Welcome to the Autumn 2016 edition of Vegan Sustainability. All the articles in this issue have been published directly on our website. We hope you find our new format easier to read and share.
In this issue we review A Vegan Ethic by Mark Hawthorne who describes veganism as “an intersectional liberation strategy supported and linked into other struggles.” In order to sustain ourselves on our path of liberation it is essential that we have a suite of practices that strengthen us and bring us happiness. In our happiness article Bronwyn outlines a range of practices from meditation to spending time in nature. Embracing a healthy whole food plant based diet is essential to maintaining health, and in Jeanette’s article we read about pulses and some delicious bean recipes..
The work for the liberation of ourselves and others is also the work of deepening the quality of our relationships and widening our circle of compassion, and as Sandra Higgins notes: veganism “is the beginning of our journey towards an equal relationship with other animals and in time we will come to see them for who they are: magnificent, courageous, exquisitely sensitive beings with a capacity for feeling that may well exceed our own.“
Just as vegans place ethical limits on our behaviour, we need to place similar limits on the power of the market by giving rights to nature and putting the rights of living beings before the right to profit. Eventually, this will result in making massively harmful practices like the fishing industry illegal. Even when it appears that the meat and dairy industries are too powerful, small acts of service motivated by love, by caring for other living beings, are important and more powerful than we know because they are in harmony with life.
Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace prize winner, Elie Wiesel, passed away this past July. Paraphrasing his words: we should never “be silent whenever and wherever living beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” It’s natural that we speak up about veganism in different ways to communicate that this violence to other living beings is wrong and must be stopped. As Wiesel noted “One person, … one person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death.” In this issue we highlight three different advocacy approaches: educating ourselves so that we can answer people’s queries skilfully; the Go Vegan World campaign; and we report back from a Vegan Festival.
So, while veganism is often presented as being an extreme and self-denying movement, the experience of being vegan is quite different and the ethical limits we place on what we consume turn out to be the natural outcomes of the choice to live a happy compassionate life. It means that we don’t have to place limits on our hearts, and our compassion can widen and deepen to embrace all living beings. As Mark Hawthorne proposes: “fully embracing a life of compassion toward all – humans and nonhumans alike – is our best chance for creating the kind of world we dream of.”
The VSM Team
(next article: Vegoa – A vegan off-grid community in Portugal)