Eat local, learn about your food, make good food choices and make sure that those producing your food respect the land, the people, and the animals that populate it says Sophie Bardos
Our food system is a huge, interconnected web that stretches across the globe. Food is energy and food is power.
The decisions I make in the grocery store and in my kitchen have far-reaching impacts and consequences, from wages of cacao farmers in Ecuador, to viability of local farmers markets. When I choose what to have for dinner, I’m not just choosing what to eat, I’m choosing whether or not to support the industries that have made the food accessible to me. That is a lot of responsibility.
My Vegan Journey.
In 2016, I visited an animal sanctuary in upstate New York. The farm advocated for the switch to a vegan lifestyle.
I had been eating meat since I could remember. The sanctuary workers, along with a very lovely turkey named Ingrid, made a compelling argument against animal agriculture. I have not eaten meat since.
After watching documentaries like Food, Inc, Cowspiracy, and Blackfish, I felt as if being vegan was the best thing I could do for the environment, and to erase the harm that I had been causing the animals. I changed my food choices and believed that the only way to live with compassion and to not cause harm to those around me was to be vegan. But I was still eating chocolate, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and bread, none of which I knew the origins of. I was content to eat any food that did not come from animals.
The fallacy of “Cruelty Free”.
See, for people living with exploitation, violence and oppression all over the world, veganism may not be the only cause they choose, or at an equal priority . That, in it of itself, shoots my convictions in the foot.
Indigenous farmers around the world are being exploited for food that are now being appropriated by vegans—foods they once produced and personally consumed in moderation. The sudden mass production of foods such as chickpeas and avocados has had a devastating impact on the local price of the plants, the welfare of the farmers, and the land itself.
Veganism and vegetarianism is a bonafide, and profitable, industry that flourishes by way of corporate control. There is no way in which supporting this harm and damage can be considered “cruelty free.”
The Power of food Sovereignty and choice.
True sustainability comes from our own backyards. Instead of focusing on specific diets or lifestyles, real systemic change happens when we question the foundations of our food system.
Our food system is based on a globalized capitalist system.
Alternatively, food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally-appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.
In everyday life, this philosophy can be use to make good food choices, in learning how to grow your own food, eating locally and seasonally, supporting local businesses, joining a CSA (community-supported agriculture), and looking into farm-workers rights organizations.
“Life requires taking of life or taking from life, but life does not require irreverence or disrespect for the life taken—any life” – John Ikerd
Animals are still suffering. People are still suffering. Respect for human life requires respect for all life, from animals to plants. Under capitalism, there is no single diet that has no negative environmental and ethical impacts. But that doesn’t mean that we’re powerless.
Eat local, learn about your food, and make sure that those producing your food respect the land, the people, and the animals that populate it.
Feature Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash