When aiming to topple hierarchies, aim at the foundation
Being part of the libertarian left, the most liberal among liberals, we are fighting for the oppressed: working class, Blacks, women, Trans people, people with disabilities etc. Yet, we still managed to forget someone, in fact — billions of beings.
In the time you’ll read this article more than 350,000 land animals were killed just for food. They will have died in vain, not because of necessity but because of the greed of big corporations. In 21st century Europe there really is no need to eat meat, dairy products or eggs. Why then is the abolition of animal agriculture not a part of the political agendas of contemporary party alternatives?
As politicians who hate politicians, DiEM25 forged the The Green New Deal for Europe as a set of measures that encompasses both social and environmental causes. When fighting for the abolition of animals, we are actually tackling both.
When it comes to ecology, animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse emissions, which is more than all that of the transportation sector combined. That is partially because methane, which is produced in large quantities by cows in the milk and meat industry, is estimated to be 86 times more destructive for global warming than CO2. While we fear plausible wars for drinking water, animal agriculture is using 20-33% of freshwater in the world.
Big businesses in animal agriculture are fueling the climate crisis
These businesses are really vicious, and the list of their atrocities is long: ocean dead zones, deforestation, biodiversity loss and so on. Ultimately we’ve even seen that they are the ones who were setting Amazon on fire (unfortunately not Jeff Bezos’s corporation, but the rainforest). They are accountable for up to 91 percent of destruction of “Earth’s lungs”. But the environmentalists that wanted to keep the privilege of eating “local grass-fed meat” are also being let down by a groundbreaking study. The research shows that the environmental impact of organic meat is as bad for the climate and still far more damaging than the worst plant foods:
“Organic livestock are not fed imported fodder and are often grass-fed, but this means they produce less meat and grow more slowly, therefore spending longer emitting greenhouse gases before slaughter. Plants grown organically have half the climate costs of conventional produce as they do not rely on chemical fertilisers, but all plants have far lower emissions than animal products.”
That’s why even UN backed Chatham House Report suggests that 3 levers are required for our food system:
- Transition to a plant-based diet: excluding all the animal products (meat, eggs, milk, dairy products, etc.).
- Rewilding the land: the return of land to a wild state and the reintroduction of animals and plants that once lived there.
- Nature friendly farming techniques: switching to agroforestry, supporting natural pollination and steering away from the chemicals as much as possible.
The report also stresses that the second and third points are very much dependent on the first one, because we need to reclaim animal agricultural land in order to achieve them. There is a lot of data that compares the impact of animal consumption to plant-based equivalents and it all shows a huge difference. Just to name a few:
- It takes 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant-based diet than it does to feed meat eaters.
- Compared to the meat burgers, vegan burgers require between 75 – 99 percent less water; 93 – 95 percent less land; and generate 87 – 90 percent fewer emissions than regular beef burgers, consuming nearly half the energy to make.
- Cutting meat and dairy out of your diet can reduce your eco footprint up to 73 percent.
This is where DiEM25 and The Green New Deal for Europe come into play. We need to establish the Green Public Works (GPW), a public investment agency that will channel Europe’s resources into green transition projects. Accordingly, the GPW program should invest in plant-based alternatives. Not just for ecological reasons, but also for ethical ones.
Even when farms are following so-called ‘humane standards’, their regular practices involve: killing a few-days old runt piglets by a blunt trauma in the head, doing tail cutting and teeth removals without pain relief, sending male chicks live into a blender. Consequently, more animals die in the span of three days than humans have been killed in wars in all of recorded history.
Since we want to abolish hierarchies, then let’s include the animals that are in the very bottom
Indeed, in order to bring an established structure down, you must aim at its foundation. Kids are first taught that the lives of pigs or mice don’t matter, and then grow up to believe the same about immigrants. I am positive that it isn’t the other way around. The hierarchy of domination is slowly built upon. Homo sapiens practiced the oppression of non-human animals long before taking Black people into slavery or Jewish people into concentration camps.
According to numerous academic studies, speciesism (prejudice that leads to discrimination of non-human animals) correlates with racism, sexism and homophobia, which in turn all correlate with each other. The concept that connects them is called Social Dominance Orientation, or, the belief that hierarchies are something that is just and desirable. SDO is also heavily connected with conservatism and right-wing authoritarianism. Surprise, surprise.
Meat identity politics is an underrated right wing micro-genre IMHO pic.twitter.com/yu1S5wbtng
— Luke Savage (@LukewSavage) February 18, 2021
Photo: Twitter: Alex Jones – “Celebrating Americana with some Red Meat, f-you Obama!”
So there is the right-wingers’ identity obsession with meat on the one side, and, leftist trivial “excuses” on the other. In both cases, non-human animals are the ones who suffer. Like Isaac Bashevis Singer said, “In relation to animals, all people are Nazis. For the animals, life is an eternal Treblinka”.
Rather than running away from the “V” word (veganism), we should move closer to a “way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
We need to take a strong anti-species stance and facilitate real political action on this issue
Just like “ecology without class struggle is just gardening”, human rights without animal liberation is just a farce or a mirage of a speciesist mind. There is no such thing as single-issue struggle, since we are not living in a single-issue world.
Including animals in your circle of compassion won’t take anything away from your search for economic, racial and/or gender justice. It will just add another necessary dimension, a dimension that brings the hope for billions of sentient beings with the capacity to suffer, love and feel sad or happy.
We have nothing to lose, but a whole Planet to win. There is no planet B.
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The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect DiEM25’s official policies or positions.
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