Need career advice (related to veganism)

Forest Nymph

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Because of studies like these: https://phys.org/news/2018-07-meat-dairy-industry-track-surpass.html

I think the most important thing I can do with my life is to promote plant-based diets for environmental reasons. No matter what my personal feelings might be about animal rights or my ethical concerns, I know I absolutely MUST emphasize the environmental aspect to get more people to stop eating meat at the very least.

My problem is this: I want to apply to grad school and have talked to an advisor about forming my Masters project through working with real-world organizations to educate and promote plant-based diets for environmental reasons (my Bachelors will be in Enviro Sci, the grad program is called Environment and Community and focuses on Social Science rather than hard science and includes sustainable food systems as a concentration option.)

BUT here I am one semester away from graduating, trying to study for finals and my eye is literally twitching right now. I don't know if I can handle grad school without having a nervous breakdown.

I'm trying to decide if I should just graduate and go into direct activism, or if I should at least try the grad school option in the hopes that I would reach more people and people in enviro sci would see me as more "credible."
 

rogerjolly

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Hi FN,

I am not at all surprised that you have not been inundated with responses because yours is indeed a tricky problem.

Your credibility would certainly be enhanced with a master’s instead of a “mere” bachelor’s. And imagine the prestige of a doctorate. Wow. Dr. Forest Nymph. You might think, as a mature student, you do not have time for that. But believe me, from my exalted height an age of thirty six makes you almost nowt more than a youth.

Ask yourself what exactly is causing the stress. Is it that final intense swotting where there is so much “stuff” to squeeze in that there just doesn’t seem room for it all? And a week after you think you have something well locked away do you find that you can’t find the damn key?

If that is the case you might actually find a higher degree to be easier if it is research based rather than being examined. You can throw yourself into your project over a prolonged period of time and not have to worry at the end about any soul destroying cramming for final decisive examinations.

.... if I should at least try the grad school option ....
That would be a fatal approach. Either you must go into it full heartedly with absolutely no suggestion of possible failure or you must not do it at all. Any sort of halfway house would result in misery.

Good luck whichever way you decide to go. :)

Roger.
 

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I think the environmental harm is something worth mentioning and the world needs people who can explain it in a scholarly manner, so I don't see any problem there. But I would just leave it at that and let people draw their own conclusions rather than advocate plant based reducitarianism. The reason to go vegan is animal rights/justice. The reason to go reducitarian can be environmental but a person who changes their diet for this reason may then start hunting or doing small scale meat farming in their backyard, to minimize their impact.
 

Forest Nymph

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I think the environmental harm is something worth mentioning and the world needs people who can explain it in a scholarly manner, so I don't see any problem there. But I would just leave it at that and let people draw their own conclusions rather than advocate plant based reducitarianism. The reason to go vegan is animal rights/justice. The reason to go reducitarian can be environmental but a person who changes their diet for this reason may then start hunting or doing small scale meat farming in their backyard, to minimize their impact.
While I'm sure you have nothing but good intentions, I've researched this pretty extensively already and there's study after study supporting veganism, not reducetarianism. The only thing that comes close is local lacto-vegetarianism. That a small percentage of people who already eat farmed animals might be willing to actually kill their own is the least of my concerns. My focus is the majority. And we only have twelve years to stop climate change. I don't count on societal morality to change in less than 25. The people who are little children now will be some of the first to see veganism as just normal and what smart people do like supporting gay rights in my generation or feminism and people of color in the generation before.
 

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Honestly, I'm something of a "career student" so I understand the stress you are going through. It's my gut feeling that if you have the desire to get a master's now, and think there's any possible way you can endure the stress, you should do it now. I don't think it gets any easier if you wait and do it later, and I do think you having that degree would help with regards to your credibility.

PS. Kudos to you for embarking on this path. We need more people like you to wake people up.
 
