Food for thought: why vegetarianis still matters: an environmental perspective

By DIT Collective

In January 2015, news media began reporting on two studies published in Science magazine under the singular title “Planetary Boundaries: Guiding Human Development on a Changing Planet”, which explained that four of Earth’s nine essential life processes have been breached. Published by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, an international team based at Stockholm University, it stated the following ‘planetary boundaries’ have been crossed: human-driven climate change, loss of biospheric integrity, irreversible land system changes, and the oceans’ over-saturation with nitrogen and phosphorus. Just those words in that order sound horrific. The reality must be worse.

The problems, of course, are not reducible to a single issue. It can only be understood through the lens of many different issues coming together in a magically toxic convergence that has managed to do what nothing before it has been able to – not asteroids, not volcanoes, not any other sentient creature. Humans, it seems, have brought the planet to its knees. Yet there are common threads to these issues that are highlighted even by the team of scientists themselves. Human manipulation of the earth multiplied by the power of late capitalist economics have created an explosion of different degradations that Professor Will Steffan, one of the studies’ coauthors, described as a “death by a thousand cuts”.

One of the most environmentally destructive practices currently carried out by humans today is animal farming. A slough of facts and statistics back this up but perhaps the most striking is its contribution to air pollution. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for example, estimates in their 2009 update to the report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” that 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) come from livestock, with 65% of that total coming from cattle farming. For comparison, the “Emissions Gap Report 2012” by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) approximates road transport to account for 13%. Other environmental problems caused by the animal industry include water pollution, water consumption, deforestation, and topsoil erosion alongside the obvious detriments to the animals themselves. The FAO’s forecasts global livestock numbers to increase by a further 70% by 2050.

The animal industry is a huge business with many different outlets, many of which are commercial but some of which are not: food, clothes, accessories, furniture, scientific research, blood sports, work, religious practice, cultural practice, and many more. Vegetarianism and veganism (both henceforth referred to as veg*nism) are practices that seek to avoid the metaphorical or literal consumption of these products through abstention. Popular veg*n logic states that people can begin to end animal exploitation via consumer boycotts that starve the producers of funds and thereby reduce the size and impact of the animal product industry. History has shown that this is not exactly true.

Veg*nism has been practiced as an ethic since the inception of industrialised farming. The UK’s Vegetarian Society, for example, was founded in 1847; the Vegan Society was founded in 1944, whilst the first modern factory farms were opened in the 1970s. Yet at no point in this 170 year history has the animal industry faltered due to people abstaining from meat, eggs, milk, or leather. Even niche corners of the animal industry such as vivisection, bullfighting, dogfighting, fox hunting, fur fashion, foie gras, and numerous others remain small but thriving subcultures despite overwhelming mainstream opposition. Veg*nism as economic boycott hasn’t eliminated these practices, nor does it seem likely to in the future. During the past 20 years, in fact, capitalism has recuperated these practices and created a hugely successful industry out of them: during 2012, in the UK alone, meat-free alternative sales amounted to £607 million (USD$945 million).

If veg*nism as a practice can’t even stamp out niche pastimes and it has in fact contributed to the growth of capitalism, how can it help the planet? Why is veg*nism still relevant, especially for radicals? How does veg*nism affect environmental destruction in a meaningful way?

There are as many different rationales for veg*nism as there are adherents. True, some of those reasons are entirely antithetical to anarchism, anti-capitalism, and other radical thought. Nothing is revolutionary about buying expensive meat-free sausages at the local supermatket chain outlet or spending the equivalent of three days wages on a pair of leather-free shoes from website Bourgeois Boheme (the clue is in the name), not when class warfare remains as core to revolutionary thought as it was 150 years ago.

In his text “Animal Liberation and Social Revolution: A Vegan Perspective on Anarchism or an Anarchist Perspective on Veganism”, Brian A Dominick writes that, “To embrace veganism and forgo the consumption and utilization of animal products is not an end, but a beginning; a new start affording the practitioner an opportunity to see everyday realities in a different light.” This extends even to the smallest details: look at ingredients lists, for example, and it becomes startlingly apparent that animal products – milk in particular – are in so much of what is consumed as food and drink. In the same way that capitalism has infected almost aspect of our social lives, the animal industry has snuck its way into everything that we eat or drink. Recognizing this ubiquity, being aware of it, builds new windows into life.

