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Veganism: Is It Enough? #Extinction17

Some certainly call it far fetched. But do far fetched and effective have the same connotations? This is not a debate on the health benefits or potential risks of a non meat and dairy diet but an assessment of the diet's effectiveness as an act of compassion, justice and sustainability.

I endorse and encourage veganism, however as an ecologist I am tolerant of the reality that soil, being composed of dead animals, renders the consumption of all crops a contribution to a life/death cycle. Pick what you will off the vegetable aisles but you'll never break that cycle. You just have to be humble to it and accept that somewhere down the line you are a part of it. Vegansim per sé is an ersatz term.

But there's one problem. That cycle has long been disfigured and abused by humans by means of non natural selection, our sterile environment, sedentary urban lifestyles and the advent of factory farming. To consider the role of humans in the food chain today as balanced would be delusional. Lierre Kieth who is a founding member of the Deep Green Resistance nails the history of agriculture in a couple of sentences defining agriculture as that which props up civilization, the leading cause of desertification, topsoil degradation, the sixth mass extinction in recorded natural history and runaway global warming.

We need to make a quick recovery for both ourselves and the disappearing species but where do we take it from here?

In Britain we have taken to the streets to demand a commitment to zero fossil fuels from two governments over the past four years by means of four consecutive People's Climate marches and endless divestment campaigns aimed at our government and the private sector. We as a population have proven just how "over it" we are but since when has this mattered to the industry that keeps churning out crude oil and fracking out shale? Now take that reality and turn your attention to factory farming which is in itself dependent on the fossil fuel industry. This is not a cry of despair. To base one's hopes on others is an act of despair. This is a call to sabotage.

The boycott is based on a "hit em where it hurts" mentality. Or at least it used to be. Today it's more of a feel better about yourself approach which is entirely internalising and a means to withdraw from the fight itself. The boycott in its original form not only lacks the momentum of the powerful industries it claims to target today such as factory farming but the actual thought process behind the boycott has softened over the years. The question we need to ask ourselves is, "is it direct action?". When I decide to take action "am I engaging with the issue or am I walking away from it?"

It is easy to opt out of a system without attempting to dismantle it. I can go to the pub for dinner and order a mushroom burger while my five friends order hamburgers. Better yet, you can invite me to dinner and prepare a spaghetti bolognese with meatballs for my family but serve me an alternative with tofu. But what are you actually achieving? Well I'll tell you what you've achieved. You've increased the amount of food by providing not just one option but two options, therefore doubling your overall consumption and forgetting that planting soy is responsible for immeasurable habitat loss in South America, Asia and what's left of North America.

Veganism and permaculture are consumer based solutions and alternatives to cattle rearing. Alternatives are beautiful and so is advocating them but lifestyle and dietary adjustments are the easy way out. There's a lot more that needs to be done. As far as compassion goes I think people who oppose veganism are massively in denial but I also think action needs to go further than supermarket aisles.

Radical environmentalism, a school of philosophy to which I pertain, requires you to be analytical and decisive and leads us away from oversimplifying our actions. What we in the environmental movement have suffered ever since Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth is the oversimplification of our actions. That is to say the pragmatism of our actions and how realistic they are. Until the Deep Green Resistance was published in 2011 no one actually analysed how we could render our actions more decisive in taking down these industries. But we can. And we must analyse this in order to face extinction with all the tools we have and not just a bunch of ideologies based on what we buy because the one thing we cannot buy is time.

As individuals we do not have the capacity to overthrow factory farming without engaging in sabotage which is a risk to our security but a risk activists are willing to take. It is hard to support an underground resistance group without going undercover yourself. Similarly we cannot battle extinction when adhering to a system that perpetuates it. We may have to get our hands dirty and we may have to forego our own safety. Or maybe if we've got a bit of money to spare, we can help out someone else that's already forgoing their safety. So we ask ourselves... what can we do about the disappearing species?

We can focus on numbers. We can try and replenish their colonies. We can conduct rescue programmes to increase their populations. We can also be more radical and indeed we must. We can stand in the way of their perpetrators. We don't even need to break the law to sabotage the meat and dairy industry's unscientific culling of badgers in Britain. It's legal to stand in the way of the gunmen and it's effective. They cannot shoot badgers when there are people on the paths but there's one problem. There aren't enough people on those paths. So what are you waiting for? Refraining from eating animals is a commitment but protecting animals is a vocation.

In light of this I would like to introduce CoalitionWILD, a group of over forty field activists which I recently joined, each of whom are in some way tackling extinction in different parts of the world.

I firmly believe that it is commencing acts that is going to contribute to salvaging what's left of our planet and not simply refraining from acts of consumption, say. Two hundred species will have gone extinct by the end of today. The same thing happened yesterday. Refraining from acts of consumption or the "boycott" as we know it, is unlikely to keep up with the pace of extinction.

If you are concerned about the damage caused by factory farming follow me on Instagram over the next two days where I will be posting updates from the #Extinction17 conference in London.

To learn more about who's on the ground, check out CoalitionWILD on their website.

Finally, you can learn more about my efforts with endangered species here.

Check out the full version of this article on Tumblr!

#sustainabledevelopment #economy #Brazil #activism #conservation #water #grassrootsactivism #extinction #anthropocene #animalrights #globalwarming #ecology #animalwelfare #Deforestation #climatechange #animals #wildlife #extinction17 #racingextinction #sixthextinction

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