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nobody

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Study after study supports what, that a vegan diet is better for the environment than one that contains small amounts of animal products? Even really tiny amounts? I would let a meat sandwich go to waste before eat it but would eat it if the reason for my diet change was the environment and would not call myself a vegan. How is it good for the environment to let a meat sandwhich go to waste? Environmental veganism makes no sense at all to me personally because environmental concerns are at often at odds with veganism, even though veganism is good for the environment overall on a macroscale. On a small scale, it's often not good for the environment. I just replaced my leather winter boots with vegan ones, A. to support the company, which only makes vegan shoes (native) and B. because I am a vegan and leather boots are not. The environment has to take a hit in this instance, but the cumulative effect of veganism in general ends up being good for the environment.
 

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What did you do with the old boots?
They're in my closet with two leather jackets which I haven't put on since going vegan and would never. I'm not sure what to do wth them. I do still sit on my leather couch and chair which I have been too lazy and cheap to replace, but I do not feel good about continuing to use them because matters of justice take precedence over the environment for me. I am desicrating the remains of the animals by using this furniture.
 

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They're in my closet with two leather jackets which I haven't put on since going vegan and would never. I'm not sure what to do wth them. I do still sit on my leather couch and chair which I have been too lazy and cheap to replace, but I do not feel good about continuing to use them because matters of justice take precedence over the environment for me. I am desicrating the remains of the animals by using this furniture.
Interesting - thank you for sharing.
I have a different thought process, which I don't expect anyone to agree with. I also still have a leather sofa - I'm not to "cheap" to replace it, I simply cannot afford to. I have a couple of leather jackets, one that I've tried to sell on eBay but can't seem to save my life (I used to be able to sell anything first time around - no clue what is going on w/ eBay now). I don't feel right about wearing either of them. I do, however, have a couple of down jackets, and a wool coat that I wear. I've had them forever and I have needed them lately. I have not been able to find a replacement for those that keep me as warm as they do. When I do, I'll gradually replace those things. But at this point, my thought process is that I am the only one who actually cares/appreciates the fact that an animal gave up his/her life in order for me to have them. Throwing them away seems no better than wearing them, IMO. If/when I give them away, it's doubtful they'd go to someone who would have the consciousness to care about that, so I keep them as deeming them trash is worse to me. I also have not found any shoes to replace the leather shoes I wear every day to work that function as well, look professional, and are going be as comfortable. Since I became vegan though, as I have purchased new items, I've been able find good alternatives. Not always actual vegan shoes, but at least they are not leather. I also no longer carry leather handbags, purses or wallets. I do what I can and expect that the full transition away from these items are going to take time - months or even years, whereas the food was ridiculously simple. This is what is practicable for me.
 
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nobody

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To clarify my use of the words vegan & reducitarian, a vegan is someone who at least eats no animal products ever, and a person who seldomly eats any animal products would be a reducitarian. The environmental impact of the animal products used by the reducitarian can be extremely negligable, so there can be no meaningful distinction between reducitarian and vegan with regards to the environmental impact. People don't have go completely vegan to have a dramatic impact on global warming, so I don't see how you can logically advocate anything more than near-vegan reducitarianism, if you are using the environment as a reason.

Also, there are these land based fish farms now, where they raise salmon in buildings that are suppose to be pretty eco friendly. Let's say that's true hypothetically, that inland fish farms are very easy on the environment, zero emissions, etc.,...now people don't have to go vegan necessarily, they can go pescetarian if we're saying the environment is the reason they should change their diet.
 

Forest Nymph

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Study after study supports what, that a vegan diet is better for the environment than one that contains small amounts of animal products? Even really tiny amounts? I would let a meat sandwich go to waste before eat it but would eat it if the reason for my diet change was the environment and would not call myself a vegan. How is it good for the environment to let a meat sandwhich go to waste? Environmental veganism makes no sense at all to me personally because environmental concerns are at often at odds with veganism, even though veganism is good for the environment overall on a macroscale. On a small scale, it's often not good for the environment. I just replaced my leather winter boots with vegan ones, A. to support the company, which only makes vegan shoes (native) and B. because I am a vegan and leather boots are not. The environment has to take a hit in this instance, but the cumulative effect of veganism in general ends up being good for the environment.
Lol this is my major and I just did a presentation on it. I will link you to the studies and post graphs tomorrow or over the weekend.

