“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.

If Beanstalks Had Feelings

Vegan? Becoming a vegan? One day, someone is going to ask you that burning question: “Oh, so you think plants don’t have feelings?”

What About PlantsDepending on your mood, available time, and experience with this classic outburst, your answer might be (1) terse, (2) practical, or (3) biological:

(1) Whatever. You roll your eyes and return to what you were doing before this unoriginal remark was uttered.

(2) OK, but animal farming harms more plants. Obvious, is it not? Animal husbandry requires several times the volume of crops as would be grown if we just grew food for people to eat. Willy could spare untold leafy billions from torture by growing food, not feed.

(3) Plants can’t run. You could also remind Willy that nature gave animals nervous systems to prompt them to self-protectively move away from sources of pain. If beanstalks had feelings, evolution would have equipped them with moveable feet, fins, or wings.

My preference is 1.

Plant Sensitivities, Revisited

So now that we’ve got the retorts laid out, let’s think seriously about plants. They are indeed responsive to their surroundings. And in this time of climate change, plants’ sensitivity to stress is coming to the attention of environmental science. Plants naturally breathe in carbon dioxide. But they can only take so much.

Excessive carbon dioxide in our atmosphere results from several human activities—including the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and animal agribusiness.[1]

We also tend to drive predators out of any biological community we enter. That leads to an abundance of herbivores, standing around the foliage, chomping away without a care. Their bliss is illusory; the absence of wolves and other predator animals is unhealthy. And the put-upon plants can’t absorb the greenhouse gases they could handle in a balanced environment.

A study at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies showed plants around spiders (predators) took in carbon 1.4 times faster than when with only grasshoppers (herbivores). Grasshoppers coping with predators ate less grass, and grasses stored more carbon in their roots when dealing with these herbivores and carnivores together. Where only herbivores were present, plants tended to breathe out, rather than store, carbon.[2]

Compare the way sea otter scarcity correlates with rising emissions. The missing otters’ prey, sea urchins, are free to feed heavily on the kelp forests which would otherwise hold in carbon. With predators gone, CO2 emissions have, in some cases, risen tenfold!

What Are the Implications for Vegan Activism?

We need to get out there and challenge the persecution of predator animals. I’ll gladly help in the writing of educational materials with any vegan group interested in forming, say, a coyote co-existence initiative. coexistence initiative

By being vegan, we’ve already built a solid platform for this advocacy. Predators are so often wiped out because they impede human hunting and animal farming (which a vegan humanity would stop).

And of course, trees and foliage can’t take in carbon dioxide if they’re gone because the forest was cleared of indigenous flora and fauna so corporations could usurp the land to farm domesticated animals.

All told, plants and their sensitivities have diverse and interesting ramifications, and we need to pay attention. In the mystical yet grounded words of my friend Jack McMillan:  “Plants—and, yes, rocks, and water, and all . . . are part of the exceedingly complex web of life and the sacred constellation of consciousness.”


NOTES

[1] United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production” (2010) examines fossil fuel consumption, land use, and the impacts of population growth, and states: “A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

[2] The scientific experts who study climate change for the United Nations haven’t been taking these multiplier effects into account in their models. 

Thanks goes out to Jack McMillan for inspiring this post. Coyote coexistence art by Lee Thompson.

A Performance Review of Humanity

On Earth Overshoot Day, which inches earlier each year, we exhaust more resources than Earth annually regenerates. #Pledgefortheplanet, we tweet! But what of the root-level change needed to address “over-exploitation” of Earth and its living communities?

Throughout our range across the Earth’s surface, we deem ourselves nature’s managers. Managers usually have to account for themselves in performance reviews. What if Earth Overshoot Day prompted a performance review of humanity?

Let’s try it.


Essay by Bill Drelles, Lee Hall, and matt shaw. Banner photo by Mónica Vereau.

