‘Do You Have To Be Vegan To Help Fix Climate Change?’

Yesterday, The Guardian posted a video titled as above as part of their Keep It In The Ground campaign, which aims to educate and and inform readers of the current climate change issues we face.

It’s just over the minute mark, and begins with some statistics about the emissions produced from the meat and dairy industry.  The main message re-iterates: “it isn’t about cutting out but about cutting down” with regards to the population’s intake of animal products.

As a vegan-conscious, dairy-free pescetarian (yes, how complicated), I am currently sitting on the fence between herbivorous and omnivorous diets.   Personally, I have a few qualms regarding this recent campaign material.

1)”Simply cutting down” will not suffice.  The video addresses the issue of global warming, and our carbon emissions as a Western nation.  Cutting down is the preliminary process of decreasing our emissions, yes, but the agricultural demands required for an ever-growing population are soaring out of our controls.

Those from poorer backgrounds tend to opt for meat and dairy products as an easy gateway to accessing the daily nutrients they require, whilst keeping themselves satiated; they can be at very low prices too nowadays, to meet all types of budgets.  Thus, simply decreasing our meat and dairy intake is not a viable solution for many, especially if these products are priced very reasonably, and offer better nutritional values than a pack of quick stir-fry vegetables.

2) Sustainability?  The video has failed to address one of the current pressures in the food industry.  Sustainable and ethical farming practices are hot topics in many industries, and rightfully so, for animal welfare purposes.  Yes, cutting out may not be the answer, but the message of “simply cutting down” is incomplete and unintelligible.  Cutting down through means of selecting sustainable produce and ethically-farmed goods encourages the population to assess the practices involved with harvesting products, as well as their origins.  These habits can lead to smarter buying choices.

Our Cow Molly from Sheffield practices sustainable and fair dairy farming practices – and has been recognised numerously for their efforts.

3) Putting in place the ‘feel good’ factor.  By placing the word ‘simply’ in the the campaign, there is no encouragement for viewers to push the boundaries and explore other ways to cut down their emissions.  It is a lazy and sloppy slogan message which presents viewers with an easy certification of achievement upon completion, and no guidance for exploring further afield.  The lack of motivation from a high impact source was most disappointing.

4) Veganism does not equate to bohemianism.  The cover shot shows a globe with a bandana on, pursuing the ‘peace’ symbol with its hand.  The backing track is a folk-psychedelic medley, and faded out yellow ochres dominate the scheme of the video.  As noticed by many Facebook users, The Guardian seem to heavily presents veganism in the most distasteful cliché.

We cannot escape the fact that social conformity is desired by many. With the media’s heavy influence on just about everything, it is insulting that a large outlet should advocate hackneyed views of a particular lifestyle; it discourages the mainstream population from experimentation due to the associated social discordance implied, and encourages closed categorisation of an otherwise broad command of life.

5) What’s new? Apart from the carefully-placed statistics and numbers (as a science grad familiar with the workings of statisticians and operations of many marketing ploys, I am very skeptical about statistics), informing the reader of the emissions from the meat and dairy industries is not novel.  We were presented with lacklustre, over-used statements and figures abused by many companies trying to promote the whole ‘change is necessary’ slogan, but fail to deliver at the last minute… and this recent video of The Guardian is part of this elite.

In conclusion and a little disclaimer: I am not vegan (or an omnivore-hater), but as someone conscious of the lifestyle, and fairly knowledgeable with regards to the environmental impacts of the food and agriculture industries, The Guardian created a disappointingly weak video for a high-impact source, merely educating the elementary.

Picture credits: cow image source and Our Cow Molly image source.

Julia | themorningbowl.

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2 thoughts on “‘Do You Have To Be Vegan To Help Fix Climate Change?’

  1. Hi Julia,

    Very interesting to hear what both you and The Guardian had to say about climate change and veganism. Over the last year I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject and I think what we do need to address is the attitude that meat and dairy products are a mark of luxury. We have to education (and evidence, see The China Study) to see that both meat and dairy in the large quantities the western diet favours is creating staggering rates of heart disease, cancers, and other health problems. We also know that livestock produces more gas emissions than vehicle transportation. However, before commercialisation of the meat industry, we did have a better balance with both the environment and our bodies. I’m not a vegan, although I do chiefly eat plant-based, but what really needs to happen is a serious reduction in general meat and dairy consumption, as well as a review of standards in the meat industry and farming in general (monocultures in fruit/veg/etc. is pretty bad too). On top of that, developing countries are creating an incredible demand for meat and dairy, after also following our attitude on meat and dairy being a luxury. However, personal changes aren’t going to do much at the end of the day – we have to do this as a group, and change regulations around these topics too, which is hard considering lobbying in most western countries is permitted.

    Right now, looking to national newspapers, media channels, etc. is not going to deliver a strong enough message to change this, but our purchasing power in buying local, organic, and from farms that care and have ethical standards will somewhat.

    Besma (Curiously Conscious)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Besma. Thanks for the reading and your thoughts and input re: the issue! Yes, I know what you mean – there is no point of targeting these media outlets for now and what’s best is to make changes through personal choices. It’s great that they are tackling these issues – it was just disappointing to see the potential impact a one-minute video could make, yet they failed to deliver.

      For now, local and seasonal plant-based produce will be my go-to and I hope this blog will nicely reflect my journey towards achieving a greener, ethical lifestyle through help of many like-minded bloggers etc!

      – Julia

      Like

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