News - May 20, 2014

Blog: The unsustainable lightness of being

As a student at Wageningen University, you probably stand for one of the many problems that burden this world. From the ecocide of the bees to the tragedy of protein malnutrition to the ugliness of the meat industry, passing by the issue of land grabbing and mining. I’m surrounded by so much good will and awareness. Still, too often I spot contradictions between the preaching and the practice.

Perhaps we humans are too good at not seeing issues beyond our comfort zone. Let me put it in the memorable words of a Norwegian friend of mine:  ‘I am vegetarian because meat production contributes to GHG emissions. Yet, I fly so much that for the same amount of CO2 I could eat half a pig every day.’ Dear vegetarian hipsters, when I recall this sentence, I think of you. You, who would not give up a flight to Vietnam or a new Iphone, do not mind shopping H&M, and die without your 10am coffee, and yet righteously repel a slice of ham, hoping to leave a lighter carbon footprint. I envy your capacity to be so unsustainably light.

On the other hand, no one can live in this hyper-connected modernity without provoking some negative externalities. This insight should not stop us from trying not to provoke them. Thus, it hurts more watching students ridiculing each other’s cause, than watching them act inconsistently. Why fighting each other when, after all, we are all in for a kinder, fairer planet? Notice the African nutritionist poking the defender of fish welfare, throwing the old red herring, the accusation that enmeshes all animal-lovers—‘Hitler was vegetarian too…’.

'I believe each of us should do their best within their own means, bearing in mind that there is no blueprint set of choices or ideology for a righteous ethical behaviour. This will make our existence, if not much more sustainable, at least a more honest and wholesome one