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Protecting global climate with Vegan Challenge: Interview with Paul Mahony

| April 21, 2013
An aerial photo of a human sign at St Kilda beach in Melbourne in May, 2009

Paul Mahony, one of the founders of Melbourne Pig Save, speaks to Anita Krajnc about the vegan imperative to help solve the climate crisis.

Question: What is the link between meat, dairy and the problem of climate change? What is the ecological footprint of an average meat eater compared to a vegan?

 Paul Mahony: The link involves many inter-related factors, such as livestock’s inherent inefficiency as a food source; the massive scale of the industry, including tens of billions of animals slaughtered annually; land clearing; and greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, and other warming agents.

The inherent and gross inefficiency of livestock as a food source causes us to use far more resources than would otherwise be required to obtain our nutritional requirements. In terms of land, that has resulted in the clearing of rainforest and other prime areas.

We often hear of methane (CH4) in relation to ruminant livestock. That is a critical problem, but so is CO2, due largely to the clearing of forest and other vegetation. The carbon locked in that vegetation is released as CO2, and once the vegetation is gone, we’ve lost the benefit of it drawing down carbon from the atmosphere.

A 2009 study by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency reported that a global transition to a completely animal free diet is estimated to reduce climate change mitigation costs by around 80%. Removing just meat from the diet would reduce the costs by around 70%.

The report’s abstract states: “By using an integrated assessment model, we found a global food transition to less meat, or even a complete switch to plant-based protein food to have a dramatic effect on land use. Up to 2,700 Mha of pasture and 100 Mha of cropland could be abandoned, resulting in a large carbon uptake from regrowing vegetation. Additionally, methane and nitrous oxide emission would be reduced substantially.”

Vegans are often blamed for soy production that causes large areas of Amazon rainforest to be cleared. However, most soy production is fed to animals, including pigs in China, where their numbers exceed 500 million. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has reported that around 70 percent of land cleared in the Amazon is used for cattle grazing, while much of the remainder is used for animal feedcrops.

I tend not to think in terms of an individual’s carbon footprint. I look at the overall impact of animal agriculture. Estimates of its impact vary based on the factors that are included in any analysis. For example, Australia’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency conservatively estimates that livestock are responsible for around 10% of the country’s emissions. However, that figure is based solely on enteric fermentation (a process that produces methane in the digestive system of ruminant animals) and manure management. By adding livestock-related land clearing and savannah burning, and calculating methane’s impact based on a 20-year time horizon, we increase the share, on my estimates, to around 30%. The 20-year time horizon is important, because the standard approach is to use a 100-year period. Methane breaks down in the atmosphere in around 12 years, so the 100-year measurement understates its shorter-term impact more so than the 20 year approach. (Over a 100-year time horizon, methane is around 21 times as potent as CO2 in terms global warming. Over a 20-year time horizon, it’s between 72 and 105 times as potent). A 12-year measure would be even better, but does not appear to be available. That shorter-term impact is critical when we consider climate change tipping points and the urgent need to deal with the crisis.

A team at climate change campaign group, Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), has factored in the impact of tropospheric (ground level) ozone and grassland emissions. Tropospheric ozone is formed through a series of chemical reactions involving nitrogen oxide, methane, carbon monoxide and other non-methane volatile organic compounds, which are relevant to animal agriculture. BZE anticipate that their final report, expected in late 2013, will indicate that livestock are responsible for around 50% of Australia’s emissions.

Black carbon from savanna burning is another factor in livestock’s emissions, but its impact is difficult to measure, and it has not been used in BZE’s analysis. I’ve commented on BZE’s approach in this article.

In 2009, writing in World Watch magazine, the former lead environmental adviser to the World Bank, Robert Goodland and colleague Jeff Anhang, estimated that livestock were responsible for 51% of global emissions. They included many factors that had not been accounted for in the 2006 “Livestock’s Long Shadow” report from the FAO, which had indicated a figure of 18%.

One of the approaches I’ve used in an effort to add some context to livestock’s emissions, has been to compare the emissions intensity of beef to that of aluminium. (Emissions intensity is a measure of the kilograms of greenhouse gases emitted per kilogram of product.) Aluminium smelting is incredibly emissions intensive. It consumes 16% of Australia’s (mainly coal-fired) electricity, for 0.06% of jobs and 0.23% of gross domestic product.

