"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

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.


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.


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:




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
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.


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.”


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

Yet Another Nonvegan Excuse: Evolution Requires Meat

6x6_TheNewHumanEcol#124D4D8Nonvegans often claim that their ancestral dietary habits justify continued exploitation of others. Advocates for animal agriculture and other sectors like hunting, fishing, and trapping make this assumption without factual support and reveal a fundamental lack of understanding about human ecology* and evolution. Here is a response that can be useful for vegan abolitionist advocates.

When you encounter people who use “evolution” to the present day as a smokescreen to destroy the planet and wreak a terrible toll against individuals from other species, remind them of what evolution is: evolution is the response required to adapt to a changing environment. Evolution is adaptation. Many societies failed to adapt, to evolve, and in the process destroyed the ecosystems that made their lives possible. Adapting to ecosystems also means there are limits to how much we should change them. Today, we have undeniable evidence that as a species we are failing to adapt planet-wide—not just in an area inhabited by a few cultures. We must understand that evolution now means doing what it takes to adapt in ways that support what’s left of ecosystems and each another. Certainly, animal agriculture is not adaptive. It is too wasteful, morally empty, and unsustainable. It is going to end as a matter of survival and human evolution.

The global scope of animal agriculture is hard to comprehend. According to the World Preservation Foundation, we use 67 billion farm animals to produce meat, much of it coming from species we use to produce milk and eggs after they are no longer deemed productive. Getting an exact count is difficult but many organizations assume the number hovers at 50-plus billion. This does not include those individuals killed on fur “farms” and the countless individuals we call hunted and trapped wildlife. Add to their toll the many billions of fish and “sea food” individuals from other species that nonvegans consume. Think about the magnitude and impacts of 7.2 billion humans practicing a human ecology that does not work, is not adaptive, and therefore not evolutionarily successful. Our population decisions are as important as veganism when it concerns evolution. Human population levels are adaptive or not adaptive, survivable or not survivable. When the World Bank estimates that livestock production uses over “two-thirds of the world’s surface under agriculture, and one-third of the total global land area,” they are describing the fact that these terrestrial ecosystems are controlled by tens of billions of our domesticated livestock. Nonvegans and our collective overpopulation are the cause.

Many non-government organizations (NGOs) refuse to associate human sustainability, maintaining biodiversity, and creating a world without hunger with a call to end animal agriculture and consumption of other species. They fail equally in not addressing overpopulation, social and economic injustice, and the need to reform economic systems to protect people and ecosystems alike. These and other issues cannot be addressed as separate campaigns because they are all woven into our human ecology. The issues are interdependent like species in ecosystems.


This is going to be difficult to change because our habits, economic systems, and resource management institutions favor the continuation of hunter, fisher, and animal agriculture models of predation. With our endless appetites, we have become increasingly voracious and ferocious predators, far more so than our ancestors were. And we do it on a massive, unsustainable scale that is not evolutionarily adaptive.


The elephant in the room is the absence of a worthwhile discussion about the suffering of domestic and wild individuals from other species condemned to be human food. The recognition of this great evil waged living systems and individuals should unite us instead of divide us. Vegans are acting from verifiable facts and not the nonvegans’ emotional need for there being no change. Countless lives, including the people loved by everyone reading this, depend on our defeating thoughtless quips about what our ancestors ate in a world that no longer exists. Veganism and additional changes in human behavior will create a new, reformed human ecology. This is what we must do as a species. Vegans are evolving.


*Human ecology is the study of the relationships we and our social institutions have with our external environment. Our external environment consists of other people and societies, human institutions, ecosystems, and all life on Earth. We create these relationships through our behaviors as individuals, societies, and the human institutions that harness and represent our decisions. I believe human ecology is the best way to demonstrate how profoundly our veganism heals our relationships with all else. It also reveals that veganism cannot on its own stop the exploitation and destruction of others and ecosystems. In fact, achieving a veganized world requires many other changes in our behaviors, our human ecology. Study the Seven Results illustration at www.thisishopethebook.com to get a sense of how the issues are interdependent. I explain this in depth in “This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology” but also in my blog posts.

Cowspiracy the documentary premiers!

A movie with a message too long ignored. For organizations receiving this, please email your members and post the attached poster (www.cowspiracy.com) to your social media sites. You also will see the scheduled tour at www.cowspiracy.com that’s selling out to enthusiastic viewers.

For Seattle:
FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 from 9:00 PM to 11:30 PM
AMC Pacific Place 11 / 600 Pine St, #400 / Seattle
TICKETS: https://cowspiracyseattle.eventbrite.com / www.cowspiracy.com

From the producers:
Cowspiracy Movie Trailer and Tour ScheduleThis is the film that environmental organizations don’t want you to see.
“COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret” is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today, and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.
This documentary will be as eye-opening as “Blackfish” and as inspiring as “An Inconvenient Truth.”

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