We must do more


We must do more
Vegan Society of Canada News, August 7th 2018

We must do more. The latest estimate for meat consumption for 2018 and projection for 2019 for the USA are out and apart from milk, we can see the US is breaking all time high records and Canada is also following in their footstep increasing since 2014.

We are currently investigating the causes of this but our hypothesis is a combination of the following factors

  • North America is eating more and we are getting more and more obese
  • We are replacing junk foods with empty calories with more healthy plant based alternative which is raising the amount of plant based options but not affecting as much as we thought the amount of meat consumed
  • We noticed that consumption went up until the financial crisis of 2008-2009 then down until 2014 then up again as the economy recovered, so as disposable income crashed in 2008 people switched to cheaper alternatives then meat consumption went up as people income gradually went back up. We can observe this correlation in both Canadian and US consumption over 2008-2018

As usual the answer is probably not a single factor but a mix a various factors. Therefore while we are busy high-fiving each other at the latest celebrity adopting veganism or the number of plant based burgers sold, or the number of plant based alternatives available the largest animal agriculture corporations in the world are forecasting to their shareholders significant production increase by 2030, some in the range of 30%.

This is why for some time we have used internally as a metric of our progress total meat consumption. Using this metric has significant advantages

  • It is available globally, usually at no cost
  • It help quantify our impact on animals that is not solely included in the number of vegans, for example in our impact on the adoption of vegetarianism and flexitarianism
  • It favors cooperation between vegan and non-vegan organization
  • It is not possible to have reduced global meat consumption and not reduce the amount of animals killed for meat while it is possible to increase the number of people who self identify as vegan while more animals gets killed for meat

The increase in cooperation is a very important reason why we favor using this metric to gauge our progress and while we discussed this in the past it is worth looking into this further. The lack of global cooperation is a serious concern, since vegans are at most a few percent of the global population if we want to prevent animal suffering, mass extinction caused by climate change, antibiotics crisis and many others we will need to work together. Why this is not happening now is a complex issue, but is worth looking into. Here are some issues preventing global cooperation

  • Unlike for profit corporation we have no common metrics for progress
    • For profit corporations have profit as a measure of success but other charitable organization or group with social agenda have often no clear metrics. A lack of common metrics prevent collaboration as it is difficult or even impossible to come up with shared initiatives if one is measuring impact in apples and the other in oranges.
  • Unlike for profit corporation the majority of our stakeholders are voiceless
    • In the business world shareholders are active and demand efficiency, merger and acquisition when appropriate, in the charitable sector donors are too busy and the majority of our stakeholders are voiceless. In the business world there are laws to prevent the formation of cartel, but these laws do not exist in the charitable sector since we are working for the public good and not to increase profit. Yet while we are freely allowed to form global alliances for the benefits of all we do not, on the other hand for profit corporation do so liberally even if it is illegal. The burden rest on us human beings to force ourselves to be as efficient if not more efficient than the organizations, for profit corporations and people we denounce.
  • We have no research
    • Another example where we aim to increase our efficiency is by doing research and understanding why people do not care and how to make them care. Talking to many people everyone agrees that would we have research that for example demonstrated the most effective way to make people care by a factor of 1000 to 1 is to make movies like Okja, we would all stop our activities to make movies. In the end, the reality might show that for audience 16-29 in North America, with profile ABC activity XYZ produce the best result while for 29-35 DEF is better. The problem is right now we do not know since there is little to no research in this area and so people have various opinion on what works best and we all do what we think is best. While we all have good intention this prevent collaboration and in turn prevent us from achieving efficiency at large scale. This is the type of costly research that is best done in collaboration at the national or worldwide level.

    With your continued help and support we will be relentless in our work to increase national and global cooperation so we can achieve common goals even though our mission might be completely different.