How does beef compare? A 2003 report commissioned by the Australian Greenhouse Office estimated that beef production was 150% more emissions intensive than aluminium smelting (that is, it was 2.5 times as emissions intensive as aluminium). That analysis was based on the carcass weight of beef. Beef’s emissions intensity is even higher when you consider the smaller portions used as food. A more recent estimate, allowing for a subsequent reduction in livestock-related land clearing, but based on the final product rather than the carcass, indicates that beef is still around 50% more emissions intensive than aluminium.

Much attention has been given to a recent TED presentation by US-based Zimbabwean farmer, Allan Savory, claiming that his “holistic resource management” form of livestock farming is beneficial in terms of revegetation and climate change. Very strong objective evidence suggests otherwise. His approach may allow revegetation on a relatively small scale, subject to adequate water resources and livestock controls, but it would never be sufficient to feed the masses.

Question: What kinds of activism are occurring around these issues, and are environmental groups making this link and campaigning on vegan diets?

Paul Mahony: From my experience, many groups campaigning for animal rights also mention the environmental impact of animal agriculture. Examples include PETA, Animals Australia and the Vegan Society, UK.

Unfortunately, however, it seems to me that most climate change campaign groups say little about the impact of animal agriculture.

I have written to groups such as the Australian Greens political party, Environment Victoria and Australian Youth Climate Coalition, who have said little or nothing about the issue. Their responses (or lack of them) have been disappointing. (You can see my comments on the Greens here.)

Beyond Zero Emissions (referred to in my response to the first question) is dealing with the issue as part of its forthcoming land use plan. A key researcher involved in BZE’s work is Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop, who is also involved in a group devoted solely to the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, the World Preservation Foundation. He is a former principal scientist with the Queensland Department of Environment and Resources Management Remote Sensing Centre.

I argue that any group that campaigns for meaningful action on climate change is wasting its time if it ignores or overlooks the issue of animal agriculture. I believe we will not overcome the crisis without a general move toward a plant-based diet (in addition to other action such as a move away from fossil fuels), and that resources must urgently be devoted to such a transition. That view is partly based on the work of Dr James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who has said that massive reforestation is needed in order to bring CO2 concentrations down to the critical threshold level of 350 parts per million. He also argues for a reduction in non-CO2 climate forcing agents, in which animal agriculture also plays a key role.

I also recently wrote to Australia’s Climate Commission after attending a presentation by Chief Commissioner Professor Tim Flannery and fellow commissioner Professor Will Steffen. Animal agriculture does not appear to be mentioned in any of the commission’s material, and was not referred to in the presentation.

In answer to my question at the presentation on this matter, the commissioners indicated that they have not investigated it due to the commission’s current resource base lacking specific expertise on the topic. A subsequent email response indicated that the commission is considering preparing a report that would include discussion of agricultural emissions and soil carbon. To what extent any such report would focus on animal agriculture is unknown.

It’s worth noting that Professor Flannery has been criticised by mathematician, researcher and writer Geoff Russell for his advocacy of meat consumption. Here’s an example of Russell’s comments.

I feel frustrated by climate change campaigners I know, who choose to largely ignore the animal agriculture issue because of their current food choices. Those choices are largely the result of cultural, social and commercial conditioning, and can easily be changed with a little conviction to do so.

Most people I deal with in the vegan community are campaigning primarily for the rights of animals. Many are also concerned about the environmental aspects, but I believe many others regard them as very much a secondary issue. Even if campaigners’ sole focus is the suffering of animals, they should be alarmed about climate change. It is causing loss of habitat and extinctions at an alarming rate. It is difficult to imagine the suffering created during such processes.

Question: What about the extent of media reporting...

Paul Mahony: Much of the mainstream media tells people what they want to hear. Doubt has been created over climate change by vested interests with massive budgets, applying sophisticated PR techniques. I’ve commented on that aspect of the problem in my article “Relax, have a cigarette and forget about climate change”, talking about the history of PR, including its pioneer, Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud.

Resources created by the tobacco industry to cast doubt over the dangers of passive smoking have been utilised by the fossil fuel industry for the same reason. Large sections of the community who want to believe the problem is not serious are generally happy to absorb false indications of doubt in the scientific community.

The Murdoch press, including The Australian and The Herald Sun newspapers in this country, are happy to contribute to any doubt that may exist in the community.

On a global scale, the issue struggles to compete against other news, such as economic melt-downs.

I’ve previously highlighted the tendency of what I consider to be a more credible media organisation, to report more on sport than on climate change (see slide 90). At least the newspaper involved in that review has been highlighting climate change issues extensively in recent times, including reports from Peter Hannam and Ben Cubby.

I’ve also reported on the fall-away in climate change reporting by mainstream US media outlets in the four years up to 2011 (page 3). It may have increased since the devastation caused by Super Storm Sandy, but in my view, the alarm bells are so muffled as to be almost totally ineffective. That’s partially because President Obama, who understands the issue, including something of livestock’s impacts, has been unwilling to treat it as the emergency it is.

In regard to my own involvement in a major mainstream media article, I was disappointed that the journalist involved was too willing to take the alternative position, without valid reasons or correctly applying some of the key principles involved. I’ve discussed that experience in my article “Does the standard of climate reporting need beefing up?”.

Certain writers, such as Mark Bittman of the New York Times, have pursued the issue of animal agriculture. I haven’t seen Bittman’s recent material, but some of his early material referred to fairly conservative figures from the UN FAO, which I mentioned in answering an earlier question. Despite that, I’m pleased he’s writing and talking about it.

I’ve also had some concerns over The Science Show on ABC Radio National in Australia, whose presenter, Robyn Williams, has been very happy to give airtime to arguments in favour of animal agriculture, without adequately considering the alternative evidence.

Independent outlets such as Climate Progress (part of Think Progress) provide excellent commentary on climate change, but I’ve seen little there on animal agriculture’s impact. For the latter, Geoff Russell’s contributions on Brave New Climate (the site of Professor Barry Brook of the University of Adelaide) are excellent.

Question: What are the possibilities for great cooperation amongst progressive social movements: animal rights, environment, labour, women's rights, development, human rights, and so forth and are there some examples of such progressive campaigns?

Paul Mahony: I haven’t looked far into this aspect of campaigning, as I have focussed very much on animal rights and the environment. It’s a good question though, and I would have thought that anyone who is concerned about the rights of an individual could easily extend that concept to include all sentient beings, and the right of those beings and future generations to live on a planet that we have protected and nurtured.

A key difficulty may be some lack of willingness by different groups to work cooperatively. That may be driven by human ego as much as anything else.

Some further reading and listening if you’re interested:

-Dec 2011 interview on Freedom of Species, Radio station 3CR, Melbourne Australia: http://podcast.3cr.org.au/pod/3CRCast-2011-12-04-93571.mp3

-October 2012 interview with Wildtime Radio, UK: http://www.mixcloud.com/WILDTIMERADIO/climate-change-revisited/

More Wildtime Radio here: http://wildtimeonline.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/climate-change-revisited.html

Some presentations and papers:

Solar or Soy: which is better for the planet (a review of animal agriculture's impact)

The urgent need for a general transition to a plant-based diet (Submission in response to National Food Plan Green Paper)

Climate change tipping points and their implications

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Paul Mahony is an environmental and animal rights campaigner who is trying to remove what he considers to be blinkers and blindspots in the community, resulting from social, cultural and commercial conditioning. You can find Paul on: Viva la Vegan; Twitter; Slideshare; Sribd; and his blogging site, Terrastendo

 

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Comments

This article by Brian Henning, "Standing in Livestock's 'Long Shadow': The Ethics of Eating Meat on a Small Planet", has a wealth of information about the environmental effects of livestock production.

http://connect.gonzaga.edu/asset/file/290/2011Henning-StandingInLivestoc...

M. Spector wrote:

Much of the plant biomass that grows to feed livestock requires very little in the way of industrial activity - for example, natural grassland, the cultivation of straw and hay, and other vegetable matter that is not fit for human consumption . . . And if capitalist agribusiness stopped feeding massive amounts of grain to quickly fatten up livestock (and their own profit margins) the overall amount of environmental degradation resulting from growing animal feed would be reduced even more, in comparison to the environmental impact of the current capitalist food system's delivery of food plants to our table.

