The righteousness of the politically pure

The Standard has an anonymous Guest Post this morning promoting today as World Vegetarian Day.

I agree that a vegetarian lifestyle is the most sustainable lifestyle, and I think promoting it through having a World Vegetarian Day is a good idea. But I can’t agree with the conclusion of the post:

To put it simply, you cannot be a socialist, a greenie or any kind of progressive and eat meat.

That is like saying you can’t be a socialist if you own property, or that you can’t be a green if you drive a car. It is that sort of holier than thou self-righteous attitude that puts a lot of people off socialist and green politics.

As a Green, I acknowledge the diversity within our Party, and acknowledge that different people will have different ways of expressing their greenness, and different levels of sacrifice in their personal lives they are prepared to make to do so.

I choose not to drive a car, but I choose to eat meat. Why am I any less green than someone who does the opposite?

6 thoughts on “The righteousness of the politically pure

  1. Do you think you need to eat meat to survive or is it the taste that attracts you?

    If the taste, then you have a choice. Yes organic meat is doable but if it’s not organic then you may well be buying your meat and milk from the crafars – your choice but I wouldn’t call it green.

    As for the guestpost comment – well even within vegetarism there is a spectrum of views and that is a view held legitimately by some.

  2. For the record, Marty, what meat I do eat is organic. And, yes, it is the taste that attracts me.

    I do understand that there are a small number of people who do need to eat meat or meat/fish derived products for their health – those whose skin does not synthesise Vitamin D and those with Crohn’s disease / irritable bowel syndrome, for example.

    As I posted, I agree that vegetarianism is the most sustainable lifestyle. I just don’t like being told I am not green because I occasionally eat organic meat.

  3. Pingback: Kiwipolitico » Blog Archive » Maybe the greens are doomed after all

  4. The only clarification to the original post I would make would be “you cannot be a socialist, a greenie or any kind of progressive without having seriously considered going vegan.”

    Obviously commenting on people’s diets makes people sensitive, but you should know why you’re not vegan (if you’ve decided not to be) in response to the environmental and social effects of livestock farming.

  5. I agree that talking in absolutes tends to scare people off.

    What is really needed is for our economic system to remove some of the endemic “the rich get richer” bias, and to make the price more fairly reflect the cost to society.

    If everyone got paid based on how much effort they put in to helping society (rather than how much they can make on speculative activities or in overpaid executive roles), and meat producers had to buy their emissions and effluent and water rights at auction from a limited supply and pass on the costs, no one would need to feel guilty – they would have to work harder or give up something else to get their meat. The problem is, our current ETS is watered down and subsidises pollution at the public’s expense, so when someone does something like eat meat, everyone else is paying the costs. We are all also paying the costs of subsiding others too, so you are justified in being behind a small amount of emissions.

    If your damage to the earth is below your share of the total damage that can be sustainably done by everyone in the world, then you are doing well, and can call yourself environmentally friendly.

    But it is still worth trying to get others to do their bit too!

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