Opinion: How Unconditional Basic Income Could Benefit the Vegan Movement

Megan Barker, Megan Media Design

Here vegan activist Megan Barker makes the case that the lack of unconditional basic income (UBI) is an obstacle for the Vegan movement because animal farmers find it too challenging to transition to new jobs without UBI, and workers with ethical objections can’t refuse the jobs on offer without UBI either.—Scott Santens, Editor, BIT.

I felt inspired to write about this topic because I’m deeply involved with both the Guaranteed Livable Income (aka #BasicIncome) movement and the vegan movement and I’m constantly seeing the connection between the two.

We need a Guaranteed Livable Income for MANY reasons, and we need a vegan world for MANY reasons… My intention for this blog is to share how a GLI would benefit the vegan movement and hopefully gain some much needed vegan allies to help advocate for both.

Here are 4 ways a GLI will benefit the vegan movement:

1. Safe Business Transition

We vegans hear it all the time… animal farmers continue because they don’t know how else to make money and/or the business has been in the family for generations. I think that simply saying “they can switch to a new business” glosses over the extreme financial risk and uncertainty they would be faced with during the process.

As we transition to a more vegan world, many animal agriculture related jobs would be (and are) lost as demand goes down. Yes, new jobs will be created but similar to issues from automation, new jobs are never a guarantee and also there is likely to be a transition period of no income. Currently, there are dairy farmers that are pleading with people to buy milk (even if it’s just to dump out) and are also getting large government bailouts to stay in business (even though the demand in shrinking). This is an issue I have seen brought up multiple times during vegan discussions but no real solution like a GLI is being talked about.

Animal farmers need to make money and even if they want to stop for ethical reasons (or loss of demand), they keep going because they feel they don’t have other options. A GLI would give businesses a safe vegan transition strategy without the risk of ending up in poverty.

2. Power to Say No to Unethical Jobs

With a GLI, people would have the power to say no to jobs that are unethical and/or harmful to people, animals and the environment without the risk /fear of ending up in poverty. Slaughter houses are often set up in marginalized communities where the locals don’t have many other job options, or they are undocumented workers and often have very poor working conditions and are taken advantage of. Finding people to kill animals for a living would be much harder to do if there was a GLI option because MOST people don’t want to kill animals. This could lead to a chain reaction where slaughter houses will need to increase wages in order to find employees, and result in an increase in the cost of meat production leading to more expensive meat for the consumer. A GLI gives employees a safe exit strategy from unethical working conditions.

3. Compassion for All

“I don’t know how to save the world. I don’t have the answers or The Answer. I hold no secret knowledge as to how to fix the mistakes of generations past and present. I only know that without compassion and respect for all of Earth’s inhabitants, none of us will survive—nor will we deserve to.” – Leonard Peltier.

Compassion for all earthlings is something that crosses over both the animal rights and human rights movements. We are all earthlings and have the right to live on this planet with health, and dignity. Perhaps a healthier society will also lead to a more compassionate one… for people and the animals. Maybe a GLI isn’t “The Answer” to this dilemma, but I believe it’s time to at least try and see if it can improve the path to compassion and freedom for all.

4. Free Time to THINK

“I think, therefore I am VEGAN.” – Unknown.

The free time and autonomy gained from having a GLI will help more people (who otherwise would be too stressed or exhausted) to learn about veganism and explore where meat comes from, the cruelty involved, the cost that animal agriculture has on the environment, and the importance of sustainability.

“I don’t have time to care” is something I have heard many times from people who say they agree with vegan values but admit they don’t have the energy or time to look into it. I can also can relate to feeling this way before. For over 10 years I worked full-time at jobs I wasn’t passionate about and drained me – My sister would try to inform me about factory farming and the environmental impact of eating meat and I knew she was right. I would tell her I agree… but for so long, I felt like a zombie that couldn’t care about anything other than just surviving my daily grind.

It wasn’t until I took some time off from working my “regular jobs” and started doing what I love, that I became more open learning, caring about my daily actions, and essentially making the big connection to animals. After an evening of watching documentaries and researching all the benefits, I ended up going vegan over night and have been vegan ever since. *It also helps that my sister is a Vegan Nutritionist/Chef who had been teaching me and feeding me the most incredible food.

More time to learn = faster evolution to a more ethical and just world.

Learn More + Get Involved with the GLI Movement

If you are in the Vancouver area: I recommend getting in touch with Livable Income Vancouver and checking out what public event they are hosting next. This is the group I am part of and in April 2019 we will be hosting a public forum on this very topic (the benefits to veganism).

Website: www.livableincomevancouver.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/livableincomevancouver/

Instagram: @livableincomevancouver

Twitter: @livableincomev

For a ton of resources: check out Livable 4 All. They are a small group that started in Victoria, BC and have been advocating, collecting researching and sharing information for over 20 years.

Website: www.livableincome.org

Twitter: @livable4all

Instagram: @livable4all

For the latest news and updates, find @scottsantens on twitter.

For everyone around the globe: check if you have a local group advocating for a GLI that you can get involved with (or start one).

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