Posted on
March 31, 2014

Veganism is not the end-all answer to a better world. Leo Babauta is claiming that is is. To me, Leo is still reacting. He is presenting Veganism as the only answer to numerous injustices. And yet, closing his eyes to other perspectives.

I'd like to highlight that Veganism does not take in account all injustices and can potentially perpetuate some.

Agriculture is complex

Food, one of life's staples, has been left in the hands of the few. This results in large, industrial, mono-cultures to make up for the quantity needed to feed the world. Moreover, nearly one-third of all food produced is needlessly wasted. This falsifies the apparent need to increase production and convert more acreage into industrial farming practices.

Agriculture is one of the leaders in emissions and other pollutants. Considering just food waste, the global carbon footprint is twice that from the US transport sector.

The majority of Almonds and soft-fruit trees in California require bees to be trucked in from around the country. Because these almond farms are so large, there is no natural habitat for bees to live year-round. One Washington-based company is responsible for shipping 3.2 million bees each year. Should Vegans give up Almonds?

Declining bee populations are threatening global agriculture. But, to many vegans, Honey is exploitation of bees. So, how do we incentivize increasing bee populations if collecting and selling honey is unethical? Should we expect our already stressed food system and workers to take care of bee populations without increasing profit and wages?

Overall, Veganism doesn't take into account sustainability. Not eating animals does not mean a more sustainable farming system as external inputs such as blood meal (often byproducts of the industrial animal system) and synthetic nitrogen fertilizers (mainly, petroleum based) are required to be brought into the farming system. There are different ways to close to loop, and allow food-producers to not rely on external inputs. One rather successful system is Biodynamic Farming, which often uses manure based fertilizers (produced on-site).

I guess my point is, Veganism is not an end. You can be vegan and support monocultures, food waste and land degradation. Which could lead to imperilling millions of human lives.

Human well-being is often ignored

The majority of manual labour performed on farms is by migrant or temporary workers. In the US, "migrant farmworkers still suffer mortality and morbidity rates greater than the vast majority of the American population, due in part to the combination of poverty, limited access to health care, and hazardous working conditions. Farmwork is listed as the second most dangerous occupation in the United States behind mining."

In Canada, "The Canadian government insists that foreign agricultural workers are treated the same as Canadian workers but nothing can be further from the truth."

Eating Vegan does not directly address the issue of human well-being.

Veganism is not the only answer

I am not attacking Veganism. I am attacking the view that non-Vegans need to be called out. There are so many shitty situations in our world. We can't expect everyone to rank each injustice in the world the same. I agree we all have a duty to educate, but never to inscribe how one should react to that knowledge.