In my article "Omissions of Emissions: a critical climate change issue", I said: "BZE has also attributed relevant grassland emissions, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, to livestock. In the Freedom of Species interview, Gerard described the 'fence line effect' in northern Australia, whereby bare ground will often exist on one side of a fence, while on the other there is knee-high native grass. The bare side will generally be owned by a pastoral company seeking to maximise its financial return. It will have increased stocking rates during times of favourable rainfall, then taken too long to reduce those rates during drought. The land becomes degraded, and carbon stores are significantly depleted."

The greenhouse gas emissions intensity and water usage of animal products are huge compared to the plant alternatives. The following tables are from my submission in response to Australia's National Food Plan green paper last year.

A recent emissions intensity figure for beef, as reported in that paper, was 30.9.

Some comparisons from the same paper:

In my mind, those plant-based emissions intensity figures are "miniscule" compared to (in this instance) that of beef.

M. Spector wrote:

You complain of "inherent and gross inefficiency" of using livestock as a food source. You don't explain what you mean by "inefficiency" (perhaps because you think it's inherent and gross and therefore self-evident). You offer Slide 29 as evidence. It shows that 58% of the earth's plant growth feeds livestock, which in turn constitutes 17% of humanity's diet. How is that inefficient?

Here's the image from my presentation, which also appears in my National Food Plan submission. It does not refer to "17% of humanity's diet".

 

The image shows that the 58% of the planet's appropriated plant growth in the year under review was fed to livestock, and provided only 17% of humanity's calorie (energy) intake. On the other hand, only 12% of the plant growth was fed directly to humans, and provided 83% of our calorie intake. For protein the comparison is around 40% from animals and 60% from plants.

I believe those figures clearly demonstrate the gross inefficiency of animals as a food source.

If the comparison was based on a business whose end product was human nutrition, rather than being based on the planet as a whole, any competent management consultant reviewing the business would recommend strongly against the animal-based approach.

You have also quoted George Monbiot. His comments are based on a 2010 book by Simon Fairlie "Meat: a benign extravagance". In my interview, I discussed a 2011 mainstream news media article that I had been involved in. I included the following comments in an email to the author of that article on 17 September 2011:

Extract of email from Paul Mahony to Sunday Age journalist, Sep 2011:

Based on Fairlie's book, Monbiot also criticises the arguments about the inefficiency of meat production. He says, 'So you take 10 units of grain and you get one unit of meat out at the other end, and that of course is an extremely wasteful way of producing food. But actually we've been doing that conversion the wrong way, because rather than comparing how much feed can be turned into meat, we should be comparing the amount of land required to grow meat with the land required to grow plant products of the same nutritional value. And when you do that you come up with radically different results and that's because many of the world's animals, mostly it has to be said in the developing world, are fed on products which humans can't eat and could not eat, often from places or processes which wouldn't have produced available food for human beings.' I have taken precisely the approach he recommends in papers that I have referred you to previously. For example, please see the tables dealing with levels of nutrition per hectare on page 3 of the following paper (also referred to in item 2 above): http://www.live.org.au/images/animals2.pdf. Once again, the land degradation arguments are also a key factor. In addition to material that I have already sent you , that issue is addressed in the following article by Geoff Russell referenced in my presentation handouts. It deals with the plight of African agriculture due to livestock production. Please see: "Burning the biosphere, boverty blues (Part II)" at http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/02/04/boverty-blues-p2/.

Monbiot refers favourably to a conversion ratio of "less than 2:1". Even if a conversion ratio at or near 2:1 were achievable (most unlikely on a scale required to feed the masses) the hypothetical management consultant I've referred to above would be horrified by that sort of figure. It's not as bad as 10:1, but still grossly inefficient.

You asked how we would turn "the human race into herbivores". Consumption of animal products would fall if we created realistic price signals by bringing what are currently environmental externalities into the price of food products. The price of animal-based foods would be much higher than at present, relative to the plant-based alternatives.

Paul Mahony wrote:
You said, "the entire food production system suffers from the same level of environmental degradation".

That's not correct. One reason, extracted from my interview: "The inherent and gross inefficiency of livestock as a food source causes us to use far more resources than would otherwise be required to obtain our nutritional requirements".


