Treehugger: October Posts

Today, Nov. 1st, marks the celebration of World Vegan Day -- a holiday I'd given little thought to until I began my tenure at Treehugger.

As a teenager, I was a "militant" vegan, meaning that at every opportunity (read: whenever people were eating) I would "inform" them of the "truth." Every open topic school paper I wrote surrounded these very issues. Back then, I absolutely compared chicken farms to concentration camps, oblivious to the hurtful impact of such a statement. And yet, I excelled in moral arguments (thanks, racism). I could spout the numbers by rote and quote Albert Schweitzer. My impassioned polemics gained me high speech scores with adults… and low cool points with my peers.

But it turns out that people of all ages don’t like to be nagged or guilted or pressured into changing patterns deeply ingrained in their personal and cultural identities. Slowly but surely, I learned that I got more flies with (vegan) honey than I got with appeals to virtue ethics. And for a long time, I was an apologetic vegan who would lapse in and out of my food practice. I hated making everyone else feel inconvenienced because of my “principles.” In striving for cool, I’d lost a bit of my fire. This new position has rekindled that flame.

My new article on the ethics of eggs had me revisiting the statistics (and inevitable video footage) that gave me irrefutable proof that eggs cause harm to chickens, poultry processing workers, and customers all those many years ago. The recent salmonella outbreak speaks volumes to what I saw again and again in the research:

Any eggs created inside of the industrial farming system have far-reaching consequences on a number of sustainability scales, including zoonotic disease.

It’s a very bleak reality, but I still feel hopeful. Conversation subjects that once ensured I’d be never be invited back to so-and-so’s birthday are now all the rage at crisis-management-COVID parties. Who knew I was 20 years ahead of the game?

Oh, yeah. Me. I knew. But I forgot. Thanks to you all for helping me remember.

📸: Timothy Sayre

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