It is important to remember that these are the results of capitalism and mass industrialisation. At no previous point in history could animal industries have reached the scales reached today. The “outsourcing” of farming space to regions such as rural Latin America and Africa, for example, was impossible 500 years ago while the large scale transformation of forests or deserts into farmable land has been made possible only by the technology and carelessness of advanced capitalism.

As is often the case with large business, following the trail of names up the supply chain often leads to a single company. Tyson Foods is a producer of beef, chicken, and pork foods that supplies to many big name US fast food outlet including McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, and KFC as well as supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and IGA. In 2014 it had sales totalling $36 billion whilst operating a trans-continental business involved in killing 6 million chickens, 48,000 pigs, and 30,000 cows per day across its 123 processing plants. It has also had multiple accusations and prosecutions during the past 15 years for water contamination including a Tyson Foods plant in Missouri that was found guilty of 20 violations of the Clean Water Act. Massive sections of capitalism are built with the blood, flesh, and bones of animals. Anti-capitalism cannot dismiss this and environmentalism cannot ignore this.

Veg*nism consumerism suffers from this to an almost comically ironic degree. The popular UK dairy-free ice-cream brand Swedish Glace for example is owned by Unilever, a company condemned for its animal testing, and widespread UK dairy-free margarine brand Pure is owned by multinational dairy and meat producer Kerry Group. Both Kerry Group and Unilever are major palm oil users, with the latter having a particularly atrocious environmental record that includes massive deforestation in Indonesia for palm oil and paper. Though both utilize Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certification, the Worldwatch Institute reports criticisms of this certification from many different fronts including Greenpeace and Centre for Orangutan Protection because of loopholes that allow companies to continue deforesting. In this case popular veg*n ‘alternatives’ offer only personal change and do little to affect where the money actually goes.

There is no buying a stop to pollution and destruction because capitalism is unable to function without them. Veg*nism is not an answer to environmental problems but it may help us find the solutions, though only when married with a wider anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian worldview. Similarly, environmentalism and anarchism become much more effective when they incorporate understanding of the animal industry.

To quote the anonymously-written article “Beasts of Burden – Antagonism and Practical History”: “[V]egetarianism/veganism is not just a matter of sanctimonious handwashing. […] Not eating animals brings about qualitative improvement in the well-being of animals (as well as quantitative reduction in animals killed), even if as an isolated act it can be commodified and turned into another lifestyle marketing niche.”

Veg*nism is an easy personal step to take, one that requires only personal decisions and necessitates no authority figures or educational training. For all the recuperation of the industry, a large section of veg*n culture still relies on DIY principles such as locally sourced food, homegrowing and cooking, recipe creativity, local communities and community work such as Food Not Bombs, zines, events, etc. Filtered through the lens of anarchy, veg*nism takes on an increasingly powerful dimension that helps contribute to a more compassionate and liberated life. The opposite is true as well.

Anarchy is not just redefining the society around us but redefining ourselves as well. Withdrawing from the animal industry, and withdrawing from animal products altogether, offers new opportunities to relate to the world around us.

If you are raising and killing your own animals as an individual or community then this article is probably not aimed at you. If you are interested in anti-capitalist or anti-authoritarian practices then eating animals when it is not necessary – and it is not necessary if you live in the Europeanised West – is nothing but habit. A habit contributing to the deaths of billions of animals and the destruction of the planet on an unimaginable scale.

Like feminism, decolonialisation, queer theory, and many others, veg*nism provides tools for the analysis of and resistance to the dominant culture of today. Like those veg*nism cannot simply be ignored if we are to create a truly holistic and liberated culture that respects humans, other animals, plants, trees, and the rest of nature for what it is rather than what we want it to be. Veg*nism still matters because it still contains important seeds of resistance and reaction to capitalism and the state. Veg*nism still matters because it offers one of the most potent connections to a more compassionate and liberated culture.

Journey to the Center of the Underground Press (Zine Reviews)

‘Zines: underground magazines, frequently self published, sometimes standing alone, other times periodicals that span years. Zines continue to defy the death of print. Please consider checking out some of the titles we’re excited about!

In Slingshot #118 I reviewed the Political Pre-History of Love and Rage which included a factual error. From reading the ‘zine I was under the impression that Neither East Nor West (NENW) was a response to an RCP front group, No Business As Usual. We received a reply from an ex-member of NENW that said their organization formed autonomously, and their history has been published again by the Anarchist History Nerd Brigade and is reviewed here. (A. Iwasa)

Mob Work

Anarchists in Grand Rapids, Vol. 4

This ‘zine is the fourth in a series covering Anarchist activities in Grand Rapids, Michigan from the 1980s to the 1990s. Though this volume focuses on the 1980s and ’90s, it starts with major actions, organizations and periodicals from the 1970s from all over the U$ to properly contextualize the main topics of the ‘zine. This also allows new readers to start with this volume.

