Welcome to the Winter edition of Vegan Sustainability. In this issue we present two of the most important vegan sustainability research papers we have come across. One is a study by Atul Jain, Sailesh K. Rao and Shije Yie that shows that the complex climate change crisis can be resolved by a transition to a vegan diet and reforesting just 41% of the land currently used for grazing livestock. Eliminating the crops being produced for livestock would also significantly reduce the use of chemical nitrogen and phosphorous fertilisers which contribute to ocean dead zones.
The Centre for Biological Diversity highlight the second report from the Food and Climate Research Network (FCRN). The FCRN examined the frequent assertion that “grazing cattle are actually good for the environment because they help the land to capture carbon and sequester it in the ground.” But they determined that this is simply not true. Grazing cattle are net emitters of green house gases. The report also highlights other very significant negative impacts of grazing such as “Livestock grazing is a leading cause of species endangerment and the leading cause of the desertification of arid landscapes.” They suggest that instead of calling it grass fed beef “It would be more accurate to dub this type of beef ‘habitat-fed’ that already affects nearly half of currently threatened and endangered species in the United States.”
In a fascinating examination of intelligence, Paul Watson explores the intelligence of whales and dolphins and asks if humans even have the capacity to judge the intelligence of other species. He suggests that in the long run “Intelligence can be measured by the ability to live within the bounds of the laws of ecology — to live in harmony with one’s own ecology and to recognize the limitations placed on each species by the needs of an ecosystem.” The human species has yet to develop this integrated intelligence where the intelligence of the intellect is combined and balanced by the intelligence of the heart. Without this heart intelligence, the mind is blinded by arrogance and greed. And an unbalanced biased intellect often produces extremely complicated systems that are violent, harmful and ultimately unsustainable.
In Beyond Speciesism Matthieu Ricard outlines some of the qualities of heart intelligence that we need to develop like “Kindness, altruistic love, and compassion” and these very qualities allow us to emerge from our misguided bias against other species. Human societies need an unbiased ethics. Some ancient cultures developed ways to cultivate a compassionate intelligence and Bronwyn explores one such tradition in the article on Advaita Vedanta and happiness.
Thankfully “the Western world is becoming more and more aware of the fact that it cannot pretend to uphold decent and coherent moral values and at the same time exclude from the ethical field the majority of the sentient beings who populate the earth.” And we read of a number of positive stories in the news of people taking steps towards a more sustainable future. Amazingly, this positive ethical lifestyle is also the healthiest lifestyle and another article explores how a vegan lifestyle can prevent 90% of Alzheimer’s.
Globally, we still live with a violent global economy. But every person who adopts a compassionate vegan lifestyle is part of a movement that can bring about the end of this violent behaviour and bring about a healthy thriving planet. Educate yourself and skilfully encourage your friends and family to make this liberating decision.
Wishing you a peaceful and happy holiday season,
– The team at Vegan Sustainability Magazine.