ray monk philosopher

When British philosopher Ray Monk learned how bad factory farming is for the environment, he made the decision to adopt a vegan diet for the good of the planet.

Monk, who served as a professor of philosophy at the University of Southhampton, wrote in the political and cultural magazine New Statesman last November that it was an article in The Guardian entitled, “Vast Animal-Feed Crops to Satisfy Our Meat Needs Are Destroying Planet,” that led to his diet change. “It was… something that I had not thought much about before: the devastating environmental effects of animal farming,” he said. The study found that meat-heavy diets have contributed to a 60 percent loss in global biodiversity.

Earlier this month, Monk further elaborated on his path to veganism in a “Financial Times” article, where he referred to the practice of growing feed for animals as “ridiculously inefficient.” The article prompted Monk to conduct research of his own, where he learned that factory farms do more than just occupy vast quantities of arable land – it also contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined and calls for vast quantities of global freshwater supplies.

“I discovered that over the past few years, study after study demonstrated beyond any doubt that our current diet is unsustainable,” Monk wrote. “The day after reading these studies and articles, I went vegan.”

Indeed, factory farming is a destructive force. A study published last July in the journal Science found that 80 percent of global farmland is used to rear livestock. Adopting a vegan diet, researchers revealed, could reduce global arable land use by as much as 75 percent – land the size of Australia, China, the EU, and the US combined – and reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

Since adopting a vegan diet for the environment, Monk has since gained compassion towards animals raised for food after reading about the abuses suffered on farms. “Quite apart from environmental concerns, nothing would now persuade me to be complicit in that industry,” he wrote, acknowledging that cows, pigs, chickens, and even fish are sentient creatures in their own right. “I just wish I had [gone vegan] many years earlier.”

Monk also added that since adopting a plant-based diet, he has never felt healthier in 40 years. When he convinced a family member living with type-2 diabetes to go vegan, there was such a reversal to his symptoms that “he may quite soon no longer be diabetic.”

Veganism, Monk concluded, is not only the solution to climate change’s devastating effects but the key to all living creatures leading happier, healthier lives. “That is why veganism is an idea whose time has come,” he said.


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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