Vegans for Humanity
vegans please feel free to add your own findings, I wrote this up on a whim and I’m sure I’m missing things
Next time you accuse an animal rights activist of “not caring about humans,” consider the following: (issues listed in no particular order)
1. Because we have overfished our oceans,, there are now rogue trawlers stealing marine resources from developing nations that cannot defend themselves. This is one of the reasons Somalia has such an “issue” with pirates; their fisherman are effectively waging war on illegal foreign trawlers in an attempt to survive.
2, The demand for beef has not only threatened the rainforest (because of expanding ranches, and soy fields to feed the animals raised on the ranches), but has also led to violent disputes over increasingly valuable land. Not to mention the conditions of the people that work there. “The government acknowledges that at least 25,000 Brazilians work under “conditions analogous to slavery,” clearing land and working for cattle ranches, soy farms, and other labor-intensive industries. Some groups say the true figure could be ten times that amount.”
3. The United States alone raises billions upon billions of animals for consumption each year, and every single animal shits. And they shit a lot; a cow poops out around 67 lbs of feces a day. So, with all these shitting animals cramped up in factory farms, we end up with shit lagoons. Suffice to say, these shit lagoons are a danger to the nation in question’s water supply, air quality, and sanitary issues. Particularly, the respiratory health of nearby populace (especially children) is at risk due to large, decomposing, full-of-antibiotics-and-ammonia shit lagoons.
4. Water is going to be the new oil and the resource-heavy meat industry is not helping. ”In industrialized countries, moving toward a vegetarian diet can reduce the food-related water footprint of people by 36%.” (keep in mind that’s vegetarian, let alone vegan). Using so much water is going to come back and bite us in the butt in the coming decades. Not to mention the shit lagoons in the last section contribute to water pollution, especially the contamination of underground water sources.
5. Speaking of resource-heavy, the meat/dairy/egg industries raise and slaughter over 150 billion animals every year while 925 million people go to bed hungry every night. “The industrial world is exporting grain to developing countries and importing the meat that is produced with it, and thus farmers who are trying to feed themselves are being driven off their land. Their efficient, plant-based agricultural model is being replaced with intensive livestock rearing, which also pollutes the air and water and renders the once-fertile land dead and barren. If this trend continues, the developing world will never be able to produce enough food to feed itself, and global hunger will continue to plague hundreds of millions of people around the globe.”
6. The industrialization of the meat/dairy/eggs industries has created one of the most exploited working groups in the industrial world: slaughterhouse workers. Being a slaughterhouse worker is listed as one of the most dangerous jobs in America; with lines moving fast and animals going through the machinery still alive and kicking, there is a great risk of injury and little to no chance of compensation. Sinclair’s The Jungle is almost tame compared to the factory farm system nowadays.
7. Because terrible conditions, incorrect diet, and genetic manipulation make farmed animals quite weak, they must be fed tons of antibiotics. Which means that their poop is full of antibiotics. Which means they’re full of antibiotics, which means, guess what, non-vegans are eating tons and tons of antibiotics.Which means that these anti-biotics will become increasingly ineffective; we might as well be inviting the spread of diseases like or more severe than H1N1.
*** disclaimer: there are obviously a lot of vegan foods that are ethically iffy, too, like non-fair trade chocolate and quinoa from bolivia. however, when it comes to ethical consumerism, veganism is a great start, and when it comes to how we treat animals, veganism is the only non-exploitive option ***
“We black people, poor people-we've not really been introduced to the injustices behind what we eat. Of course, people who have to worry about finding food, clothing, and shelter are not going to be as concerned about what they're eating. I mean, you almost have to have a record deal to shop at Whole Foods!”—Erykah Badu
It is a privilege to be able to eat any of these types of food:
- Fair trade
- Bought at a restaurant
- Prepared from scratch
- Home grown
Having transportation to/from a grocery store that sells these types of things, money to purchase these ingredients, the ability to prepare, grow, and/or cook your own meals, knowledge about food production/consumption/alternative diets, and the option to do these things are privileges.
Do not shame someone else for their eating habits just because you think they are doing something “wrong” by eating meat or buying their groceries at a big chain market. That is just rude, ignorant, and unproductive.
This conversation must become positive, rather than negative. No one be shamed or guilted for their eating habits, and the current social and political factors cannot be ignored.
Yes, we can make change, but not without first recognizing the inherent privileges and oppressions relating to the consumption of food.
Choosing to have a vegan diet is privileged for numerous reasons:
- It is a privilege to have access to information about alternative diets; this includes knowing what recipes to use, what foods to purchase, and how to make things that taste good.
- Depending on where you live, you may or may not have access to a wide range of vegan foods. Being able to go to the grocery stores requires transportation to/from; the closest store may not be vegan-friendly and you may have to drive for many miles to find a store where you can get all your shopping done. This is further complicated if you rely on public transportation or rides from others, in that you are only able to go to the specific stores on their routes, which may or may not have a range of vegan foods.
- Subsequently, vegan food is often very expensive. For example: fresh produce, dairy-alternatives, olive oil, spices, tofu, etc.
