At this late hour, adopting a vegan diet may not be enough to reverse the looming climate catastrophe. Most likely, far more is required to be done on a personal level. However, adopting a vegan diet is absolutely necessary.
It is vital that this information is conveyed to the general population in unambiguous terms so that those who care about justice, morality or the planet and are willing to do the right thing can make informed decisions about what to do.
Here is an excerpt from a Guardian article in support of my argument:
“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Considering that it takes the same amount of time and energy to make a logical argument about the necessity to go vegan for the environment as it would take to convince people to do any step short of veganism (for example, eating grass-fed animals raised locally or swapping beef for other animal products that are less environmentally taxing), one may as well ask people to take a meaningful step, a step that actually does not involve borrowing resources from future generations and has at least a slim chance of succeeding in saving humanity from extinction. Naturally, such a request would make sense only by individuals who have already adopted a vegan diet in their own lives, in other words, by individuals who walk their talk.
Most of us claim to oppose inflicting unnecessary harm on animals regardless whether we have yet aligned this universal value with our actions by going vegan or not. Even if, by some magic, replacing one animal product with another were enough to save the planet, it certainly would not be enough to fulfil our moral obligation to abstain from intentionally inflicting unnecessary harm on non-human sentient beings.
Adopting a vegan diet is doable right now, it does not require a permission from anyone, does not require advanced technology, new laws or environmental agreements internationally.
A balanced vegan diet, more specifically, a diet consisting of whole plant-based foods, low in fat by the Western standards and devoid of processed foods such as oils, white sugar, white flour, isolated proteins, salt and artificial additives, is healthy. Not only has a whole-foods plant-based diet the benefit of being far less taxing on the environment than a diet rich in meat, dairy and eggs, it also happens to be the only diet that has been clinically proven to prevent, and in most cases, reverse cardio-vascular disease and diabetes type 2. As Dean Ornish, M.D. and Anne Ornish in their book UnDo It! put it in the section debunking the myth of a low-carb high-protein diet being beneficial:
“Here is the bottom line: the only diet that has been scientifically proven to reverse heart disease, to slow, stop, or reverse early-stage prostate cancer, and to reverse aging by lengthening telemores (among other benefits) is a whole-foods plant-based diet low in both fat and refined carbohydrates.”
Certainly, in my own experience and the experience of the countless number of ethical vegans worldwide, sacrifice is not involved in adopting a vegan diet. In my liaising with thousands of ethical vegans over the years, the most common regret we share is not having gone vegan earlier.
There are all sorts of act humans engage in that can be rightly labelled “extreme”. Abstaining from inflicting unnecessary harm on non-human sentient beings, ourselves, fellow humans and future generations by adopting a diet consisting of whole fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, is certainly not one of them.
Some may object to addressing the demand side rather than the supply side by saying that is too hard or unrealistic. I encourage you to be open-minded about the possibility that what you and I are capable of understanding, so are the majority of emotionally intelligent individuals who care about the planet, the animals, justice and future generations having the chance to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
If each person who is already vegan persuaded only one more person a year to become vegan and the newly persuaded ones did the same each year, the world could be vegan in less than ten years with massive environmental, health and social benefits. The question is not whether those who feel passionate about justice can pull this together. The question is whether we will do what is necessary.
The alternative is continuing to create a demand for products that perpetuate the cycle of bringing into existence, torturing and killing sentient beings in billions for no good reason until we are forced to stop by the laws of nature in the not so distant future.
The ideas I am expressing in this essay are based on the work of Professor Gary L. Francione, who developed The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights. I encourage everyone to learn about the Abolitionist Approach directly from the source by reading Prof. Francione’s books, essays and visiting his web page, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube channel. He generously spends his time to interact with the public on his Facebook Page.