Statement of Support for the Vegan Justice League

“We may not pay to kill animals, but our taxes still do. It’s time to end animal agribusiness subsidies. We need to lobby.”

— Vegan Justice League

The Vegan Justice League intends to effect change in the U.S. Farm Bill, which encourages farmers to produce meat and dairy. Taxpayer-funded subsidies, the League observes, let animal agribusinesses produce a surplus well above market demand.

Of course, a vegan would say all animal products are “surplus”; and, as a vegan, that’s what I say. That’s what the League thinks, too.

Why focus a campaign simply on the subsidies in animal agribusiness? Because the subsidies essentially force us to undo our work. Vegans are funding the damned farms. Or the farms that would be damned if only vegans had a level playing field. 

Plant- and nut-derived dairy replacements and flesh-food analogues, together with the vegan culinary scene, are the financial success story of the decade. U.S. residents want artisan cashew-based cheese. We’re replacing barbequed flesh with vegetable kebabs. Thanks to the vegan movement, the population now knows:

Dairy’s not necessary.

Meat’s no treat.

Still, animals are bred, managed, and killed in droves every second. The industry evades normal supply-and-demand dynamics by way of bailouts and subsidies under the guise of insurance extended to animal husbandry corporations.

The Vegan Justice League intends to deploy billboards and professional lobbyists, and to call politicians out for accepting funds from animal agribusiness—focusing on ag-heavy North Carolina, Texas, and Washington state.

Authentic Sustainability

Behind the much-vaunted term “sustainability” is a growing awareness that we’re depleting the Earth’s water and forestland. This is not just about us and what we’ll have left to use. Other animals in natural bio-communities must have viable habitats to survive and thrive. That vital space is lost to deforestation for feed and grazing, and it’s eroded exponentially on a heated Earth.

Animal agribusiness can make no authentic sustainability claims. It’s nothing more and nothing less than a worldwide traffic in introduced species—yet it gets a pass because we presumably need to consume animals. That presumption no longer stands. 

As for the argument that farmers need to make a living, that is an argument for redirecting their business to growing food—not feed. Staying stuck in an unsustainable model is not the way businesses and their people will thrive.

Shifting from animal flesh to a plant-powered humanity stops massive ecological harm, and offers a way to stop deforesting, and to make space for re-wilding proposals.

A recent study carried out at Oxford University reports on one of the most thorough examinations ever undertaken on the impact of agribusiness on the environment. It involved nearly 40,000 farms, and 119 countries. And it showed that by becoming vegan, we could shrink our individual carbon footprints by as much as 73%, and reduce land use by 75%, saving an area equivalent to the size of the U.S., the E.U. and China combined.

Understood in this context, veganism is not extreme. It is a rational commitment to stop greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss now.

Moreover, while leaders of struggling people hope for food aid for millions, animal agribusiness is a massive funnel of feed crops to billions of cows, chickens, and aquatic animals who are bred to be eaten. Consumption of flesh, fish, dairy and eggs takes a massive toll on the environment, the climate, and a finite Earth on which everyone in the world depends.

It is also a frivolous use of our talents to exert systematic dominance over other conscious beings.

Veganism appropriately responds to urgent human safety, social justice, and environmental ethics questions. Veganism understands that our most powerful stance is:

  • The permanent boycott of flesh and dairy products.
  • Conscientious objection to industries that displace, capture, breed, buy, sell, control and exploit beings who, as we do, have an experience of life.

We hold the ethical, environmental, and health-conscious high ground. Yet we are undermined every day by the misdirection of our own dollars.

We do have the power to change our relationship with the rest of our bio-community. Active objection to the investment of our tax money in animal agribusiness is one element of our power.


Banner credit: Architect of the Capitol. Images within text: Allie Smith and Alexander Mils, via Unsplash.

Berkeley Heights Vegan Fest

Outreach on the vegan response to all beings’ health and climate happens SATURDAY 21 SEPTEMBER – because the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey Environmental Commission is connecting the dots.

The group hosts this year’s Vegan Fest at Lower Columbia Park. The event starts at 10am. Bold Arts will offer creative dancing for kids, while educational sessions focus on health and the environment. I’ll be a climate panelist (11am-12pm).

