Not long ago, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released their annual report on world hunger, The State of Food Insecurity in the World. Unsurprisingly, the Report shed particular light upon the economic crisis and its relation to food security, arguing that it is different to other crises for three reasons. Firstly, it has affected large parts of the world simultaneously, undermining traditional coping mechanisms; second, it followed hot on the heels of the food and fuel crisis of 2006-2008; and third, increased integration of developing economies into the world economy has made them volatile to market activity. World hunger is on the rise again, cracking 1.02 billion people this year, a sixth of the world’s population. Encouragingly, the FAO recognises that this current state of crisis is primarily structural, reflecting the fragility of our food systems on both a national and global level. While their recommended panaceae (investments in agriculture, the strengthening of social safety nets and the institutionalisation of the right to food) seek to address these problems, they sadly neglect to mention one of the simplest and most effective mechanism for combating world hunger: going vegetarian or vegan.
There are many reasons for choosing the vegan way of life: Ethical, spiritual, environmental, and physical. My own motivations are a combination of the above, but one aspect that I would like to focus on here is the environmental consequences of meat and dairy production.
Many commentators (indeed, many of my vegan friends!) consider this to be a secondary consideration. They believe that it is the suffering of the animals concerned that must take primacy. Perhaps this is the purists’ dislike of anthropocentric considerations slipping in to what ‘should’ be a movement for the rights of animals. Perhaps it is a form of ‘green fatigue’ brought on by the recent trend to frame any lecture or article – on any subject and however strained – in terms of ‘climate change’.
It’s not necessary to look very far to find the inspiration behind the Society of Legal Vegetarians and Vegans (SoLVe). As I see it, we formed the group to recognise the obvious connection between veganism and better laws governing animals.
Over the past seven years, I’ve consistently propounded the idea that we cannot simply rely upon the law to protect animals from cruelty. As drafted, our laws offer lots of window dressing, but in reality are little more than a series of loopholes and exemptions, all designed to allow us to express outrage at those who beat up dogs and cats, and simultaneously exculpate those responsible for the vast majority of animal suffering: people involved in the industrial production of animal products.
Welcome to the Society of Legal Vegans and Vegetarians’ blog: The Solution. We are a loose collective of vegan and vegetarian law students, graduates, and academics from Auckland, New Zealand.
Finally, you can find an introduction to veganism and vegetarianism right here.