"This Is Hope" is a crossover book for self-identified environmentalists, species rights advocates, vegans and vegetarians, those dedicated to true sustainability, fish and wildlife "management" professionals, students of deep ecology, and those who want to know the biocentric solutions for our dietary, consumer, and reproductive choices.
Will’s Blog

Part II: The Emotional State of Vegans, Economists,…

In part 1, I described emotional experiences felt by vegans, environmentalists and advocates for social and economic justice. We all see the world in a way that remains in the minority of perception and sense of urgency. I wrote about the problems we are working to solve—preventing the collapse of ecosystems and biodiversity, establishing social and economic justice, spreading veganism, reforming economic systems to make these goals possible, and reversing human overpopulation. Human behavior causes these problems and that is our advantage; they can be cured by changing human behaviors. Now we will look at how advocates for a Steady State Economy and the Center for Biological Diversity understand this as evidenced by their addressing multiple issues within their core mission.

 

iStock_000019441224SmallI referred to two blog posts on the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) website. The CASSE platform includes limits to human-oriented growth in our finite home called Earth. They recognize all life has inherent value that must be considered and protected when choosing an economic system. Prominent biologists (and Green Vegans) have endorsed CASSE’s platform. Both CASSE posts remind us that vegans are not the only advocates who are deeply pained when nonbelievers just don’t “get it.”

Read more ›

Karen Davis on HSUS and Disappearing Hens

looking_at_youIn earlier posts, I’ve criticized HSUS and other organizations for their subversion of the species rights movement. They support slaughter and consumption of meat. Some question the wisdom and the necessity of bringing our differences up for debate publicly. Challenges and debate are healthy, essential for any movement. Doing so tests our beliefs and strategies for effecting justice and stopping the violence. It is honesty in action.

Karen Davis’ recently wrote an article about what happens when an organization like HSUS provides us with compelling evidence and an opportunity to stop the violence waged against chickens but instead abandons those very same chickens to the immoral and depraved treatment they document. Given the HSUS support for incrementalism and worse—instead of abolition—this outcome is inevitable. If you or someone you know supports these HSUS platforms and strategies and their moral corruption, read Karen’s post below and look, at least as much as you can stand, at the HSUS undercover filming. Listen carefully to what the HSUS states at the end of the video. It exemplifies why we must have these disagreements and dialogue out in the open for the sake of chickens and everyone else.

Disappearing Hens:
Stopping Short of What Needs to Be Said – and Done

By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns

A video released by The Humane Society of the United States on January 5 (see Spent Hen Slaughter Exposé) shows what happens to millions of egg-industry hens in their final hours of suffering a life that words like horrible, miserable and appalling are too feeble to describe. One has to steel oneself to look at the scenes at the Butterfield spent hen slaughterhouse in Minnesota. If you’re like me, the first time you click on the link, you might turn down the sound and look at the video with eyes semi-averted from the screen. Life doesn’t get any worse than this, and neither does death. And it’s all for omelets and fried eggs.

Watching the video, you catch sight of a hen’s face and her living eyes that are about to be pulsed with volts of electrical shock. You turn up the volume and feel the agony in your gut and the sickness in your heart, even as you realize you cannot possibly imagine the feelings these hens are carrying inside themselves, the accumulation of their experience with human beings. As the video winds down, the narrator says, “You can help reduce the suffering of chickens on factory farms simply by eating less meat.”

This video is being advertised as the first footage from a slaughter plant designed for spent hens. People need to see this. We all need to know, show and tell others what eating eggs and egg ingredients means for hens regardless of whether they lived in barren battery cages, “enriched” battery cages, cage-free organic compounds, or wherever they came from on their way to this final place of execution.

Instead, the narrator blandly suggests eating less meat from factory farms.

The art of persuasive discourse teaches that when we present an ethical problem to an audience, we follow up with a positive, liberating, inspiring, and doable solution – “Here is what you can do to help stop this cruelty and help these hens. You don’t have to wait, you can start today. Please start today. Here’s how.” The goal is to solve the problem and empower the person – who is very upset and charged with a desire to take action – to be confident that she or he can actually do something commensurate with the situation just witnessed. “What can I do to help these birds?” What is our answer?

In the case of the Butterfield hen slaughter video, the first shock comes when the narrator doesn’t even mention the hens or their eggs in the How You Can Help part. Instead of something like: “To help end this cruelty, please visit Eggfree.com for delicious egg-free recipes and cooking ideas,” the message drains out in generic terminology and flaccid advice.

