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