Lawn & Garden Month: Leaving Animals Out of the Equation
By Amanda Crow, Guest Contributor
April is National Lawn and Garden month. This post is part of an on-going series taking a look the Food Not Lawns movement through the vegan lens.
My first post, Food Not Lawns, explains how FNL is an offshoot of Food Not Bombs. This inspiring movement focuses on promoting nonviolence while helping feed our hungry, and since vegan food is in line with nonviolence, that is what they solely serve. With FNL, the emphasis is on growing one’s own food to decrease dependence on the food system, which is wasteful, uses tons of pesticides, and is unjust… It is not necessarily a boycott based on nonviolence.
I am sure there are a great many people involved with FNL who are vegan and understand the cruelty and waste of raising animals. Sadly, I have noticed that some participants of FNL are missing this connection. The article, I Eat My Lawn, goes into great detail about how one couple turned their front yard into a garden fortress (by no means am I taking away from what they did because it is astounding) but in the end they express their hope to raise goats for milk. Then there is this article, Get Rid of the Lawn, Plant Your Own Vegetables, which totally creeps me out. The author quotes someone who romanticizes about how as a child, she got to see the insides of a freshly-killed chicken…acting as if that is the same as analyzing a freshly-picked vegetable.
What is more upsetting is that non-vegans are actually making arguments for FNL based on mass production of fruits and veggies. One such article is The Revolution Is In the Dirt. The author pretty much blames the “food plate” for people needing to eat all these fruits and veggies and goes on to explain why plants are the problem claiming, “it is not so simple as just eating plants.” Um, yes it is. Her arguments are weak as raising animals have those problems x1000 – plus, our bacteria-covered produce problem is still an animal problem. I am not denying the issues with the fruit/veg side of our food system (hence why I am promoting people growing their own food), but for non-vegans to act as if that is the serious issue while ignoring animal production? Give me a break.
I find this missed connection extremely disturbing. There are many reasons to grow a garden instead of a lawn, but if it’s for reducing your overall resource use, eating plants is not the problem…it is in fact the solution. Eating animals is way more energy-intensive from an ecological perspective because it takes a huge amount of plants just to raise animals. This is why eating plants directly (and never animals) is the most significant thing any of us can do to reduce our resource use and contribution to climate change – period. Even raising animals in a backyard still requires a great deal of resources and energy – there is just no way of getting around that.
I think the Food Not Lawns movement is incredible. US History shows us that a small portion of the population can make a significant difference in local food production by growing a garden. I want this movement to spread far and wide. I just hope that rearing animals doesn’t go with it. Growing our own food can reduce our support to the unjust industrial food system, decrease our personal carbon footprint, decrease our consumption of chemicals, and feed our communities…but in order to make the biggest differences, animals must be left out of the equation.
Photo credit: Sebastian Anthony