Jo Dirix: Are you a climate vegan? / SATURDAY 28th
Climate change and environmental problems in general will hurt human and non-human animals alike. With the current levels of environmental degradation few within the animals rights movement or even the vegan movement seem to act upon the knowledge that biodiversity loss, for instance, equals individual animal suffering. When thinking about veganism and, more broadly, about intersectionality, environmental problems seem to be considered of secondary importance. Indeed, the lives of individual animals seem to trump the sustainability of ecosystems.
This presentation will argue that the reasons for which we are compelled towards veganism warrant an eco-friendly lifestyle. Furthermore, it will attempt to show that the mentioned dichotomy between animals and ecosystems is of little regard when considering the ethical stances that lead us to veganism. Indeed, if the locus of concern is the fulfillment of rights (and the absence of harm) then the importance of thriving ecosystems can hardly be underestimated.
The reasons for living a vegan lifestyle seem to be divided between two schools of ethics, being; the consequentialist stance (‘How can I have the greatest impact?’) and the virtue ethical stance (‘Not in my name’). However, this presentation will ask, if these indeed are ethical foundations of our lifestyle choices, then why are vegans and animal rights activists not the most avid environmentalists? Why will we not consume animal products but have no problem using aviation (to have our vegan products flown in from across the globe)? Why is the former type of behavior the core of our moral concern while the latter is excluded from it, when both have comparable effects albeit being dispersed in time and location? If the spatial location of the (human and non-human) animal is of no moral importance, neither is his/her/x`s place in time. Therefore, it will be argued, climate change and biodiversity loss, to name but two, should top the intersectional agenda.
In sum, a vegan lifestyle warrants environmentalism and environmental activism. Although the green movement shows little or no affiliation to the animal rights cause the goals the greens envision are of primordial importance to the former cause. Indeed, a vegan lifestyle requires that we find allies within the green movement and that we overcome the dichotomy many within the animal rights milieu uphold. Joining the green ranks might be an arduous task, yet it is one we need to fulfill if the “justice for all”-adage truly is at the heart of our struggle.