Under modern industrialized forms of plant cultivation, fossil fuels are used to power machinery and to manufacture fertilizers and pesticides. Irrigation systems deplete aquifers. Chemical runoffs pollute lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans. Forests are cleared for additional cultivation land. Soil is depleted of its nutrients. Methane and other GHG gases are produced. Biodiverse ecosystems are replaced by giant monoculture plantations of genetically identical plants.

That is what I refer to when I say "environmental degradation". And it applies whether the particular plants in question are intended to feed people or livestock. That's what I meant when I said "the same level".

But I misspoke. Actually, cultivation of crops for human consumption is more degrading to the environment than the growing of crops for animal feed. Much of the plant biomass that grows to feed livestock requires very little in the way of industrial activity - for example, natural grassland, the cultivation of straw and hay, and other vegetable matter that is not fit for human consumption - and thus leads to comparatively less environmental degradation per hectare than if the land were used to grow maize or arugula for human consumption. And if capitalist agribusiness stopped feeding massive amounts of grain to quickly fatten up livestock (and their own profit margins) the overall amount of environmental degradation resulting from growing animal feed would be reduced even more, in comparison to the environmental impact of the current capitalist food system's delivery of food plants to our table. You turn this on its head and call the latter "minuscule" compared to the former. Nobody I know of, who has a working knowledge of the modern capitalist system of food production and a social conscience, would use that word - even in a relative sense - to describe the environmental impact of this system's production of fruit and vegetables for human consumption.

You complain of "inherent and gross inefficiency" of using livestock as a food source. You don't explain what you mean by "inefficiency" (perhaps because you think it's inherent and gross and therefore self-evident). You offer Slide 29 as evidence. It shows that 58% of the earth's plant growth feeds livestock, which in turn constitutes 17% of humanity's diet. How is that inefficient? Isn't the concentration of nutrients from plants into meat an inherently "efficient" way for humans to consume those nutrients? Gorillas are alost entirely herbivorous, and they spend all their waking hours feeding and foraging in order to meet their nutritional requirements. Is that more efficient or less efficient than the omnivorous human diet?

Now, how much of that 58% of the planet's plant growth that livestock eat is the kind of highly nutritious fruits and vegetables that could instead be fed to humans? Doesn't the answer to that question have a direct bearing on the "efficiency" of feeding plants to livestock? And isn't it possible to imagine a different food production system - one not driven solely by private profit - in which, for example, (human) edible grains were taken out of animal fodder and replaced with vegetable matter that humans cannot tolerate as food?     

Almost all creatures are part of food chains. Are natural food chains inherently and grossly "inefficient"? If so, one wonders why they would have evolved through natural selection, which highly favours more efficient biological processes.

Food chains typically involve a reduction in usable biomass at each successive level up the chain, or to switch metaphors, up the steps of the food pyramid. Consider this food pyramid:

 

Ten thousand Joules of energy in plant matter ends up providing only ten Joules of energy to a snake. Is that a case of Mother Nature indulging in "inherent and gross inefficiency"? Wouldn't it be more "efficient" for the snake to eat the meadow full of flowers and skip the primary and secondary producers who concentrate the plant energy into a form (the field mouse) that the snake can eat and digest easily? Or should the snake - for efficiency's sake - spend all its waking hours (like the grasshopper) extracting nutrients from a field full of plants?

This is the way food chains work. Everyone in the food chain, except the poor guy at the bottom, gets to eat someone else; and everyone in the food chain, except the lucky guy at the top, gets eaten by someone else. It's natural and it's efficient, until capitalism interferes with it for private profit.

Turning the human race into herbivores (how, exactly? by persuasion?) is not going to save the planet. Fighting to replace capitalism, along with its rapacious, wasteful, and destructive system of food production (and for that matter, its production of every other kind of commodity) is the only way to save the planet, and all of us who live on it, from environmental ruin.


George Monbiot wrote:
[W]e've been using the wrong comparison to judge the efficiency of meat production. Instead of citing a simple conversion rate of feed into meat, we should be comparing the amount of land required to grow meat with the land needed to grow plant products of the same nutritional value to humans. The results are radically different.

If pigs are fed on residues and waste, and cattle on straw, stovers, and grass from fallows and rangelands - food for which humans don't compete - meat becomes a very efficient means of food production. Even though it is tilted by the profligate use of grain in rich countries, the global average conversion ratio of useful plant food to useful meat is not the 5:1 or 10:1 cited by almost everyone, but less than 2:1. If we stopped feeding edible grain to animals, we could still produce around half the current global meat supply with no loss to human nutrition: in fact it's a significant net gain.

