First off, there is much that I agree with. People dressed in cow suits pushing the “Go vegan to save the planet” message also make me uncomfortable. Moving toward a vegan diet does nothing to counter the power of the fossil fuel lobby, which should be the number one priority for those concerned with climate change. Indigenous ways of life must be respected.
BUT… I think it’s crucial to understand that we will not reach our climate and biodiversity conservation targets without also reducing meat consumption. Not with a rising population, and not with China and India moving toward the Western diet model. Reducing future demand is critical.
“ If the goal of the vegan climate movement is to tackle the emissions from big agribusiness, then come up a strategy that actually takes on big agribusiness.” Without a doubt, local initiatives that push against the unfettered expansion of big agribusiness are important. But as long as there is strong demand, there will be strong incentives for Big Meat to engage in these kinds of practices. We’re in for a long line of never-ending battles. And those battles will be a lot easier to win if we can also reduce demand.
“[G]oing vegan doesn’t hurt big agribusiness, it just means people are buying more rainforest destroying soy and less rainforest destroying beef”. True perhaps, but if you’re only destroying 1/20th of the same area of rainforest to feed the same number people, that’s a step in the right direction, right?
Clearly, we need urgent action on reducing emissions NOW, but long-term, we also need to reduce meat consumption in the global community. Can we (or should we) eliminate all of it? Probably not, but even a 10–20% reduction can make a big difference.
Here are two articles that crunch some of the numbers: