"Given what we know about the connections between animal agribusiness and climate change, water waste, pollution and more, why aren’t the major environmental organizations more vocal and straightforward about promoting the alternative to it?
Today, please respectfully ask environmental organizations to promote veganism as an easy, accessible and, most important, effective solution to human-caused ecological disasters. Preserving our planet and its inhabitants is of far greater importance than not alienating members and potential members. Environmental organizations should be leading the charge, not counting memberships, and we don’t have time to waste.
—-> https://www.facebook.com/rainforestactionnetwork “
Not only are they “not very vocal” about it, there is nothing but absolute deafening silence coming from these organisations.
The people whose primary concern should be the wellbeing of our planet are quiet. It’s up to us. Please spread the word.
What exactly is the proposed solution here, though? There are more than 87 million cows in the US alone. I can’t imagine that releasing them into the wild would significantly reduce the environmental destruction they cause, and on top of that it would be cruel since most of them would have difficulty surviving in the wild. Are you proposing a mass extinction of farm animals?
On top of that, not everyone can survive on a diet without animal products. Some people’s bodies are simply less efficient at processing the protein in plant foods than they are at processing the protein in animal foods, to the point that a diet without animal foods will cause serious health problems. (A lot of people in developed countries do eat *more* meat than they need, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need any.)
And even among people who could survive without animal products if they had access to the right variety of plant products, that access is not universal. There are foods that you won’t find in the supermarket in a low-income area, and the people who live in that area can’t afford to drive to an organic market in an affluent town to buy edamame.
Unless you have a plan to make a healthy mostly-vegan diet genuinely accessible for everyone, simply shouting that everyone should go vegan isn’t helpful.
I don’t normally have debates on Tumblr because it’s not something I’m fond of participating in. To new followers: this isn’t the norm.
That said, I will try to reply to each of these points individually. I am not the best person to speak on this topic, (there are vegan RDs and others out here floating around on Tumblr addressing all these points better than I could) but I’ll try my best.
No, I don’t think a mass extinction of farm animals by releasing them into the wild en masse would be a good plan. Rather, I think a gradual reduction in breeding numbers would be a better alternative. The population would then eventually decline, but I don’t think they would go extinct if not consumed. Many places have petting zoos that house farm animals and generate sufficient income to stay operational. Beyond that, viable feral cattle populations are known to exist throughout the world, although these can cause problems for locals if the population gets out of control or they invade a new area. In all likelihood, I think the global population balance would shift towards India. So I don’t think there would be a mass extinction.
I did some research and didn’t find any medical articles or scientific literature concerning comparative protein processing abilities in the population. I also didn’t find any disorders, diseases, or conditions that require animal-derived protein or that entailed plant protein being less efficiently processed. This data would be interesting as would the statistics on the demographics for these segments. If anyone has specific data on this, I would genuinely appreciate hearing about it. However, the internet is a large place and I wouldn’t doubt that there are some people that absolutely require animal protein to be healthy. In this case, I don’t think it’s sensible to ask them to become ill. Health is an extremely important priority.
I don’t have any first-hand experience with low income vegan shopping, but I don’t doubt that it is difficult, expensive, and inconvenient for many people. However, I don’t think access to an organic market and speciality food is necessary to be vegan, although the stereotype of that sort of vegan is one that floats around.There are quite a number low-income vegans that run blogs on Tumblr that can be used as a resource for those interested. There are some blogs collections here and here and here. As for myself, I don’t really eat organic or speciality foods or any of the fancy stuff. I’m actually the cheapest person to feed in my family (legumes and rice is both a nutritionally sound source of protein and a relatively inexpensive alternative to meat). Grains are also very common and inexpensive foodstuffs. However, I acknowledge that there will always be people without the time for preparation or accessibility to a nutritionally complete diet. In this case, I also don’t think it’s reasonable to ask them to become starved or malnourished.
I think the general idea is spreading education and awareness surrounding the food system. This way people may make more informed decisions. There are a lot of people that don’t know about the costs of mass animal husbandry (or the cruelty in it, but that is another lengthy topic already much discussed). Many people I know, including myself, first became vegan when we read about things in this on the internet, and it was helpful for us. We didn’t know about it before and we appreciate that we know now; if we don’t tell each other, then there aren’t many other places that will. Factual information going around is useful especially when environmental issues are vital to our survival as a species and a planet. Our food system isn’t sustainable and I don’t think more meat is a good idea.
