The Green Anarchist CookBook
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Table of Contents Intro...3 Overview5
The Environmental Movement 5 The Anarchist Movement 8 Green Anarchism 9
Groups and Movements.13
Food Not Bombs 15 Earth First! 21 Critical Mass 26 Reclaim the Streets 28
Eating Local 38 Vegetarianism/Veganism 42 Freeganism 51
Community Gardens 58 Guerilla Gardening 66 Seed Bombing 70
Going off the Grid...75
Energy 77 Water 84 Waste 88
Miscellaneous..92 Wheatpasting 93 Moss Graffiti 95 Hitchhiking 97 Herbal Medicine 101
Conclusion.107 Image Sources...109 Works Cited..112
This is a guidebook. It is not meant to convince you of anything. If youre reading this, I probably dont need to tell you that we are in the midst of the greatest environmental crisis in human history. If you are reading this, I probably dont need to tell you that the world is full of human suffering and injustice - from the visible misery caused by war and genocide to the quiet anguish of the sweatshop laborer or repressed homosexual. If youre reading this, you know that the world needs to be changed. And finally, if youre reading this, youre the one to change it.
So youre going to change the world. Better yet, youre going to
fix the world. But the question, as always, is how?. How can you really go about making a meaningful difference? That is why this book is here. If the principles contained in this book are principles that you believe in, principles that you truly feel are the right path to a better world, then this book will guide you. It is a handbook. Like the original Anarchists Cookbook, this is a book of recipes sets of ingredients and directions that explain how to create something. Unlike the original, this is actually based on a set of moral values meant to create positive change. These are not recipes for making napalm out of gasoline or Molotov cocktails out of a beer bottle, gas, and a tampon. These are recipes for how to eat, how to garden, how to live, in ways that will have a positive impact on the world recipes for fixing the world.
Luckily, in all that you do, you are not alone. There is a vast
network of people out there who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place. From the hard working lawyer who represents the poor pro bono, to bands of guerilla gardeners silently adding life to a cold, concrete, world; from the businessman who makes the effort to go to his sons baseball game, to the socialist collective marching on May Day for labor rights; countless have joined the fight. You are not alone. Atlas
does not have to hold the world up on his own. We will all be there, every one of us, working together to hold up that world. And we will not struggle or falter under its weight. Together, we will lift it up, holding it proudly above our heads as we walk into the future.
Clearly, the logical question to ask after picking up this book is What is Green Anarchism?. How do the hippy tree-huggers possibly relate to those angsty youth who wear black masks and throw bricks through Starbucks windows? would be the typical conception of Green Anarchism. It is with these public misconceptions in mind that I hope to explain what the true meanings of these words are both green and anarchist. It is only when all the false perceptions of these movements are removed that it is possible to look at the intersection. Then we can see what it is that is meant by Green Anarchism, and what that means to us.
The Environmental Movement
Beginning for the most part, in the sixties, the Environmental, or
green, movement is relatively young. However, in its short life-span it has been extremely successful. Some point to legislation as measures of success. The Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol seem to be proof that the environmental movement has created positive change, and it has. But what I feel is more important is that the environmental movement, in a fairly unique way, was able to change the way we think. It has not simply been an appeal to change our ways, it has been a fight to change our consciousness. And it all began with a book, a marble, and a fire.
In 1962 Rachel Carson wrote a book titled Silent Spring. In it, she described how the use of pesticides may have dramatic effects on both our environment and nature. Today, that seems like a typical piece of environmental journalism. Then, it was revolutionary. Never before was it questioned that our path of development of technology and industrialization may not be the right one. It was hardly even considered that we could be heading in the wrong direction. Just as importantly, it questioned our effects on the environment. The ocean had always been too vast, the land too firm, for us to think that we were effecting it.
Now, she proved, we have become so powerful that not even the natural world is safe.
This idea was further compounded with the introduction of a marble. This marble, a small orb of blue with splotches of green and swirls of white, was not just any marble. This marble was earth. All of it. Our entire world scaled down to the size of a tiny, fragile marble, hanging delicately in a black sky. When the astronauts of Apollo 8 took Earthrise from the moon,
Rachel Carsons notion of a vulnerable earth suddenly seemed real.
