International Women’s Day: Empowering Women through Veganism

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International Women’s Day: Empowering Women through Veganism

International Women’s Day: Empowering Women through Veganism

By Amanda Crow, Guest Contributor

For more than the last hundred years, women have been tirelessly organizing and fighting for equality in society and in labor all around the world.  March 8th is now the official International Women’s Day with the purpose to celebrate women, ALL women, in their achievements around the world while reflecting on the past and current struggles.  Most importantly, discussing the future of women globally should be the focus of today.

The plight of women seems overwhelming with the rampant abuse, exploitation, and domination of females on an international scale.  Fear not!  Our very food choices can have a strong impact on women globally.  It may not seem obvious, but veganism is part of the solution to making this a better world for all women.

Empowering Women Through Veganism

Global hunger has been at the forefront of human rights issues, but what is often not highlighted is that women are more affected than men by global hunger issues.  One third of the total human population goes hungry every single day, and according to The Hunger Project, 60% of those hungry are women.  Because women are the bearers of offspring, half of pregnant women in developing countries are deficient in essential nutrients and lacking proper maternal care leading to over 300,000 deaths annually from childbirth and to 1 in 6 children born with low birth weights.

Most Americans probably feel like the solution is out of their reach.  What exactly are the identified problems causing world hunger?  While food scarcity, the biggest factor, has somewhat reached society’s consciousness, population is the easiest target that allows us to point the blame at others without any reflection on our own habits.  It is an interesting concept to really think about whom we blame for the population problem.  We blame developing countries where women have a lot of babies that they cannot sustain.  Ok – again – whom do we blame? Poor Women.  They are the ones having the babies without a care, or so we think.  This seems to be a hidden case of severe victim-blaming where women are at fault for having babies while ignoring the fact that they lack access to birth control, family planning, sex education, etc.  Of course, most of us never actually think those specific things about poor women, but that IS what we do when we as a society obsess about population control as the source of global hunger while refusing to acknowledge our gigantic role of resource consumption.

Other primary targets of blame for global hunger are natural disasters and warlords.  Most certainly, climate change is inflating its global impact on food scarcity, and during times of conflict, food can be used as a weapon or a form of oppression.  However, these are only proximate causes of hunger, and they are much less important than meat consumption….more specifically the supply and demand for resource-intensive animal products.  “Supply and demand” in practice is intricately complicated globally, but the primary causes and its affects are not nor how we as consumers can make a difference.

Industrialized nations are consuming an enormous amount of meat per capita with global consumption projected to double by 2050.  With that sort of extreme demand, industrialized countries must ensure there is enough supply.

Animal agriculture uses an unsubstantial amount of resources given its small output of available calories.  This becomes a global issue of the distribution of resources leading to scarcity in poorer regions of the world.

Eating 1,000 calories of meat can easily use more than 7,000 calories in plant-based foods, plus the associated use of natural resources. – A Well Fed World

Resource requirements for animal farming encompasses crops for animal feed, water for the animals and crops, and fuel for operating production.  As demand has increased, poor regions of the world are now exporting crops for animal feed and importing concentrated animal feeding operations and slaughterhouses AKA “factory farms.”  The leaders of developing countries make these decisions for exports and imports, but why are they choosing not to sell to the local people leaving them hungry?  In order to get the things they want – military and luxury goods – they need something to sell, trade, make money with.  The agribusinesses pay more money for the crops especially as the meat demand increases, and they are certainly able to pay much more for the food than the local people could ever possibly afford.

Farming in these regions have their own impact on women and hunger.  Around the world women are overwhelming the food preparers, and they are also a strong presence in food production.  Unfortunately, societal oppression like inabilities to own land or take out a loan decreases women’s food production capabilities.  Providing women farmers with resources could decrease world hunger by 100-150 million people!

Women are also a large part of subsistence farming in many developing nations, and the influx of factory farms destroys this way of life of surviving off of the land.   Another consequence is that the men are more involved with the factory farms, and this takes away women’s control of the family income.  It is generally accepted that empowering women benefits the children nutritionally and educationally.  Unlike women, men often will not invest in the family but rather on luxuries for themselves.

Conclusion

As individuals, the problems and solutions of something so widespread as global hunger can feel much too big for us to make a difference on our own.  Increasing meat demand and high animal consumption are the primary reasons for such a skewed distribution of resources around the world.  As consumers with lots of choices, how we spend our money affects the demand of any product.  Think about how many times a day you sit down to eat.  Every single ones of those times, day in and day out, is an opportunity to not support a system that is increasing global hunger and disempowering women.  Veganism is a direct way every single person can actually make a difference to women all around the world.