To state the obvious: This message is not inspiring, invigorating or empowering. It does not address or facilitate the urge to do something truly meaningful to help the hens. It does not seize the moment. It says that neither the hens nor their suffering matters enough to do much for them. Their plight isn’t urgent. They aren’t that important. Just reduce their meat consumption. And if you don’t, okay. Not a word about eggs. When people are told they don’t have to do much, most will do even less. That part of the person that wants to act SIGNIFICANTLY is undercut by the part that wants to rest easy. The “experts”are telling you to relax, it’s okay. Watching the Butterfield video I felt overwhelmingly sick and sad, but when the narrator bypassed the hens and lamely advised eating less factory farm meat, I felt that our movement needs a new lease on life. Get active! www.upc-online.org/alerts 

See the original post here.

The Emotional State of Vegans, Economists, Environmentalists, and…

Man tending his store. Kandahar, Afghanistan. 1970. Photo: Will Anderson

Man tending his store. Kandahar, Afghanistan. 1970.
Photo: Will Anderson

Part I

I recently came upon two blog posts that reminded me of the anguish many vegans feel when faced with the “great mystery”: why don’t environmentalists (and other advocacy groups) get the vegan message? Since it resolves so much of the environmental movement’s agenda, veganism, it would seem, should be a no-brainer. There are two unifying themes hidden beneath their irrational non-response.

 
First, we should recognize that advocates from other causes feel the same pain in their advocacy as we do. Though they do not yet get the necessity of veganism, the rest of their work is essential to addressing major issues. Like us, they have to petition the public for support and win hearts and minds. Despite their selfless hard work, low pay, and scarcity of clear victories, they persevere. Public support is seldom sufficient to win their cause any time soon and they live with that. Like us, they have straight-forward answers (conserve energy–don’t export coal and don’t build the Keystone pipeline) but face powerful, culturally resistant, opposition. Environmentalists are aware that toxic substances run off of streets and chemically-treated lawns into creeks, rivers, estuaries, and oceans when it rains. The damage is real; there is suffering in ecosystem destruction and they know it. Beauty is destroyed. They feel it.

 

Aldo Leopold, a wildlife biologist who later in life regretted his many murders against wolves and other individuals, summed up the environmentalists’ lament:
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

  Read more ›

Refer to Green Vegans.org for Rally Updates

Please refer to www.greenvegans.org for the latest Seattle Climate Change Rally rally updates. The vegan contingent will meet east of this Starbucks store in Westlake Plaza at 12:15. The main rally, across the street, begins at 1:00.

20140907_184932

Vegans! Join the World’s Largest Climate Change Rally Today!

iStock_000025077798_SmallVegans everywhere are preparing for these events. We are making sure that climate change activists include the vegan imperative. We and ecosystems will not win on climate change without veganism. On September 21, people in villages, towns, and cities around the world will come together in a call for action. In New York alone over 750 organizations and tens of thousands of people are gathering for a rally and march as the United Nations convenes to address climate change policy. On the same day vegans in Seattle and everywhere will join them. Read more ›

September 21 Climate Change Rally Contacts

group of young ecologistsWe are still waiting to hear back on our “hub” for the September 21 Seattle rally, organized by vegans. However, this is a list of locations and their people. You can connect with them and form your vegan contingent or organize the event is it is not yet established.

http://peoplesclimate.org/organizing/

Vegans! Will You Rally Against Climate Change in September?

BallardPeppersYesterday, I promised an opportunity for VEGANS to be visible at international rallies and protests against Climate Change in cities around the world. Here are introductory links that explain it:

http://peoplesclimate.org/global/?r=credo

http://peoplesclimate.org/march/

 

Proposed are two options for the VEGAN COMMUNITY:

The initiator of the national event for Climate Change includes 350.org, an organization that refuses to acknowledge the role veganism plays in climate change. They intend to rally the largest gathering ever about climate change in NY City on September 21 (a Sunday) as the UN debates climate policy. The organizers already have recruited a large coalition of organizations for that rally and march. However, they encourage other organizations to organize their own independent but coordinated events in cities and towns everywhere. Importantly, they encourage organizations to organize under their own identities. See http://peoplesclimate.org/register/#host-iframe

 

This is a phenomenal opportunity for VEGANS to spread the message that veganism (not vegetarianism) is essential to get immediate results on greenhouse gas reductions, especially methane. At ten days, and then at five days prior to the rallies, I will post a talking points card for you to use about how animal agriculture contributes to the disaster of climate change. The card will be posted at www.greenvegans.org and www.thisishopethebook.com.

Read more ›

The Unlimited Vegan – Part III

Connecting to Power
BallardSunflr
In parts I and II, we see how the founders of modern-day veganism anticipated the connections between the vegan principle and other pressing issues. It is our job to understand that those same issues, if left unsolved, are obstacles to achieving a veganized humanity. As we help challenge and solve them, veganism gains power and becomes accepted as common sense. We are vegans without limits who gain the power of the whole.

 
Many vegans are aware that animal agriculture is responsible for up to 51% of the greenhouse gasses that fuel climate change and its symptoms of rising sea levels, drought, and ocean acidification. Climate change and our relentless exploitation of Earth is destroying ecosystems as we’ve known them at an accelerating rate. A United Nations’ “Millennium Assessment” reflected that “Nearly two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are found to be in decline worldwide. In effect, the benefits reaped from our engineering of the planet have been achieved by running down natural capital assets [natural capitol is the resource base of ecosystem services we rely upon like clean water, building materials, and pollinators].” Animal agriculture, responsible for impacting and dominating all ecosystems, is unnecessary for at least a billion of the wealthiest people who have alternatives. Impoverished people are benefiting from veganic agriculture as well.

 
We already cite how “going vegan” eliminates much of the violence waged against wild and domesticated individuals from other species, greatly reduces our environmental impacts, and improves personal health as it reduces national health care costs. But think about the good people at the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE). They know that economic systems must change to enable social and economic justice for more people. They urge us to toss out the belief that unlimited economic growth is possible within finite ecosystems. A steady state economy is required to stop the destruction of ecosystems. As they reduce that destruction, CASSE advocates also stop much of the miserable deaths of wildlife who live in those ecosystems. In their advocacy for reformed economic systems, CASSE addresses suffering and unjust killing which are pillars of purpose for ethical vegans. Read more ›

The Unlimited Vegan – Part II

Making Sense of the Whole

In part one, we saw how Donald Watson, Leslie Cross and other founders of the word “vegan” and the Vegan Society implied and then stated what it means to apply the vegan principle to the rest of our lives and the vegan movement. Their evolving vision gives us an opportunity to reemphasize and expand on what veganism can do for all life and ecosystems. Here I describe why it is equally important to realization that many other issues must be solved if veganism is going to be the global norm.

 

A New Human Ecology
Remember what Leslie Cross of the Vegan Society said in 1951: “In a vegan world the creatures would be reintegrated within the balance and sanity of nature as she is in herself.” She gave this as an example of applying the “vegan principle” to areas other than dietary choices. So I ask, do issues like overpopulation and food not getting to people fit within the vegan principle, or do the vegan principle and veganism exist within a larger context? I believe it is clearly the latter. This was apparent in Donald Watson’s 2002 interview that I described in Part II. All the issues he mentioned fit within a larger context already in use, a place in which veganism and other subjects exist side-by-side and make sense as a whole. They live within the comprehensive context of our human ecology.

 

Human ecology is the study of the relationships we create with our external environment. That external environment includes other people, our social institutions, individuals from other species, ecosystems—the entire Earth. We create those relationships with our behaviors, our personal and collective decisions and the institutions that organize our social existence—cultures, communities, governments, religions, and all manner of social organizing. As vegans we are in fact insisting on a new, updated human ecology because we are calling for a reformation of human behavior, attitudes, and beliefs that support veganism. As a result of this vegan behavior, a vegan human ecology, we have healthier, relatively nonviolent, and just relationships with our external environment. Vegan behaviors create relationships that are far different than those found in hunter, fisher, animal agriculture, and other violent exploitations.

 

First, human ecology serves our movement when we see it not as a “study of” but as a tool. We are constructing an intentional new human ecology of veganized relationships. We are active builders, not passive reporters who study what we know is not working—our current human ecology of failed behaviors and relationships. Second, because it is all-inclusive, our new human ecology contains a multitude of other social movements and their issues under one roof. Human ecology is our common platform. It demonstrates how social movements and their concerns are interdependent.

 

Please take a moment to study this new human ecology graphic. You may have to click on it to enlarge.

6x6_TheNewHumanEcol#124D4D8

It is here, within the broad and inclusive space of our new human ecology that we advocate for deep reforms in our relationships with all the individuals from other species, the people we cohabit with on Earth, and our shared ecosystems.

