Introduction to our Autumn 2017 issue

 

Dear Readers,

With a summer of environmental disasters barely behind us, including catastrophic flooding in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Texas and Louisiana, not to mention news of the continued melting of the Arctic ice cap with the Arctic area warming faster than the rest of the globe, the need for our species to move to a plant-based diet has never been more urgent.

flood

One of the major sources of greenhouse gases is animal agriculture. This information is not being reported more widely because there is a tendency amongst the scientific community to ignore the warming effect of short lived gases such as those emitted by animals and agriculture. It is now realised that these short lived gases have a very significant impact on global warming. By looking at climate change using these more relevant conventions, we see that animal agriculture is a much more significant source of greenhouse gases than fossil fuels – accounting for about 50% of the total under the more relevant reporting conventions. Part 3 of our series ‘Moving to a Vegan Agricultural System for Australia’ discusses this issue in more detail. A scientific paper produced by Chatham House (see: ‘Vegan and Sustainability Research Links’) also points out that ‘it is unlikely global temperature rises can be kept below two degrees Celsius without a shift in global meat and dairy consumption’.  The paper also notes that there is a complete lack of effort by governments to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products – probably because of a fear of unpopularity – and consequently there is a very low level of awareness on the part of the public about the issue.

Animal agriculture is a disaster on so many fronts – not least for the unfortunate animals themselves, and Bronwyn’s article entitled ‘Why Vegan?’ outlines the many cruel procedures that are carried out on farmed animals resulting in mutilation, physical and emotional pain and death. It is highly likely that the majority of the population are unaware of these procedures – they are not the kinds of things farmers like to publicise.

80% of antibiotics in the US are given to farmed animals. With animals crowded into such small spaces in industrial systems we are literally creating a petri dish for the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Experts estimate that by 2050, 10 million people each year could die from infections that are resistant to antibiotics.

In this issue we also include a review of the much anticipated movie ‘What the Health’ – the successor to Cowspiracy. The backlash to the movie by critics can be explained in a number of ways, not least of which is people’s reluctance to go against the advice of the medical profession which encourages us to eat meat, eggs, dairy and fish. But if we just cast our minds back to the 1950’s and 60’s –  a time when the medical profession promoted smoking – we can see how times and attitudes change. We now know that smoking is one of the biggest killers and that it causes cancer, lung disease and a host of other illnesses. Perhaps in the future we will look back and wonder how the medical profession could ever have encouraged people to eat animal products.

Animals are not here for our pleasure, use or entertainment. They are entitled to freedom as a basic right. As Marc Bekoff says, “Whenever you see the word “welfare” in the literature, you can be pretty sure something unpleasant is being done to animals. The word “humane” is equally troublesome.” Many practices are still being carried out around the world in the name of ‘culture’ such bull-fighting, rodeos and other festivals which involve torturing animals for fun. Regina Rios’ article on the practise of ‘Vaquejada’ in Brazil highlights these issues.

Our soil, water and air quality is of utmost importance for our survival and health. In the article ‘A New Pact with the Planet’ Dr. Vandana Shiva outlines a 10-point plan which would ensure the survival of our soil, water, seeds, communities and livelihoods: “In living soil lies the prosperity and security of civilisation. In the destruction of soil is the destruction of civilisation. The future will be cultivated from the soil, and no longer from the skewed global market of fictitious finance, corporate personhood and consumerism. We need to move from this corporate-centred worldview to one centred on the Earth family. Wherever we are on this planet, the soil is our bedrock. The Earth is our home. We must reclaim it from corporate manipulation and greed, and care for it, together, in recognition of our common humanity and common responsibility. “

We hope you enjoy our current issue and we wish you a joyous, peaceful and sustainable Autumn season!

  • From the VSM Team