These days, when you look at blogs that advocate ethical and sustainable living, you see a lot of people from the same ideologies. The vast majority of bloggers fall into the stereotypical environmentalist: white, left-leaning, vegan, climate change advocate, live in a big city, and middle class. A few break the mold in terms of ethnicity and location, but their ideologies are generally the same. The problem is most of the world doesn’t fall into these categories. And I don’t think we all should be following the same ideologies either.
Veganism vs. Vegetarianism
One of the biggest trends I see in the sustainable living movement is veganism. While this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, I don’t think it’s something that needs to be pushed onto everyone. Bloggers, celebrities, and many others push veganism as the best diet, that it helps people deal with aches and pains, and is the best for the environment. However, there’s a growing group of people that outspoken vegans often forget: those suffering from nut and fruit allergies.
Since vegans use beans and nuts to get their daily protein instead of meat or eggs, people who have nut allergies either suffer on a vegan diet or are not physically capable of doing one. And considering fruit allergies like strawberry, apple, and pitted fruit exist, it adds to the struggle for some. This makes a vegan diet difficult, unless they want to take supplements or eat rice and beans for the rest of their lives. Which definitely isn’t the most exciting food when there’s all sorts of yummy vegan food out there.
Veganism isn’t the perfect diet solution, though I don’t think it’s a bad one. But there should be more awareness of others who can’t jump on the trend due to health concerns. While I just mentioned allergies, there may be other reasons people can’t go vegan either. Being a vegetarian might be a little easier for them, both on the wallet and on the stomach. While most vegans won’t get upset about people eating meat for health reasons, but some aren’t aware or push it regardless.
Left-leaning Political Views
Not everyone on the planet is big into socialism or other left-leaning ideologies. And some outliers in the sustainability movement aren’t doing it for that political group either. Some are simply moderates who want to help the human rights movement or just be good stewards of the Earth. Others do it for almost a complete opposite reason: to be off the grid.
There’s a term in the right-leaning ideology called “crunchy conservative.” It refers to a broad range of right-leaning folk in the U.S. who value conservatism in nature as well as culture. Basically, eco-conscious conservatives. Considering my own right-leaning roots, I’d probably put myself as someone interested in becoming a more crunchy conservative. Or at least a “crunchy” Libertarian or moderate.
Speaking of moderates, there’s also those who don’t like either the left or the right when it comes to politics. They prefer the middle road or a different road, like Libertarians. These people may also not agree with the main focus on environmentalism, but agree with other parts that aren’t pushed as heavily, such as human rights or waste reduction. But they are still interested in learning more.
The main reason I bring politics up is that it feels like many eco-conscious advocates shun anyone outside of the left-leaning political group. If you’re not liberal or don’t lean left at all, you’re not environmentally conscious enough. And I don’t agree with that mindset. It can heavily deter others who might be curious about sustainability. We want to encourage others to be curious, not shun them for disagreeing politically.
This a big one for most eco-conscious advocates. And while most people won’t argue that climate does change regularly, there are those who don’t see this change as man-made. Rather they see it as cyclical. The Earth goes through warming and cooling phases, and this explains the fluctuation in global temperatures from year to year. There’s technically evidence for both theories, so it makes it difficult to prove with absolute certainty that mankind is dooming the planet beyond all hope.
That being said, that doesn’t mean people who see climate change as a natural cycle are also not interested in helping the planet in other ways. Pollution is still a major concern for many of them, particularly whatever local pollutant is the largest in their area. Most of the time, they won’t be nearly as worried about pollution occurring in a different part of the world.
They can also be cynical about how much our efforts truly help when the news surrounding humanity’s impact on the world is displayed so negatively. If there’s so much plastic in the ocean, what’s one more straw in the landfill? If the planet is really getting warmer with almost no way to stop it, what’s another car trip? I think the solution to this is changing the way we advocate for sustainable living. Present it as a solution that has an actual effect. The numbers and percentages of pollutants are important, but the number of ways people can make a difference matter just as much.
The Uncommon Sustainability Advocate
When it comes to demonstrating the sustainability movement, being the average advocate can sometimes hurt the cause. We need more people from different walks of life to join us. After all, the world isn’t one ideology or one people group. It’s a diverse gathering of groups with all sorts of backgrounds. And I think we need to be more willing to welcome people with different ideologies. From the crunchy conservatives to the every day person.
How do you fall on the ideology scale? Are you a mainstream sustainability advocate or someone more on the outlier end of the spectrum? Let me know in the comments, and let me also challenge you this week to try to get to know someone from a different perspective than you. You might find you have more in common than you realize.