Book Review: This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology, part 2
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Book Review: This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology, part 2

This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology by Will Anderson, 2012, Earth Books, 368 pp, $22.95

In This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology, Will Anderson calls for “green vegan” living, which entails more than abstinence from animal products. He sees veganism as an ideology that includes human population control and a hands-off approach to the natural world. Borrowing from the important work of Melanie Joy (Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism), Anderson contrasts the ideology of green vegans with that of carnism.  The latter sees humans as special creations who are entitled to use and abuse nonhumans as humans please. Green veganism doesn’t call for a modest reform of modern living. Rather it calls for a comprehensive orientation toward compassion, concern, and sustainability. Anything less might slow the rate of humanity’s self-destruction but will not save our species, as well as the nonhuman world.
Anderson hopes that humans, upon recognizing the necessity of green vegan living, will choose this lifestyle. Unfortunately, I see little evidence that more than a small fraction of the populace has embraced his call, even though it strikes me as obvious that there is a the growing ecological crisis. Indeed, I find it hard to understand why those who insist on maintaining a course that is self-destructive for humanity still have children. Perhaps we are dealing with the psychology of denial, akin to the attitude of people living at the base of an active volcano who choose to ignore the clear threat in their midst. In this case, humanity isn’t just denying the problem; it’s continually worsening the problem. It’s like fracking over the San Andres Fault.
When there is no immediate danger, when change is slow, and when actions don’t have immediate, obvious impacts, it is difficult to encourage people to act, particularly when action means significant lifestyle changes. The challenge, it seems to me, is to find ways to make visible the growing ecological crisis – the “elephant in the room.” Otherwise, within 2-3 generations there won’t be elephants, other creatures, and perhaps humans, anywhere.
This observation might encourage people to give up in despair, but I don’t think that is the Christian way. We are called to be faithful, and that means living as if our actions will meaningfully change the world. Indeed, that possibility exists, however remote it might seem. 

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