George Monbiot on veganism - our reply
The Vegan Society have submitted the following letter to the UK Guardian newspaper Letters Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org):
On Mon 6 Sep 2010, The Guardian published George Monbiot's 'Comment is Free' piece, 'I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat – but farm it properly’: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation
His article is inspired by Simon Fairlie's new book. However, Fairlie's own calculations ("Can Britain Feed Itself?" The Land, Winter 2007/8, http://transitionculture.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/CanBritain.pdf) suggest that vegan agriculture can support the UK in very environmentally sustainable ways. Fairlie agreed that the UK could feed more humans on a well-planned vegan diet than an organic meat-based diet - using similar areas of arable land, and freeing up current pasture for other vital sustainable purposes such as biofuels, fibre and habitat re-creation. Our own analyses are available on our Web site e.g.: http://www.vegansociety.com/resources/food-security.aspx and on request. Monbiot says, "The meat-producing system Fairlie advocates differs sharply from the one now practiced in the rich world: low energy, low waste, just, diverse, small-scale. But if we were to adopt it, we could eat meat, milk and eggs (albeit much less) with a clean conscience."
It is well known that vegans refuse - as a point of conscience - to take a life simply so that we can make lunch. But Monbiot clearly feels that it is ethically acceptable to kill some animals for food, even when his own life is not at risk. We can each re-examine our own conscience at every meal - is it ethical to kill animals simply to satisfy our taste-buds?
What if Monbiot had just the 'environmental impact' of farmed animals on his conscience? Even then, his ethical argument would allow for only a tiny number of farmed animals. Most likely, the majority of us would still enjoy a plant-based diet, with only a rich and powerful few able to buy the eggs, milk and meat taken from those animals.
Monbiot concludes, "By keeping out of the debate over how livestock should be kept, those of us who have advocated veganism have allowed the champions of cruel, destructive, famine-inducing meat farming to prevail. It's time we got stuck in."
The fact is, most vegans have been 'stuck in' - actively arguing against the cruel practices of the global food destruction system called 'animal farming' - all along. Veganism is a quite comprehensive, daily 'consumer boycott' to adopt in parallel to this advocacy work. George Monbiot is welcome to join us!>
PR & Media Officer The Vegan Society
Notes for Editors:
1. Founded in 1944, The Vegan Society promotes vegan lifestyles - which exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Registered Charity No. 279228, Company Registration No. 1468880, VAT Registration No. 448 5973 95