Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

A New Pledge of Allegiance

Written by Lee Hall

The Vegan’s Loyalty to 
Our Precious Biosphere 

More than seven billion people live on Earth today. But our ecological footprint is far bigger, because we also breed billions of farm animals. All those meat and dairy processing plants emit more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. Plus, cows and other ruminant animals directly emit the potent greenhouse gas methane when they digest plant protein. 

Then there’s the runoff that oozes from animal farms. It’s full of waste matter and pollutants that seep into waterways, cause ever-expanding dead zones in bays and oceans, and endanger animals such as sea lions and orcas. 

People might tune out climate-change information because it’s such a massive issue. But we can feel empowered, because the solutions start in the most local of places: our gardens and kitchens. 

We often hear that “food miles from farm to plate” matter a lot, environmentally. And that’s true! But deriving our protein and other nutrients from plant-based meals is even more effective. 

One person shifting one day each week to fully vegetarian meals is comparable to reducing one’s driving by 1,160 miles per year. This means a seven-days-a-week shift would save the equivalent of 8,120 miles driven annually. Yes, go vegan and it’s like not driving your car more than 8,000 miles each year. 

As politically engaged individuals, we can also press our government to shift subsidies to the direct growing of crops for people—to food, not feed. Today, there are enormous federal subsidies for farmers who, under the status quo, grow cheap crops as animal feed—leading habitat destruction, the loss of biodiversity, and high pesticide use. 

The government subsidies for animal agribusiness keep supporting the mealtime habits of previous generations. A big part of changing them involves the voting we do with our grocery carts.  As habits shift, economies will shift. 

Land use would be strikingly more efficient if we feed ourselves, rather than feed animals in order to eat them.  Grazing land could be retired from use; natural habitat could be restored. This is environmentalism in action, and many people are making it an everyday habit. They have pledged allegiance to our one-of-a-kind biosphere—that is, to the future of life on our planet. Have you pledged to join in? 


This article was first published in Healthy and Humane Observer, and is republished here with their kind permission. 

Lee Hall, a 30-year vegan, offers regular analyses of agribusiness and habitat, environmental law, personhood and feminism. Lee’s most recent book is On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth. Lee has taught immigration & refugee law and animal law, and served for more than a decade as legal officer for the NGO Friends of Animals. Lee is currently pursuing an LL.M. at Vermont Law School with a focus on climate change.  

Read more from Lee at Vegan Place: 

Vegan Place: Challenging human supremacy, and living day by day.

The source of information on food miles and emissions for this article is: Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, “Food Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States” – 42 Environmental Science Technology, at 3508-13 (2008). 

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I love this idea! When people make a pledge to do something, they're far more likely to carry through with their actions and take their pledge seriously. 

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