From Anarchist participation and Anarchistic organizational forms in the anti-nuclear and Central American solidarity movements, to the emergence of explicitly Anarcha-Feminism and its effects on Queer Liberation struggles; different groups, periodicals and events are chronicled and sources are extensively cited. The influence of Anarchism on punk and hardcore, is followed by the late ’80s continental Anarchist gatherings such as the 1,500 strong 1989 San Francisco gathering where one of the pilot issues of Love and Rage, Writing on the Wall, was distributed.

The opening of Infoshops in North America, Anarchist involvement in Earth First! and the emergence of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) are all covered before the main topic of the ‘zine.

Some of the national political movements of the 1980s and ’90s are quickly reiterated before a lengthy description of the era’s Anarcho-Punk scene in Grand Rapids. Media is covered next, first via a radical student paper, Wake Up!, then a TV program made by the Society for Economic Equality (SEE), followed by Discussion Bulletin; a libertarian socialist publication for various anti-state groups to share and debate ideas.

1990s Anarchist gatherings that occurred in Michigan are written about, then anti-Klan and anti-police brutality demonstrations.

Local Anarchist and Anarchistic initiatives directly influenced by International Movements from Anarchist Black Cross, Anti-Racist Action, Food Not Bombs and Critical Mass are all written about building up to the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization (WTO) protests. In turn, the post-Seattle prominence of radicalism, especially in the George W. Bush era, and the changes of tactics from non-violence to confrontational direct actions is recorded.

Like any history of the 1980s and ’90s probably should, this ‘zine started in the 1970s and ended in the early 2000s. The newer Grand Rapids Anarchists’ lack of connection to the previous few decades of Anarchist struggle is seen as both a good and bad thing. Hopefully this ‘zine has helped bridge that gap, and it would be nice to see more like it. (A. Iwasa)

Reckless Chants #21 Jessie McMains PO Box 85278 Racine, WI 53408

Following a brief introduction, Rust Belt Jessie takes you on a very personal journey from her youthful politicization during Operation Desert Storm, through crushes, involvement in punk and how much that can bring you down, all sorts of fandom; and thoughts on gender, gentrification, change, queerness and ‘zines.

Some topics come up again and again. These aren’t tidy, one dimensional stories, but a series of articles, a couple journal entries and one interview that wildly flow through all of these things and more, with all the fluidity of a life passionatly though sometimes painfully lived to the fullest.

I became familiar with Jessie’s writings through her blog,, and have read a couple of her stand alone ‘zines: and it murders your heart and Belmont & Clark. Though all of that material has been interesting, finally reading Reckless Chants has made me a fan of her’s for sure, and I look forward to backtracking through all the old issues I can find. (A. Iwasa)

Neither East Nor West NYC: a De Facto Anarchist Black Cross History, 1980-1994

In responce to my review of the Anarchist History Nerd Brigade (AHNB) ‘zine, The Political Pre-History of Love and Rage, ex-member of Neither East Nor West (NENW) Bob McGlynn submitted this text to the AHNB and Slingshot to clarify that the organization’s roots were not an anti-authoritarian responce to the Revolutionary Communist Party front group, No Business As Usual, as was stated in the Love and Rage material used to make the AHNB ‘zine.

Previous editions have been printed in Fifth Estate and The Utopian. McGlynn’s prologue seems a bit tangental, but quickly turns into a wild ride of activism in support of radical political disidents going from Poland’s Solidarnosc to the USSr’s Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists. Protests and petitions went on in both sides of the iron curtain and the importance of their newspaper, On Gogol Boulevard as a networking tool for the nearly 40 NENW groups that emerged in North America is stressed.

