October 4, 2019

Knock On Wood

Searches via Google for ‘vegan’ have quadrupled in the past 5 years, which is how we would measure a rising global movement in the 21st century. The foundation for a plant-based diet is not however, newly formed, and the case in favour moves from environmental, spiritual and even economic spheres.

Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the most profound thinkers to early on declare an ethical position on veganism, stating, “My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.” The morality based and ethical arguments for the adoption of a plant-based lifestyle are difficult to ignore, and so they are simply and willfully ignored by those who have an alternative view. That alternative view, is certainly a western view with Judeo-Christian roots that most of us need a cause to analyse. 

So let’s start with where it all began (or ve-gan – because we can’t resist a good pun).

In contrast to many of the eastern world views, such as Hinduism and Buddhism which are spiritually grounded in a karmic balance sheet that makes meat consumption an easy way to avoid ‘the bad place’, according to western tradition, humans were awarded the right of ‘dominion’ over the earth. The developing culture took this as a ‘master-servant’ relationship over the resources of the earth. 

Dominion is a funny word, that does translate as sovereignty or control – but it is the understanding of the responsibility of leadership that has altered our interpretation of this right – into a more balanced responsibility. 

Traditional monarchs that have survived the revolutions the 19th and 20th centuries were leaders who understood that their dominion, their sovereignty, was rooted in care and concern for the welfare of their subjects much more than it was a right to reign ‘over’ them.

The evolution of thinking has led to the ethical ‘Dominion Movement’, famously captured in the viral campaign ‘Watch Dominion’. Dominion is a documentary that seeks to challenge the ethical position of dominion ‘over’ animals to create a husbandry of them, and indeed a broader look at the use and sustainability of natural resources more generally. 

While that movement has been successful in turning ‘hearts’ towards a cruelty and animal-free lifestyle, the emergent interest seems to be more about turning ‘heads’ with the business case heating up and taking stock.

Veganism has found an unlikely group of advocates in the tech hub of San Francisco who now see a plant-based lifestyle as a ‘smart’ choice, with a strong business case that can claim ethical, social and environmental outcomes as a very happy by-product.

One such company making waves is the meat-alternative ‘tech’ company, Impossible Foods – check them out at https://impossiblefoods.com/. Burger King in the US now has a meatless whopper on the menu, gaining ascendence in the fast-food market using an ‘impossible’ meatless “beef” pattie that fools even the most reluctant plant-doubter.

Like all lifestyle choices, a plant-based lifestyle is a choice and that choice is best made from an informed place. With a rising research tide devoted to knowing more, learning more and developing attractive alternatives to meat – it is no wonder the meat-free lifestyle is moving from the fringe and settling upon a much more humane ‘middle’.