1st November 2021
Veganism is not a diet. But all vegans consume a plant only diet as the manifestation of their ethical belief that other animals are not ours to use and it is wrong to exploit and kill them. Veganism is a way of conceptualising other animals as our moral equals who have rights. Therefore, veganism and vegan education is an core element of the animal rights movement that strives to end all human use of other animals for food, clothing, research, cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products, entertainment, labour or any other use. Unfortunately, veganism has come to be portrayed as a trendy fad that pertains more to consumerism than social justice.
Veganism is also part of the peace movement and it recognises the intersectional harm that animal use causes to other humans and to our planet. World Vegan Day and World Vegan Month 2021 coincide with the launch of the COP26 talks. Therefore, the climate emergency that is now being referred to by the IPCC as a code red for humanity, is a topical issue. Whether or not anything of significance can be achieved in time from these talks remains to be seen. There is widespread recognition that we cannot continue to eat as we do, breeding and killing tens of billions of land animals and trillions of sea animals, to meet the nutritional needs of a few million humans who could thrive on a plant based diet. Chief among the environmental damage of animal agriculture is GHG emissions. Methane, emitted from the ruminant animals we use for flesh and dairy, is a short lived gas but it is significantly more damaging that many other GHGs. GHGs are not the only problem with animal agriculture. It is also responsible for deforestation, air, water and land pollution, and loss of biodiversity.
If we are to have a planet that is fit for our survival as a species, we need to change quickly. Every individual one of us will have to make changes to how we live. Some groups will need the support of their countries and governments to make significant changes. Farmers, for instance, must be supported to transition to a plant based economy. It would pay dividends if we paid those farmers who are currently engaged in animal agriculture to stop farming altogether, i.e. pay them to do nothing rather than breed and kill animals. Some of the required changes such as changing our cars or our household heating to less harmful ways of meeting our needs , is expensive and may be too slow to effect the dramatic reduction in GHGs that is required now. But every individual can change how they eat, three times a day and thereby significantly reduce the damage we are inflicting on the earth.
The latest reports show that 37.1% of Ireland’s GHG emissions come from agriculture, principally from animal agriculture. As Governments argue over insignificant reductions in the number of cows they exploit, or coin new methods of milking the last drop from the bodies and lives of already tortured animals by way of selective breeding and changes in diet, we can simply end the demand for other animals by living as vegans, and eating a plant based diet.
Veganism is more than a diet. The essence of veganism is confrontation of our own speciesism so that we come to acknowledge that we are not superior to other forms of life. We are not more entitled to live on this earth than they are. We do not have the right to destroy the planet that every life depends on for their survival. We most certainly do not have the right to use the lives and bodies of animals who share our capacity for physical and psychological feelings, to meet our needs.
So, for this year’s World Vegan Month, our campaign aims to educate the public about the significant contribution of animal agriculture to the destruction of our planet in the hope that every individual who sees our ad will realise the powerful role they can play in halting our gallop towards destruction, when they stop using other animals.