Vegetarianism, Veganism, and the New Zealand Factor — Part 8
The Vegetarian Economy
We say “vegetarian” rather than vegan for the following reasons: While the authors subscribe to the vegan model (a vegetarian diet without dairy) and embrace the no-brainer proliferation of dairy alternatives in the form of soy cheeses, soy milk, etc., we also note that mother’s milk in every species, including humans, is essential; and that boutique cheeses and milk products that are the result of carefully designed and monitored non-violent systems are possible, where the animals are treasured members of a small family farm, or indigenous farming situation, such as exists, for example, among the Todas of the Nilgiris in South India, with whom we have spent quality time. Or the Bishnois of Rajasthan.
Moreover, we believe that New Zealanders, who have long established precedence in the industrialization of butter and milk products, are most likely to be innovative and compassionate in their transformation to a vegetarian economy that incorporates non-violent milk production. New Zealanders know these industries better than most, and this puts the nation in a foremost position to make thrilling and compassionate headway with non-violent and delicious alternatives.Such change will occur through a combination of internalized scale readjustments, boutique marketing (non-violent, cruelty-free niche labeling) and global pressures for reform. To predicate this animal rights revolution on a vegetarian pathway will be challenging, On a vegan paradigm, even more so. Can it happen, should it happen? People must first be compelled to want it, to envision it, to understand what it is they are embarking upon and how their lives, the environment upon which they are dependent, the animals around whom their children have grown up, or marveled at, would all be the better for it. At the moment, this is pure fiction, the ideal of a Santa Claus. Yet, there are signs all around the world that cultural mindsets are shifting; that market forces are rewarding all things “green” and that more and more people are waking up to the uniqueness of this thin layer of life on Earth.
“It takes time for people to change,” says Willow Jean Lyman, Howard Lyman’s partner. Howard, a 4th generation cattle rancher from Montana who with his wife became a vegan in a State where, as Howard puts it in the Voice for a Viable Future/Dancing Star Foundation film “Mad Cowboy” (based upon his and Glen Mercer’s book by the same title),31 “In Montana it’s more dangerous admitting to being a vegetarian than stealing horses.” The reason he made this shift (and it took years, not days), is because he saw his young brother die, “probably as a result of some of the chemicals we were putting into the soil,” he believes, and because one day, in the grip of a medical emergency that threatened to leave him paralyzed from the waist down, he had an epiphany. He remembered the organic ranch of his childhood, recalling vividly the legacy of his ancestors who knew how to “work with nature.”
31. See “Mad Cowboy,” the Documentary; A Dancing Star Foundation Production, 2006.