Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Veganism and Environmentalism go hand in hand

Vegan ARAs should support the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement is waged by environmentally conscious and Earth-revering student bodies opposed to their own universities investing millions to billions of dollars in the fossil fuel industry, and it is sweeping the nation from Harvard on down. It should be supported by vegans and ARAs wholeheartedly - for obvious reasons. But some denounce it vehemently on not so obvious grounds, and here is my rebuttal:

1. Some say that the oil/coal/gas industries own and run the government and are too powerful to fight, and therefore should not be fought. Would they say the same about the meat/dairy/egg industries which also own and run the government?

2. Some say that "animal agriculture emits 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions" and that to fight the fossil fuel industry which emits the other 49% is a diversion of energy and waste of time. What would this "logic" look like if the ratio is 50/50? Are the vegan and environmental movements mutually exclusive?

3. Some say that the oil barons are "impervious to symbolic action" of the anti-oil movement. By the same token would they say that the meat barons are likewise impervious to the "symbolic action" of the anti-meat movement? Defeatism at its finest. If a university invests millions or billions of dollars in the animal agriculture industry, would they likewise denounce an Animal Agriculture Divestment Movement against that university?

4. Some say that the hunting industry, which also owns and runs the government, is likewise too powerful to defeat, and further that domestic animals killed for food far out-number wild animals killed for recreation and trophy, and therefore, they conclude, the anti-hunting movement, like the anti-fossil-fuel movement, is also a fruitless diversion of time and energy from the vegan/AR movement, not withstanding that hunting itself is anti-vegan and anti-AR. I know this on the personal level, given that the Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (of which I am the founder) and Anti-Hunting in America (of which I am an admin) have taken much heat on this score. This same criticism is now directed against the anti-fossil-fuel movement which, like anti-hunting, also happens to be pro-vegan and pro-AR - e.g. the Alberta tar sands which levels huge swaths of boreal forest and poisons entire watersheds upon which native animals (and native peoples) depend.

5. Some strongly oppose major animal advocacy organizations for collaborating with the animal agriculture industry, and all power to them. On the other hand, they strongly denounce the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement waged by the environmentally conscious student bodies opposed to their own universities collaborating with the fossil fuel industry. Where is the consistency in this?

6. Some say that even if the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement succeeds, the oil companies could just add a dollar to a gallon of gasoline, and the consumers would meekly pay it. By the same token, even if 20% of the population go vegan, the 80% would pay more for a pound of beef.

7. Some pile shame on "today's environmental mis-leaders for exploiting the naivety and good intentions of a movement of activists who really do want to save the world", which is an insult to those who, based on sound science, oppose the fossil-fuel industry, some of whom being themselves vegans and ARAs.

About the only difference they could pin between these two parallels is that while anti-meat activists do not eat meat, anti-oil activists still use oil. But this only goes to prove that the fossil fuel industry has such a monopoly in the energy sector that gives energy users no choice but to use oil. Even those driving pure electric cars use electricity derived largely from coal.

There is no question that diet-oriented veganism is a cardinal principle for saving the planet, but so is energy-oriented environmentalism. For one to denounce the other is to say "my way or the highway". For the anti-meat movement to denounce the anti-oil movement is the right hand trying to cut off the left hand.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

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