The Berkeley Principles

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“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man" - George Bernard Shaw.

As usual, Greenpeace is underestimating the disruptive nature of the Vegan movement! It is great that Greenpeace is finally doing something about the environmental impact of meat and dairy consumption, but targeting a 50% reduction in consumption by 2050 is quite lame for a campaign. Greenpeace is like the McKinsey experts who told AT&T in 1985 that by the year 2000, there will be 900,000 cell phone subscribers in the world.

The actual number was 109,000,000.

It is usually the "insiders" and the "experts" who can't come to grips with disruptive transformations such as the Vegan movement. I was privy to some of the high level discussion among the LGBT activists during their Marriage Equality fight and I see the parallels here. Greenpeace advocating for 50% reduction of meat and dairy consumption by 2050 is like a major LGBT organization advocating for a half-measure, Civil Union by 2050 on the false pretext that Marriage Equality is too "extreme" and will "never happen". Can you imagine?

But as Henry Ford said,

"If you think you can, or you think you cannot, you are usually right."

This is why we should begin with the positive mindset that a Vegan World is not only going to happen, but that it is inevitable. After all, every one of our excuses for not going Vegan have been peeled away:

In 2006, the American Dietetic Association stated unequivocally that it is unnecessary to eat animal foods of any kind at any stage of our life cycle. Therefore, we can no longer pretend that we need to eat animal foods for our well being.

In 2012, the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness stated unequivocally that animals are sentient beings, just like us. Therefore, we can no longer pretend that the animals we are exploiting don't suffer.  

In its press release, Greenpeace's Executive Director, Bunny McDiarmid, was quoted as saying,

“What we decide to eat, as individuals and as a global society, is one of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against climate change and environmental destruction.”

This raises a few questions:

1) What is the scientific basis for Greenpeace’s target to be just a 50% reduction by the year 2050? At Climate Healers, we have chosen our target to be 100% reduction, i.e., a "Vegan World", by the year 2026, based on the scientific evidence.

2) Is that 50% reduction with respect to UN FAO projected levels of global meat and dairy consumption in 2050? Please note that the FAO expects meat and dairy consumption to DOUBLE from current levels by 2050.

3) When did Greenpeace conclude that what we eat is "one of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against climate change and environmental destruction"? The scientific evidence was available as early as the 1970s.

4) Was Greenpeace deliberately underestimating the environmental risk of global meat and dairy consumption over the past four decades of its existence, even as the global consumption quadrupled? When we deliberately underestimate environmental risk, we are responsible for the suffering that results.

We would dearly love to have Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in the forefront of the Vegan movement so that they align their words with their actions and with reality. But we’re not waiting for them. From my study of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, I absorbed three important lessons:

1. The time is always ripe to do right.
2. Moderation is the worst response to injustice, worse than even participating in the injustice.
3. The world is in dire need of compassionate, creative extremists.

Going Vegan is not just a moral issue, but an ethical issue as well. The 74 billion land animals and 1-3 trillion sea animals being killed each year, the 200 species going extinct each day and the people suffering and dying from the ravages of climate change and poverty right now all wish that the whole world would go Vegan not by 2050, or 2026, but right away. Therefore, I think it is time for the Animal Liberation movement to formulate its own "Dallas Principles" as the LGBT Equality movement did nearly a decade ago.

I have started a Google Doc with a first cut of the "Berkeley Principles" to be finalized and signed during the Animal Liberation Conference in Berkeley in May. Here’s the first draft of the 8 Berkeley Principles:

1. All animals deserve to live free of human exploitation now. Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.
2. We will not leave any part of the animal community behind.
3. We will not be divided and conquered.
4. Religious beliefs, cultural traditions or economic arguments are not a basis upon which to exploit animals.
5. The establishment and guardianship of animal liberation is a non-partisan issue.
6. Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.
7. Success is measured by the growth of the Vegan movement.
8. Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.

Please feel free to comment and edit the Google Doc and let us all become compassionate, creative extremists!

Sailesh Rao

Dr. Sailesh Rao is an Electrical Engineer, systems specialist, Climate Healer, author of "Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of Butterflies" and "Carbon Yoga: The Vegan Metamorphosis", and Executive Producer of "The Human Experiment", "Cowspiracy," "What The Health” and “A Prayer for Compassion.