Vegetarianism: Is This Global Justice?

I am a vegetarian. I have been for almost 9 years and, honestly, I don’t miss meat (but, tochicken_rows_small be fair, I was such a picky eater before I made the switch, I pretty much just gave up chicken). I decided to become a vegetarian as a personal choice; a personal stand against the injustices I believe that animals face in our meat production and agricultural industry. But yesterday, during a side event I attended on Global Justice, Equity and Sustainability, my ears perked when one speaker said that vegetarianism was part of global justice.

What is global justice? To panelist, Prince Goodluck Obi, global justice means the defense of youth and domestic relations; working for youth and getting youth included in climate change projects. Look at justice, equity and sustainability with respect to young people and their rights within the system. Mr. Goodluck pointed out that 1.2 billion young people from Africa were not represented at Doha because they were denied visas. Their voices are not being heard and they are the future. Global justice can include the right to development. It can include gender and equity are related issues and all human rights.

Another speaker, Mithika Mwenda, stated climate justice is part of global justice. He used the example of climate change in Africa by showing a man on top of hut because of floods. He had climbed up on his roof to survive. Mr. Mwenda said: This is climate justice – if you are not strong enough to climb on your hut, you die. He encouraged us to look at moral reasons of fighting climate change and urged the broadening of people’s participation  and the need for multilateralism so poorer countries can have a voice. He stated: climate justice means that international negotiations should include all voices equally – even the poor – and the richest countries have contributed more to the problem, but is affects the poor countries more, so, since the rich countries possess the knowledge, technology, and wealth to fix this problem, they have a moral obligation to help.

Global justice can also mean living a “green’ lifestyle and improving access to renewable forms of energy to the people of the world. Joachim Golo Pitz from the Brahma Kumaris Environment Institute has been working on the India-One project that delivers renewable energy plants to India. Mr. Golo Pitz was also the speaker that stated global justice means adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. He was later asked a question about  this statement and replied: the science is there; switching to a vegetarian lifestyle has been shown to be more environmentally friendly.

This statement intrigued me. I, obviously, believe that “going veg” benefits animals and I have heard (and believe) the argument that adopting a vegetarian lifestyle lowers greenhouse gases, but I wanted to learn more. According to PETA (not the most unbiased source, I know!), “51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.” That same PETA article asserts that the UN has also stated that “a global shift toward a vegan diet is extremely important in order to combat the worst effects of climate change” and have stated that raising animals is one of the top contributors to environmental problems. Lists have been created claiming the top 10 reasons being a vegetarian can help our environment: cools the planet, saves land, saves water, saves forests, reduces pollution to the soil, reduces pollution in the oceans, reduces air pollution, helps public health, avoids use of fossil fuels, and saves money.
The global justice session ended on an uplifting note. We took a moment to reflect with Jayanti Kirpalani. The vision that she has of the future is one world with peace with love and respect where humans and nature will be able to live together in harmony. She said this is not an impossible dream. She believes that love, justice, and fairness makes all  things possible, including coming together to heal our world. She urged us all to connect with ourselves and find moral ethics through this self-reflection; then you can express your findings with those around you and we can come together and change the world.

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