If Not for the Animals, Do it for the Planet

Aydurmus, Didem | February 5, 2019 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF


Liberation Berlin

More and more people go vegan. At least it seems like it. The vegan market grows exponentially, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Vegans have known how to make at least some kind of bean burger patty from scratch for decades. Labeling stuff vegan might just have become more popular or maybe vegans have become more visible. Numbers are not reliable. Besides, there is a large group of countries becoming richer and ‘catching up’ by consuming ever more meat and all kinds of other animal products because meat still signifies status in most places of the world.

That is really bad, animals are suffering in horrendous conditions only to be killed and then consumed within a few minutes or just to become yet another accessory (bag, collar, hat, shoes etc.).

Furthermore, this is not the first article on Veganism here, it will hopefully not be the last. However, given that Veganism has been labeled the Swiss Army Knife[1] by prominent advocates, and it probably is, it cannot be talked about enough. We, vegans, need to expose the animal industrial complex until every ecologist, biologist, philosopher and school kid has heard it: the consumption of animal products ruins our environment and therefore butchers our future.

Veganism for the Win?

I am not a Doctor of Medicine, so arguing about the health benefits should be left to others. Mounting evidence says there are many advantages to a plant-based diet. It is clear that humans can live very well on a vegan diet. Humans are herbivores, check out our anatomy, look at our stomach acid, intestines and teeth. They are not the one’s of a carnivore or even of an omnivore.

As an animal rights advocate, I talk about the endless, illegitimate, unnecessary suffering of animals every day. I am constantly confronted with inconsistent arguments that allow for the exploitation of other sentient beings simply for pleasure. Animal’s lives are nasty, brutish and short. People may say that they love animals, however reality tells a different story. Consequently, vegans have their hearts crushed on a daily basis. But this is not the point here. The point is that we need to go vegan for the planet!

Animal husbandry is NOT sustainable.

The biggest single culprit of climate change IS animal agriculture.  A study by the Worldwatch Institute shows that animal husbandry is the greatest resource destruction machinery imaginable. It trumps war in its global destruction. Traditions of consuming animal products are so deeply ingrained in many cultures, animal products so ubiquitous and animal usage so internalized that it is hard to recognize the facts.

There is a lot to learn by looking at a common example of resource destruction; the (ab)use of cows. In order to gain one calorie of beef, we have to feed 7 calories of plants. At this very moment Amazonian rainforest is burnt in order to make space for animal feed production. Additionally, 1 kilo of beef uses up to 15,000 liters of water.  In comparison, 1kg of potatoes needs only 287 liters of water. Needless to say, food and water is needed elsewhere. Cows are also living beings, so they fart, pee and poop, this releases methane emissions which are worse than CO2 emissions. Obviously, one cow’s flatulence is not the problem, but there are billions of cows producing emissions in any single day. Obviously, cows outside of factory farms are living beings too, so buying free range does not change the fact that eating meat and other animal products is not ecological. It even creates dead zones in the oceans.

To conclude, when we eat animal products, we destroy calories, water, clean air and lives.

Eating fish is not a solution either. The oceans are not only a major source of food, but life on Earth also depends on their oxygen production. Yet, 1.7 trillion fish are taken from the oceans annually, slowly rendering many ecosystems impaired and on their way to collapse.

The End?

Most people are not Inuits and can easily find cruelty-free food sources at local supermarkets. So how can wiping out humanity’s chances for survival be justified by our taste buds?

The philosopher Steven Best commented that animal rights:

“pose a fundamental challenge to human beings in the midst of severe social and ecological crises. Can we grasp how the exploitation of non-human animals is implicated in every aspect of social, mental, and ecological breakdown in our society? Animal rights is a touch stone for measuring the degree to which we are sane and healthy. It is a measure barometer that can tell us whether we as a species are going to survive or not.”

Think about it.

It looks like no campaign will succeed against the hegemony of consumerism, apathy, convenience and individualism. However, a full-blown global revolution would be our last chance.

Einstein, who did not consume animals by the way, judged it as stupid to try to solve a problem with the same instruments over and over again. Instead of talking about choice and freedom, it is time to talk loudly about justice, moral duty, responsibility. Institutions need to change dramatically and so do we!  Going vegan means rejecting violence against humans, animals and the planet. It is the rejection of all oppression. This will not always be easy, but it is easier than living on a destroyed planet.

The world is ablaze. We all need to fight. The time for easy feel good solutions has passed. It is everybody’s responsibility to change the plight of the planet. Get angry and act! Start by acknowledging contemporary realities. The web is full of great organizations, information and inspirational people. Greta Thunberg is vegan! There is no time to waste. Go vegan! If not for the animals, go vegan for the planet!

Liberation Berlin 
Liberation Berlin 

Didem Aydurmus is a Cultural Anthropologist with a PhD in Political Science and maintains that the latter is a subdiscipline of the former. Her areas of expertise are ethics and environmental politics, though she falls into the category generalist. She is an activist and avid defender of animal rights and the planet, hence vegan. She likes to entertain unconventional ideas and discuss tradeoffs. She works for Stefan Bernhard Eck MEP, a rare idealist amongst politicians.


