As Eastern Shore Sanctuary co-founder pattrice jones has argued in countless articles and speeches, “vegan means green” and “vegan means all animals.” Not eating, wearing, or using non-human animals or their products is only one step in a lifelong process of going vegan by reducing consumption and refusing to participate in the exploitation of anybody.
Vegan means green because non-human animals are hurt more than anybody by the waste and pollution of the environment by people. Habitat loss due to human encroachment drives species to extinction. Survivors swimming in polluted waters often end up with extra limbs or mutant endocrine systems. As climate change creeps over the globe, more and more migrating animals find themselves out of sync with the plants on which they depend for food. It’s not only polar bears who are going hungry as the ice caps melt!
Thus, even if global warming and water shortages and air pollution didn’t threaten human life too, we’d still be ethically obligated to clean up the mess our species has made and quit contributing to the crisis by our own reckless behavior. How? Reduce, reuse, recycle. Seriously. Buy as little as possible from sources as close to home as possible, looking for fair trade or union labels on things only available from afar. See the resources below and our “Turn Down the Heat!” project page for details and tips.
Luckily, going green makes it easier to adhere to our other maxim: Vegan means all animals. People are animals. Hence, animal liberationists must actively oppose, or at least shun the products of, the exploitation of people in the same way that we oppose, or at least shun the products of, the exploitation of non-human animals. That means no clothes sewn by children in sweatshops or chocolate harvested by enslaved laborers. That means voting against an anti-gay proposition when you go to the polls to vote for a pro-animal proposition. That means listening to feminist or civil rights activists when they talk about domestic violence or immigration with the same open-minded respect you hope to meet when you talk with them about factory farming or vivisection.
Nobody can work on everything all at once. Nobody can ever be fully vegan in the context of a capitalist system that depends on the relentless exploitation of the earth and its human and non-human inhabitants. But we will all have a lot more success at going vegan every day if we recognize the connections between issues and build respectful relationships with people working on other aspects of what is, after all, one big problem with many different intersecting facets.
- freegan.info — Strategies for sustainable living beyond capitalism
- Vegans of Color blog — Lively discussions of relevant issues
- Food Not Bombs –Cooking for peace since 1980
- Sistah Vegan Project — Food, identity, health, and society
- Anti-Slavery International — Think slavery ended with abolition? Think again.
- Freecycle — Give away what you don’t need; get what you do.
- CrimethInc Ex-Workers Collective — Readings and tools for a freer and more joyous world