Finally, this notion of our having an effect on the environment was brought home, to our doorsteps, in a brilliant fashion. It was June of 1969 when the Cuyahoga river of Cleveland was set aflame. This fire, though actually the tenth to occur, was the first to be fully publicized and photographed. The incredible imagery of a river polluted enough to light on fire was all that was needed. The public became aware and willing to make change. The environmental movement was born.
People, mostly the youth, took to the streets. They picketed, they protested, and most of all, they cared. Pollution became a matter of large importance. A hole in the ozone layer was discovered and subsequently fixed as governments came together to enact the necessary legislation. The destruction of the rainforest became an issue. Endangered species became a household word. Finally, the environmental movement led to where we are today. We are a society that knows that we are affecting the natural world. We are a society that knows that it affects us. But, unfortunately, we have not yet done enough about it. For now, we are facing what is arguably the biggest disaster in history a crisis of absolute global
importance. We are dealing with human-caused climate change. Now, more than ever, we need the environmental movement.
But along this road, the environmental movement has stood for more than just what we consider nature. For we, as humans, are not simply affecting the environment, we are a part of it. If the loss of a tree is important, certainly the loss of a human life is just as important. In addressing the environmental movements emphasis on social rights, Joshua Karliner, author of The Corporate Planet, says:
Of course, such environmental protection cannot be achieved without the inclusion of a strong social dimension. Indeed, some measures, if decided upon and taken up solely in the name of the environment, can lead to negative and undesirable social and political repercussions Thus the principal of social justice comes into play social justice is taken to mean empowering the world's impoverished majority so that they can meet their basic needs. It also requires protecting basic human rights, as well as racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. It signifies supporting labor rights and gender equality, etc.
Thus we see that the environmental movement is about more
than nature. It is about rights of all sorts, but with a special emphasis on the environment.
Luckily, the environmental movement has made great strides as of late. Being green has become a fad. Whole supermarkets dedicated to sustainable foods have become increasingly popular. There is an entire television channel called Planet Green. And green is at the front of our minds in much of what we do, from buying clothes to eating. The people who changed all this, who brought a previously unheard of idea to the forefront of the public consciousness, were not dirty hippies. These are not a group of disillusioned youth smoking pot and sitting in a drum circle. This movement is one of serious people dedicated to a life of values. It is the most powerful social movements in modern times it has changed the world before, and hopefully, it will again.
Anarchism Anarchy. To most, it elicits visions of violence and chaos. The
media paints anarchists as those who enjoy confusion and pain. For example, the greatest movie villain of our time, the Joker in The Dark Knight, identifies himself as an anarchist, for he thrives on bedlam*. Most picture broken bank windows or Haymarket bombs. But in reality, this could not be further from the truth.
The ideally non-violent state will be an ordered anarchy. That state is best which governs least. This is not the quote of a rebellious youngster or a violent sociopath. This is the quote of Mohandas K. Gandhi one of the greatest advocates of non-violence in history. Anarchy is based entirely on the principles of opposition to violence and chaos. Anarchy is an attempt at truly living the values of non-violence, justice, freedom, rights, and equality. There have been notable anarchists who have advocated violence, but this is true of most radical social reform movements. The core of the movement and ideology is still rooted in peace.
The true belief in Anarchism is something of an ideal. The strict definition is a society without government. But in reality, there is far more than an opposition to government. It is an opposition to all that is entailed by authority. The definition of authority implies power imbalances, synonymous with force, which is inherently adverse to freedom. We should have the freedom, anarchists contend, to live as we choose. But, of course, this is not possible unless people choose to live with certain moral values of peace, equality, and justice.
To most, therefore, it would seem that Anarchy has had far less success than the environmental movement we dont exactly live in a utopian world of voluntary morality. But in thinking so, they would not be entirely correct. For Anarchy is more of a path than a destination. A world in which we all live in peace and harmony with no authority would be ideal. But even if it is possible, it is far, far away. The best that we can do is to walk along the path without knowing if we will ever reach our destination. While we may never get there, the path itself is paved with success. From fair
trade to womens rights, the march toward anarchist ideals has been a successful one.