For those interested in late 20th century radicalism, left-wing dissent in the Eastern Bloc, and the history of political prisoner support, this is a must read. (A. Iwasa)


Oh yeah, here is the work of someone tracing the labor issues of a select industry—UPS, and done so with marvelous humor. Their February issue has pick up lines like, “Don’t worry I know how to handle a package” which reveal that unions don’t have to be dominated by dour lifeless people. This does a lot to make real the conditions that people face who would be easy to ignore through their corporate logo and uniform. Also the mere fact that this exists speaks to the power of printed materials. I found my copy in the free literature area of the local community center, The Omni. A good example to move our struggles to more spaces that are off the internet. (eggplant)

AB #18 Sept 2015 c/o Lisa Ahne PO Box 181 Alsea OR 97324

Here you have the on going dialog regarding how to live on very little resources and off the radar. This should appeal to back to the landers and anti authoritarians. This issue looks at people who get by in mobile homes, 5 pages on sea dwelling vessels, anecdotes about the ever present police hassles, a political tract and analysis on a healthy food book that exhausts the history of humans and food habits. The zine’s writers is full of contributors with a little bit of commentary by the editor. The whole production is pretty dense. There is no graphics to separate sections when the subject changes. I wouldn’t recommend this to impatient people or the illiterate. For people who painstakingly search out details to find the cracks to escape from the prison of this system.(eggplant)

Prisoners Air Mail #1 Ramon D. Hontiveros P-34034 B3-SHU-105 PO Box 290066 Represa, CA 95671

Reminding me of a high school publication or a punk house newsletter this prison made zine is brave. An assortment of voices rally to show strength in numbers. I liked most of the pieces of writing but what really makes the contributor’s writing vivid is the notes the editor gives to flesh out the personality. There’s also reprints of topical items like Palestine and political prisoners which normally would put me to sleep. But as far as reprints goes they are quite readable. It is also indicative of how limited the resources are for the people working on this. A little chaotic for the first issue with stray voices and styles to figure out. Also the printing is pretty lousy, having computer filtered fuzziness throughout it. As i read it I contrasted the people around me holding a phone in front of their face squinting – at least i was squinting at paper that has a lot of soul put to it.

Write the editor who is also the organizer of Solidarity Now! a international network of prisoners. He will probably not be able to send you a zine but he can direct you to his outside contact that can. (eggplant)

Node Pajomo #18 Summer 2015 Po Box 2632 Bellingham WA 98227-2632

A zine dedicated to the hands on world of media. Mail art, mix tapes and zines are given proper consideration and contact information. Change is in the air. This is the last issue as a full on zine. The editor announces the nature of the what he does will scale down and become more of a zine listing other projects. This is too bad because he actually investigates all the material people send him and relates what he finds. Also most impressive is that many of the pages is ordained in graphic deliciousness. I read this issue during a 12 hour experimental noise show – the collage of sounds reflected back onto the paper.(eggplant)

Cemetery Gates #1  $6.50 ppd (???) PO Box 251 Modesto, CA 95353

This new publication looks at how people confront death and grief. The editor sets the context of why to do this and its quite touching. The bulk of the content are some written pieces and photos of cemeteries. The atmosphere of cemeteries is pretty hard to capture using photocopiers but there’s close to a dozen images here that you can take to the copy shop and use to make art with. (eggplant)

Cameron Forsley Art PO Box 720283 San Francisco, CA 94172

Three zines from the same artist who works in pen and ink made it to our mailbox since our last issue. Animal Sketches and Sketch Book Drawings give the hungry mind a chance to feast on rich images. They look like they come straight from what he’s looking at and onto his notebook. Also received was Tat Rat#6, which is structured like a comic that tells a surreal story. Its more of a psychedelic hallucination than an ordinary comic. It’s good to know that as the world turns there’s someone out there recording the motion.(eggplant)




A trail of bread crumbs in the forest: radical spaces and infoshops

Compiled by Jesse D. Palmer

Here’s some new radical spaces we found out about right after taking the 2016 Slingshot Organizer to the printing press, plus some mistakes. The contact list we publish is loosely organized, incomplete and idiosyncratic — more like a trail of break crumbs left in the forest than a coherent trail. It may or may not help you find interesting people or projects involving DIY, anarchists, bikes, cooperation, or punk shows in a particular area. These projects aren’t McFranchises — the zines won’t all be the same and a particular space can be amazing on Thursday and shitty on Saturday. Nonetheless, the messy chaos free-thinking people create when they set up public spaces dedicated to alternatives to the sick system is inspirational. Visit these spaces and lend a hand, or start your own. Let Slingshot know if you see mistakes or omissions. We put updates to the list at

Bombs Away! – Athens, GA

A collectively run bookstore, music and art venue and DIY/meeting space with a free skool that opened September 1. 295 1/2 E. Broad St. Athens, GA, 30601 bombsawaybooks

SP CE Commons – Lincoln, NE

A collectively operated storefront that hosts discussion groups, workshops, classes, poetry, performances, potlucks, yoga and meditation. They have a free library and 3 letterpress printing presses. Open Sun 1-4, Mon and Wed 6-9 and when the sign says open. 1239 S. 14th St, Lincoln NE 68502 spzzce@gmail,