Sustainable Berkeley Heights is also a host and organizer of the Vegan Fest, which happens in Lower Columbia Park, 411 Plainfield Avenue, New Jersey, behind Columbia Middle School.

Come back on Sunday 22 September for the vegan cook-off.

Eating Flesh: How Do We Frame The Question?

A debate is running about what humans will eat when we stop eating meat.

Why? Our most sustainable protein on Earth is the bean. Beans, lentils, and peas grow in harsh climates with little water, in financially poor regions. They self-fertilize, capturing nitrogen from the air and fixing it in the soil, so they don’t need the synthetic fertilizers that are running off the land and killing the ocean.

Yet some vegans, of all people, are promoting “clean meat” that is actual flesh, made in the lab from real animal cells. No doubt most readers will have heard some self-identified vegans touting this new future of food.

Do they have a point? This is a matter of question framing. And I think we need to lay out what the questions are.

Read on…


Banner photo credit: Niklas Rhöse, via Unsplash.

This Flood Is Your Flood

To my fellow human being:

If you are still eating cows (flesh or dairy) and other farm animals, it’s incumbent upon you to understand why they are drowning in the midwestern United States…and baking to death in Australia.

It’s up to you to understand your part in it, and end at least your part in it.

It’s your responsibility to look behind the curtain, and deal with these unnatural disasters connected with the unnatural sprawl that produces those unnatural groceries you so easily toss into your shopping cart.

It’s never too late to learn. And you won’t be alone on the journey.

This is what I want the average New Yorker on the street to hear on Sunday 14 April.

On the day of the Veggie Pride Parade, I’ll have a mic for a few minutes, and dang! Do I know how precious a few minutes of someone’s attention can be!

In 1983, Robin Lane, a vegan, left a pamphlet on my seat (and all the other seats) in a concert hall. The leaflet took just a few minutes to read. It changed the world for me. That night I made the commitment to become vegan. The day before, I’d never even heard the word.

Leaflets are sacred.

I appreciate the call to be an audible leaflet for just a few minutes.

To my fellow vegan:

I share your anguish as we witness what animal agribusiness is doing to the animals in it. What the massive plundering of fossil fuels, former forests, and natural sierras and plains has wrought. The ecocide. The coming apart of the climate.

And each day we get up and go out into the world. Kind of, but not quite, like that person who said they’d plant a tree today even if the world would end tomorrow.

Sparing the tree that’s already there, we know, is better.

Love & liberation,

Lee.


Banner image: Public domain (FEMA). Please note: advertisements on this site are not endorsed by VeganPlace. Eventually, with subscriber support, VeganPlace will be ready to make the shift to a paid presence on WordPress so readers don’t have to see the tacky advertisements.

Summerfest Schedule Now Posted

Are you coming to the North American Vegetarian Summerfest this year? If so, please find me so we can get some time in person! I’ll be in the hallway near the main Living Learning lobby a lot. Watermelon shows up there frequently and, from time to time, so does  Miyoko Schinner’s artisan nut cheese. 
As for presentations, I’ll be offering:
  • The Environmental Impact of Eating Sea Life. Current status of Earth’s aquatic habitats and communities. Is the “sustainable seafood” concept helping or making things harder for sea life to survive and thrive?
  • Why Vegan? Vegan for Your Health, for Environmental Healing, for Fair Food Sources, for Animal Liberation. (Maureen and Vance: You are quoted in this one.)

Photo credit: Jason Pompilius

  • Climate Change: Is It More a Fossil Fuel Problem, or a Diet Issue? Comparing these emissions sources. Of course there is a lot of overlap between animal agribusiness and fossil fuels. This session will offer information on the science basics, plus a few less discussed aspects of the dichotomy. It will conclude with a call for a movement of Dietary Divestment for the Climate.
This is an event I can recommend. It draws more than 700 attendees from all over the continent. It offers a positive, refreshing atmosphere with endless conversation (I mean that in a good way!) and several days of really fabulous food that will inspire you and tune up your support network for the coming year.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get ANIMAL PRODUCTS Out of the Kitchen

That’s the topic of a presentation I’ll offer on 9 September 2017.

