Tomorrow is Earth Day. All week-long there have been awareness campaigns on all that is environmental. Change a light bulb, drive a hybrid, compost, etc. What is largely lacking is the most important thing anyone can do to help the environment, GO VEGAN!
Last week the Santa Cruz Good Times newspaper had a front cover feature titled “Eating for the Environment”. Although the article pointed out the important fact that “animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases than the global transportation sector—that’s every single car, bus, plane, train, etc. on this earth”, I was consistently disappointing in the weak arguments made in the name of “responsible eating” for the sake of the environment. The following are excerpts from the feature and my responses to them in bold.
- “…the Meatless and Meat-Free Monday campaigns are asking conscious Earthlings to forgo meat one day a week as a favor to our planet.” This planet doesn’t need us to do it any favors. What it needs is us to take on the responsibility of going vegan for the environment and all its inhabitants, ourselves included. Not eating meat one day a week is one way of transitioning to veganism, but if you are going to continue to eat meat and animal secretions, then you are still perpetuating the problem.
- “You see people who are environmentalists trying to conserve water washing their cars less often, installing low flow sinks and toilets, drought resistant landscaping, and legislation passing requiring low flow shower heads and so forth,” says Robbins. “These are all prudent and helpful measures, but all combined they don’t even compare to what you save by eating one less hamburger.” Eating “one less hamburger” makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside by giving you the illusion that you are a part of the solution. It is a way to start your vegan journey, but in no way is it doing your health, the environment or other animals any good. You may be thinking that it is the same as reducing your energy use, but they are not equal. You easily can live without animal flesh and secretions, but living without electricity is a bit more challenging (although doable as well).
- Keeping it Local Although Eleanor Taylor and Noah Pinck don’t eat meat themselves, they offer local meat and dairy products through their business (name withheld) with the hope that if people must have meat, they will at least buy it locally. “…the demand is really high,” says Taylor, adding that their one-year-old company is expanding in all respects. Where to begin?!? Can you say cognitive dissonance? Okay, YOU don’t eat animals but you will profit off of their death and then try to sound like you’re doing some noble act? This couples actions are a concrete example of the problem with promoting organic & free range animal flesh and secretions. It DOES NOT reduce animal consumption, it perpetuated the problem by increasing demand. But hey, as long as you’re making a profit…
- “I’ve seen the animals, I know they are roaming on 500 acres, it feels a little bit better,” he says. “I know the producer, and I know it was raised humanely and humanely slaughtered.” There is NO SUCH THING AS HUMANE SLAUGHTER. “It feels a little bit better” for you, because your guilt is temporarily appeased, but it is not better for the animals whose fate is an unnatural life and death for your pleasure.
- “One of the criticisms of ‘Diet for a New America’ is that I don’t speak in it about free range, grass fed, and other forms of humanely raised livestock,” muses Robbins… “The reason I didn’t is because they didn’t exist commercially when I wrote it in the late ’80s. They have come to exist since then partially in response to the growing awareness in the public consciousness of how cruel factory farm products are.” Again, “humane” farming only increases demand for dead animals.
- “…according to “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” the meat industry plans to double production by 2050.” There is the problem of human overpopulation and this increasing the demand for EVERYTHING. The solution is not to promote “humane” farming, the solution is for people to adopt a vegan lifestyle. This would create less demand for animal flesh and secretions.
- “It would be a major positive step [if meat-eaters bought locally] but you can’t produce nearly the quantities of animal product that way as you can with factory farms,” explains Robbins. Meaning, “humane” farms can’t produce the amount of animal flesh desired by the public due to the heavy promotion of “happy meat”. Does it make sense to say “don’t eat meat” and then promote an increase in eating another type of meat? How does this help the planet when you already acknowledged the damages of eating meat in the first place? There is still he issue of waste/ manure, large quantities of water, grain, and land used. Oh yeah, and the death of millions of animals.
- Now primarily vegan for four decades, Robbins often wonders what keeps so many others from making the switch. What keeps others from making the switch? The promotion of “humane” farming and campaigns like “Meat-Free Mondays”. If you tell people that eating less meat is enough, that’s what you’re gonna get. As humans, we try to get away with as little as possible. Lower the bar, and you’ll get lower standards. If you tell people that eating “happy meat” is commendable, then that’s what you’ll get, happy meat eating people, If you want veganism, you have to promote veganism.
- The Meatless and Meat-Free Monday movements are asking people to start small by reducing their meat consumption by 15 percent (one day a week), which, when added up, has anything but a small effect. Individual action like this will lessen the demand on unsustainable meat products—the first step in downsizing the enormous factory farming industry. The operative word here is “start”. Not eating meat 1 day a week is one way to start a vegan journey, but it is no way the end of environmental responsibility. If not eating meat 1 day a week will lessen demand, can you imagine the amazing impact of not eating meat at all?? As for downsizing factory farms, the answer isn’t in creating more “humane” farms, the answer is GO VEGAN.
- “Every time you buy something you are saying to that producer, do it again,” says Robbins. “If you care about the environment, don’t pay people to pollute it. Don’t buy the products, or at least minimize your purchasing from industries that pollute. When we lessen the demand for meat, that will, in time, lessen the supply.” He had me up to “don’t buy the products”. Boycotts have shown to have a direct impact on creating change. During the grape boycott of the 1980’s, Cesar Chavez didn’t say “eat less grapes”, he said “NO GRAPES!”
- “Consumers, because of their strong and growing influence in determining the characteristics of products, will likely be the main source of commercial and political pressure to push the livestock sector into more sustainable forms.” Any kind of animal farming is NOT SUSTAINABLE. I agree that consumers have the power to create change, it’s too bad we ask for so little and settle for scraps. Exercise your power and ELIMINATE the demand for animal flesh and secretions.
- “if you want to walk your green walk, if you want your lifestyle to be as non-polluting as possible, the single most powerful thing you can do—by far—is to eat less meat.” Not true. The single most powerful thing you can do is GO VEGAN.
Another point I’d like to make is, don’t be afraid of the word Vegan. Sure, the whole world is not going to go vegan, but is that the excuse YOU, the environmentally conscious human that you are, are going to use to not do your part for the environment?
In the Vegan Freak blog post, “Vegan Isn’t a Dirty Word” , Bob Torres states, “In one way, I get it; there’s no question that a lot of people misunderstand what veganism is. But in another way, people won’t really know what veganism is until we begin articulating a clear vision of veganism and the very important message that it communicates.”
I highly recommend that you take 11 minutes of your time to watch the video “A Life Connected“. It is short, not graphic, and to the point in making the case for the amazingly positive impact going vegan can make on your health, the planet, and animals.
Making the Change
- Watch “A Life Connected” and/or “Earthlings” to truly understand the invaluable impact you can make on your health, the planet, and millions of suffering animals.
- Read “Breaking the Food Seduction” to learn why certain foods are so addicting and how to break the dairy habit.
- Read “Becoming Vegan” for health and nutrition information.
- Become familiar with websites like Vegweb.com to find recipes and links to other useful sites.
- Connect with other vegans through sites like Vegan Freak, Animal Emancipation, and VegWeb. You can also find (or create) a local vegan group through Meetup.com
Going vegan is so easy and anyone can do it regardless of where you live or your income. Connecting with other vegans will help you immensely with any questions or concerns you may have and it only gets easier as time passes.