Gary Steel - Veg Friendly: Climate mange

Jacinda’s big flaw. Film director James Cameron gave an informative and provocative speech at the Government’s recent Just Transition ‘low carbon’ summit but, sadly, we didn’t get to hear much of the details of his radical proposition.

“I’m from the Waikato, I don’t know if I’d be allowed to go home if I became vegan, and I love cheese,” scoffed our PM.

Maybe the click-bait mad minions of the tabloid ‘news’ organisations would have found space to discuss and debate Cameron’s ideas had Jacinda Ardern had the goodwill to give them some credence.

Instead, she sided with the laggards: the reactionary redneck farmers who want to keep the status quo and won’t recognise the enormous environmental price that dairy and meat farming makes us all pay.

It’s not surprising that Ardern’s response didn’t advocate for Cameron’s position, but to fly in the face of hard science with such a cynical response to the one thing that could help to create an environmental utopia in New Zealand begs belief.

Cameron, who directed several global film smashes including Terminator II, The Titanic and Avatar, bought a dairy-based farm in the Wairarapa and converted it to horticulture. The Hollywood icon is an ardent vegan and it’s disappointing that his Just Transition speech wasn’t subsequently analysed, discussed and debated – until the cows come home.

Instead, the New Zealand Herald reacted with an irresponsibly erroneous editorial framing veganism as a freak show full of cult-type misfits and dairy and meat being central to New Zealand’s way of life from now to eternity. Its pitch was that vegan food was largely highly processed and therefore polluting, but it didn’t feel the need to back up this horribly wrong assumption.

Ardern and the mainstream media are not only misinformed but way behind the times when it comes to their assessment of plant-based foods and attitudes around them, and that’s not just tragic but potentially dangerous. They don’t seem to have realised just how popular plant-based eating has become. Haven’t they encountered all the vegan options in supermarkets or come across the many plant-based cafes in Auckland and now spreading throughout the land? More worrying still, is the fact that Ardern and the media are both simply ignoring the science.

While there’s still debate about the veracity of climate change, the vast majority of scientists accept that it’s real, and it would take a flat-earther to go against the evidence that we’re quickly destroying the planet. Why, then, do both our media organisations and Government heads lack the conviction to look at the incontrovertible evidence that meat and dairy production are two of the worst offenders when it comes to the earth’s pollution?

And why do they continue to ignore the tide of scientific evidence that promotes the idea that we need to revolutionise our eating habits towards a plant-based future?

James Cameron said that if we continue to go down the animal agriculture road, climate change will effectively end civilization. “The chaos and the human suffering will be unfathomable and the political outcome will be intolerable. It will be a ruthless future. It will be the end of democracy. It will be the end of peace and I can’t bear to think that we’re not doing everything we can do to not leave that world to our children or grandchildren.”

Jacinda, this is not fringe thinking. Even fairly conservative ecologists like David Attenborough have come to the same conclusion. Politics may well be a popularity contest, but sometimes you have to stand up and do what’s right. You did it with the Christchurch shootings. Now do it for the future of humanity. (GARY STEEL)

Gary Steel is an Auckland-based journalist who runs online vegetarian resource
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