For example in one study externalities were compared by the year 2050. The three diets used were a "healthy" reducetarian meat diet, vegetarian and vegan. Even the reducetarian scenario is double the impact of vegetarianism. It's more than double the impact of vegan or one hundred percent plant based.

You're thinking individually I'm thinking globally. No one sandwich left over doesn't matter with one person. But if everyone in America keeps eating "smaller amounts" of fast food we are all in ******* trouble. Reduce is what people thought twenty years ago. Those people are now wrong.

Also don't compare old leather boots to weekend-only cheeseburger. One is an existing durable good. The other can come to an end. False comparison.

Please by all means focus only on animal rights. I care about animal rights. But it's unrealistic to believe this alone will change what needs to change in time.
 

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Please by all means focus only on animal rights. I care about animal rights. But it's unrealistic to believe this alone will change what needs to change in time
I think it would be better for you to present all this information but say truthfully that it isn't the reason people should go vegan. Because if you believe justice is the primary reason people should go vegan but you tell them it's the environment, then you're lying to them. So I'd say global warming is the second most important reason people should go vegan. If you do that, then I can see how you are advocating veganism as opposed to say an environmentally conscious reducitarian diet, which could include fish caught in a stream or deer killed and butchered by a hunter family member/friend, or sustainable aquaculture fish if that exists.
 
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Forest Nymph

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http://www.pnas.org/content/113/15/4146.long

Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change


https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms11382


Exploring the biophysical option space for feeding the world without deforestation

In these two studies in particular, vegan or 100% plant based diets were shown to far exceed "reducetarianism" ...in this first diagram, from the second study (biophysical option) you can see "rich" as a SAD diet, but the "Meat" diet is comparable to what you're calling reducetarian, and as you can see only vegetarianism and veganism are extremely sustainable, with veganism being completely sustainable.


upload_2018-12-14_16-24-10.png



I actually made this second graph from facts in the first study (cobenefits) for a PowerPoint. It shows externalities, or indirect costs of human behaviors, by the year 2050 in terms of both climate change and health care. You can look at the study for yourself, which is why I posted it. HGD = "healthy global diet" ...again, reducetarian, not SAD ...is twice as costly as vegetarianism and even more so than veganism.

upload_2018-12-14_16-26-53.png
 

Forest Nymph

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I think it would be better for you to present all this information but say truthfully that it isn't the reason people should go vegan. Because if you believe justice is the primary reason people should go vegan but you tell them it's the environment, then you're lying to them. So I'd say global warming is the second most important reason people should go vegan. If you do that, then I can see how you are advocating veganism as opposed to say an environmentally conscious reducitarian diet, which could include fish caught in a stream or deer killed and butchered by a hunter family member/friend, or sustainable aquaculture fish if that exists.
Why would I use the word "vegan" if I was working with environmental organizations? Though I could because scientists definitely do. I think what you're not comprehending is that if people don't go plant-based for the environment, there's not going to be any animals to save. It's not an "either/or" thing for me. It's all combined. You seem to believe we have some sort of luxurious century of kicking around social justice to get people to eat a lot less animals, if I am not misunderstanding you.

There is no real sustainable aquaculture or fish farms either. I'm pretty dramatically opposed to them, we have them on our campus, and they create inbred diseased fish and pollute bodies of water. Raising the fish indoors sounds like using fossil fuels and taking water supplies from somewhere. I can certainly look more into it, I won't be closed minded, it's my duty as an environmental scientist to do so - but for right now I know it disrupts ecosystems and uses up more resources.