Climate and Vegetarian Summerfest 2016

On Thursday 7 July in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, I’ll be offering a talk named Climate Change: How the Public Conversation Is Shifting and How Vegetarian Voices Can Be Heard. (The North American Vegetarian Society presentation summary includes a description: “This session will provide updates on farming and climate, and also involve some easy, memorable, and valid points to raise—whether in ordinary conversations or at the policy level. Attorney Lee Hall holds a specialist’s degree in environmental law with a focus on climate change, and will facilitate discussion, including new findings and vital points not raised in most discussions of climate and diet.”)

Some VeganPlace readers might ask: Wait—vegetarian voices should be heard? Don’t vegetarians consume cow products, which are obviously connected to methane and general climate-wrecking?

No. Real vegetarians don’t eat dairy. The ovo-lacto take on vegetarianism has been ruled out by the North American Vegetarian Society for twenty years. The five-day menu at Summerfest is not ovo-lacto-; it’s pure vegetarian. Sometimes vegans rail against the shortfalls of vegetarians, but in my opinion the vegan movement needs to tip its hat to vegetarians taking their mission seriously. Respect to NAVS for encouraging its membership to strive for an authentic vegetarianism and to learn why animal agribusiness is not climate-friendly.

And now, yes, the public conversation about climate change has shifted. It has to. We’re not stronger than the climate system. It’s having the last word in every debate. No lifestyle, no matter how rich or famous, is exempt.

Nor is any place on Earth untouched; we now know that levels of Antarctic CO2 have reached 400 parts per million. For the first time in 4 million years.

The roadways on which we burn so much fossil-fuel energy seem to be bucking us off.

And yet a poll six months ago showed half of U.S. society thinking climate change isn’t a very serious problem.

2014-summerfest-patreon-cropNothing could be more serious. Everything depends on climate. Plants are losing the conditions that support them. By 2100, some tropical regions are predicted to have 200 fewer growing days a year. Let that sink in.

And then think about what is happening to untamed animal communities when native plants stop growing where they live.

We keep on releasing stored carbon dioxide (by burning oil and gas) and disrupting Earth’s capacity to store it (by cutting down trees). We’re releasing methane into the atmosphere from our landfills, through fracking, and from domesticated animals, mostly cows. We’re polluting the atmosphere with nitrous oxide through our use of manure too.

And getting our proteins though animals raises costs. If your shopping bag is loaded with flesh products, including the bodies of marine animals, your receipt total is going to come out pretty high, compared to that of the shopper with a bag full of horseradish hummus, red and green cabbage, red pepper and ciabatta, sweet potatoes, etc. When we use cows, pigs, goats, rabbits, birds and other animals to funnel our protein through, we are not advancing culture so much as advancing business. I will use the term animal agribusiness when talking about animal farming and its attendant feed industries, and reserve the word agriculture for the growers who produce food.

Free-range is really another form of sprawl

It’s been ten years since the United Nations published Livestock’s Long Shadow, explaining the enormity of damage done through animal agribusiness. But the U.N. never suggested we stop farming animals or consuming the products (which many of us could do overnight). Its key recommendation? Greater intensification. In other words, consolidate and contain animals into high-volume operations. In situations of intense confinement, animals (along with their emissions and waste) can be more strictly contained; and with animals not moving as much, less feed is consumed.

What we learn from environmental science does not lead us to support any of this:Slide44

The above scenes are evidence of a spreading-out of the environmental problems we need to move beyond.

And the warmer the planet gets, the more intensively animals will be raised, for reasons such as temperature control. Overheated dairy cows aren’t efficient producers of milk. When the Union of Concerned Scientists, in their booklet Climate Change in Pennsylvania: Impacts and Solutions for the Keystone State, say that cows are going to need fans and water sprays to cool them as the hot days multiply (cows drink four times as much liquid as they produce in summertime), they too are indicating that factory-style farming is the way of the future. (Look at page 8 in this PDF.)

Nowadays it’s popular to say that “factory farming” is inhumane. Yet we have environmental scientists communicating some important realities about how “cage-free” systems just spread the emissions around and use up more feed to raise roaming animals. With animal agribusiness, you can’t win.

A better recommendation comes Vegan Environmental Party of Ontario when it calls on the government to divest from animal agribusiness by halting the subsidies.