The MAHB Blog is a venture of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to joan@mahbonline.org

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  • govindvkumar

    Switching from Meat to Vegetables can help to sustain this planet to an extent. But the thing is, how much practical it is to convince the people who are very much addicted to meat.

  • Greeley Miklashek

    A lovely sentiment: save the food animals? So, then, we are to stop eating meat and let the 68% of the earth’s surface vertebrate biomass die of old age and thus allow a return of wild animals to their previous habitats? Of course, we’ll need a lot of contraceptives for all those chickens, cows, sheep, pigs, etc., and then we’ll have to get them to use the contraceptives. I like it. However, the pic accompanying this article shows fierce young women hell bent on only eating vegetables, and I get that. The irony, of course, is that they are the very heart of the human overpopulation problem and I see no evidence of their desire to stop bringing excess copies of themselves into this massively overcrowded world. I don’t see any signs or placards announcing a commitment to One-child families, and that’s what’s critically important to saving the planet and every living thing on it FROM US. All the vegans in the world will not solve the human overpopulation problem that is driving us ever faster toward the extinction of the human species, along with all the other species we seem intent on dragging into the history books with us. WE HAVE MET THE PROBLEM AND WE ARE IT, vegetables or no vegetables. Stress R Us

    • Didem Aydurmus

      The author is a 34 year old female, who doesn’t have kids for that reason. 😉 Animal husbandry is typically done with artifical impregnation and most of the races would not be able to survive in the wild for a long period. It wouldn’t matter anyway, since we could just stop reproducing them. However calculation show that the current world population and beyond could be fed, if everyone switched to a plant-based diet. The fierce females on the photo are unlikely to reproduce beyond replacement rate. German woman bear 1,6 children.

      • Greeley Miklashek

        Thanks for that! However, what “calculation” does not “show”, and what I’ve discovered during a 42 year medical career is that population density stress is killing us NOW through ALL of our “diseases of civilization”, none of which are encountered by physicians treating traditional living hunter-gatherers all over the world. Since all of us humans on earth today have 99.9% identical genes, then the critical environmental factors must be (1) sparse population in small bands/clans, (2) sparse diverse diet, (3) active life style, (4) immersion in the rhythms of the natural world, and (5) isolation from all the myriad stressors built into our man-made physical environment. These H-G peoples have only one child per generation and maintain a steady small band/clan population of 40-60-100 in all cases. When these isolated folks move to cities and embrace Western culture, they get as sick as we are in 2 years! So, it’s not just whether Mother Earth can feed us or not.

        • Didem Aydurmus

          Oh, surely man is “not made” for dense city life. There are so many stress factors introduced beyond toxic stuff being in everything. Even more a reason to switch to the least violent way of living. Ahimsa.

    • Ronnie Hawkins

      “thus allow a return of wild animals to their previous habitats?” YES–that’s exactly what we need to do–one thing among many! How about this: we in the “developed” world will give up eating meat and let all those grains freed up from feeding livestock go to the people in the “developing” world so they can stop devouring all the “bushmeat” in the forests, AND we stop expanding agricultural lands altogether and start turning as much as we can after people are fed WITH PLANT FOODS back to wild nature–and we ALL drastically reduce our populations! Fair trade?

      • Greeley Miklashek

        That’s pretty much what my hero E. O. Wilson wrote in his wonderful little book, “The Future of Life”. However, historically, everytime we increase food supplies to a human population, they just expand the population to the starvation limit, which drives further development of agriculture, etc. We need a committed voluntary population reduction movement worldwide or we’re facing near-term extinction and then the grass can just grow around and over our corpses.

        • liveoak

          It is interesting how strong, and how long-lasting, the denial of human overpopulation has been, within and outside of academia. I can remember trying to discuss it with a college roommate, and she just would not get her head around it. Yes, of course we all want it to be voluntary, the result of a reasoned choice and available contraception. That could come about if a certain kind of awareness would penetrate the collective worldview that seems to be coalescing within the global media. But the social inertia of thousands upon thousands upon millions of people reinforcing the denial, maintaining a status quo wherein nature and nonhuman lives are completely erased–and future human lives are consigned to a futuristic fantasyland–is very, very strong. On the other hand, the stress of increasing numbers of people all around us, as you point out, is also on the rise, altho for some reason most people are very resistant to acknowledging this. And of course the anonymity of the modern urban center allows all sorts of psychopathologies to develop, since normal “community life” for us human primates has a certain limit size and these things can no longer be nipped in the bud. There’s something to be said for the reality of the “Dunbar number.”

          • Greeley Miklashek

            Very well said. You are a writer. Not too many of us around these days! Check-out my free online PDF, “Stress R Us”. I spent untold hours researching and compiling it and the project made me a fair writer along the way, although I’m certain much of it was channeled by the authors of the over 100 references quoted in the 623 pages (large type and extra spacing). You are a road of discovery; don’t stop now! Good Luck!