But this is not a simple path - it has many forks. The history of the anarchist movement is too diverse to allow for one simple description. From isolated rural collectives to active urban armies of peace, there are many different routes to anarchy. But, ultimately, they all lead in the same direction the direction of peace, of equality, of morality free from tyranny. It is time these misconceptions be exposed so that we can walk along this path in peace. So that we can march together, in solidarity, towards a righteous tomorrow.
*In fact, in looking for another word for chaos, Microsoft Word
suggested anarchy. Green Anarchism
Now that we understand the true nature of the environmental and anarchist movements, erasing the common misunderstandings, it is easier to see how the two intersect in what is known today as the Green Anarchist movement. The common area between the two movements takes two forms: how anarchist ideals fit into an environmental vision of the world, and how environmental ideals are central to the principals of anarchism.
One approach to green anarchism is in using anarchist beliefs and practices to an environmental end. Basically, it is the idea that the environment would be benefited by anarchist practices. For example, anarchist beliefs in cooperative living would lead to a more equal society. Not only does this fit in with the environmentalist views on social equality, but it would lead to a world in which there is more consciousness of use of the commons the environment. As another example, anarchism is against major corporations due to their power and authority. Environmentalists are against corporations for this, and because corporations typically lay waste to the environment with a blatant disregard for all that is natural. In the anarchist belief of fighting the power of
large corporations, and environmental end is achieved. Note, also, that included in the environmental ends are social values.
These social values, as described earlier by Karliner, are central to environmentalists despite a seeming disparity between human
rights and the environment. They are the same social values that form the basis of anarchist belief. In this way, environmentalist social beliefs are simply the same principals valued by anarchists (as shown in Image 1).
But the connection goes beyond this. It is not simply the environmentalist social beliefs that are shared by anarchists, but the belief in environmentalism itself. The idea that one should care for, respect, and be conscious of nature, is a direct application of anarchist beliefs. We should not dominate. We should not hurt others. We should be conscious of the needs of others in order to ensure equality. All of these apply to the environmental aspects of
This diagram shows how principles and beliefs held by the majority in the environmental movement are also central to the Anarchist movement
Emphasis on Nature and Environment
the environmental movement. We should not dominate the earth. We should not hurt animals or ecosystems. We should be conscious of the needs of the natural world in order to ensure equality between human and environmental need.
So the overlap between the environmental movement and the anarchist movement is complex. Anarchist practices can lead to environmental goals (both social and natural). Environmental social beliefs overlap greatly with anarchist principles. And environmentalism itself is inherently anarchistic in nature. It seems that a Green Anarchist movement was inevitable. But how did it start?
There have been very few Green Anarchists in history. Few, if any identify themselves as such, and accordingly, the movement has not been a labeled or identified one. In reality it has consisted more of specific practices than of an actual self-identified and distinct movement. However, there are a few individuals and groups whose practices so closely align with the overlap between the environmental and anarchist movements that they must be defined as contributors, if not consciously, to the green anarchist movement.
Henry David Thoreau is often considered the original green anarchist. He may not have held the principles of cooperation and communalism dear to most anarchists today, but for the most part, his beliefs coincided with both groups. Thoreau was clearly an environmentalist. He chose to live in the natural world. He had the utmost respect and love for all things natural, and was disgusted by development that destroyed the environment, such as the railroad of his day. Thoreau is also considered an anarchist. His DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic, adherence to non-violence, and belief in the need for civil disobedience, are closely related to anarchist principles, as previously discussed. While not an outright advocate for either an environmental or an anarchist movement, his beliefs are so closely intertwined with the green anarchist movement that he may even be considered a founding father.
Edward Abbey, on the other hand, was quite aware of his tendencies toward both environmentalism and anarchism.