For further reading on hunger issues here globally and nationally:

Photo credit: farmingmatters

 

March 8th, 2013|News|

About the Author:

Amanda Crow considers herself an intense, dominating but also a giving, compassionate person. She believes veganism is the way of the future and her path in life- being a "vegan enzyme." Evolution and biology in general, cooking, homemade vegan ice cream, animal rescue, family, and helping others are just a few of her passions.

10 Comments

  1. […] She also was a guest writer on Your Daily Vegan on the topic of International Women’s Day and Veganism. She wrote an excellent article 2 years ago that’s growing in popularity that you can read here. […]

  2. […] International Women’s Day, I read a blog post, “Empowering Women through Veganism,” from one of my new favorite sites, Your Daily Vegan. What’s great about this article […]

  3. Fireweed March 31, 2013 at 6:39 am - Reply

    Hmmm…the dictionary definitions of ‘unsubstantiated’ and ‘unsubstantial’ I come up with seem nuanced…and if the resources used are actually excessive relative to caloric outputs, it seems that they are indeed substantial as opposed to UNsubstantial! So I’m not getting your word choice, yet… but I’ll keep thinking on it! Always happy to expand my comprehension and vocabulary! Thanks for your response, Amanda:) -Fireweed

  4. Amanda Crow March 18, 2013 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Thank you everyone for the feedback and taking time to read my writing! It means SO much!

    Hi Fireweed! Thank you so much for the compliment/comment.

    A friend of mine also pointed out the possible typo…it isn’t a typo actually. While “unsustainable” certainly fits well, I did actually mean “unsubstantiated.” I have heard this term used in this exact context…meaning an unrealistic amount of resources. I appreciate the comment though.

    I appreciate the invitation to the facebook page. I will definitely check it out, but I can’t promise much! Right now I am adjusting to my new very busy schedule with a full time “career” job and new writing schedule! I intend on writing more on these type of issues…connecting veganism with human rights and environmental rights.

  5. Fireweed March 13, 2013 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    I should have included the link to the Elephant in the Room is a COW Facebook page in the text of my previous comment. Here it is:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/515390858491078/

  6. Fireweed March 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Amanda, another fantastic post! I’ve just shared it on my FB page, The Elephant in the Room is a COW, which I would like to invite you to join.

    Another member of the page pointed out what I agree may be a typo in your essay which I myself missed at first when referencing the piece with a quote from it. Specifically: “Animal agriculture uses an unsubstantial amount of resources given its small output of available calories.”

    Following that particular line to the article it is highlighted as a link to, suggests to me that you really meant to write the word ‘unsustainable’, instead of ‘unsubstantial’…but I’m checking to make sure! Perhaps you meant to write ‘substantial’, instead of unsubstantial’?

    In any event, you can weigh in yourself over on our FB page if you like, or respond here to my question!

    Our FB page linking animal ag and global warming in particular is a public one, used primarily for compiling resources such as articles like yours…but it is not for vegans only, so discussion there is monitored to remain accessible to the general public we wish to influence with the material collected. Please read the ‘about’ section at the top of the page if you think you might be interested in joining.

    Again, thank you so much for your excellent essays! I look forward to your reply. Best wishes, Fireweed
    http://www.veganiculture.blogspot.com

  7. John Valantasis March 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Great read! This article has opened my eyes even more to how important our food choices are for creating equality for all. I never truly realized how much more woman are affected by hunger issues created by outsourcing factory farms, it’s effect on subsistence farming and women’s role in controlling the family income. This will be a good read for me and my daughters about how we can empower women just by what we choose to eat and an opportunity to discuss the issue of food justice. I’m eager to look into these issues further.

  8. Ashley Walls March 8, 2013 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    Great article on food justice and how it can empower or suppress women worldwide.

  9. John Valantasis March 8, 2013 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Great read! This article has opened my eyes even more to how important our food choices are for creating equality for all. I never truly realized how much more woman are affected by hunger issues created by outsourcing factory farms, it’s effect on subsistence farming and women’s role in controlling the family income. This will be a good read for me and my daughters about how we can empower women just by what we choose to eat and an opportunity to discuss the issue of food justice.

  10. Aurora Cooney March 8, 2013 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    It is well documented that as women become more educated, the number of births goes down. So if population is a concern, then the answer is still to inprove the lives of women through education. Great article and great insight.

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