5 epic online articles for a solid sustainability science base to vegan activism (?You Gather? #12)

Featured image: a lane on the outskirts of North Tawton, amongst the gorgeous countryside, where I sometimes remember to walk, to relax.

?You Gather? – Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #12

Heroines, heroes, it’s almost time for the international Extinction Rebellion (XR). The Rebellion that will go down in history as the most fun and festive Rebellion ever!

Check here for a whole bunch of crazy, fun and half-illegal stuff happening in the middle of London and around the world from 15th April.

In this post, I want to share some information specifically useful to vegan activists –whether you support XR or not. My next post will be ‘5 reasons why vegans should support the international Extinction Rebellion’, so look out for it! On a side note, a couple of days ago I finally retrieved the XR jacket I wore for this action in January, from Exeter police station. In the background here you can see the map with pins in that Devon and Cornwall Counter-Terrorism questioned me about, and probably got the wrong idea about, when they visited me earlier this year (for being a dangerous window-painting activist!)

XR jacket back!

If you read my last post, the most popular I have ever written, you may be forgiven for thinking that I want to create arguments with vegans -but the opposite is true. I am interested in the truth above everything. Only the truth will purify our activism and set it free. Especially for you hardcore vegan activists who are prepared to get arrested for your actions (non-violent please), I’m sure you appreciate you need to be operating from a sound information base to maximise your effectiveness. With all uncertainty cleared from your hearts, you can strike like fire.

As part of my product building for the Well Gathered workbook for vegan and climate activists -to be released in three weeks- I have been specifically researching, over the past few days, online articles supporting veganism from a general sustainability and land use point of view. These are listed in my ‘Vegan Science & News’ spreadsheet, which is one of the spreadsheets of a dozen included in Well Gathered. Other sheets include Climate Science / News, Climate & ‘Eco’ Activist groups -with preference given to NVDA- and Vegan & Animal Rights Activist groups. Here’s a screenshot of the (incomplete) Climate Science spreadsheet, to give you an idea of where I’m going with this whole thing:

climate science site screenshot

I will be cross-referencing all sites and I am providing notes to help guide users with how to use the information. 

Within the Vegan Science & News spreadsheet, there will also be sections looking at veganism from animal rights and human nutritional and well-being perspectives. But for now I would like to share these 5 articles with you which look at veganism purely from a general sustainability perspective. Even if you are not a vegan activist -even if you are not vegan!- looking for a solid science base to your activism, you may still find these useful-

5 online articles for a solid sustainability science base for vegan activism:

1) Veganism and Permaculture?

https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/veganism-and-permaculture

The Vegan Book of Permaculture by Graham Burnett. Writing about this in the linked article, the co-founder of Permaculture Magazine and Permanent Publications Maddy Harland writes:

What we at Permanent Publications really respect and love about Graham Burnett, the author of the Vegan Book of Permaculture, is his enabling approach. He inspires people in a positive way to eat more vegan and vegetarian dishes rather than shaking angry sticks at them. Let’s encourage people to question where their food is coming from and to save lots of money by following Graham’s suggestions: Eating more vegan food, growing our own, community gardening, buying from wholefood co-ops, shopping locally, sharing the harvest and generally taking positive and pro-active steps towards living more lightly on our planet.

However be warned that the majority of the article defends Regenerative Agriculture and certain biodiversity conservation practices, including grazing animals and hunting wild squirrel, rabbit and deer to keep populations down (to allow diversity of fauna growth -because we don’t have lynx and wolves any more). I’m not commenting on whether Maddy Harland is right or wrong here as a whole, but if you are a hardcore vegan you need to be aware of these sophisticated arguments for eating omnivorously. For success in activism you must ‘know your enemy’ inside out.

2) Vegetarianism is Good For the Economy Too

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/12/vegetarianism-is-good-for-the-economy-too/

This article is a must for hardcore vegans looking to convince hardcore economists / capitalists, from the very respectable and progressive (within the limits of capitalism) World Economic Forum. Ultimately we need to dismantle capitalism, but meanwhile this article could win you some battles. As well as the sustainability and economics of veganism and vegetarianism this article includes neat sections on animal welfare and human nutrition. This from the section on sustainability:

According to the World Health Organization, every year over 20 million people will die as a result of malnutrition, and approximately one billion people suffer from chronic hunger. Most of the food that is currently fed to animals could instead be used to directly feed the world’s hungry. What we often fail to realize is that the crops required to sustain livestock are fuel for a project that creates food to supplement the creation of more food. Instead of supplying the grains yielded from the crops to human beings in desperate need of it and those affected by the world food crisis, those crops are fed to livestock, exacerbating the pace of the current climate change crisis.

