There are dozens of issues about which I feel passionate about. I don’t think any pair of them should be linked to each other by advocacy groups, even if I agree with both.
I was having a discussion today about vegetarianism and someone thought it was linked to zero population growth and extinctionalist ideologies.
It’s two unrelated issues. I vehemently disagree with the binding of these two issues. Vegetarianism and veganism as a general movement in the US is mostly stalled. What signs for optimism there is, is that many people see vegetarianism as an avenue to better health and longer life. There is a scientific basis for this: diets with more plant matter, less cholesterol and saturated fat, few total calories reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Why would someone want to become a vegetarian– a choice that requires re-evaluating your cooking plans, patterns of socializing around food, sometimes ones tastes and preferences for food and add to that an expectation to follow the ideologies of some current vegetarians?
The Environment. Diet has an environmental impact, that can’t be denied. Farming is the largest single modification that man has made to the planet. Factory farming and farming the extra acres needed to support animal husbandry make matters worse. All in all, each person that become a vegetarian, for what ever reasons, and regardless to what other decisions that person makes, will be improving the state of the world’s environment. Why should we only welcome people to the vegetarian club if they promise to check their aspirations for family at the door?
Zero Population Growth on its own merits. ZPG is the idea that people are the problem and fewer are better. How many fewer? Should we try to get back to the population of medieval Europe? 1940? The time of cro-mangon man, say 40,000 humans world wide? Exactly what it is today? This decision can’t have a moral answer. The populations of the various countries of the world are growing at different rates. What races, religions, tribes shall we suppress to achieve ZPG? Given that Western Europe and the US already have declining populations, ZPG represents unexamined racisim and xenophobia. If we really do have an excess of people, if we really are over the carrying limit of the earth’s ecosystem, then who can choose who will stop having children, whose populations shall be supressed?
ZPG as a voluntary or involuntary action. The idea of ZPG is limited to western intellectuals and third world countries with governments influence by ZPG ideas. The forced sterilization programs of India not only where atrocities against human rights, but grossly underestimate the fecundity of those who escape sterilization. Humans can have more children than can possibly be offset by a force sterilization program.
How about voluntarily not having children? Well, again, this is an idea that is popular among college educated intellectuals of the west. All in all, they probably represent a few hundred thousand people. The voluntary sterilization and extirpation of the all left leaning US citizens may be music to the ears of conservatives– but if it worked, it would spell the end to the progressive movement in the US. And to what end? A few hundred thousand fewer progressives in a world that if we are to believe ZPG ideology, is over populated by billions of people.
Neo-shaker progressive are the problem not the solution.
Adoption. Children should have parents– I fully support empty orphanages. I don’t support the idea of economic midwifery. When upper middle class women talk about adoption as a morally progressive personal action, they are not talking about adopting crack babies in the US or children ravaged by fetal alcohol syndrome in Russia or kinds from Afganistan who’ve lost their legs to land mines. They are talking about adopting healthy children.
The demand for healthy children up for adoption far exceeds the supply and the market is responding. It is morally repugnant that educated upperclass women would rather that poor, economically disadvantaged women of China and South-East Asia. Adoption brokers in the hunt for healthy babies are inadvertently creating a market for babies. The market trade in humans is repugnant. The idea that we privileged few of the west who already contract out the nasty jobs of working with toxic glues for making shoes, are also contracting out the dangerous job of having babies. Worse, the pre-natal and neo-natal care that can expected in a third world country would be considered criminal neglect in the suburban hospitals of America.
I urge my readers, all 15 or so of them, to consider vegetarianism, children, family and adoption on their own individual merits– not as a package of seemly related beliefs. These problems are so important to address, that we should address them in a way that will encourage people to take action– not in a take-it-all or leave-it-all fashion that ultimately leads to complete inaction.