How do you wean people off animal products?

Question: How do you wean people off their reliance on animal products?


Ingrid Newkirk: It’s very easy, because although we have a campaign that says, “I’d rather go naked than wear fur,” if you don’t go wear fur, you don’t go naked. If you don’t eat meat and milk, you drink and eat something else. So the market simply shifts. It’s like the tobacco subsidies. The markets shift, you start growing new crops. You start doing things in a more ecologically sound, healthful, and kind way. But the market still exists. The fact is that it takes less land, and it pollutes less to go to non-animal agriculture.

Animal based agriculture is just ruining the country. And what it’s doing also is driving up all our healthcare costs. If you’re worried about the cost of the demise of the healthcare industry, then you might not wish to switch to a vegetarian diet or push anybody else to. But what we need is a care industry, not a huge, big pharmaceutical industry. So yes the big pharmaceuticals may be hurt. The big _________ businesses may be hurt, but it would be a return to the mom and pop store. It would be a return to the family farm.

It would be a return to respect for the land. It would be a return to thinking about animals not as commodities, not of making someone extraordinarily rich – because the divide between rich and poor is now enormous, and the divide between human recognition of what animals go through is now enormous – but it would be a more compatible, amicable relationship that we have with companies and with each other; and with our environment, which is fast becoming just a smog-filled mess.


Recorded on: November 12, 2007


It's all about shifting the market, says Newkirk.

Related Articles

Scientists sequence the genome of this threatened species

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.

Surprising Science
  • A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
  • It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
  • Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.

Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.

elephant by Guillaume le Clerc

Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons

13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.

It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.

But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.

John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."

What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.

Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.

Why cauliflower is perfect for the keto diet

The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.

Purple cauliflower. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
  • The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
  • It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
Keep reading Show less