This piece was originally published on Spiralseed – many thanks to Graham Burnett for permission to repost it here:)
I’m pleased that high street chain Greggs has started selling vegan sausage rolls – it’s nice to have an option to grab a hot snack which isn’t chips when I’m out and about or travelling, especially as a public transport user who often finds myself hanging about on cold station concourses waiting for train connections. It’s also good that the conversation about veganism and animal rights is opening up to a wider audience. Plus in my books anything that drives a professional all-round oaf like right-wing commentator Piers Morgan to fits of raging apoplexy over what other people choose to eat is to be applauded, especially when handled with the wit and panache of whoever manages Greggs’ Twitter account…
But going beyond the Greggs vs Piers debate, or indeed the fact that our supermarkets and high street shops are increasingly stocked with all manner of processed vegan options, Ecological Veganism is about more than substituting sausage rolls made with plant-based ingredients for those using products of the slaughterhouse when these are still part of the corporate capitalist global food production system.
Whether plant or animal based, our current global agricultural model has massive social and environmental implications and effects. Just a few of these are soil degradation (including erosion); global water depletion (including mining aquifers and ground water sources for irrigation); pollution (including nitrification of rivers and oceans, and releasing long term systemic pesticides and poisons into the environment that will continue to impact for future generations); dependence on external inputs (including forcing farmers and growers in the two thirds world to use genetically modified seeds and industrial farming machinery, rather than creating ‘closed loop’ localised growing systems); loss of genetic diversity (including the erosion of food sovereignty and locally distinctive varieties) and global inequality (including continuing starvation in many parts of the world, and the exploitation and dispossession of agricultural workers, in both the ‘west’ and two-thirds world). Perhaps most seriously of all in the long term, industrialised agriculture massively contributes to climate change through clearing forested land and releasing soil carbon into the atmosphere through massive ploughing and industrialised cultivation of land for growing annual crops and grains.
Ecological Veganism isn’t just about excluding animal products from our diets, it’s about fundamentally rethinking what and how we eat, how we produce our food, how we use and relate to the land and how we organise our communities socially and economically, incorporating approaches and practices such as agroecology, permaculture, restoration agriculture, urban and rural food forests and veganic farming. It’s time to adopt practices that not only reduce harm to non-human animal species and mitigate damage to global ecosystems, but are actively restorative, in that they build soils, restore watercourses, repair ecosystems and nurture biodiversity. At the same time such systems create social resilience by reducing our dependency on outside inputs, increase yields of food and other human needs, foster community connections and economic stability and provide opportunities for all to enjoy fulfilled lives. Vegan sausage rolls are great, but what we really need is need are positive solutions for regenerative futures. Care for the Earth. Care for People. Fair Shares for All.