meaning and values and traditions, so that's very hard to replace," San Martin says.
The bottom line: When considering the deep and wide-ranging climate effects of the meat industry, switching to a plant-based diet is one of the most impactful actions individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint, experts say.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The collision of rapid population growth and global urbanization is straining a crucial, often overlooked material: sand.
The big picture: We use 55 billion tons of sand every year, making it the third most used natural resource in the world. Without sand, there is no asphalt, glass or concrete — the skeleton of the 21st-century city.
Concrete requires a specific type of sand found on the floors of rivers, lakes, beaches and floodplains.
The effects of unlimited extraction on the environment can be severe. Researchers have found that river dredging in India has contributed to flooding in Kerala. China banned sand dredging on the Yangtze River in 2000 after bridges were undermined and thousands of feet of riverbank collapsed.
Journalist Vince Beiser writes in the New York Times that sand mining regulations could alleviate some of the effects of extraction, depending on the government's ability to enforce them.
A deserted mall in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
As we've reported, America is dotted with ghostly, long-abandoned carcasses of malls — massive structures that were once bustling shopping centers but were forced to close down after seeing dismal foot traffic.
The big picture: The trend of retrofitting abandoned malls is catching on in more and more communities, reports the Washington Post's Abha Bhattarai.
The other side: While the failing malls repurpose themselves, the high-end centers continue to spend money and add attractions to draw in shoppers.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
An Amazon fulfillment center, fully stocked for Black Friday. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
More and more people are dodging the long lines and busy parking lots of Black Friday — and planning to do their holiday shopping online instead.
The big picture: Despite headlines and reports describing a retail apocalypse, brick-and-mortar stores still easily trump e-commerce sites, with online shopping claiming only about 10% of all retail. But when it comes to shopping around the holidays, online has a much larger share.
Thanks for reading!