3) This Vegan Brand Just Proved That Plant-Based Burgers Are More Sustainable Than Those Made Of Beef

https://www.forbes.com/sites/katrinafox/2018/09/26/this-vegan-brand-just-proved-that-plant-based-burgers-are-more-sustainable-than-those-made-of-beef/#7e47b273475a

This may seem like a relatively trivial matter in the global picture of sustainable food production, climate breakdown, animal welfare and nutrition. However we need more mainstream sites printing mainstream articles like this. America and Australia are two of the world’s highest per capita carbon dioxide emitters. As we know, the global industrialised meat industry is a high emitter of greenhouse gases, even compared to plant-based industrial agriculture (although plant-based is still pretty terrible). America and Australia are also two nations where burgers are a large part of the national diet, so this article is useful ammunition for vegan activists. From the article:

Beyond Burger generates 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less non-renewable energy, has more than 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use than a quarter pound of US beef. To give you an idea of the real-life impact, according to a spokesperson for Beyond Meat: “On average, Americans eat three burgers a week. If they switched just one of these beef burgers to a Beyond Burger for a year, it would be like taking 12 million cars off the road and saving enough energy to power 2.3 million homes.”

4) Environmental impact of omnivorous, ovo-lacto-vegetarian and vegan diet

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-06466-8

This is an important scientific report, taking into account cultural considerations as well as inter-individual variability in diet. For any vegan activist looking for a nuanced hard science support of veganism from a sustainability perspective. The abstract in full:

Food and beverage consumption has a great impact on the environment, although there is a lack of information concerning the whole diet. The environmental impact of 153 Italian adults (51 omnivores, 51 ovo-lacto-vegetarians, 51 vegans) and the inter-individual variability within dietary groups were assessed in a real-life context. Food intake was monitored with a 7-d dietary record to calculate nutritional values and environmental impacts (carbon, water, and ecological footprints). The Italian Mediterranean Index was used to evaluate the nutritional quality of each diet. The omnivorous choice generated worse carbon, water and ecological footprints than other diets. No differences were found for the environmental impacts of ovo-lacto-vegetarians and vegans, which also had diets more adherent to the Mediterranean pattern. A high inter-individual variability was observed through principal component analysis, showing that some vegetarians and vegans have higher environmental impacts than those of some omnivores. Thus, regardless of the environmental benefits of plant-based diets, there is a need for thinking in terms of individual dietary habits. To our knowledge, this is the first time environmental impacts of three dietary regimens are evaluated using individual recorded dietary intakes rather than hypothetical diet or diets averaged over a population.

5) Vegan Dogs: How Does it Work, and Are They Healthy?

https://www.rover.com/blog/is-a-vegan-diet-right-for-your-dog/

Okay this one is ever-so-slightly off-topic, but bear with me. Your meat-eating friends might try to label you a hypocrite if you keep dogs that eat meat, even just in terms of the global environmental impact and biodiversity loss implicated in dog-food production. However your dog may be able to go vegan. This article is a great introduction to the subject of veganism in dogs, including links to four popular vegan dog food companies. Here’s an extract:

In an interview with CNN, Dr. Fox says that some adult dogs do adapt and even thrive on well-balanced vegan diets, but most do best with a variety of foods that include some animals fats and protein. Still, Fox notes, “Dogs could benefit from a vegan meal at least once a week to detox.”

Okay! I hope the above was useful to you in some way.

Before I go, I want share a dance music mix that has really been helping me work recently. It’s nothing new, but it’s nice: Sima Deep, ‘Make Me Flow’.

If you want to put in a pre-order for the Well Gathered workbook or if you want to contact me for any other reason, email me (Matthew) at epictomorrows@gmail.com

Otherwise, feel free to like, comment, share or slam!

Here’s this post on Facebook in case you want to share from there (although that’s probably where you came from) Click on the small ‘f’ icon below.

Be heroic!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #7

!Hello all you heroines and heroes, tragic characters all. We live in tragic times. Tragic times require heroic responses.

The Well Gathered Workbook is coming along. I’ve done plenty of work on the Climate Science & News spreadsheet this week. I’m rating tens of climate science and climate news sites -the most useful ones I’ve denoted ‘Hot!’ and the super-useful ones I’ve denoted ‘On Fire!’ I’ve also labelled which sites I think are the most useful for tweens and teens to start with, and Earth knows we need our youth to take a keen interest in climate science, starting now. The listed ‘On Fire’ sites so far are https://climatecrocks.com/, http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/, https://www.desmogblog.com/https://skepticalscience.com/, and https://climatesight.org/. This last one is the personal blog of UK-based climate scientist Dr Kaitlin Naughten -an Antarctic specialist who started blogging when she was sixteen. Very inspiring for girls who are into science and want to pursue it further. 

*

Yesterday, on Thursday 21st February 2019 -although already it feels like a week ago- Devon County Council declared a ‘climate emergency’. However they failed to set a zero carbon target date. A 2030 date was proposed by a Green councillor and was accepted by the left-wing third of the council,  but predictably the Tory majority voted against it. The motion for climate emergency was passed with no date ostensibly, but it was after the ramblings of an old Tory who referred to the IPCC 2050 zero carbon target as a reasonable target (which it isn’t, relying as it does on unproven, undeveloped atmospheric carbon capture technologies). I knew that the failure to adopt the 2030 motion was partly due to entrenched livestock farming interests in Devon which would make the necessary land-use changes very difficult.

This decision came after many impassioned speeches from the public gallery, including from friends of mine, urging the council to act on the global emergency. Exeter students spoke, and a young girl spoke, daughter of a friend, telling the adults that they have had their time to get fat off the land, but now they must pay for it.