I also can't stop people from hunting deer. This purist attitude gets no one anywhere, though in fact hunting deer does unnaturally inflate deer populations because of killing bucks rather than does, so there's all these does and it only takes one male to get them all pregnant. So then you get an explosion of deer. They denude the environment of plants, and hunters say this is justification to kill them...but how is this affecting mountain lion populations, who love deer, and are a keystone species?

I don't think any of it is environmentally sound anymore. It may have been 200 years ago, even 50 years ago, but not now.
 

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Those studies are using the word reducitarian differently than I was. I was talking about near vegan reducitarian diets, not ones with as much animal products the reducitarians in the studies consumed. If you have a slice of non-vegan pie monthly, that is reducitarian to me. Also, if you are only considering the environment, there's nothing wrong with having a slice of non-vegan pie, or meatball every other month, maybe one that would have gone to waste anyway. A reducitarian diet that is near vegan has about the same environmental impact as a vegan diet. That's all I've been saying - not that reducitarian is better for the environment.

As far as environmental diets, they say chicken has less emissions than cattle, and they mentioned that in An Inconvenient Truth and Cowspiracy I believe. So that is along the same lines as what you're talking about, i.e., advocating a diet change for environmental reasons.
 

Forest Nymph

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Those studies are using the word reducitarian differently than I was. I was talking about near vegan reducitarian diets, not ones with as much animal products the reducitarians in the studies consumed. If you have a slice of non-vegan pie monthly, that is reducitarian to me. Also, if you are only considering the environment, there's nothing wrong with having a slice of non-vegan pie, or meatball every other month, maybe one that would have gone to waste anyway. A reducitarian diet that is near vegan has about the same environmental impact as a vegan diet. That's all I've been saying - not that reducitarian is better for the environment.

As far as environmental diets, they say chicken has less emissions than cattle, and they mentioned that in An Inconvenient Truth and Cowspiracy I believe. So that is along the same lines as what you're talking about, i.e., advocating a diet change for environmental reasons.
I know more about this subject than yourself and no I won't be advocating chicken as a vegan nor as an environmentalist, as that's outdated thinking. The entire point is to promote plant based diets not reducetarianism.

Furthermore someone who eats a non vegan pie once a month isn't a reducetarian they're a vegetarian.

I've kind of lost track of what your point even is. Getting factory farms shut down helps veganism. Meat taxes help veganism. Promoting plant based diets, education about them and plant based products helps veganism.

All you've really given me to think about is semantics. Well other than realizing vegans can be just as ignorant about sustainability as meat eaters.
 

Forest Nymph

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Just to be clear organizations like the World Widelife Fund have promoted plant based diets the most sustainable in the world. Chapters of the Sierra Club in California have vegetarian and vegan only events. And a huge sustainability conference at my university last spring served nothing that wasn't vegan.

My project would either foster more of the same to normalize veganism and force plant based over "reducetarian" in environmental circles, or would educate and empower plant based diets among certain populations.

If anyone legitimately thought I'd waste time and money going to grad school just to tell people to eat less beef must not be aware of my other posts on the forum.

My question was is this worth it or can I change the world more with direct activism. Because my goal is to change things not argue politely about fish farms. I've had enough of that as an undergrad in a school with a fish farm.
 

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Honestly - Like it or not (and I personally think it doesn't matter, nor should it, at all), I think "Dr. Forest Nymph" has a more authoritative ring to it than does "Forest Nymph" ;)
 
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nobody

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It sounds like we mean different things by "plant based diet". To me it means a mostly vegan diet with small amounts of animal products: dairy, eggs, or meat. To you, plant based diet means what, vegan and vegetarian? If so, what if a reducitarian has one meatball per month but eats only vegan food otherwise while a vegetarian eats cheese every day? In that case, the reducitarian has the more environmentally friendly diet.

How do the studies define "plant based diet"?
 
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