When girl power saved the planet

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In an unlikely turn of events, it appears that the Spice Girls, Attila the Hun and vegans could hold the answer to world peace as well as saving the planet and preserving the lives of billions of sentient beings around the globe.  

What do the Spice Girls have to do with saving the planet, you might ask?

Let’s fast forward ten years to set the scene. 

It’s 2029 and there is one year left of the climate emergency deadline which the IPCC report laid out way back in 2018. A year after the report came out, an amazing group of activists, called Extinction Rebellion rose up and garnered mainstream media coverage, highlighting the emergency and calling on global citizens and state leaders to take urgent action. 

Meanwhile, the United States has welcomed its first female President, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The UK is now led by the Green Party – yes, they finally made it into power! 

Greta Thunberg won the Noble Peace Prize a few years ago and she’s now Minister for the Environment in her home country of Sweden. 

McDonalds is still selling their ubiquitous Big Mac but it’s made of cultured meat. 

Ranchers and farmers all over the world have signed up to rewilding programmes which helped them step away from animal farming, using their land for more environmentally aligned and profitable business models, no longer having to reply on state subsidies.

It’s quite shocking to think back to 2019, a time fraught with climate anxiety, gender inequalities and an archaic anthropocentric approach to animals and the environment.

So here we are in 2029 and the lay of the land is such that we might just about have secured our futures on this beautiful planet. The Earth is still in a fairly fragile state but carbon levels plateaued some years ago and global citizens embarked on personal carbon reduction pledges by cutting out meat and travelling more ethically. 

Women protesting gender inequality

Rewind back to 2019.

Imagine if we had a crystal ball and could see into the future, and imagine if we had some confirmation that the world would be this way. 

Well… it could be. 

We know that veganism has grown beyond our wildest imaginations and food innovators the world over are quickly and confidently working on the most incredible innovations from plant based foods to cultured meat (imagine if and when they meet in the middle, eradicating the need to ever slaughter an animal for food again!). 

The key to a sustainable planet and to a better society, lies in global equality, for which we need to spend a moment exploring the intersection of movements like civil rights, animal rights and women’s liberation. 

Let’s go back in time 10,000 years.

The advent of agricultural society is upon us, as is the dawn of human exploitation and social division. 

The possession of large numbers of animals like horses, cows, goats, pigs and sheep is a symbol of wealth and the elite men in society have extended their power and ownership to women and vulnerable people. 

Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan are terrorising communities in search of land, people and animals en masse, forcing vulnerable people and animals into slavery. 

This aggressive, patriarchal pursuit of power continues throughout the Americas, Africa and Australia where countless indigenous people are murdered and enslaved. 

Fast forward to the twentieth century.

 “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.” Tolstoy

The patriarchal, power hungry ways of the past continued into the twentieth century. After World War I, and despite horses no longer being needed for war, meat was deemed absolutely necessary for fighting men. 

Unfortunately, the situation worsened in the middle of the last century with the establishment of the Animal Industrial Complex (AIC) and the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) which reinforced each other and took the oppression of other animals and people to a whole new level, having realised the potential profitability of industrial animal production systems. 

According to Anthony J. Nocella in his book, ‘Defining Critical Animal Studies’
‘…the AIC is striving to profitably double the consumption of animal products globally by mid-century.’

As we know, the patriarchal system of old is hugely flawed - particularly when you consider that 56 billion sentient animals are killed each year for food, providing just 18% of calories needed for the global population but taking up 83% of farmland, not to mention the negative impact on health that the consumption of animal products has. It’s clearly time for a system of equality to take its place. 

Cows in a field at dusk

But what has this got to do with girl power?

What if the rights of all living things were guaranteed and all sentient beings were respected and revered?

This is the belief upon which the theory of ecofeminism - a system established by French feminist, Francoise d’Eaubonne in the 1970’s - is based. The ecofeminism movement seeks to address phenomena that effect contemporary society, gender equality and environmental preservation, aiming to understand oppression and eliminate domination. 

The theory recognises similarities between the oppression of the environment and the domination of women, concluding that humans' need to control the environment is identical to men's need to control women, elites' need to control the poor, and 'whites' need to control 'blacks', and so on.

The onus here is on the collaboration of activist movements and the belief that once we recognise the ineffectiveness of the current patriarchal system and that it is at odds with a sustainable planet, we can move forward to a system of true equality and environmental stability. 

And that is where the idea of eco feminism steps in to save the day.

And it’s all so simple, it comes down to respecting all life

A system of true equality - where all humans and other animals are considered equal, regardless of sex, skin colour or species - is a tall order but if enough people understand how we came to live in a society of exploitation and dominance, as well as how much we all stand to gain from a society of equality, it becomes something of a no brainer. 

I think it’s true to say that we all want to live happy, healthy and peaceful lives, finding purpose and leaving a positive legacy and what better way to do so than to follow a vegan lifestyle and to respectfully share our ideas with our families and friends. When you begin to really think about it, you can even imagine a system of equality leading to world peace!

One of the most effective ways, therefore, for us as individuals to make a difference and to bring about a more balanced and peaceful world is to raise awareness of the connected issues and to embark on activism, helping all communities in their quest for equality. What we choose to eat, to wear and the products that we use in our daily lives is the greatest impact that we can personally have. Furthermore, once we share our lifestyles, planting the seed, and engaging and encouraging everyone we meet to also make a difference, the collective chain of events that we can trigger has the potential to change the world in remarkable ways. 

Rachel McClelland is the founder and CEO of The Planet Shine, a worldwide media channel rooted in ethical living, which seeks to engage a mainstream global audience.  www.theplanetshine.com 

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