I sat in the public gallery and listened to the whole debate. This was after sitting through hours of other County Council matters. Outside County Hall it was a great atmosphere of festivities and resistance, on a warm and bright February day. Colourful Extinction Rebellion banners, as well as anti-Brexit banners, abounded. Students and children were everywhere. Some young girls, head high to my waste, proudly proclaimed to my friend that they were members of Extinction Rebellion. They held their signs of Nature and resistance. It was moving. Meanwhile, the cops trained their cameras on me. No surprise there. I joked with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a while that the police were probably making all kinds of fantastical links between us that didn’t exist.

Earlier I had enjoyed a tense pause as I waited for my friends in Magdalene Street cafe in Exeter -where some but not all of their cakes are vegan. 

Inside the public gallery it was stifling. I removed my coat and my funereal shirt underneath focused my attention on the action that could be immanent. I fingered the personal attack alarm in my pocket nervously, and pinned on my XR patch, following the lead of my buddy next to me. If the council voted for 2050 we were to jump over the barrier separating the public gallery from the floor, and storm to the front of the building, locking on to each other with arms and legs.

It didn’t happen. Some of us were deflated, but we had stuck to our plan of no action for no zero carbon date.

After huddling round with the others in a circle on the grass outside, the debrief and the grief, the anger and resolve, I turned on my heels and walked back to the bus-stop a little darker, a little more determined, a little more free than before.

*

Today’s rebel music track (for the tragically heroic) is Put The Message In The Box by World Party. They would have changed the lyrics to ‘Put the box onto the bike…’ had they known…

As always, feel free to comment or contact me with your vegan and climate activist dilemmas on epictomorrows@gmail.com. I will do my best to find the answers for you. Also feel free to sign up to my posts by email, by clicking the button in the Epic Tomorrows sidebar. Finally, if you would like to order your copy of the Well Gathered Workbook, let me know. Thanks.

?You Gather? Vegan & Climate Activism #1

As none of you will know (unless you’re reading this on Facebook) I’ve been involved with some of that there ole climate activism recently (as the Devon elders of my village probably never say). The radical kind that gets you arrested and whatnot. Fridays (today is a Friday) I am now having as ‘regenerative culture’ days, where I fast for most of the day, reflect on groundedness and take a breather from my combined activist-entrepreneur lifestyle. Extinction Rebellion is the non-violent direct action campaign that I am involved with. See the UK page here. On one level it’s a blast. On another level, it’s a very serious business -the most serious thing I have ever been involved with in my life. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is the very good reason behind me neglecting this blog recently.

I don’t regret anything. I have made some great friends in XR, learnt a whole lot about human-caused climate breakdown and I continue to work for the movement, for radical system change in the light of The Evidence of worsening ecological collapse -it’s a good job I’m long-sighted. I support XR even to the point of being arrested in London for peacefully blocking roads with hundreds of others. This is what happened a couple of weeks back.

But now it’s time for me to step back a little, to concentrate on self-regeneration and making a living. If I can’t generate an income for myself, then I can’t afford the luxury of being deeply involved in an activist movement. Not unless I renounced materialism completely, which I’m not prepared to do. My time spent in monasteries in my twenties has given me some good meditation skills and helped cultivate something of a non-attachment to life, but I choose to be materialistic right now, to be able to generate some cash to move about a bit, and maybe even to generate enough eventually, to redirect it to support causes like XR. And I’ll be careful about where and who that income comes from too.

Today, a Friday fast day, I made sure to get some air outside, walking the footpaths of North Tawton village in the biting cold. I enjoyed the bite of both the wind and the hunger pangs which I know strengthen this body for potentially tough times ahead -on the global level which I have strong empathy for.

Earlier, before my walk, I reflected on the product I am building, for a later release now of 29th March 2019. I have been collecting data for this product -a spreadsheet for activists, particularly vegan and climate activists in southwest England- by bookmarking websites. In the midst of this gathering work I realised that the most important kind of gathering is collecting of the self, in this modern society that is full of much opportunity (for some, for the privileged entrepreneur like me) and also so much fragmentation (for most of us). It is the greatest personal, even spiritual, work in modern times to collect everything you need -information, practices, parts of yourself- that may have been rendered inaccessible to you for a long time, or even since forever.

During my activism and reading recently I have encountered problematic dynamics between vegans and non-vegans, and also a lack of comprehensive efforts between vegan and climate movements to join together on some actions and campaigns. I hope that with my upcoming informational product I will gather and curate information in such a way as to encourage climate and vegan activists to work together more. I am vegan myself (usually!), but not militantly. I do empathise with militant vegans, I am just not one of you. If you are one, I would like to support you in getting through to non-vegans, at least non-vegan climate activists, in a diplomatic way.

It may be trite to say ‘We could all do with getting along more’, but it’s true, and I think we will see more co-operation between various environmental activist movements as the global ecological situation becomes more urgent still.

However, we must mindfully gather ourselves together, before attempting to gather others.

Listen to the audio representation of this post on Soundcloud here.