Yes, you heard me right. Some of you may scoff, choke a little bit, or raise an eyebrow, but I’d wish for you to read on first.
As many vegans tout this—potentially from the fact there has been a rise in health consciousness and environmental awareness—unfortunately, the change of heart will not be the reason for the collective conversion but because the worsening effects of climate change will dictate so.
The Philippines is no stranger to the climate crisis—having always ranked as part of the top five most vulnerable to climate change according to the Global Climate Risk Index. We already racked up trillions of pesos worth of damage since 2010. Having experienced a climate catastrophe yet again through Typhoon Paeng, I need not elaborate on the grave loss of lives and money.
The top contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, deforestation, and biodiversity loss is the animal agriculture industry. The sector’s emission is more than that of planes, trains, ships, buses, cars, and all manner of vehicles combined.
Based on a new model developed by scientists from Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, and published in the open-access journal PLoS Climate: a 68 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions effect can be achieved —through the year 2100— if animal agriculture is to be phased out over the next 15 years. Based on that computation, imagine our chance in reversing the trajectory of climate change.
The livestock sector alone is said to be the largest source of water pollution due to animal wastes, fertilizers, and pesticides. This contributes to eutrophication, health problems, and the emergence of antibiotic resistance. United Nations Environment Programme predicted there will be fishless oceans by 2050 because of climate change, microplastics, toxic waste dumps, and the seafood industry. This industry even decimates non-seafood creatures—mostly endangered— through their bykill or bycatch.
In terms of social repercussions, it is documented that slaughterhouses cause post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis in their workers. This does not include the prolific unfair wages and illegal practices that happen under butchery and animal husbandry.
Another injustice is the diversion of global grains and plant produce used to feed food animals, especially cattle, yet the industry only provides 18 percent of the world’s calories. These feeds could have fed the world’s starving 14 times over. There is no food shortage—only food injustice, which is an automatic consequence of our addiction to meat and animal by-products.
Indigenous tribes, earth’s biggest ecosystem defenders, are being oppressed and massacred by animal industry moguls who are grabbing their lands left and right. Acres of the Amazon Rainforest are cleared every second for cattle ranches.
The biggest challenge is that humans being humans, our overriding “need” and “cravings” to consume animals, supersedes our cognition of scientific evidence. This is why we are failing in the climate arena, and the unanimity to put forward a bold and solid global plan.
Speaking of plans, the group Vegans of Manila took on a grassroots plan by establishing Vegfest Pilipinas.
VegFest is an international celebration wherein the vegan lifestyle and philosophy are promoted via food, speakers, performances, film-showing, and merchandise. The very first VegFest was created by Toronto Vegetarian Association back in 1985.
The first year of VegFest Pilipinas was 2016, and it was just a pocket space with a few numbers of merchants in Eastwood. Through the years, it has greatly evolved. More people participating, more volunteers, more beneficiaries, and more eye-opening talks; thus, more people becoming aware of the advocacy. No wonder VegFest Pilipinas still holds the record for the biggest vegan festival in the whole of Asia!
The year 2020 was a special international online event with renowned figures Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Capt. Paul Watson, international animal activist Milo Runkle, and the Golden Vegan Athlete Fiona Oakes as our keynote speakers.
In 2021, a zero-waste vegan community outreach in 10 Metro Manila barangays was held.
In 2022, we’ll be back again in a face-to-face celebration with the usual cooking demos, film showing, live performances, games, and raffles.
As always, 100 percent of the profits of VegFest will go directly to beneficiaries. This year, the beneficiaries are the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center (PPBCC) Foundation and SIFCare Foundation. The venue for the two-day festival of VegFest Pilipinas 2022 on Nov. 19 and 20 is The Spine in Blue Bay Walk.
The theme this year is “Intersectional Veganism” where the anti-speciesism movement is linked to different fights against oppression and abuse. There’ll be speakers who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community and human and environmental rights activists.
There will also be a film showing of the documentary film Delikado, which follows the deadly struggle of indigenous land defenders in Palawan.
I will also be presenting my piece entitled “Mitakuye Oyasin: We are all connected,” which is focused on the recognition of interbeing and empathy as fundamental to solving ecological problems.
As Greta Thunberg emphasized, we already have the technological and technical solutions to climate change. This is not an environmental issue anymore. It is rather a spiritual and ethical one already. We have forgotten that we are connected to the natural world and whatever we do to even just one species we do unto ourselves.
About the author:
Peachie Dioquino-Valera is a Filipina Climate Reality Leader and a volunteer Renewable Energy and Food Security Cluster member of The Climate Reality Project. She is also known as Peachie Keen & Green!, a social media platform of hers where she shares her environmental and social justice activism, citizen science, and conservation works. The other hats that Peachie wears are the talent, spirit science researcher and counsel, and the futures thinking/foresight trainer hat.
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