Social justice does not start with consumerism, but with fairness.
Changing to a plant-based diet does have environmental and animal welfare benefits. But the impact is low relative to Fair Start family reforms. It’s best to do both, if you can.
You hear much about food reforms because many companies, and the nonprofits and media outlets that front for them, want to sell you food products. They ignore family reforms because they can sell more products to a growing population.
Here are a few myths and facts:
- Myth: Vegan food policies save animals.
- Fact: Food policies have had little impact on animals relative to the trend towards smaller families. Why? Despite major investments in food reform, the vast majority of the humans we create eat animal products and devastate animals in other ways.
- Myth: Vegan food policies mitigate the climate crisis.
- Fact: Family policies have an exponentially greater reduction in emissions. Why? Humans have impacts on the environment well beyond diets.
- Fact: Vegan food policies do nothing to alleviate the driver of inequity: Family policies that do little to ensure birth and developmental equity and replicate the effects of colonization and slavery. Many funders plant-based campaigns personally benefited from racist and ecocidal family policies that robbed black children of the wealth they deserve. Fairness is the last thing they want to talk about.
- Fact: Vegan food policies do nothing to ensure democracy, whereas Fair Start family reforms can literally empower people, right from the start. Remember, many companies urging plant-based products are also busy undercutting democracy.
Again, eating veggie burgers is great. But it cannot replace fairness, and all of the money flowing into distracting people from effective reforms will cost human and nonhuman lives, lives that could have been saved through family reforms.
As an animal rights attorney I was funded to file suits on behalf of vegan companies but prohibited by my employer from talking about the myths and facts above, or litigating to align the relevant laws with rights-based family reforms that would have actually halted the fact that – on balance – we were not benefitting animals, or furthering the values above.
One solution to this problem is to set a certification standard that would require entities to deal with these issues in order to make claims about impact.
If someone tries to reinvent social justice as a form of consumerism, beware, and get the facts.
Don’t fall for distractive that’s just trying to sell you something.
And take action to ensure truly fundamental, and just, change – a fair start in life for all kids.