Sometimes known as the Desert Anarchist, Abbey was a radical advocate of protecting the natural landscape of the American Southwest, sometimes going so far as suggesting violence or destruction. In 1976, Abbeys novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, in which a group of environmentalists set about destroying all human impact in the Southwest, was published. As we shall see later, this novel sparked the Earth First! movement. But more importantly, it laid the groundwork for much of the ideas, if not the practices, of Green Anarchism today. The rest of the green anarchist movement stemmed from the environmental movements close connection to anarchist ideals as it grew in size.
So where are we left today in terms of a movement? There is certainly not one clearly defined movement, as is the case for some radical movements. Rather, it is based upon a certain set of principles. Some groups and individuals identify as green anarchists and dont hold all associated beliefs. Some hold every single green anarchist belief dear, yet dont identify as one. Some are more extreme than others. Anarcho-primitivists subscribe to the belief that humanity should return to a hunter-gatherer state of complete emersion in nature. Others envision booming metropolises constructed on green and anarchist philosophies. Again, it is clear that the road to a future that appeals to both environmentalists and anarchists has many paths. It is hard to say what every path will lead to. Like movements in the past, e.g. communism, a respectable ideology could be destroyed by poor application. Or, like others the environmental movement, the feminist movement, etc. it could spring forth as a major shaper of the world of tomorrow. It could create a world conscious of both environmentalist and anarchist beliefs a world in which people not only care about, but truly live non-violence, equality, freedom and environmentalism. Is that a world that you would like to live in?
Groups and Movements
Social movements are complex. There is rarely one large group that consider themselves to be the movement and take every action as one group. Rather, they tend to be split into many groups, each acting in their own way toward an ultimate goal. Feminist groups have consisted of everything from domestic abuse awareness organizations to committees of successful business women discussing training young girls to survive as a woman in the corporate world. This does not mean that their ideologies are different, simply that they are addressing the same issue from many angles.
This is the role of the groups and movements that the next chapter will discuss. Though they use different tactics and come from different approaches, they ultimately work in conjunction toward the same goal Green Anarchy.
The strength of these groups is in their numbers. If an individual can make change in the world, think of what a group of individuals can do. This is the very basic idea of cooperation a fundamental ideal in the anarchist movement. Different people come together to
work in collaboration - in solidarity. If one fist in the air is powerful, consider hundreds.
In devoting all their time and effort into working from one unique approach, they make movements. Others see their strategy, and it spreads. They become vast networks of groups working in autonomous unison, each adopting the same practices toward the same end, but in their own way.
Recall the sit-in movement of the civil rights movement. Groups of individuals dedicated themselves to one approach of achieving civil rights. From their sheer number, they were able to succeed. And as some succeeded, others across the country saw, and joined in. Sit-ins grew from one counter in Greensboro, North Carolina to a national movement. In the end, though they came from only one angle, they played an integral role in the achievement of civil rights.
The idea is reminiscent of one of the most powerful, meaningful, and truthful quotes of the 20th century:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed
citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
Food Not Bombs
Its a bright and sunny day. Youre walking down the street, feeling good, eating a sandwich that you just bought. You decide after a while that youve eaten enough, so, of course, you throw it in the garbage. A few minutes later, you walk past a homeless man, begging for change so that he can buy food. You give him some change, but you have nothing else. What else can you do?
It has been a long day at work. Working at a grocery store is tiring. Its almost time to close-up, but first you have a few routine tasks to take care of. Sweep the floors. Maybe stock the shelves. Pick out the produce deemed bad by store standards. They dont seem bad, but hey, the store has a reputation to uphold, so you toss them in the garbage. Take the trash out to the dumpster. Ugh, there is that homeless man again, sleeping in the alley by the dumpster. Why doesnt he just get a job? Oh well, you will try not to wake him. Throw the trash in the dumpster. Get in your car, and drive home. Hmm I wonder whats for dinner at home.
It doesnt seem right that we live in a world in which perfectly good food is routinely thrown away usually for the good of profit in the case of stores and restaurants - while others starve. It also doesnt seem right that instead of using our money to feed these starving masses, we buy equipment to add violence and destruction to the world. As Dwight Eisenhower once said Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.
