‘Veganism is a fad for hipsters and overly health conscious’. Until now, these have been the archetypal images of those who adopt a vegan diet. However, this is not the true image of veganism, the heart of which acknowledges our relationship with the environment and desires to live harmoniously with the world. It is a movement towards immediate, effective action to save the environment. Veganism is environmentalism.
At current, it is estimated that we could have fishless oceans by 2048. Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction. Our natural resources, a once abundant treasure chest, have been left completely spent due to our consumption. What would drive us to act so recklessly and unsustainably? The way the ocean is being pillaged suggests we have no knowledge of how this affects us, yet currently 82% of researchers agree that climate change is strongly linked to human behaviour but we ignore them. Why? What are we trying to keep ourselves ignorant of? Our current actions suggest that we think we won’t be affected by environmental damage and climate change, we think the environment is a cheap resource that can be carelessly consumed like fast food.
Our irresponsible behaviour is rooted in our collective delusion of being separate from the environment. Our first step is to wake up to an environmental consciousness. Ecologically speaking, we are not an organism in an environment but organism-environment – we interact with the environment. Our skin and every other orifice connects us to the environment like a bridge, and therefore the destruction of the environment is the destruction of ourselves.
We already know fresh air is good for the brain, clean water is good for the body and rainforests help your lungs. So why are we destroying these resources? Environmental damage is tantamount to self-harm. Our collective hallucination of separateness from the environment is driving us to act in destructive ways. We continue to fund animal agriculture despite it being responsible for 91% of the destruction of the Amazon, but would we change these habits if we were conscious that the rainforest plays a much more important role? In something far more important than the burger which merely appeases the habits of our tastebuds, rainforests clean the air and thus help us to breathe. It is vital for the saving of our species on this planet that we acknowledge our relationship to the environment.
Next, we have to know the main source of the problem and take immediate effective action. We all know greenhouse gas emissions must be cut – we’ve been told this many times by enthusiastic science teachers, politicians and our hippie friends. Amongst other things, we’ve been told to drive less, recycle, and to spend less time in the shower so that we pollute less, waste less and save water. It has been tedious, monotonous and annoying, and even more so when predictably the following year we are told that we need to do a whole new host of things differently as emissions are still rising. We therefore need a more effective approach to reduce the harm we’re doing to the environment and ultimately humanity.
What have we not been told? We haven’t been told that animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions which is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. We also haven’t been told that a farm of 2, 500 dairy cows produce the same amount of waste as a city of 411, 000 people or even that in the West, agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of total water consumption.We definitely haven’t been told that reduction in animal agriculture is by far the most expedient, easy and manageable way for us to save the environment and eventually the future of humanity. The power is in our hands, mouths and stomach. The easiest action we can all take to start saving the environment is to change our diet.
The vegan diet is the most effective means to live harmoniously with the present state of the environment. The less animal agriculture we use up, the more progress we make in saving life on this planet. Currently we’ve allowed livestock and their by-products to account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve allowed livestock to cover over 45% of the earth’s land despite it being a large source of pollution, and by collectively ignoring our relationship to the environment we’ve allowed animal agriculture to be the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
However, there is a solution. By changing our diet to a vegan diet we would each produce the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, use 1/11 of oil, 1/13 of water and 1/18 of land compared to the current average meat eater’s habits. Furthermore, by changing our diets, we as the West can stop exploiting starving children for the benefit of our stomachs. Currently 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are generally eaten by those in western countries. Immediate effective action cannot be avoided.
In the past when groups had been continuously subjugated, we’ve created movements to overturn the tyranny and we’ve fought to integrate these groups into our social conscience. We’ve had the suffragettes, black civil rights movements and LGBT movements to help bring equal standing to oppressed groups. Now it’s time to stand up for our environment and the future of all humans on earth. It can’t wait any longer, we desperately need to become conscious of our relationship to the environment and take action to save it. The first step we can all take is to adopt a diet which takes into account our current situation. Veganism is environmentalism; change your diet and help change the world.
Join the movement and start by going vegan for February!
Sources of facts and statistics can be found at: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/