The liberation of animals from all forms of human encroachment and exploitation will require a fundamental restructuring of the world economy and, in particular, the agriculture sector. People who earn their own bread through the exploitation of animals will have to, somehow, find other livelihoods. Powerful corporations that profit from the exploitation of animals will have to, somehow, be forced to give up those ill-gotten gains. Local economies rooted in the exploitation of animals or their habitats will have to, somehow, be restructured from the ground up. Farms and lands now devoted to animal agriculture, or to the cultivation of “livestock” feed, will need to, somehow, be converted to the sustainable cultivation of locally adapted food and fiber crops.
How, exactly, will all of that happen? What are the steps by which even a single community might be converted to a cruelty-free economy? By what means might exploitive industries be driven out of business rather than simply provoked to relocate or seek new markets?
We raise these questions not in a spirit of pessimism but, rather, as a reality check against the notion that convincing individuals to “go vegan” will be sufficient to bring about the changes animals need. Powerful structural and economic forces perpetuate industries that are concentrated in particular regions. As we have seen with tobacco, for-profit vendors of unhealthy and unethical products will use all means necessary to replace lost customers with new markets.
And yet, as we have seen with former tobacco farmers in the United States, reform is possible. As farmers elsewhere who have collectively resisted Green Revolution agricultural technologies have demonstrated, farmers can improve their own lives and the health of their communities by growing locally adapted food crops by traditional methods, many of which are naturally veganic.
Farmers and communities who currently participate in factory farming and other forms of animal agriculture will be motivated to change when two conditions are met: (1) animal agriculture becomes less profitable; and (2) other possibilities are clear, feasible, and attractive to them.
We can make animal agriculture less profitable not only by reducing demand by means of “go vegan” campaigns but also by raising costs of production. Strategically, any action that reduces meat/dairy/egg consumption for whatever reason and any action that raises the cost of meat/dairy/egg production by whatever means is useful. This is why the Eastern Shore Sanctuary counsels animal advocates to embrace tactical diversity, cheering rather than condemning those who succeed in diminishing demand or raising costs by methods other than one’s own favored tactics.
But we cannot neglect the other side of the equation. We must take the lead in conceiving and demonstrating the feasibility and attractiveness of alternatives to animal agriculture. Hence, pending a positive outcome of our SAFE Climate project, the Eastern Shore Sanctuary will initiate a SAFE Agriculture campaign aimed at stimulating and coordinated concerted, knowledge-based activism in this area.
We also intend to collaborate in the preparation of a guidebook on veganic farming and gardening. Many organic farmers and gardeners use manure, blood meal, bone meal, and other animal products as soil amendments. Veganic farmers and gardeners use both traditional and innovative but always cruelty-free techniques to keep the soil healthy and fertile.
In these ways, we hope to facilitate the transformation from factory farming to veganic agriculture. If you believe this kind of work is valuable, please support the sanctuary generously. Subscribe to the Eastern Shore Sanctuary blog so that you don’t miss our news items and action alerts concerning agriculture reform.
- Strategic Action for Animals in the Context of the Food-Feed-Fuel Crisis (pdf) (2008)
- In Defense of Actual Animals: Beyond the Welfare-Abolition Impasse (pdf) (2008)
- Strategic Analysis of Animal Welfare Legistlation: A Guide for the Perplexed (pdf) (2008
- Globalization of Industrialized Animal Agriculture: Implications for South Asia (2002)
- Big Tobacco & Big Food (pdf) — Important research on the similarity of rhetoric and marketing tactics
- Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project — This organization has helped tobacco farmers transition to organic vegetables
- Centre for Information on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture — Invaluable archive of innovative and traditional projects, many of which are veganic
- Veganic Agriculture Network — Network and information clearinghouse