This is exactly what a group of anti-nuclear activists in Cambridge, Massachusetts were thinking in 1980 when they created Food Not Bombs. Originally started as a protest to a meeting of local bankers and representatives of the nuclear industry, FNB has now grown to a massive scale. There is a chapter of FNB (all are autonomous) on every continent except for Antarctica.
The FNB strategy is quite simple. Collect excess food and give it out for free. In practice, this means asking local restaurants and
stores to save excess food that they would typically throw out. For example, most bakeries throw away all baked goods at the end of the night, and most grocery stores throw out perfectly good potatoes if they have any sprouts. FNB volunteers then collect this excess food at a set time. They prepare all that needs to be prepared, making full meals out of leftover grocery store produce (all FNB meals are vegetarian or vegan I will explain the significance of these two eating habits in a later chapter). Finally, they set up a table in a public place and give the food away for free to all. As it is an inclusive process, not meant to be polarizing, it doesnt matter if you can afford the food or not. Everyone from businessmen to the homeless can enjoy a home-cooked meal for free.
The anarchist implications of this practice are clear: helping others, advocating human rights, opposing violence, and all outside of the confines of politics and the market. Capitalism is opposed by anarchists for its inherent power imbalances and abuses of freedom. And Food Not Bombs, by its very nature, fights capitalism. It costs very little to do and provides a service for nothing in return. Furthermore, it does not ask for political aid. In fact, it is technically (though barely) illegal to serve food for free in a public place. In the beginning years, many were arrested in San Francisco. However, in most places it is not a problem. And under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Act, its legality has become somewhat more accepted. But legal or not, it does not confine itself to the rules of politics. It is people helping people for the sake of doing good and nothing else. FNB operates outside of the realms of capitalism and politics.
The environmental implications are less direct, but also significant. As mentioned previously, anything that provides a social good is connected to the environmental movement. But it goes further than that. One of the biggest problems facing the environment today is our culture, specifically one of consumerism. People buy and buy and use and use without thinking of how wasteful it is and how much environmental cost there is to every little thing. Anarchists also oppose the consumer culture because it
enslaves people to material goods, shackling them to a system of domination and oppression. FNB rethinks this culture. It begs the question why do we waste? and should we reconsider our consumption habits?. It not only asks these questions, but answers them by deliberately acting in a way that is contrary to consumerism.
Food Not Bombs is both practical and symbolic. And, importantly, it is quite an impressive movement in its success. And though a movement that spans six continents seems too large to get seriously involved in, it is actually quite accessible. How-To: Food Not Bombs
Starting a local chapter of FNB may seem daunting at first, but with a dedicated group, it can end up being a moderately easy task. The following instructions are, of course, subject to change situationally. But I hope to provide you with a basic outline.
1. Start by finding a core of volunteers. These could be friends, but only do so if you know your friends are as dedicated as another volunteer would be (while you may start with friends, dont be exclusive). You can find other volunteers by creating flyers and posters for around town. Of course, be
smart with where you post these. You are more likely to find volunteers at a local infoshop than at your office. It may help to set up ways to contact you that are exclusive to FNB a Food Not Bombs e-mail, for example.
2. After a first meeting, or by communicating with those who have contacted you, establish regular meeting times for planning. Make sure your meetings are done in a non-hierarchical fashion. You may be the initiator, but this is an anarchist practice, after all.
3. Plan away! Consider: a. Who you will get the excess food from food co-
ops and local stores are a lot more likely to be helpful than the average Stop and Shop (though you can always try).
b. Who has access to a vehicle to pick it up it is always an option to be environmentally conscious and do all transporting on bicycles
c. When to pick it up this will be the same day that you plan on cooking and distributing the food.
d. Where to cook though a secular organization, churches and other community centers are often welcome to opening up their kitchen for a good cause.
e. Where to distribute try to find a busy public place where you wont be in the way. Parks or greens in cities are perfect spots.