Consider that we reserve about 20 million acres of land for alfalfa alone. (And it must be irrigated.) Virtually all of it is used as feed.

That is in addition to the imposition of the domesticated animals themselves on the land. We need not continue this overbearing way of living on our planet.

For reasons that are many and interconnected, we need to be creating animal-free meals. Seekers of pure vegetarian cuisine miss nothing and conserve so much.

Make reservations at Vedge in Philadelphia or Plant in Asheville if you want to go gourmet. Most cities now have such offerings. Want to learn to prepare food like a pro in your own kitchen? You can learn. Try a subscription to a home delivery service with recipes and instructions from a professional chef such as Trish Sebben-Krupka at VegTable.

“But I just eat fish!”

That’s another sector of animal agribusiness, and not a sustainable one. The people at Greenpeace say “sustainable seafood” is within reach. They want us to demand better labels on the bodies of marine animals in the grocery aisle so we can tell if codfish are being scraped off the Norwegian Arctic seafloor with massive trawlers. Why do they take this position when they could do better? If we can afford to get food from a grocery store, we can get pure vegetarian food and make it great. And for the climate’s sake, we should.

The personal and political 

Recently a study was published in the journal Climatic Change involving 60,000 “meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans” in Britain. Remarkably, the study found dietary greenhouse gas emissions from the participating omnivores about twice as high as those from vegans. If we have the power to bring our emissions down so low, but we decline to use it, aren’t we committing malpractice as human beings?

By being vegan we can also alleviate social stress. The 2007-2010 Syrian drought, which forced rural people to move in droves to urban areas, culminating in one of the most severe conflicts of today, for example, was driven by climate factors.

What’s to come? We all know, if we read the papers, that 2016 has already shown record global temperatures, month after month after month. The New York Times offers regular reports on this, accompanied by  simplistic, incomplete advice. The Times acknowledges that the problem is complex and can feel overwhelming: “We get it.” 

But they don’t.

They mention “reducing meat” as one item in a list of things to do. They do point to animal agribusiness as the worst segment of agribusiness for the climate. The science would back the Times up on that one.  Slide36

The Times tells us in particular that “some methods of cattle production” demand a lot of land. Now, wait. “Some”? All of it does, and all cows create manure and methane, whether out on the range or within walls.

The Times urges “switching from beef to pork and chicken” and suggests that chicken farming is the least harmful kind.

Let’s not even get into the harmful health ramifications of the “eat pork” advice. Pig manure is still manure and what the world needs now isn’t more of it. And you don’t help the climate even by buying local eggs and chicken or pig flesh. To do so means you’re really relying on a massive feed industry—a serious fuel guzzler. “Local” animal farming isn’t local—because animal feed is routinely shipped many miles for mixing and packaging, and shipped again in distribution.

The huge feed requirements arise in fish farming too. Farmed fish really are “chickens of the sea”; aquaculture is tied into the global grain and feed market and it’s expected to double in size by 2050. Why contribute to that?

Instead, groups such as WWF should be funding vegan festivals.

Slide40

 

WWF’s so-called sustainable seafood standards are pressing small, family businesses, which once used by-products as feed, to enter the global feed market.

Before the pressure to adopt environmental standards like those of WWF’s Aquaculture Stewardship Council, catfish farmers used home-made feeds that included farm by-products. No more. Now the local farmers of the world have to vie for the labels that the affluent populations want to see in the grocery store.

Slide42Is it the height of irony that WWF would expose the “hidden soy” in animal products after pushing this same market?

People listen to the WWF and the New York Times when what they really need is no-nonsense information, and a key part of that information needs to come from those of us who’ve already divested from animal agribusiness in our own lives and can help others to do it.

This is not to say that being vegan is all we need to do. I’m starting to notice a lot of people picking out one kind of change that they like and claiming it as their part. I’ve heard people who bring their own bags back to the supermarket overstate the goodness of this good deed by claiming to be “saving the world, one bag at a time” (regardless of what products are in their re-used bags). Vegans need to be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of thinking we’re doing so much by being vegan that we ourselves needn’t make deep changes in our mindsets and actions.

