Dear friends, if you’re familiar with On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation, you might recall this challenge (at pages 43-44):
The greatest challenge we face is imagining humanity without the master role. Is it our fear of free animals’ power (over our children, our dogs, our cows, the back yard at night, the woods our government claims for the people, our own bodies) that keeps us from imagining another identity for ourselves?
What would we be without our self-appointed mastership over the rest of living communities on Earth? How would you, as a vegan, imagine a future identity for ourselves?
Here is Ria Del Montana’s conversation starter. Thank you, Ria, for sharing this piece with VeganPlace.
Veganism in Futurtopia
Being that animal liberation and a shift to veganism are central to animals being free, what will the free world of the future look like? To release others from human reign, domesticated pigs and dogs, cows and cats will be cared for until they go feral. But with humans’ infrastructures of civilization strung across the planet, where will their freedom take place? And with wildlife and nature as a whole in peril, where is their freedom? A return of land for rewilding requires a substantial decrease in the human population. Increasingly young people are voluntarily having fewer or no children based on many factors, including Earth ethics. As humans reconnect with wild living, Earthcare will grow stronger.
Capitalism and industrialism, built on models of infinite growth from exploited natural ‘resources’, prompting people to view animals as ‘products’, wildlife habitat as mining fields, and pets as a profit market, are the antithesis of a free world. Beginning with herding, civilization’s founding premise is the domestication of animals. Thing is, domesticating animals served as a devise setting the stage for domesticating wild plants into food monocrops, which brought on human overpopulation. Agriculture and its human overpopulation set wildlife habitats into death spirals. Humans inadvertently became Earth’s parasite.
The more humans disconnect from wild life in wilderness, the more they long for a return to it. But there’s no going back, only forward. What social character will the human take in the future vegan world? They will rekindle their lifeway of togetherness. Comparative anthropologist Layla AbdelRahim lays out human origins as humans living embedded in wildlife as bands of foraging frugivores, symbiotically benefitting their habitat community in their ecosystem role as seed spreaders. Human origins point a path to how humans can still live free with others – with an ethos of mutualism replacing the failing ethos of domestication.
For modern humans to expand their circle of compassion to all is challenging in the context of the world they’ve degraded. During the transition ethical choices are confounding, such as those pitting wild animals against animals humans bred into existence. Top predators keep populations in balance and need to be reintroduced, which may shift humans too toward their original position as prey. But how many humans suffer and die, directly and indirectly, from civilization? Humans can act to protect themselves, but to release their predatory Earth-destructive ways, the human ape needs to come to grips with itself as an occasional prey species, as much so as any ape.
As quickly as civilization’s systems are expanding, their tangible and intangible foundations are weakening and bound for collapse. Even after the advent of civilization, some humans everywhere opted to live life freely as possible, instinctively sensing how to live on their own terms, based on an intuitive sense of fairness with others. Some humans have always tended to, defended and restored the wild. Rewilding of the human and the planet began long ago. The question is, will vegans realize it is their calling too?
As to the basic question, reflective of The Great Forgetting of lifeways and dietways before agriculture, what will a wild vegan eat? From the mindset of mutualism and freedom for all, as the land rewilds humans will have The Great Remembering of the bounty of foraging opportunities. They will be not only more nutritious, but delicious.
Banner image: Annie Spratt, New Forest National Park
Dear Ria, thank you again for writing this and allowing it to be published here. It has inspired a thread on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/posts/29212603
I’d like to follow up with your statement: “To release others from human reign, domesticated pigs and dogs, cows and cats will be cared for until they go feral.”
I like that you apply the ethic of care to the animals we have purpose-bred. I also like that you include both animals bred as pets and animals bred as food resources, as neither set of animals should be here, were our dominion to end.
Along that mental path, I wonder instead of “go feral” we’d be looking for them simply to not be brought into existence at all. (People sometimes erroneously use the term “go extinct” but selectively bred animals are not part of the bio-community and therefore it is not “extinction” when they no longer exist.) To my mind going feral implies being left to fend for themselves at some point in a bio-community of which they can never become a natural part.
A few writers have said it would be OK to let chickens go feral, as they are so very closely related to free junglefowl. I disagree. If we introduce domesticated birds into a natural landscape in an attempt to provide freedom of movement, the introduction could disrupt local communities of free-living animals. It turns out that red junglefowl, the birds we domesticated more than seven thousand years ago, may face extinction because of interbreeding at the edge of forests with domesticated, free-ranging chickens.