“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.
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.