I’ll also talk about the influence of religious doctrine and of education on people’s attitudes and understanding of climate change. I expect a lot of informed comments and feedback at Summerfest on Thursday the 7th. Join us in the Scholar’s Room if you can.

Meanwhile I’d like to conclude with a thought question. Should we use “the war on” language when we talk about climate? This language is meant to indicate a serious approach to climate change, which of course is well past due.

Slide50

But are we really in combat?

And should we be “arming” ourselves against the hordes of invaders coming in when climatic zones shift because of our own conduct?

Is warring against a natural system’s response to overload what we need to be doing? Is this the best mindset for the work we must do to put ourselves in good stead with our planet?

Let’s talk about this.

Factory Farming, Farm Sprawl, or a Genuine Humane Response?

Conversation with Caryn Hartglass

Caryn Hartglass has given reprint permission for this 2014 interview with me on the show It’s All About Food. This transcript is proofed and edited for Vegan Place. Original podcast and transcript, titled Animals, Environment, and the Law, appears on the REAL Radio site.

INTRO:

Lee Hall speaking on climate

Lee Hall, an author who’s taken on subjects from anti-terrorism law to vegan cooking, wrote the “Vegetarianism” entry in the Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice. Lee has taught Animal Law and Immigration and Refugee Law, and is today working on a second law degree—a legal masters in Environmental Law with a focus on climate change from Vermont Law School. Lee’s work is a bridge between environmentalism and our personal relationships with agriculture, confronting the way animal farming usurps habitat. For years, animal-rights advocates have operated under the belief that at least pasture-based or organic ranching represents a “step” in the humane direction—but only looking at how domesticated animals seem to be affected. Lee champions the animal communities displaced by farm sprawl, and explains how our chosen cookbooks can offer a genuine humane response for all animals, reduce greenhouse emissions, and even stop extinctions.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Lee Hall, Welcome to It’s All About Food.

Lee Hall: Thank you, Caryn. It seems to be perfect timing given that you’re the Lone Vegan ready to speak with two hundred cattle ranchers.

Caryn Hartglass: I know, I was hoping that you would give me some really good tips for Saturday.

Lee Hall:  I am imagining that we are going to have quite a good conversation given that we are both studying the same thing right now.

Caryn Hartglass: I know. And the first thing I wanted to ask you, I’ve been following you and your work for a long time and it’s incredible and the thing that I know about you is your intensity, your passion, how principled you are.

Lee Hall:  Thank you.

Caryn Hartglass: And I wondered were you born that way, or was there something that happened in your life that made that happen, or was it a slow process, or none of the above.

Lee Hall: Well, I wasn’t born that way. I actually saw a bullfight when I was a child and it didn’t change me. I look back on it—and maybe it did, ultimately. I look back on it and I think why didn’t that change me, witnessing a bullfight; I mean, the bull was killed. This was in Mexico. My parents worked there they got free tickets from a business associate. Right, so we went and saw the novicios, who are the people that are learning to do bullfights. Which I understand is more difficult to watch. I wouldn’t know; I’ve only seen this particular instance. And I was—I hid myself in the bathroom for over a day. I wouldn’t come out after it. And what I guess I thought was weirdest—as terrible as this was, as traumatic as it was to see and hear people standing up and cheering for the slow death of an animal, not to mention what the horses were going through in the ring—of all of the horrific feelings of this the very worst was that I was surrounded by hundreds of people that were cheering.

Caryn Hartglass:  Yeah.

Lee Hall: And so here I am locking myself in the bathroom and I remember trying to make a soap carving for hours and I heard my mother trying to get me out of the bathroom, saying “It’s all right, the meat, the flesh of the bull will go to the poor children of Mexico.” My mother knew I was very concerned about poverty; I did have a feeling of social justice as a little kid, as I think most little kids do. But, I think back and the tie: right there, my mother telling me. Of course that didn’t help me feel better that they were going to eat the bull. But: why didn’t I connect as a child? What didn’t I connect? And I know people who do they see an animal killed and immediately they put it all together.