4. Contact the locations where you plan to get your food from. This is the hard part. Ask to talk to a manager or other worker in charge and explain your situation. Many stores are not willing by policy. Some are even already donating extra food! Have well-written flyers or brochures on hand to seem professional. Be sure to articulate the fact that this costys them nothing. All that they have to do is, on designated days, leave their excess food in a container or bag next to the dumpster instead of in it. Once you have sufficient sources (you will know what is sufficient with a few trials
and errors) you are in the clear! Note: Some chapters believe in dumpster-diving which I will explain further in the Freeganism section, but this is not often necessary.
5. If you would like, you could make the starting process easier by simply bringing the food to local shelters instead of cooking and distributing. If not, find a place where you can cook using the same tactics as before. It is important to find a kitchen with sufficient equipment usually industrial sized cookware to cook for many. Personal kitchens of the members can be used, but they are often too small, and the use of a personal space can make other volunteers feel uncomfortable or alienated. This part (if you try a community center or church) will often be much easier than the stores. It is also the only part with any costs. You may have to purchase some cooking essentials oils, seasoning, etc. that are not available as excess from the stores. Remember that all Food Not Bombs food is vegetarian and vegan!
6. Prepare for distribution youre almost there. Make sure that you have tables readily available. These are often easy to borrow from a volunteer. Also, try making signs to proclaim who you are and what youre doing. Many groups like to make literature available while distributing. Dont be forceful, but some brochures on FNB or Green Anarchism make great talking points.
7. Advertise advertise advertise. Hopefully, you have picked a popular enough time and place that this wont be a huge problem, but flyers signs and pamphlets always help. Make sure to be regular in your schedule. People need to learn to trust that you will be there. It is good to specifically target homes for the needy or shelters, but make it clear that the food is available to everyone for free. You are giving away food for free. This is an easy sell.
8. Collect, cook, and distribute! Be friendly with everyone you serve to. One of the greatest parts of FNB is that it is a community experience. You can make small talk, have
group discussions, or even have an impromptu poetry reading. This is not a business you are there because you want to be and dont forget that. Tips can be accepted if offered (to be used for purchasing further cooking supplies or funding gas money), but do not ask. This is about giving it away for free, and that includes guilt-free. Enjoy!
Note: Many chapters not only have a regular schedule, but are willing to provide free food to other events. It is not uncommon to see FNB providing free food after a long day of protest.
As I mentioned previously, Edward Abbeys The Monkey Wrench Gang ignited a firestorm in the Green Anarchist movement. While its ideology played a role in many groups, none have been so profoundly influenced by the book as Earth First! In fact, the Earth First! movement was born directly out of the book. When the novels characters marauded around the desert sabotaging all that threatened the environment, a small band of environmentalists decided to emulate. Their first action consisted of, reportedly, unveiling a giant banner of a crack down the middle of a dam at its unveiling.
Earth First! is a passionate group. So passionate, in fact, that they always speak in exclamations. Their sole goal is to protect the environment, even if this means destruction of property (keep in mind that they would still never physically harm someone). Their active engagement in saving the environment ranges from the typical political campaigning, to the dismantling of bulldozers set to destroy. Their symbol consists of a tomahawk and a monkey wrench for this reason they consider these to be their tools of the trade.
Granted, this is very radical as compared to most movements. Typically, anarchy does not condone the destruction of property, because even that causes harm to others. However, as they do not use violence, I opted to include them.
But to define EF! as entirely those committed to sabotage is to reduce a wide-ranging movement to its most extreme a tactic done too often already by media, so I will attempt to avoid it. In reality, EF! is more often engaged in civil disobedience than property destruction. This method comes from a long line of pacifists from Thoreau, to Tolstoy, to Gandhi, to King. From performing tree-sits (an interesting twist on sit-ins) to blocking roads, Earth First! rarely actually uses sabotage. And while these tactics may seem ineffective in the long run, more often than not, EF! actually has already taken the matter at hand to court, and the civil disobedience is simply used to receive press and delay the action.
The environmentalist aspects of EF! are obvious. They are fighting against destruction of the environment plain and simple. But they do so is typically anarchistic in method. They fight in a way that involves non-violent protest, typically against corporate elite. The tactics involve taking an individual effort to be proactive in doing something better for the world. The movement itself is also anarchistic in nature. As their website states: There are no "members" of Earth First!, only Earth First!ers. It is a belief in biocentrism, that life of the Earth comes first, and a practice of putting our beliefs into action. There is no authority, or even a distinct group. It is simply a set of beliefs that one must take action to save the environment, even if that action is against the law. In a belief tied to anarchism, they say that if the law is unjust, they need to break it. How-to: Earth First!
