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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Year of Plenty

Is Vegan the New Locavore?

As the great debate about food and the environment has evolved in recent years the argument that eating local is a good way to cut down on carbon emissions has lost its luster. If food is being shipped on average over 1500 miles to the store, it would seem to reason that eating local would take a big bite out of our carbon footprint. This is true to a certain extent but in the whole food chain it turns out that it's other variables like the kinds of food and the agricultural/livestock practices that are a much larger piece of the carbon pie. Some have even debated the math of multiple farmers driving to market vs. one big truck driving to the grocery store. There are plenty of other reasons to eat local, so I haven't gotten too worked up about this, but it is interesting to see the carbon debate shifting from transportation of food to the issue of eating meat. The UN reports that livestock emissions account for 18% of worldwide carbon emissions, more than that caused by transportation.

Some have proposed Meatless Mondays, others choose to cut way back on meat consumption, and some see it as an opportunity to promote a vegan lifestyle where not only do you avoid eating animals and animal products, you also shun the use of leather, silk, wool and any other animal byproduct.

There's an article in Sundays NY Times promoting veganism. It's a little bit overbearing. Here's a sampling of comments from the article;

Even if it is raised “free range,” it still lives a life of pain and confinement that ends with the butcher’s knife...

These uses of animals are so institutionalized, so normalized, in our society that it is difficult to find the critical distance needed to see them as the horrors that they are: so many forms of subjection, servitude and — in the case of killing animals for human consumption and other purposes — outright murder...

Think about that when you’re picking out your free-range turkey, which has absolutely nothing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. All it ever had was a short and miserable life, thanks to us intelligent, compassionate humans.

I'm all for a more thoughtful approach to meat and have cut back quite a bit but I can't say this little sermon has me convinced. And I'm a preacher. I'm not afraid of a good sermon.

The clincher for me was his statement;

Let me be candid: By and large, meat-eaters are a self-righteous bunch.

A little pot and kettle action there.

Maybe it would be helpful to hear from Spovegan or someone else who could better explain the vegan lifestyle. I have a feeling we're going to be hearing a lot more about it in the coming months.

Year of Plenty

The Year of Plenty blog was created by Craig Goodwin in the winter of 2008 to chronicle the experiences of his family as they sought to consume everything local, used, homegrown or homemade. That journey was a wonderful introduction to people and movements in the Spokane area who are seeking the welfare of the community through local foods, farmers markets, community gardens, sustainable transportation, and more fulfilling and just patterns of consumption. In 2009 and beyond the blog will continue to report on these relationships and practices, all through the eyes of a family with young children. Craig manages the Millwood Farmers' Market, is a Master Food Preserver and Pastor at Millwood Presbyterian Church. Craig can be reached at