Hurricane Harvey’s unfolding tragedy is connected to climate change—which is, in turn, connected to animal agribusiness in a very big way. Equipped with the facts, let’s encourage people to stop eating like there’s no tomorrow or they could be right.

Is veganism really about climate, though?

Yes, squarely. Without a well-functioning atmosphere, advocating for habitat preservation and animal liberation is spitting into the wind. Climate crisis is an urgent subject for everyone to discuss, but this “inconvenient truth” has never been adequately addressed by policy devoid of a vegan perspective.

This presentation will take place at the 3rd annual Vegstock Festival, which is now seeking . . .

Activists · Artists · Authors · Doctors · Dietitians · Musicians Cooks · Chefs · Farmers · Foodies · Gardeners · Growers · Healers · Thinkers · Speakers · Students & Teachers for the Vegstock Vegan Festival. And folks to spread the word.



Presented by Wildflower Vegan Cafe, the vegan restaurant in Millville, NJ and the Millville Development Corporation. Time and place: 10am-4pm Saturday, September 9 2017. 501 North High Street, Glasstown Arts District, Millville NJ 08332.

“If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Animal Products Out of the Kitchen” is made possible by dedicated patrons of the Art of Animal Liberation.

“But Vegans Kill More Animals!”

Justin Van Kleeck is a microsanctuary pioneer—a farm animal rescuer working on a small scaljustin-van-kleecke, often rescuing animals from small-scale farming operations too, and resisting the calls of industry to tout “humane” or “local” agribusiness as a step in the right direction.

While Justin urges consistency—no amount of homespun pictures or creative PR can ever make animal exploitation “humane”—some will then challenge the commitment to crops as food.

There’s a clever argument, and maybe you’ve heard it, that vegans cause the deaths of more animals by being vegan. Growing crops for human food, the argument goes, involves tractors and threshers that kill field mice, voles, and so forth.

Have you ever noticed how this argument misses all the feed crops used in animal farming? Note, for exSlide37ample, that 99% of your local chicken farmers drive to feed stores to keep their birds growing and producing. The feed store is reliant on the fossil-fuel industry. So the “local” and “sustainable” concept in animal farming, when we dig deeper, is questionable.

Your local animal farm would also be a consumer of the massive feed industry that uses heavy equipment on the land without regard for the countless small animals seeking food and shelter amidst the fields.

As discussed before on Vegan Place, facile excuses to avoid personal change abound. When people face the reality that becoming vegan is possible, there seems to be a shut-off valve, signifying: “Change myself? No! Let me seize an excuse that I haven’t really thought through and hope you haven’t thought through either. Vegans do more harm—so there! Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Justin, when confronted with the “vegans kill more animals than your local animal farmers” claim, says:

We vegans start from the premise that exploitation and killing of other beings for our own ends is unacceptable, and we seek solutions…beneficial for all involved. Husbandry starts from the premise that other animals are here for us to use and consume, and all we have to do is be nice. So vegans seek harmonious coexistence without holding a knife to anyone’s throat.

Veganic models of agriculture and permaculture are available. Along with being more sustainable they are also workable in a variety of settings. Veganic urban gardens and food networks EXIST, but animal husbandry does not make sense for all communities. Remember: “If it isn’t accessible by the poor, it is neither radical nor revolutionary.”

In our conversations, Justin has noted that we, our whole generation, are products of an industrial revolution now. Why hold vegans alone responsible for what mechanized farming does to the land and to animals seeking habitat? Vegans didn’t plan to produce food this way.

Feeding crops to animals kills more animals. Animal farms breed large numbers of animals into existence for human consumption.

And when field animals get caught up in the collateral damage in the production of food crops (eaten by vegans and non-vegans), it’s because we’re all dealing with constraints imposed on us by modern agribusiness.

But we can go vegan to stop direct exploitation and killing within our food system, and try to change that system completely. Let’s insist on fewer excuses, and real engagement.


I am grateful to Justin for expanding my knowledge on vegan and sanctuary ethics greatly, and also for being a patron of my animal-liberation work. Photo of Justin: source. Banner photo by Philipp Kuchler (own work), via Wikimedia Commons.