Veganism and Creating a Shift in Power

Today, Frances Moore Lappé was interviewed on Democracy Now! about her new book Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity & Courage in a World Gone Mad. I recommend checking out the interview; a lot of the things that Lappé talks about are relevant to veganism.

Lappé discusses how the global food crisis is ideological and how this ideology has lead us to "accept a power-centralizing, power-concentrating economy" against our "food-sharing instinct." She also talks about models throughout the world where people are ending hunger, and the shift from things that make us dependent to the empowerment of ourselves and community. Lappé ends by asking,

are we creating that shift in power? Are we making it sustainable so that people want to remain engaged and so that we are constantly mentoring and bringing new people in to understand that the earth is abundant? It's a question of how do we together create communities to align with the earth's natural abundance.

Questions like these have long been part of the vegan movement. In Why Vegan: The Ethics of Eating & the Need for Change, Kath Clement writers:

It is in fact the ghastly pseudo-logic of economics which has produced starvation in a world of plenty. Surely we need to bring human and environmental factors into the equation. Our true resources lie not in gold bullion and "future markets" but in the richness of the land and the skill of the people.

Unfortunately, some activists and organizations now preach unquestioned acceptance of a power-centralizing, power-concentrating economy in the name of "convenience" (see, "Setting Priorities," "Building Bridges?," and "Effective Advocacy").

In "A View from Behind the Counter" from Manifestos on the Future of Food & Seed (South End Press, 2007), Jamey Lionette says:

It is nice to believe that eating is a revolutionary act, but sooner or later someone is going to have to call this system out. When a few people start ruining our food, we must take action against those people. When a system has failed, we must change that that system. When we are perpetuating that system because of our laziness and lust for convenience, then we must change, or else we will collapse.

Although Lionette is not a vegan, these words better reflect veganism than the marketplace ideology promoted by the three articles linked above. Even as early as the 1940s, vegans realized that the system had failed and must be radically changed. If we are going to create the shift in power that Lappé talks about, then we'll need the clarity, creativity, and courage, to challenge those who urge us (often in the name of "veganism") to perpetuate the power-concentrating system because of what Lionette rightly calls "our laziness and lust for convenience."