Why Veganism Ⓥ = Sustainability at Alt Space


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In September of 2014 close to 400,000 people from all over the world and from all walks of life gathered in New York City for the People’s Climate March to call attention to the urgent need for immediate action on the climate crisis. It was the largest climate change march in history. I was one of the organizers joining 50 of my immediate neighbors forming part of the “Frontlines of Crisis, Forefront of Change” groups, representing communities most impacted by climate change. When we look at the evidence of the so-called natural disasters that can be traced to climate change, we see clearly that those most impacted are the poor and otherwise marginalized.

Having been activated by participation in the People’s Climate March and having lived through Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I have been extremely sensitive to continuing development in my community that fails to consider the impact of cramming even more people into a flood-prone area. I am more aware of all of the choices I make and their impact on the environment, although I don’t readily have solutions for everything. Certainly the philosophy behind Alt Space has been greatly inspired by the harsh concrete reality of living on a planet whose systems are collapsing.

My tendency toward veganism was initially motivated by health concerns—my doctor was ready to put me on high blood-pressure medication. More recently I have begun to see eating meat and the use of animal derived products as acts of cruelty. This is something I am continuing to come to terms with in regard to my relationship with others who continue to eat the flesh of animals. It was another film, Cowspiracy, which connected for me the use of animals as commodities and my already keen awareness of the need for immediate and large-scale cultural change to save the planet, if indeed such a thing is still possible.

The most jarring fact that Cowspiracy presents relates to greenhouse gas emissions with animal agriculture responsible for 18% of these emission while all of transportation combined is responsible for 13%. These numbers came from a report sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. I struggle to conserve water and so the water use information I found especially disturbing. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 80% of our water usage is for agriculture with 56% of that water going to livestock feed. That amounts to about 2500 gallons of water per pound of meat product making a single hamburger more water-costly than a month of long showers.

Animal agriculture can be tied to deforestation, land use, water scarcity, the destabilization of communities and, ironically, world hunger. Those who doubt the validity of the film can read the United Nation’s sponsored report or view any of the source materials. The Cowspiracy web site (http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/) provides links to the information provided in the movie. Regardless of whether you believe everything the film presents, it is clear that animal agriculture is destructive to animals, to human health and to the environment. As a project in sustainability and armed with that over-standing of the issue, I’m taking a stance against the use of animal products and plan to use Alt Space as a way to spread the message.