Caryn Hartglass:  Most don’t.

Lee Hall: Most don’t. It takes—I  don’t know what happens. I don’t know how. If I knew how to make this all work, I would tell you. But, I was 21 and I met Robin Lane who is now the co-facilitator/founder of the London Vegan Festival, the longest running vegan festival anywhere in the world. It is the one that inspired all the vegan festivals to come. This was long before that had been started.

Robin Lane in London had been vegan for 1 year and met me. As far we know, I am Robin’s longest running protégé.  It was a leaflet. It was all the ways we use animals. And I considered myself a feminist—it was one of the areas I was reading about myself; and something just clicked then and there. It was: How can I think about oppression and want to get over oppression and want to transcend that in my life and get over that in my life and be working so hard mentally to transcend differences and hierarchies—and how have I not noticed this before? Then of course the bullfight came back to me. But, I just said, that will be it! So I’m one of the weird people that did decide to go vegan all at once.

Caryn Hartglass:  Yeah, for the weird people. Let’s hear it for socially peculiar. Yeah! Making the world a better place.

Lee Hall:  So that was 31 years ago.

Caryn Hartglass:  Yeah. Good for you. I just wonder, because I want to think that we all have the potential to not exploit to not cause pain and suffering; I want to believe that. And I want to believe that we are not born with one kind of DNA that makes us more compassionate then others. I want to think that we are all flexible and once the veil is lifted we can move on and do better.

Lee Hall: Well, I think that is true, Caryn. I was that person until I was 21 and I knew and I didn’t change. So look at other people as people who could change any day.  You have had Harold Brown on the show?

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Lee Hall: That is a wonderful example. Harold came from a dairy and beef farming family and would have been a successful dairy and beef farmer today and had been doing that for many, many years, and a light bulb—this is also somebody that had been hunting regularly.

Caryn Hartglass:  Yes. You are in environmental law now. I want to talk more about animals and the environment. And one of the things we are hearing about is people that care about the environment and seem to have more compassion for animals. They want to go for the—quote—more humane ways of raising animals for food, pasture grazing; and I am doing my studying for this climate change talk. There is this guy on the panel that believes in animal agriculture intensification because unfortunately we have learned that animal agriculture intensification is—quote—more efficient and produces less greenhouse gases when you are cramming this animals in small space and feeding them the wrong foods. But nobody talks about the things that are wrong with it. But it’s encouraging this horror instead of the other way around. And let’s just talk about how all these other things affect the environment.

Lee Hall: Let’s talk about that. It’s a very interesting sort of squeeze that you bring up. You mentioned that the intensify of farming can be controlled in a way that it is less of an emitter of greenhouse gases, that it takes up less space environmentally, these kinds of things. That is a very significant point to bring up. I think a lot of advocates want to think that everything about factory farms is wrong and that’s the answer and we just say that. Just say factory farms. We are saying something that of course everyone understands. Of course it is all kinds of animal farms, the problem we are dealing with. It’s animal farming; it’s not factory farming, certainly not factory farming per se.  It’s animal farming: any kind of animal farming has its problems. We, as animal advocates or environmental advocates, we understand sprawl. We understand sprawl and yet we don’t see it when it is happening with farms that are being spread out. We’ll say: `Well, that is a step in the right direction.` Well, how can that be, if we in the United States are outnumbered by farmland animals, 5 to 1? So, how could it be that the problem is intensive farming? That it is a step in the right direction to have the pasture-based farms when walking around, three hundred million of us in this country, and we are outnumbered 5 to 1, and that is just the land farm animals? So the problem isn’t the factory. The problem is both. If you have concentrated farms you have dense runoff, you have emissions—you do have emissions, and they may be controlling them to some extent but they are still there—you still have ruminant animals, and they are emitting methane. There is fine particulate matter that goes up to the air, and all the things that lead to acid rain.

Caryn Hartglass: And they still make manure, piles of it.

Lee Hall: No matter how they are raised. If you’ve got farm expansion…

Caryn Hartglass: The shit continues.