As EF! is not an organization starting a chapter is essentially all up to you. There is no exact set of practices that are followed. For the most part, it helps to contact someone in an existing group and learn all about tactics, risks, causes, etc. To find a contact you could attempt to use the contacts on their website. But it is more likely that you will be able to have a beneficial correspondence in person. Try going to events that may seem appropriate. For
example, there was an Earth First! booth at the annual New York City Anarchist Book Fair this year. Once a contact is made and you find information, you can set up your own group. Try to use people you know and can trust if you are planning on engaging in any illegal activities. From then on, it is your plan. Get to know your local environment. Are there any major issues? If so, how have people addressed these issues in the past? EF! is so loosely structured that I cannot give any concrete directions on what it means to take part. But just do your best, and I will offer tips on one definite concept as an example of an EF! tactic: Tree-Sits
Visions of radical environmentalists typically involve the stereotype of tree-sitting. But this stereotype is one based on truth. It is an extreme tactic proven effective in certain situations. Typically it is used to raise awareness of a logging campaign that may have the capacity to gain public support anyway. Or, if there is an issue of the law already in the works and a delay tactic is needed, this works beautifully. Unfortunately, unless it is one of these cases, tree-sits are only effective until they end. At that point the trees are once again fair game.
So what does it take to do a tree-sit. Chances are you are going
to be part of a well-established group before this becomes an option. I would not recommend trying to do a tree-sit without the guide of an experienced sitter. So in doing a tree-sit, lets start with the basics the rest of the information will be provided by the group that you get involved with. To borrow from wesavetrees.org with a few minor alterations, here are the basic facts you should consider in tree-sitting: What you will need:
Wool socks Wool pants Waterproof boots
Synthetic long underwear Gore-tex jacket/pants or other rain gear Wool Hat Sleeping bag Bivy sack or tarp Headlamp Climbing gear/rope/harness
What you will want: Backpack Camera youre not afraid to loose Drums/Musical instruments Books/Notebooks Propane stove Tents Lantern/flashlight Friends
The basic idea is: stay in a tree. Stay in a tree for as long as possible. You will not have to worry about supplies, as people on the ground send them up using a pulley system with the ropes that you have. You mostly have to worry about how comfortable you are with the situation. Here are a few facts and answers to typical questions:
You will be probably be sleeping in a sleeping bag under a tarp on a small platform that you construct
You will be harnessed at all times for safety There are usually other people supporting you in the trees.
In villages many other activists are in the same area. With climbing gear, all can visit each other or meet at a central location.
You will not be bathing much, unless you include a lot of rain.
Your toilet will consist of a bucket.
You can exercise by climbing through the trees. Authorities will try to talk, or force, you down. It is illegal and you will most likely be arrested. But that is
why you have a whole group behind you for support. The time that you are in the tree varies widely. You may
be there for a week as court proceedings play out, or you may be there for years, such as the famous case of Julia Butterfly Hill and her redwood Luna.
This may seem like a daunting task, and it is. It is not something to be taken lightly. If you start and dont finish a tree-sit, not only will you be losing the battle, but you will disappoint all those who worked hard to make it possible. On the other hand, do not be intimidated. If you are truly an environmentalist, this is an opportunity of a life-time. What could be better than living in peaceful coexistence with nature while simultaneously fighting for its protection?
Critical Mass What does a car mean to you? Is it a tool to get you somewhere? Is it a symbol of your social status? Is it just a car? To a green anarchist, a car is quite a different thing than it is to most people. To a green anarchist, a car is a symbol not of wealth but of society gone wrong. Granted, they are useful tools to many. But what else are they? They are environment-destroying machines. They are cages, transporting you to and from your place as a cog in the wheel of the capitalist machinery. To participants in Critical Mass, this is unacceptable.