- Having the time and energy to prepare your own vegan food is a privilege. If you are working many hours a week and/or doing intense labor, spending time preparing meals at home may not be feasible and/or desirable, especially for a big family.
- If you do go out to eat, vegan foods are not usually marked as such on menus (again this depends a lot on where you live). Therefore, you are likely to have to know enough about vegan foods to ask questions and understand the different ingredients.
- Many people cannot be vegan for health reasons, such as allergies, anemia, food intolerances, etc.
- Choosing to be vegan implies that you have a choice over what foods you can and do eat. If the food you eat is prepared by family members, friends, a partner, or a school that does not serve vegan food, it is a privilege to be able to supplement those meals on your own.
- In many religions and cultures, it is custom to eat meat and/or dairy products, as well as sacrifice animals. If one chooses to be vegan, they would therefore not participate in these same activities and [potentially] face negative consequences from family members, friends, etc.
“Ms. Magazine: How does your feminist identity influence the way you think about food/food politics? Dr. Amie "Breeze" Harper: I am always looking through the lenses of black feminism, critical race feminism and decolonial feminist world-systems analysis when I try to understand food in every aspect. I simply cannot look at food as an “everyday mundane object.” I understand the meanings applied to food as something that represents an entire culture’s ideologies around everything. For example, food can tell me a society’s expectations about sexuality, gender roles, racial hierarchies of power and ability. Ms. Magazine: Why should people consider food a feminist issue? Dr. Harper: Oh, that’s a great one. First, I think feminism is really broad, so I’m coming from the perspectives of black feminism and decolonial feminist world-systems analysis. So, that is how I define “my” feminisms, for now at least. I think one cannot understand structural oppression within the food system without understanding how structural sexism shapes one’s relationship within the food system, from seed to plate. For example, what does it mean that tomatoes coming out of Mexico since NAFTA have come to North Americans “cheaply” due to the exploitation of indigenous Mexican women and the myth that indigenous women are “more tolerant” of harsh chemicals and sun exposure than light-skinned mestizas who are usually found working in the tomato packing plants? Check out Deborah Barndt’s work on that.”—Avital Norman Nathman, “The Femisphere: Foodies and Food Politics,” Ms. Magazine 3/12/13
“The skyrocketing cost of food has resurrected the specter of the 'food riot.' The World Bank reports that global food prices rose 83% over the last three years and the FAO cites a 45% increase in their world food price index during just the past nine months. The Economist’s comparable index stands at its highest point since it was originally formulated in 1845. As of March 2008, average world wheat prices were 130% above their level a year earlier, soy prices were 87% higher, rice had climbed 74%, and maize was up 31%. Not surprisingly, people have taken to the streets in Mexico, Italy, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Yemen, Egypt, and Haiti. Over 100 people have been killed and many more injured. In Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with food prices increases of 50-100%, driving the poor to eat biscuits made of mud and vegetable oil, angry protestors forced the Prime Minister out of office. The food crisis will get worse before it gets better. Without massive, immediate injections of food aid, 100 million people in the Global South will join the swelling ranks of the word’s hungry. But the protests are not simply crazed “riots” by hungry masses. Rather they are angry demonstrations against high food prices in countries that formerly had food surpluses, and where government and industry are unresponsive. They reflect demands for food sovereignty: people’s political and economic right to determine the course of their own food systems. The food crisis appeared to explode overnight, reinforcing fears that there are just too many people in the world. But according to the FAO, with record grain harvests in 2007, there is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone—at least 1.5 times current demand. In fact, over the last 20 years, food production has risen steadily at over 2.0% a year, while the rate of population growth has dropped to 1.14% a year. Population is not outstripping food supply. 'We’re seeing more people hungry and at greater numbers than before,' says World Hunger Program’s executive director Josette Sheeran, 'There is food on the shelves but people are priced out of the market.'”—
Eric Holt-Giménez and Loren Peabody, “From Food Rebellions to Food Sovereignty: Urgent call to fix a broken food system.” Institute for Food and Development Policy, May 16, 2008
^ (in reference to the 2008 food crisis, in which many peoples all over the Global South rioted and protested over high food prices).
Usually, there’s a misconception in the Western world that famines and food crises are caused by overpopulation and not enough food to go around to feed people. In truth, this can be an offensive notion for the global south (third world) nations, as if to imply that there’s too many of us (non-white, non-western folks), so there’s not enough food to feed all of us. Wrong. Hunger and food crises are usually tied to poverty, high food prices, and cash crops being imported out of their homelands.
read more (in PDF)
My mom is having fried potatoes and nachos for dinner.
My mom is thin.
She has always been thin.
And it’s totally okay that she wants to eat those things.
But if I ate them, she would be ~*~concerned~*~
Just like strangers would be ~*~concerned~*~
Because I’m fat. And my mother and strangers think being fat is bad and unhealthy and gross. And as such, they believe they should police what fat people eat and think and wear and feel.
My mom and strangers are wrong.
I’m gonna have a slice of cake and put my middle finger to the air.