Blackjack Bioregional Infoshop – Bend, OR

They have new and used books and host events and an an espresso cart. 735 NW Columbia St. Bend, OR 97701 541-390-0951

Solidarity – Houston, TX

A nonhierarchical volunteer-run space with a radical library, computer lab and kids area that hosts meetings and events. They share the space with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services. “We oppose (and expect those who work with us to oppose) white supremacist capitalist cis-hetero-patriarchy.” 6733 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston TX, 77011

Infoshop at Atlanta Vintage Books – Atlanta, GA

They have zines and radical books in a corner of this 26 year old independent community bookstore. 3660 Clairmont Road Atlanta, GA 30341 770-457-2919

Kismet Creative Center – St. Louis, MO

A privately owned record store with an art gallery and books that hosts shows and events. They asked to be listed so if someone is in St. Louis and can email us your impressions it would be great. 3409 Iowa, St. Louis, MO 63118 314-696-8177

Barricade Inn – Dublin; Ireland

A new squatted anarchist social centre. 77 Parnell St. Dublin, D1 Ireland,,

Errors in the 2016 Organizer

• We didn’t list Che Cafe (9500 Gilman Dr. SC B-0323C La Jolla, CA 92093) because they have been fighting eviction from the University of California San Diego and they lost their court case. It wasn’t looking good despite a 24 hour-a-day student occupation since March to keep the police from changing the locks. But after the organizer went to the printing press, they reached a settlement with the UC on some critical issues, so it seems like they’re going to survive! The court eviction is still being appealed so stay tuned.

• Just after we took the organizer to the printing press, we found out that Rock Paper Scissors in Oakland was closing. They were forced out by rising rents from gentrification of the formerly-low income neighborhood they were in — fueled in part by the amazing arts scene RPS founded.

• The Flying Brick Library at 506 S. Pine St., Richmond, VA 23220 wasn’t included in the organizer. They still exist but are open by appointment only. Email them at

• Pangea House in Minot, ND no longer has a physical location so the address listed the organizer is wrong.

• The spelling of Centro Autónomo at 3460 W Lawrence Ave. Chicago, IL 60625 is wrong in the organizer.

• Oops we printed an address for Le Seul Problème in Marseille, France but they don’t exist anymore.

• We published the wrong address for Libreria La Valija de Fuego It’s address is Carrera 7, #46-68, Chapinero, Bogotá, Colombia. Tel: 338 1227.

Cool Happenings: Calendar

October 22, 2015

National Day of Action Against Police Brutality


October 23 – 25, 2015

Olympia Zine Fest. Olympia, WA


October 24, 2015 ∙ 10-7 pm

London Anarchist Bookfair. University of the Arts London Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA


October 30, 2015 ∙ 6 pm

Halloween San Francisco Critical Mass bike ride. Gather at Justin Herman Plaza.


November 13, 2015 ∙ 8 pm

East Bay Bike Party.


November 14 & 15, 2015

2nd annual Cascade Media Convergence. Portland State University Portland, OR. 2015.


November 15, 2015

VI Feira Anarquista de São Paulo at Biblioteca Terra Livre São Paulo, Brasil


November 20-24, 2015

Protest School of the Americas. Ft. Benning, GA.


November 27, 2015



November 27, 2015 ∙ 6 pm

San Francisco Critical Mass bike ride. Justin Herman Plaza.


November 28-29, 2015

Global climate march in Paris and worldwide.

December 5, 2015 – 10-6 pm

Bay Area anarchist Bookfair – Humanist Hall  390 27thSt. Oakland

December 12, 2015 – 10 am – 5 pm

East Bay Alternative Book & Zine Fest 2050 Center St. Berkeley, CA


December 12, 2015

Mass mobilization against climate change


December 13, 2015 – 4 pm

Slingshot new volunteer meeting / article brainstorm for issue #120. 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA


January 16, 2016 – 3 pm

Article deadline for Slingshot issue #120 – 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley. Email submissions to


February 29, 2016

Leap Day Action Night – call for actions everywhere.


March 8, 2016

International Women’s Day


March 15, 2016

International Day Against Police Brutality


April 1, 2016

St. Stupid Parade San Francisco, CA


April 23, 2016 ∙ 10 am-6 pm

Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair 2016 Showroom Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK


April 25, 2016

20th Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair. The Crucible, Oakland, CA


April 30, 2016

8th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair