Vegaculture took shape and form around 25 years ago, when I first encountered Permaculture. I recognised that permaculture was a collection from many different sources, of useful information for common sense living. The fact that it was a scholarly attempt at defining a system of sustainable practices, by integrating successful examples of historic cultural and social norms, into a discernible philosophy and methodology for reproducing as best one could, an approach to a sustainable culture, deemed the process one of elegance and practical necessity, whose time had certainly arrived. And so permaculture arose and quickly grasped the imagination and formulated a basis for community support and action, reinforcing the needs of many individuals seeking a like mindedness, and dedication to a peer group activity of immense personal and social worth. The legacy of permaculture is enormous, with influence spread over many countries by dedicated thinkers, teachers and practitioners.
I was always struck by the universalism of the permaculture approach and its message for people and the environment. As a long term vegetarian and newish vegan though, I had difficulty adjusting to the notion that animals were seemingly open to integration within principles, which did not have clear boundaries around the methods of their employment, in a system designated for the good of humans and the environment perhaps, but with a subservient role in the scheme of project deployment, perhaps even contrary to their own natural living conditions and respect as sentient creatures. There existed a gap in their means of protection.
I might say also at the outset here, that to find a right relationship with domesticated animals is a work in progress, and my observation is that animal carers who wish to maintain an ongoing relationship per se, with their furry, birdy, loveable, rescued or independant animal of choice, may and do contribute appropriate modifications with a sense of justice and equality in mind to the best of their ability. The edge or margins of care come into question of course, when one realises that there may be a hidden, sometimes more sinister motive in animal care, when the choice of animals is not on the basis of a loving sharing relationship, but one of birthing, and raising, and yes loving and caring in the now for short periods, but also selling or trading and eventually eating ones companion, or their progeny. When this aspect arises in the planning process, in the application of permaculture, then from a vegetarian or vegan perspective, and I would argue, from a prima fascia examination of the situation, conflict is bound to arise.
Permaculture is good at resolving conflict too, so this is not critical of the permaculture process, as an outcome could be selected which mandates 100% animal rights, freedom and welfare, as part os the particular solution. So there is no reason to blame the messenger here, as in other aspects of life the same applies; the practice and philosophy and guidelines may all be very just and appropriate, however, as humans with our imperfections, and as stated in the case of ulterior motives other than the perspective of the animal, we are bound to get a variety of unsuccessful outcomes.
Where the small scale home based living situation (eg. a small permaculture project) incorporates domesticated farm animals, in the home setting, I understand that a degree of empathy and care for the animals in the home landscape and environment is readily achievable on an on going basis due to the awareness and presence of the tenant, and as small landholdings offer minimal space restriction for natural animal roamimg, movement and freedom. The tenants in these living situations are usually most readily able to identify appropriate animal habitats.
Unfortunately, a space restriction becomes evident where pet carers and others are living in their own confines, viz a viz. cities and apartments, which they themselves are prepared for but which may be marginally suitable, often unsuitable for the cared animal which has no say. As ones attention moves from the domestic, to the farming environment, the conflicting requirements af animal rights, animal welfare and farming operations and industries, commercialisation and interference with natural animal heritage and activity become grossly apparent and where most people presented with the facts of the animal confines and controls, find absolutely abhorrent outcomes, without any sense of empathy or justice in a system of denigration projected as a cultural norm by those seeking to gain benefit from existing practices.
It should be stated here, that although permaculture principles can be claimed to be part of the economy and efficiency of these operations as some do; I certainly, and I expect most people practicing and teaching small scale permaculture, in the tradition of historic community living, do not relate to these practices as expressing any degree of sustainability, totally removed from the scale of a traditional cultural norm and therefore cannot be properly claimed to meet the aims and aspirations put forward by spinning the message. These farming practices include all factory and crowded land and water based farms.
Other situations such as show animals, sport animals, smaller farmed animal settings and animals in human habitats and care, have little recognition and no control, but are restricted for a wide variety of purposes, some well intentioned, which would function better with an appropriate universal application of rights and transitional welfare, not only industry standards and minimal improvements, but with proper recognition of their daily living. Still other situations which must be considered are perhaps some zoos, shops and even wildlife parks, those where the sick and treated wildlife, pets, helpers, companion animals and rescued species predominate.
This brief overview and explanation if proffered as an introduction to my identification of a permaculture system which nominates and provides the rights and welfare of animals for consideration as an integral member of the design process being formulated and considered, and which I call Vegaculture.
This collection of views and opinions are sourced from my life, offered in one setting, to be seen together as expressions of the whole. I dont claim ownership of any of the information, nor do I expect value judgements arising from these notes to effect my right to such personal expression. I am interested to receive any feedback you may have, and pleased to consider that one may have taken the time to read and value these words.
Thus one simple definition of Vegaculture, is the provision of derived outcomes, based on the right and proper consideration of people, animals, plants, sentience and the environment.
Lokah, samastah sukhino bhavantu, …may all beings be happy and free……..