Young Greens do Veganuary

20 December 2016

Blog by Aaron Parr - Young Greens of England and Wales Executive Committee

The Young Greens are taking the plunge and going animal-free for January - and it’s not just because veganism is the hot new trend.

When 18% of greenhouses gases come from animal agriculture [1], our diet becomes political. When scientists are telling us that the climate change might not be reversible beyond 1.5 degrees [2], let alone 2 degrees, our diet becomes political. When we are told that 56 billion suffering animals are slaughtered every year [3], our diet becomes political.  And when we are told that the oceans could be dead by 2048 [4], our diet becomes political.

So the Young Greens executive committee are throwing aside animal products for the month to raise awareness about how our consumption impacts the environment and animal lives.

“But bacon though?”

Veganuary is an exciting time for me.  Even though I’ve already been vegan for 2 and a half years, it’s good to be able to discuss an animal-free diet with people who are interested. I used to be the kind of person who would go to the gym purely to back come home, fry some bacon, and jump back into bed.  So what changed?

As I become more political, I realised that climate change wouldn’t stop itself.  We desperately need to make political changes to leave fossil fuels in the ground and transition to a carbon neutral society ASAP.  But then how do you account for the greenhouse gases caused by animal agriculture?  The only way you can have control over this is to go vegetarian or vegan - essentially, a boycott of animal products.

It is far more satisfying to be living within my own ethics than against it.  It means that I am doing my bit for the environment and divesting from animal suffering at the same time.  Veganuary is an opportunity to discuss this with friends and other people who are political, since it is often low on the political agenda.

Vegan means different things for everyone

Some of our committee are already vegan, some aren’t.  It’s exciting that we can engage in Veganuary as a group to support each other with advice and discussions.  But it will be easier for some than others, especially those without the added burden of dietary requirements.  That’s why we respect the amount everyone is capable of doing.

In a world full of judgement and nit-picking, it’s impossible to be the perfect anything - let alone the perfect vegan. Not everyone is able to go to the lengths of being completely cruelty free, but since the first 98% of animal products are the easiest to get rid of from your diet, we need to be more accepting of the people going as-vegan-as-possible [5]. This includes people who have allergies, dietary requirements, and who cannot afford to be vegan.  Let’s celebrate everyone reducing their animal product consumption this month, not just those who go the whole hog.

What’s Green got to do with it?

The Green Party is proud to emblazon environmentalism in its name, as well as having strong animal rights policies [6].  Our Co-Leader, Caroline Lucas, has even addressed the importance of conscious food consumption in speeches at climate rallies [7] .  If young people want to have a future on this planet, we need to seriously consider the ecosystems and animals that co-habit alongside us.

Of course there is more work to be done than individual changes.  For one, we need a Government that cares for the environment and animals - not just one that attempts to weaken animal welfare laws and permits fracking.  That’s why there are parties, like the Greens, who put pressure in Parliament to make these changes.  

Right now, the Young Greens want to open up more discussions around the environment and animals.  Let’s start by thinking about what we eat this January! Make sure you register your commitment to Veganuary at veganuary.com today.

Notes

[1] http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM 

[2] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/climate-change-its-too-late-avoid-1-5-degree-c-temperature-rise-says-world-bank-1476233

[3]  http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5443

[4] http://www.theinertia.com/environment/the-oceans-could-be-dead-by-the-year-2048/ 

[5] http://grist.org/living/the-case-for-imperfect-veganism/

[6] https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ar.html

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBHGiKTWw68






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