Tesla. So far, only a few can afford it, but that may change. Elon Musk says the Model Y will become the biggest-selling car in the world (overtaking the Toyota Corolla) by 2023. And Tesla aims to produce $25K cars within a few years.
This is all good news for many working folks who have wistfully admired Tesla’s cars from afar. Is it good news for vegans?
Based on these facts, some vegans consider Tesla cars vegan. But veganism has to be environmentally aware. The reason is crystal-clear. Without habitat, animal liberation is meaningless. So we have to consider Tesla from the whole ecological standpoint.
At This Time, Tesla Is an Ecological Tossup.
- Tesla Hasn’t Solved the Carbon Problem. Elon Musk recently slammed Bitcoin for its miners’ use of dirty energy. Important point, but Tesla cars also run on coal-based electricity. That might change if people start buying home solar systems to charge their cars. (Musk recently said Tesla’s home solar is surprisingly expensive to install, but needs to exist.) And Tesla cars run, of course, on habitat-spoiling roads. Asphalt construction is a greenhouse gas emitter.
- The EV Sector Is a Mining Industry. And it’s not just lithium for batteries. Electric vehicles “use twice as much copper as those with internal combustion engines.”
- Then There’s the Space Used for Tesla’s Giga Factories. A German court has allowed a forest to be cleared for Tesla’s new Berlin factory. Tesla points out that it was just a pine plantation for cardboard, not a natural forest. Still, Earth’s surface is limited. In short, new factories = sprawl. And tree cutting doesn’t sound like a carbon-reducing exercise.
Maybe There’s Some Relief for Deer.
Tesla’s cars come with pedestrian detection. This should be helpful for deer, squirrels, owls, and the occasional lost cat—as well as distracted human beings—on or beside roads. Tesla’s vision tech could prevent drivers from running over other living beings.
Still, it’s better to focus on mass transit, which reduces our overall reliance on roadbuilding.
I mean, just imagine all the boomers and the 16-year-olds getting excited about cars they can use without worrying about accidents. Imagine all the pleasure trips to be taken in Teslas because it’s so easy to let the car do the driving. Full self-driving sounds great, until we consider all the extra car making and car use. Isn’t this a major countereffect to the emissions savings of (even a solar-powered) Tesla?
If Tesla Isn’t Vegan, Is It “Vegan-Friendly”?
Vegan-friendly is an imprecise term, and I have no precise answer. I started exploring this question because I’m considering getting a used Tesla in a few years, after wearing out my 2013 Nissan. I could use Tesla vision tech for night driving. But I must be honest with myself. Driving is a concession to our car-centric consumer culture. Arguably, the best I can do is keep a strict cap on my mileage.
At the end of the day, we must focus on simplicity in response to climate crisis. On low-tech answers like walkable towns, reductions in discretionary travel, and divestment from animal agribusiness.
Follow-up coming… Stay tuned.
Tesla photo: David Nuescheler, via Unsplash.