Checking in to talk about my week being vegan! On a side note, it feels weird thinking that this is something that can count as activism, because it felt like such a small step. Personal activism is still activism though, as it is important to hold ourselves accountable for our daily actions. They all add up to have a big impact! Being vegan for a week was a lot easier than I was expecting. As somebody with Celiac, I am used to constantly checking ingredients and being very conscious of what I can and cannot eat, as I can never have gluten. A lot of meat substitutes are made of straight up gluten, so I mainly avoided those and went the tofu/carb/veggie route. I think that being home in quarantine made being vegan a lot easier, as I wasn’t eating out at all so I had direct knowledge of what was going into all of my food.
The biggest motivation for me to keep going while I was avoiding animal products was doing research on the impact just me being vegan would have. As I included in my last post, I saved EIGHT animal lives just in a WEEK. It is so weird to even conceptualize, as I would never think that my daily eating habits affect other living creatures that much. That is more than one animal a day. I think my biggest takeaway from this is that I can make an easy adjustment to my diet and literally help save lives. It made me feel like a hypocrite. I love animals. I have three little dogs. Yet, I choose to continue eating animals which is literally killing them. If I choose to go even one day a week more meat-free, that can save an animal’s life. That is good to know and a lot to consider, and I think framing it like that for others will make an impact too.
Praxis is when theory becomes action. On this blog, we’ve been discussing many different ecofeminist theories. We’ve talked about ways women, nature and animals are oppressed. Today, I am going to take action to try to help in one way. Given the current pandemic going on in our world, lots of activism must take place in our homes. As we’ve discussed before, one person can make a change. Change begins with ourselves. I’ve decided that to make a difference, I am going to go vegan for a week in order to save animals and help the environment. I love animals, yet I eat them. I understand the hypocrisy, and I am not proud of it. I used the calculator on https://thevegancalculator.com/#calculator and saw how much I could help by avoiding animal products for one week! Why not try it?
I have Celiac, so I cannot eat gluten. That means most meat substitutes are out for me. I will be sticking with tofu and beans as my sources of protein. Honestly, I don’t really eat much of a balanced diet anyway. Since being quarantined in my house for the past few weeks, a lot of my eating has been thoughtless and from boredom regardless. This will be good for my health overall to plan my meals and consider the source. Tomorrow, I will go grocery shopping and pick up more produce and things like rice. I will also be buying premade vegan frozen things. I live with my mom and we eat a lot of meals together, so this will end up having a trickle effect over to her as well!
Change does not happen overnight. It is a long process. Sometimes our daily actions can seem so minuscule that we don’t necessarily reap the benefits for ourselves. They are for future generations. I feel like one of the biggest thoughts or fears that hold people back from trying to make a difference is, “I’m just one person, what can I do?” However, there are tons of people who didn’t think like that and have helped to change the world. For example, in the 1970’s, there was a woman named Amrita Devi that led a group of 84 villages. They put their lives on the line in order to start something that came to be known as the Chipko (meaning “embrace”) movement. This movement had the protesters holding onto trees in order to prevent them from being cut down. This is where the term “tree-hugger” originated from, which eventually has come to be a derogatory term of sorts. Though this protest is often referred to jokingly, it is one of the first notable examples of community activism making a difference. This group of people saw nature being hurt as themselves being hurt. The trees in question were in a field that were supposed to be taken away and used by a sporting goods company. This is a perfect example of the rich and powerful trying to take away from nature and in return hurting the people who rely on that nature.
Material deprivation is basically when somebody has less than other people, typically referring to poorer or marginalized communities. This is also the demographic that is more at risk of being hurt when the environment around them suffers, because they either rely on the environment or are the ones who have to deal with the cleanup. In the article Sustaining the Environment to Fight Poverty and Achieve the Millennium Development Goals by Steve Bass it’s written, “Poor people depend more on environmental assets than those who are better-off, and yet they find these assets both difficult to access and increasingly degraded. This threatens poor people’s livelihoods and developing countries’ prospects for sustainable development. Governance failures, notably poor people’s lack of rights, limit how much they can benefit from environmental assets and, consequently, their motivations to invest in them. Elites are able to capture the benefits, through asset-stripping of, for example, forests and fisheries.”
Having money is a privilege and living in an area with a healthy environment is a privilege. The latter should not be, but it is. It is those without privilege that are oppressed, and they are the ones who suffer the most when the environment suffers the most. This often leads to binding together and organizing in order to create change. A recent example is Standing Rock. This is when an entire community in North Dakota protested in order to stop a pipeline from being built, as it would have disrupted their entire lives and town. The people that would be most affected were the Standing Rock tribe who, as Native Americans, are already an oppressed group in this country. The stand they took and the outreach and support they received was a true testament to the power of local activism.
Bass, Steve, et al. “Sustaining the Environment to Fight Poverty and Achieve the Millennium Development Goals.” Review of European Community & International Environmental Law, vol. 15, no. 1, Apr. 2006, pp. 39–55. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9388.2006.00502.x.
This article was written for the 2005 United Nations World Summit, and it is peer reviewed. It has lots of information about how the environment relates to poverty.