The idea isn’t an absolutist, every-single-person, no exceptions, straight-away prescription, although sometimes it can seem that way. I don’t think that would be a practical expectation. When some people are unable but willing to give up meat, well, what can you do? But I do think a general and gradual shift in the global diet is possible and a sensible reaction when faced with increasing ecological and economic burdens (animal husbandry is quite expensive and inefficient; it is often heavily subsidized by governments to make it as cheap as it is today). So they want to first to make people willing. It isn’t uncommon for the diets of civilizations to change over centuries. It may take that long, although I hope it will be faster. The idea is also to initiate a shift in the general culture that sees animal slaughter and consumption as ethical and normal (although as I said before, that is a lengthy debate for other posts). I don’t think it’ll happen overnight, but a person here and there over time is better than nothing. I don’t think it’s reasonable to have everyone be mostly vegan, but a sufficient number of people might be enough.
That’s why I think posts like these can be useful. It’s also something that I genuinely believe in.
As far as making it more accessible, there are many vegan organizations actively trying to do that. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that public schools are starting to offer vegetarian menus after the last fifty years of its growing popularity. These things take a very long time. Culture can be slow to change; over time meat may shift away from stores and other products will replace it. I don’t think a quick political policy change instantly making it universally accessible is possible, though. Vegans have to be patient; but there probably won’t be many new vegans if they never talk about it since many of us (in Western countries, at least) started off by reading disconcerting information.
Basically, I think veganism is a sensible idea in the proportions that it’s possible for the individual. If it’s not possible, well, that’s okay, nothing you can do about it.
Tangentially related: The most common argument against veganism I’ve personally found, though, is just that meat tastes too good to give up. Which is an honest reason. But I don’t think any of these reasons necessarily devalues the general philosophy or the incentive behind people wanting to promote it to the general public at large. I don’t mean to shout at everybody that everyone share my views, and I apologize if it comes off that way, but I will continue to generally promote and voice them on my blog. I’ll try to tag it appropriately if anyone wants to blacklist it.
My concern isn’t so much “they’d go extinct if not consumed” as “they’d go extinct if they no longer served any useful purpose to humans.” You make a decent point about petting zoos, and if the situation got dire enough zoos would probably get involved in conservation efforts, which was an option I hadn’t thought of before.
I honestly have a lot of trouble believing that a diet consisting mainly of rice and beans would be nutritionally complete. If you’re eating grains that are fortified with vitamins, that might be enough. But I also find it really hard to believe you’d be getting anywhere near enough fat in your diet. Fat is necessary for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, and it is important for brain development (especially in children). I have a friend who was trying to raise her son on a vegan diet because she believes it to be healthier and more environmentally friendly, and the result was that at every doctor’s visit he was in the bottom 20% for height and weight in his age group. The doctor advised giving him some full-fat dairy, and while he is still small for his age (5 now, started having dairy sometime around 1 or 2), he has been growing a lot faster since he started having dairy. An infant would probably have different nutritional needs than an adult, but it is still a thing to keep in mind.
I understand the importance of spreading awareness about things you care about, and I’m not going to try to deny that the modern American meat industry is full of problems. But the importance of a healthy diet is something that I care strongly about. I have friends who are vegetarians and are doing fine. I have an aunt who tried to go vegetarian, read all the literature on how to balance your diet so you get the right amount of each nutrient, followed all the rules, and ended up getting sick and having her doctor tell her that she absolutely needed to reintroduce meat into her diet. Eating a pack-of-cards sized piece of meat once a week is enough to keep her healthy, but without that she would have become severely malnourished. I think it’s dangerous to spread information promoting a vegan diet that fails to address the difficulties and risks involved.
I apologize if my initial response came off as accusing you of shouting at everybody that everyone share your views or anything like that. I am not generally opposed to seeing things about veganism or vegetarianism come across my dash. Again, I just feel like it’s important to recognize that it’s not feasible for everyone.
(As an aside: “Meat is delicious” is not necessarily actually someone’s primary reason, even when that’s the one they give you. When I give that as my reason for not being vegetarian, it’s because I know that the other person will likely decide that I am a lost cause and not push the issue, whereas when I say that I become anemic when the amount of meat in my diet drops below a certain level, people often take that as an opportunity to explain to me how to do vegetarianism “correctly” to avoid that happening. I only engage in serious conversations about this with people I feel I can trust to actually listen to the points I’m making rather than simply pushing their agenda.)