M. Spector, I agree with Razmac, who said you may need to read the interview again. You said, "the entire food production system suffers from the same level of environmental degradation".

That's not correct. One reason, extracted from my interview: "The inherent and gross inefficiency of livestock as a food source causes us to use far more resources than would otherwise be required to obtain our nutritional requirements".

Slide 29 of my "Solar or Soy" presentation gives some idea of the comparative returns of animal versus plant foods: http://tinyurl.com/8eb98sv. The better the returns, the lower the level of resources needed to produce comparable levels of nutrition.

You've also said, "Vegans like to imagine that growing human food crops doesn't pollute the land, doesn't contribute to soil erosion and degradation, doesn't emit greenhouse gases, doesn't deplete and contaminate the fresh water aquifers and the oceans themselves, and doesn't involve cruelty and suffering inflicted on sentient beings".

I haven't suggested a vegan diet is completely benign, but it's the comparative impact that's important. A vegan diet's environmental impacts are miniscule compared to those of the animal-based alternative.

Typical Rebecca West "discussion" strategy: don't actually demonstrate your alleged superior education by presenting opposing arguments and facts, but simply label others as ignorant, as you drive by. Very effective!

Congrats M. Spector. Another fantasy-fed rant based on gross generalizations and exaggeration. I'm not vegan, but I've taken the time to educate myself to the extent that I can recognize ignorance-based rhetoric when I read it on the subject. You might try doing the same
Great interview. Your point regarding the amount of resources it takes to create meat in comparison to plant based food, may not resonate enough. M.Spectator may need to read the interview again, however brings up another very interesting point; HUMAN POPULATION growth (but we'll leave that for another interview). I find when people feel their "values" are being questioned, they go on the defensive, so I am not surprised to read "potty comments". Paul, I can see you have done a lot of work here. I hope to support you to continue this much needed work. BTW: I am Vegan, and I don't eat rice OR corn.

More nonsense from the vegan lobby.

In their zeal to expose the planet-destroying character of capitalist livestock production (which is very real), they assume that capitalist food crop production is, by contrast, sustainable, humane, and planet-friendly. It's not. Not just the production of meat, milk, eggs, cheese, and fish is unsustainable under capitalist production methods; the entire food production system suffers from the same level of environmental degradation, because profit always comes before sustainability and environmental conservation.

The vegans don't understand that. They think capitalists would stop clearing forests for agricultural land if everyone in the world stopped eating meat and switched to a diet of vegetable matter. Where do they imagine the multinational agribusiness corporations would look for additional land to grow the food crops required to replace the sudden disapprearance of meat, eggs, cheese, milk, and fish consumption? That's right, they'd still be clearing the forests and replacing them with unsustainable monoculture plantations. Instead of growing animal fodder they would grow human fodder. Same difference.

Vegans like to imagine that growing human food crops doesn't pollute the land, doesn't contribute to soil erosion and degradation, doesn't emit greenhouse gases, doesn't deplete and contaminate the fresh water aquifers and the oceans themselves, and doesn't involve cruelty and suffering inflicted on sentient beings - namely the world's peasantry and agricultural workers.

Vegans like to pretend that eating things like rice and corn are environmentally virtuous under the present capitalist system of food production. They like to ignore the fact that rice cultivation contributes about 20% of the planet's anthropogenic methane emissions, and that conditions of work in the third world rice paddies are medieval (only animal suffering seems to concern them). They like to pretend that corn isn't grown with excessive amounts of fossil-fuel-based fertilizers, doesn't use massive amounts of irrigation from underground aquifers, and isn't sprayed with pesticides.

Vegans have no program, no plan for the revolutionary overhaul of the system of carbon-intensive factory farming that brings fruits and vegetables to our table. And make no mistake - a revolutionary change in the world's food production system is necessary if we are to meet the crises of climate change and environmental devastation.

The planet's environmental problems are above all social problems, and require solutions based on social justice, not individual lifestyle changes. I see nothing in Mahony's interview that suggests he understands that, or has any idea that environmental politics are necessarily class politics. 

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