Lee Hall: It’s in either one. When you’ve got the expanded farms, the pasture-based, the grass-fed, you’ve got other situations. The destruction, and of course, with the intensive farm you have all the humane questions—the whole idea that humanity would treat animals as things to put into tiny boxes that is there—but when you have expansion, at the end we kill them, so it is a myth that it can be humane, because they are being slaughtered at the end. But there is more: when you expand the farm you are fragmenting habitat. You are setting the stage for systematic predator control, followed by a cascade of consequences.

Caryn Hartglass: Wait a minute, What is systematic predator control?

Felis silvestris

Bobcat. On pastures, “free-range” farm animals are captive targets of undomesticated predators; in turn, the predators become persecuted by your local animal farmers and their supporting agencies.

Lee Hall: Well, for example, coyotes and foxes are the animals who are normally targeted.With coyotes in pastures, they are irritating to farmers. Obviously. A coyote, bobcat, fox, a grizzly bear is going to be tempted, understandably, to eat an animal; so the more free-range the farm is, the more vulnerable they are…Shooting coyotes is legal in most places; coyotes can be shot from aircraft; there are forms of poison. The very first coyote synthetic attractant, a lure to attract and kill them, debuted in 1973 and was made from the fatty acids of rhesus monkeys’ vaginal secretions. Since then we have come up with all kinds of traps and lures to attract coyotes and foxes. One infamous one called Compound 1080 goes into predacide collars, and those are strapped to free-range goats and lambs. So here is this poison: it will not save the goat or the lamb; the point is the coyote goes to the animal and if the coyote bites the neck of that farm animal that coyote is about to enter Hell. The poison takes somewhere between 3 and 15 hours to kill. Then there are the traps, the snares, the M44—another lure.  Wildlife Services, our federal government, helps the ranchers. These poisons are often picked up by pets, bald eagles, turkey vultures, wolves—unintended animals. Migratory birds, porcupines, mountain lions. So all these things are happening out there with these free-range farms. To say “Well, stop factory farming” totally ignores that.

Caryn Hartglass:  Wow, and who thinks up these things,? Who thinks up these poisons and these traps? The thing I was wondering about is who are these scientists, these educated scientists that invent these incredible killing materials? The minds that come up with these things …Yes. So there are all these “compassionate” people, who want to get humanely-raised animals and go for pastures. But there are all these issues with that. Of course, there are the intensified farms and there are all animal farms and when we look at it from an environmental point of view the winner is the one no one is looking at, which is feeding plants to people directly.

Shirt created by nonviolenceunited.org

The winner. Design by nonviolenceunited.org

Lee Hall: Exactly. People are looking at it, just maybe not in a way that connects it directly to their plate. I am in school now studying with scientists and lawyers. I am seeing that the people in environment law course are aware. For example: There is a study by Christopher Weber and Scott Matthews at Carnegie Mellon and they have done calculations of greenhouse gas emissions and they have said a “protein shift”—and that is their word for it, when you get protein and nutrients directly from plants instead of feeding it to animals and getting all the nutrients through them—when you do this protein shift one day a week it would be like driving 1,160 miles less every year. What they are talking about is sort of like a vegan Monday. They are saying: Replace meat and dairy and this is what would happen 1,160 less miles a year. So that suggests that animal agribusiness per se is non-local…

If you cut it out even one day it would be more than a thousand miles saved driving so right there they are getting somewhere. So this is what I bring up when we are having these conversations: Wait a minute! That means a 7-day-a-week shift is more than eight thousand miles as though you were not driving every year, more than eight thousand miles. If you have that kind of power that a vegan diet can have, and anyone can have that kind of power, and they can have it a dinnertime, they could decide right now, why not? Being vegan in North America is not a real big difficulty, and it would decrease all of this harm all of these climate chaos caused by the taking away of habitat of other animals. It’s ranching: taking away the other animals’ habitat is what it does. In the last five hundred years more animals have gone extinct in the US, more than any other place; we are wrecking this land and water for ranching.

