On hypocrites: Graham Hill of Treehugger talks about why he’s a “weekday vegetarian”   »

As a vegan, there are few things more nails-on-chalkboard grating than hearing yet another word or phrase invented by green-minded omnivores to feel better about themselves for eating meat. If you call yourself a “pescatarian” or “flexitarian,” unless you can point me to the pesctable and flexifruit aisles of the produce section (and no, Monsanto gene-splicing doesn’t count), you’re really just a meat-eater appropriating vegetarianism to latch onto some kind of perceived moral credibility.

So I braced myself for Graham Hill’s TED talk on “weekday vegetarianism,” half-expecting to get a new neologism-from-hell (weekdaytarian? weekdgan?) out of the deal. I had always known that Graham Hill wasn’t, in fact, a vegetarian, and has spoken about it quite candidly on Treehugger. He knows it’s a contradiction, and, as an environmentalist who should know better, he still can’t bring himself to never eat meat ever again.

In a way, it fits. Treehugger is very much in the “What do we want? Incremental progress! When do we want it? In the second quarter of next year!" vein. They celebrate bikes and bike lanes, but they also really want you to read every fuel-efficient-car press release.

Graham Hill is a hypocrite, and he knows it. He goes one further: he embraces his hypocrisy to (he hopes) commit a mainstream audience towards making better choices. Because given two binary choices—don’t eat meat/drive/pollute vs. live the McMansion/SUV/Walmart dream—most people will pick a side, and it’s not the one we’d like.

Consistency has achieved the status of our highest national virtue. It’s better to let the world drown in oil and choke on cow exhaust than be a “hypocrite” explaining away the daily contradictions of living in the world; when you’re explaining, you’re losing, they tell us. But maybe the world needs more hypocrites, individuals who are at least committing to something better, and nudging others who would normally leave their heads buried deeply in the sand.

We still need vegans and vegetarians more than ever. It keeps the Overton Window wide open, and makes room for this idea of “well I could never do that, but I could do it half/most of the time.” Graham Hill’s punchline? ”If all of us ate half as much meat, it would be like half of us were vegetarians.” I would take that in a heartbeat.


Take the Veg Pledge 2010! (Or vegans, tell your friends!)  »

Students for Animal Rights (StAR) is organizing their first annual Veg Pledge for 2010. Their goal is to get 25,000 people to cut down on meat, dairy and eggs for the month of May, and they need your help.

While it’s aimed at college students, anyone can do it. All you have to do is sign up on their website:

As a university student, I am a leader for my generation and an example for society. I am concerned about the suffering of farm animals and the impact of animal agriculture on global warming, the environment, and my health. By signing my name, I pledge to cut down on meat, dairy, and egg products for the month of May, 2010 and commit to exploring a more humane and sustainable diet.

If they get to 25,000 pledges, StAR estimates that 250,000 animals will be saved, CO2 emissions will be reduced by 2.5 million pounds, and 5 million pounds of livestock manure will never get…manured. Not too shabby.

You can pledge at one of four levels: Platinum (all-vegan for all of May), Gold (vegan for five days a week), Silver (vegan for one meal a day), or Bronze (vegan for one day a week).

Taking the Veg Pledge is a great excuse to try something new, and to show people how easy it is to go vegan, or to at least cut back on the meat. So if you or your green-minded friends have been looking for an excuse to rethink your diet, May is your month. We won’t even make you grow a mustache.

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