Permaculture & The Vegan way

J. Hobbs hobbsj at
Fri Mar 9 12:31:49 EST 2001

Regarding vegan diet.  There are some in my profession, who think 
that it would be unhealthy for nearly half of the population to be 
vegan because, for some, there is a need for protein greater than 
would be met by vegetable sources of protein only.

Jerome Hobbs, N. D.

>Hi Toby et al:
>During a class someone once asked Bill Mollison if he
>ate meat.  He just replied "I don't eat factory food"  Sums
>it up nicely.
>Toby Hemenway wrote:
>>  I appreciate many of the points that Graham raises on veganism in
>>  permaculture at
>>  >
>>  I tend to agree with Wes Trotman, that veganism is only feasible in rich
>>  countries. But I think the whole question, "which is more sustainable,
>>  veganism or omnivory?" misses the point. Vegans point to the huge acreages
>>  needed to produce beef; omnivores point back at the wasteful agriculture
>>  that monocrops soy beans. The culprit in those cases is not a particular
>>  eating choice but rather industrial agriculture, whether as feedlots or
>>  beanfields. Neither "side" of this discussion is living sustainably, just as
>>  all of us who drive cars are not living sustainably. So I think basing the
>>  choice of eating animals on sustainability is a blind alley and isn't
>>  related to how we're really living. I can certainly envision a permaculture
>>  system that integrates animals in a way that consumes no more land and
>>  resources than one without animals, and offers more yields. We can stack
>>  animals into the system very efficiently, just as nature does.
>>  Frankly, I have a hard time conceiving of a sustainable agriculture that
>>  does not involve animals, as the many roles they play in natural systems and
>>  in designed ones must then be replaced by fossil fuel inputs or vast amounts
>>  of human labor (and I prefer my hammock). For example, setting aside acreage
>>  to grow and process compost crops is probably less efficient than running
>>  livestock within a system to consume forage and crop wastes and generate
>>  manure. Humanure can't be the only source of fertilizer?the Second Law of
>>  Thermodynamics dictates that you'll run out of of nutrients. Plus having
>>  humans as the only animal designed into the system is its own form of
>>  monocrop, and overlooks many other ways to process nutrients.  Stripping
>>  animals out of our designed ecosystems seems unwise and certainly unnatural.
>>  Having animals in a system doesn't mean you have to eat them (although those
>>  who believe keeping livestock is slavery are still going to be unhappy).
>>  However, I share the views of Paul Shepard expressed in "The Tender
>>  Carnivore and the Sacred Game," and of David Abrams in "The Spell of the
>>  Sensuous" wherein they say we need relationships with animals; they enrich
>>  us, connect us to the rest of life, and expand what it means to be human.
>  > Even our role as predator is a crucial one, deeply embedded in our psyche
>  > and genes. Not everyone wants to act out that aspect of ourselves, but as a
>  > biologist I've got a healthy respect for 3 billion years of the
>>  predator/prey dynamic, and I feel deepened by entering into the
>>  awe-inspiring mysteries of that ancient and respectful relationship with the
>>  "more than human" world.
>>  Thus I feel the sustainability argument tilts somewhat in favor of omnivory,
>>  but that in the face of much larger constraints--since few of us are growing
>>  all our own food, and we are dependent on industrial systems--whether or not
>>  we eat animals really boils down to personal belief. Hence we can discuss
>>  it, cheerfully or angrily, forever.
>>  Toby
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