Is there any room left of the Green Party on environmental policy? Karen Levenson sure thinks so, and she’s running for the Animal Protection Party to prove it. Having run twice before under the APP’s old banner, the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Levenson told Open Sources Guelph that you can’t separate climate action from animal protection and welfare.
Since she last ran as a candidate in Guelph in 2011, Levenson has kept busy with her activism through an animal protection group, and writing a book about her efforts called, Confessions of an Animal Rights Terrorist. “Everybody has to be an activist today,” Levenson said. “We’re in dire straits with our planet and the way we’re experiencing heatwaves, flooding, and drought.”
Despite the new found urgency around the issue of climate change, Levenson said that she feels like it’s become a “trendy topic” and that most of the major parties don’t go far enough in their climate change plans to tackle the issue effectively, especially when it comes to one environmental concern people are loathe to talk about on a campaign trail.
“Animal agriculture is involved in climate change. It’s a very tricky and tough topic for other politicians to talk about, and nobody else mentions that in their platforms” Levenson explained. “According to the Worldwatch Institute, 51 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are from animal agriculture, and that doesn’t just include methane from cows, it includes all the land that is deforested, and can’t absorb carbon anymore. You can’t solve climate change without tackling this issue of animal agriculture and meat consumption.”
In a world where it’s hard enough to convince people to get out of their vehicles let alone give up their hamburgers and chicken meals, Levenson said that there are as many great economic opportunities by moving our collective diets away from meat, as there is moving our power needs away from burning fossil fuels.
“All of the animal food products that we grew up eating are now being replicated, and there’s new technology out there that’s going to make it so we don’t even need animals [to eat],” Levenson explained.
“There was a study done in 1997 from a Cornell professor who said we could feed 800 million people with the amount of crops they could grow in one year from land used for animal agriculture,” Levenson added. “We could end food insecurity and poverty, and use all this agriculture land to develop eco-friendly housing, sustaining our people, and creating a better world as well.”
Levenson credits a life long love of animals to a less than ideal home life, one where she had to protect the family dog, Inky, from the wrong end of a rolled up newspaper.
“I saw that his fear, and my fear, were the same, and that his well being was being violated while my well being was also being violated. There didn’t seem to be a real distinction,” Levenson said. “I don’t think we know enough about animals, and we’re learning so much more that shows they’re more intelligent, complex, and have their own cultures and social groups that we know nothing about. We’re so much more alike than different, and if I’m going to fight for myself, I have to fight for them.”
Levenson is fighting for animals her way by working with the Animal Protection Party, which she admits is small, but it could still be the beginning of something big.
“When the NDP started they were one or two candidates, when the Green Party started they were the same, so we are in our infancy, absolutely, but we are talking about issues that other candidates aren’t talking about,” Levenson said. “If each of us changed our diet, even a little bit, we would end so much of the methane and other emissions that are plaguing our planet.”
You can learn more about the Animal Protection Party and its platform here.
You can hear the whole interview on Open Sources Guelph, download the episode on your favourite podcast app at Apple, Stitcher, Google, and Spotify.