Imagine meeting a sentient being, understanding their complex natures, learning of their soul and heart, and then – eating them. This may seem absurd, but this happens to millions of animals and livestock daily. The problem is that we no longer see these animals for who they are or what they are capable of, but as consumer goods, in the name of profit and taste.
I am an environmentalist, I am a vegetarian (making the transition to veganism), and I strongly believe that environmentalists and non-environmentalists alike, who have access to a vegan diet and lifestyle, should be vegan. As an environmentalist, we are constantly at battle with reducing climate change; so, finding out that livestock is responsible for 18% of all GHG emissions (a bigger share than transportation), made it difficult to say my “right” to eat animals was more important than the impact it is creating.
Environmentalists constantly recognize flaws in systems, whether they are political, social, economic, or environmental systems, we recognize that lifestyle and system changes are crucial to bettering society. The agriculture system is one of those flawed systems that must be challenged. Now I understand that meat and animal byproducts can be a touchy subject, for it is embedded in people’s culture, but cultures go through sociocultural evolution, and are subject to change. To say that meat is part of your culture, you are demeaning an animal’s well-being and right to a fulfilled, and loving life. There are many cultural practices that violate human rights that are still in practice, and that is our work as environmentalists, to challenge these violations that create marginalization in individuals or groups, through recognizing intersectionality.
The information can be wrenching and interfere with human pleasure and privilege, and can reveal an uncomfortable moral truth. When people know the truth behind the meat industry, it becomes an issue of ignorance. I find when I bring up the excruciating treatment of animals and the impacts of factory farming, people do not want to hear the truth because it “ruins” animal products for them. They don’t want to hear the brutalities that animals face, the truth behind livestock’s relation to polluted water sources, deforestation, toxic waste, and affecting communities’ health.
Is it worth it? I constantly remind myself of these issues and how easily animal products can be substituted, making it easier for me to transition and make a lifestyle change – for the animals, communities, the environment, and myself. GO VEGAN!
Written by: Jessica Weir