Caryn Hartglass: You know this show is called It’s All About Food but it’s really all about money, and the animal food industry is a 160-billion-dollar-a-year industry in the US, and I think I am going to be talking to these cattle producers and telling them we need to reduce or eliminate animal livestock, and I am getting right to the heart of their livelihood. What do we tell people like that?

Lee Hall: Right. There has always been forms of livelihood that the economy has depended on that we had to say: There is a problem with this. We need to transcend this, and start acting differently. You can think of three or four examples right now. The chocolate slavery is not okay. It comes from massive chocolate companies and they are selling loads and loads of chocolate at the expense of people on the Ivory Coast that are selling their children into slavery. It’s not okay.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s not okay. But you know most people don’t know about it. It has taken a long time to get Hershey’s Chocolate to budge.

Lee Hall:  Yes. And when you are out there talking to two hundred cattle ranchers, you have people that are talking to many, many more. … A lot of people, including  environmentalists, need to know this it is not just the cattle ranchers that you are informing, that you are having these conversations with; you are talking about getting to a tipping point. And because climate change is upon us, we may be right about at the tipping point.

Caryn Hartglass:  There are plenty of people, and there is one guy on the panel that I will be talking to is a climate change denier. And doesn’t believe it is happening.

Lee Hall: Yes. Who is now connected to the Food and Agriculture representing the UN.

Caryn Hartglass: And it is really hard to know. We live in a very complex world. There is a lot of information on the Internet but it takes a lot to figure out what is credible and what is not; I can’t go into every lab and see what they are doing. When I read things in a study, that I think are interesting. I will go to the original source and read all I can when the study was done and see if I think it was good or not if it is something that I want to repeat. Most people don’t do that. But still I can’t see everything….

Lee Hall: We do know that the carbon dioxide level in our atmosphere is at the highest point in more than 600 thousand years. We do know that global average temperatures, even though they fluctuate madly, are higher than they have been over ten thousand years.

Caryn Hartglass: There are people that do not believe that. I have seen that data and I believe it. But some people see it and still say they do not believe it.

Lee Hall: Well, it is becoming a part of policy.

Caryn Hartglass: There are—95% of climate change scientists that think the climate is changing.

Lee Hall: It becomes: how much it is from animal farming? And the consensus seems to be about 1/5 but as you know specialists from the world bank including Robert Goodland, who unfortunately passed away recently, had said more like 51% is attributable to animal agribusiness. So Mark Bittman invited Robert Goodland to do a blog on Mark Bittman’s column for the New York Times, and Robert Goodland wrote: One might expect the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to work objectively to determine whether the true figure is 1/5 or 51%. Instead, Mittloehner, known for the claiming that the 1/5th is too big of a figure to use in the US, was announced as chair of a new partnership between the meat industry and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. So Mark Bittman titled that guest blog FAO Yields to Meat Industry Pressure on Climate Change; it is very frightening .

Caryn Hartglass: It is frightening. We are going to have to talk about this more another time because we are out of time. Can you believe it?

Lee Hall: No.

Caryn Hartglass: I know. I am going to have to have you back and dig more into this, especially after I am on this panel with Frank Mittloehner and see what he has to say.  Lee, thank you so much for joining us for this have hour as for all the work you are doing some time soon and we can have some delicious food vegan food the best.

Lee Hall:  Wonderful Idea. Meanwhile, I am rooting for the Lone Vegan.

Caryn Hartglass: We have come to the end of It’s All About Food.  Thank you for joining me.  I am Caryn, and remember: Please have a delicious week.


Caryn Hartglass

Caryn Hartglass

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER: Cancer survivor and vegan activist Caryn Hartglass founded Responsible Eating And Living (REAL) as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation. For 9 years Hartglass served as Executive Director of the nonprofit EarthSave International, founded by John Robbins. Hartglass has appeared on Dr. Oz, Geraldo At Large, 20-20 and CNN and is the host of It’s All About Food on the Progressive Radio Network. Caryn Hartglass can multitask, showing your group how to make healthy, delicious foods, while inspiring you to do so. Have Caryn Hartglass speak at your next event. For more information send email to info@RealMeals.org or call 657- I M 4 REAL (657-464-7325).