Since you’ve already undoubtedly caught up on all your summer reading, it’s time to revisit the book store and fill up your brain and shelves with new, enlightening animal-related reads. My current recommendation is Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly by James E. McWilliams.
Though I certainly don’t agree with everything McWilliams has to say, his overall message makes some compelling points – especially coming from a hardcore environmentalist. Regarding land-based animal consumption he says, “Indeed, I’ve tried to find a rationalization that would allow the serious environmentalist to enjoy his meat and wear his green stripes too. Regrettably, I could find none, and thus I’m left to argue that if you want to start changing the environment with your diet, one of the most productive things you can do is quit eating meat.” As Stewart David noted in his recent article, “Greenwashed,” the uber-popular “locavore” movement has many flaws that are only now just penetrating the surface of the mainstream.
In the section of his book called “Grass-fed, Free-range, and Other So-Called Solutions,” McWilliams states, “Grazing animals to feed millions of people, as we’ve seen, degrades the land, water, and air. Grass-fed cows are indeed fed a more natural diet than conventional ones, but they still trample riparian zones and compact the soil into runoff-friendly cement, in the same way that conventional cattle do. As we’ve seen, grass-fed cows produce more methane than conventional cows, a gas that’s much more potent than carbon in generating global warming.”
McWilliams hits on many controversial points, and I strongly doubt you will agree with all of them. I know I didn’t, and I’m by no means endorsing his POV as a whole. But the reason I’m so gung-ho about this book (seriously, you must get it immediately) is because the science behind his chapter about the environmental repercussions of meat, no matter how the animals are raised, is profound.
Oh right. But there’s a recession and we can’t afford to buy new books. Well, guess what? We’re all in luck because there’s this building in town that lets us read books for free!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Libraries are among the coolest places on earth. Not only do they trust you to borrow books and DVDs, but they also present a perfect opportunity to educate people about veganism and animal protection issues. With school starting up again, library traffic will surely be in full-swing; so jump on that bandwagon and ask to set up a display!
When setting up a library display, be sure to feature some of your favorite pro-animal or vegan-themed books. Needless to say, this is an excellent opportunity to feature Gene Baur’s book, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food. You can do this at your big fancy town library, or if you're a kid, you also have the option of setting up a display at your school’s library. Oh, and take pictures, then send them my way. We will happily feature your efforts in an upcoming entry of Making Hay.
Don’t forget to also ask your lovely librarian to stock those books you love so much (like Farm Sanctuary and Just Food). Oftentimes, if they don’t already have your favorites in stock, they will happily and eagerly accept your book donations. Giving your slightly used animal rights books to the library is also a terrific way of clearing off your shelves to make room for new great reads.