In the Great Turning, Joanna Macy outlines three dimensions of the Great Transition from an industrial-growth, ownership society to a life-enriching, stewardship society:
1. Block that which is destroying us.
2. Create something new to replace it.
3. Change our story and relationship with the Earth.
Unfortunately, we have many villains to pick among that which is destroying us: inequality, fossil fuels, capitalism, pollution, etc. However, there is one villain that hardly anyone ever talks about: animal agriculture. And as far as villains go, animal agriculture can don the mantle of a SuperVillain.
In his celebrated bestseller, "How Not To Die", Dr. Michael Greger describes how switching to a whole-foods, plant-based diet can prevent and even reverse 14 of the 15 leading causes of human deaths in affluent nations. In fact, the carnage due to the animal agriculture industry is so egregious that 40 million people die of these 14 leading causes world wide, almost 7 times as much as the 6 million people who die of starvation each year. Likewise, in her book, "Doughnut Economics," Kate Raworth identifies the 16 leading causes of planet destruction and to one-up Dr. Greger, we can show that all 16 of these 16 causes can be mitigated and reversed if humanity would switch to a whole-foods plant-based diet. Therefore, the environmental costs of animal agriculture are enormous and it is the SuperVillain that is trying to destroy us. We need to block it.
Twelve of us gathered at the Zen Spirit resort in Costa Rica over a magical July weekend and crafted a declaration for Human/Earth/Animal Liberation called "Awakening to Survival : 2026" to do just that. Here's the text of the declaration:
We envision a world of love, unity and abundance, but this requires us to change course at this perilous time.
Since 1970 more than half of wild animals have been killed. At the rate we are killing wildlife, we will have virtually no wild animals left by 2026. This loss means whales, penguins, monkeys, koalas, tigers, eagles, giraffes, none of these animals would be left, except in zoos.
This is the biggest crisis of our lifetimes because it threatens our very existence. This horrific milestone will mark an ecological turning point. Year Zero will present unimaginable extreme weather on a scale that the human race has never experienced: extreme drought, massive wildfires, flood events, etc.
That extreme weather will in turn trigger political and societal disruption and chaos as millions are displaced and become refugees.
From cities to rural areas, land and homes will become uninhabitable.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of global deforestation, habitat destruction, wildlife extinction, ocean dead zones, soil degradation and climate change, because it is resource intensive and highly inefficient. Animals eat almost 40 times what they produce as meat, dairy or eggs. 83% of agricultural land is currently used for raising farm animals for food.
The good news is more than 80% of the food that humans consume is already plant-based. Less than 20% of the food humans eat is meat, dairy and eggs. When we reduce that percentage to zero by 2026 we will have made substantial progress towards reversing climate change, wildlife extinction and deforestation, thereby preventing Year Zero.
It is totally unnecessary to eat animal foods for health or survival. Following a plant-based lifestyle can reverse and prevent fourteen of the fifteen leading causes of death, including cancer and heart disease. Due to the increasing variety of plant-based food options, it is now easier than ever to go vegan.
Therefore it is totally unnecessary to exploit, enslave, torture and kill animals or to engage in institutionalized animal abuse. We reject a system of forced breeding, mutilation and killing of animals. We demand this system of normalized violence be replaced by a system of normalized non-violence. We commit to supporting this vision to assist in the joy and wellness of all beings through a vegan lifestyle.
For all the above reasons, we are committed to achieving a Vegan World by 2026.
Our Guiding Principles are:
1. All animals have the inalienable right to live free of exploitation, forced breeding, torture, and slaughter.
2. We reject the idea that religious beliefs, cultural traditions and economic arguments are valid reasons for denying them these inalienable rights.
3. We believe in the intersectionality of these basic rights with the inalienable human rights.
4. Compassion for all life is infinitely sustainable.
Our Demands are:
1. Governments stop subsidizing animal agriculture and start promoting organic plant agriculture.
2. Media report the truth about animal agriculture’s devastating impact on human health, the environment, and our fellow creatures.
Our Pleas are:
1. Environmental, conservation, health, animal welfare and religious organizations adopt a public vegan policy.
2. Consumers stop buying animal products.
Maribel Anglada, Mundo Vegano
Denise Bitz, Founder and President, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue
Donna Dennison, That Snarky Vegan Girl
Renee King-Sonnen, Executive Director and Founder, Rowdy Girl Sanctuary
Marilyn Kroplick, President, In Defense of Animals
Carol Manetta, Executive Director, REAP
Gustavo Pacheco, President, Mundo Vegano
Mariette Papic, Holochain and JustOne Organics
Jaine Rao, Climate Healers
Sailesh Rao, Climate Healers
Jane Velez-Mitchell, Jane Unchained
Gary Wirkkala, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue
This declaration for Human/Earth/Animal Liberation commits us to create a Vegan World by 2026, just 8 short years from now. The inaugural Vegan World 2026 Conference is co-hosted by Arizona State University and it will be occurring on Oct 26-28, 2018, in Tempe, AZ, USA. You are welcome to join us and help co-create the new system and culture of normalized nonviolence in the life-enriching, stewardship society of the future. Vegan World 2026 is an audacious goal akin to the moonshot of the 1960s, and when we achieve this goal, I'd wager that it will be even more exhilarating than the moon-landing!
As for the third dimension in Joanna Macy's framework, we can embrace the "Thermostat Species" hypothesis and change our story and relationship with the Earth. To summarize this hypothesis, humans have been playing the role of a thermostat species on planet Earth since the dawn of the Agricultural revolution. After several bouts of ice ages and interglacial periods over the past 3 million years, with all the attendant suffering as ecosystems wax and wane, Earth spawned a cerebral species to implement planetary-scale homeostasis - Homo Sapiens. For 10,000 years, humans unknowingly maintained the temperature on Earth at the set value and prevented the return of another ice age, mainly through deforestation. Then, since the dawn of the industrial revolution, we have been creating the tools and technologies we need to maintain a constant temperature on Earth without any further deforestation. In the process, we have allowed the Earth's temperature to increase from its set value by 1 deg C. Science is now telling us to return the temperature back to the set value through reforestation as a matter of survival for all life on Earth. To do so, we have to accomplish the moonshot of our generation - a Vegan World by 2026.