 
Veganism alone is a revolution in human behavior and will define our species. While it is essential to our physical and moral survival, we will not grow it in time unless we make better use of its importance to all the other social causes shown in the illustration. In turn, veganism needs them to succeed if we are not to be defeated by their failures in spite of our work.  We must initiate the discussion about reforming our human ecology when we talk to advocates from other movements about the necessity and reasonableness upon which veganism gently floats. There is, after all, only one problem and it is our human ecology. Within it is veganism, the healer. Read more ›

The Unlimited Vegan – Part I

The vegan community is missing an opportunity to tap into a vast source of power. If we want a vegan planet we start by stepping back to see the big picture. Up to now, we have heard how environmental sustainability, for example, is dependent upon a global switch to a vegan diet. Less obvious is how veganism is dependent on solving many other major issues of our time. In fact, the relationships between veganism and other issues are complex. As I’ll explain in three parts of “The Unlimited Vegan”, each issue is deeply dependent on the success of the others.

 

Issue interdependency was hinted at in November, 1944, when Donald Watson and others initiated the word “vegan” and founded the Vegan Society: “We can see quite plainly that our present civilisation is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilisations were built on the exploitation of slaves….”

 

In 1951, Leslie Cross, then vice-president of the Vegan Society wrote that the “…Vegan Society adopted revised and extended rules which among other things clarify the goal towards which the [vegan] movement aspires…. The Society pledges itself ‘in pursuance of its object’ to seek to end the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection and all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man…. – veganism is itself a principle, from which certain practices logically flow…. If, for example, the vegan principle is applied to diet, it can at once be seen why it must be vegetarian in the strictest sense and why it cannot contain any foods derived from animals. In a vegan world the creatures would be reintegrated within the balance and sanity of nature as she is in herself.”

s_v10ag496skx0377_b

In Cross and Watson we see the unfolding of what the “vegan principle” means when applied to subjects other than diet. Further along, in 2002, Donald Watson stated, “And, when I think that the world population, which was about 2 billion people in 1944, is now … this astronomical explosion of over 6 billion, along with… a corresponding explosion of animals to feed most of them. And those animals are there, fed on food that should be growing for the Third World, where people are having big families, because they have to, they’ve no social security, they have to have many children because many of them in every family are likely to die….”

 

Watson goes on to include his concerns about extinctions, reforestation, food additives, and “man’s expectation of surviving for much longer on this planet.” Those are, of course, among the pivotal issues we face today—the big picture. With a little exploration we will see that to be consistently applied the “vegan principle” requires us not to only end exploitation and commodification of others across species but also to see the connections between a reckless human population explosion, for instance, and how it increases suffering due to the number of animals killed, wild and domestic, to feed the now 7.2 billion people on Earth. Also inseparable to human population growth is the increase in crops fed to those animals that should instead be grown for human consumption, a direct cause of social and economic justice and increased destruction of ecosystems.

 

At the end of Watson’s interview, George Rodger asks, “Donald, do you have any message for the many thousands of people who are now vegan?” Watson replied, “Yes. I would like them to take the broad view of what veganism stands for. Something beyond finding a new alternative to, shall we say scrambled eggs on toast, or a new recipe for a Christmas cake. I would like them to realise that they’re on to something really big, something that hadn’t been tried until sixty years ago, and something which is meeting every reasonable criticism that anyone can level against it.”

 

Yes vegans are “on to something really big” but what is the most effective way to define it? It’s our human ecology and the power to effect change is at its core.

Next, Part II, Making Sense of the Whole

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Part II: The Emotional State of Vegans, Economists,...

January 19th, 2015

In part 1, I described emotional experiences felt by vegans, environmentalists and advocates for soc[...]

Karen Davis on HSUS and Disappearing Hens

January 14th, 2015

In earlier posts, I've criticized HSUS and other organizations for their subversion of the species r[...]

The Emotional State of Vegans, Economists, Environmentalists, and…

December 23rd, 2014

Part I I recently came upon two blog posts that reminded me of the anguish many vegans feel when [...]

Refer to Green Vegans.org for Rally Updates

September 10th, 2014

Please refer to www.greenvegans.org for the latest Seattle Climate Change Rally rally updates. The v[...]

Vegans! Join the World’s Largest Climate Change Rally Today!

September 4th, 2014

Vegans everywhere are preparing for these events. We are making sure that climate change activists i[...]