Perhaps the most important aspect of veganism’s rising star is its emergence in discussions of climate change. As the ravages of animal agriculture on the environment gain notice, veganism might just be the holy grail of personal activism not just for animals and human health, but for the planet. A number of analyses have fingered meat and dairy as leading culprits driving global warming. Perhaps most notable is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore), whose report concluded that animal agriculture contributes more to global greenhouse gas emissions (about 18%) than the whole transportation sector (13.5%). In just the past fortnight veganism has appeared twice (favorably) in articles on climate change published in the Washington Post.
Ironically, world leaders seem to be ignoring the message. In one of the above-mentioned Post pieces reporting on the recent climate change summit in Mexico, nothing about food choices was mentioned from the discussions of world leaders and policymakers. But the accompanying photo showed activists outside the venue urging people to “Be Veg, Go Green 2 Save the Planet!”
You might wonder what all this has to do with The Inner Lives of Animals? Everything. Picture sitting on a hay bale in a barn amongst a menagerie of creatures: a couple of pigs, a pair of sheep, a goat, a flock of chickens and a few turkeys. A cow approaches and sniffs your hair. You hold out a hand and feel her warm breath against your fingers. These are the animals you spare each year when you become vegan. About ninety-five animals in all. If everyone went vegan, there would of course be a lot fewer farmed animals. That’s a good thing as most are born into lives of misery. Those remaining would be given a decent life with the chance to experience the inner lives nature intended for them-like the lucky ones who ended up at animal sanctuaries.