So what do they do about it? They take to the streets literally. Critical Mass is a spontaneous formation of bicyclists. The name is Critical Mass, for when they reach a certain number they are no longer guests on the road. They can block traffic, riding freely. The road belongs to the cyclists.
This started as a demonstration in San Francisco in 1992 for the city to make the streets more bicycle-friendly. Since then, the ideas have evolved greatly. Now, they are, to some, protests against the symbol of capitalist destruction. Some ride to fight oil companies. Others ride because they simply like cycling. But individual priorities are not important, for this movement is based on sheer numbers. What is important is the symbolism.
Bicycles have long been a symbol of environmentalism because they, as opposed to cars, do not use gasoline. They are also a symbol of anarchism for the same reason. They do not submit to the ultra-powerful petroleum companies that have an incredible history of social and environmental destruction. Furthermore, Critical Mass is anarchistic in its very nature. There is no leader and no organization. Preferably, they are spontaneous. This spontaneity allows for breaking of the law with few legal repercussions. It is also highly symbolic. A group of people, through their sheer numbers, defying laws that they perceive to propagate environmental and social injustice. Now THAT is green anarchy.
How-to: Critical Mass How do you get involved in Critical Mass? You just do! There are no members. Some cities have regular days for rides, others just form spontaneously. Just get a bike and take to the streets!
Reclaim the Streets So youve just ridden in a Critical Mass and the roads are clear from traffic. And then you realize the roads are clear from traffic. All of a sudden, the world has opened up. These vast spaces are no longer ways to get there, they are there. This is the idea behind Reclaim the Streets, a movement that actually sprung from Earth First! protests. Now, RTS is its own booming movement. The idea is simple. The roads are public places. From the same mode of thinking as described in Critical Mass, the roads should not belong to cars. But to RTS, it is not just a bicycle path either. It is its own area to be used for public purposes a commons for the people to meet and socialize. So how does RTS make its feelings on the matter known? Through massive dance parties of course! Anarchy is not all about being angry we love to dance too. The RTS tactic is to wait until the streets are clear often after a Critical Mass ride planned for this reason and then, well, reclaim them. The way back onto the roads is blocked, participants flood in, and a communal party is born. Free food, music and dancing, meeting new people its all part of a hard days protest. The goal is often to be as free-spirited and spritely as possible. Costumes are welcome, artwork (usually made of old trashed cars) is constructed, and an overall feeling of absurdity is accepted. The idea came from the minds of Earth First!ers in London in 1991. In protest to the construction of a segment of the M11 motorway, activists took to the streets. Or rather, they took the streets. These, however, were not parties. They were protest camps, but the idea of taking the streets was clear. The initial protests had elements of the parties that we see today, including painted on bike paths and a broken car being used as a barricade. Partying for social change? The idea sounds a bit silly, which it is, but the message is clear. Public spaces belong to the public. We can use them and own them communally and free from the environmental and social menace that is the car. The roads thus become a TAZ or temporary autonomous zone a place of
freedom where the people live in peace, away from authority if only for the moment. The environmentalist would also agree. No more cars, no more asphalt, no more destructive capitalism. A temporary autonomous zone is a temporary green anarchist zone. How-to: Reclaim the Streets If you are planning a Reclaim the Streets event, you are in the major leagues of Green Anarchy. This is not handing just handing out food. This is occupying public property and causing great disruption to the functioning of the city. You will be breaking many laws. But if this is something that you believe in, by all means, make the effort. No battles are won easily, and no wars are won without many battles. So what do you need to undertake such a massive task? As with Food Not Bombs, this is very situational, but here are some rough guidelines.
1. As with FNB, form a dedicated group. But considering the illegal nature of these activities, it very much must be a dedicated group.
2. The next thing to do is to plan the where and when of the event. The when will most likely be a time when a lot of people are available, such as the weekend. If there is an upcoming even that needs resistance, such as the building of a highway through a residential or natural area, it makes the statement all the more powerful. The where is the bigger issue. What street will be the easiest to claim? What will make the biggest statement?
3. With the time and place established, the rest is logistics: a. How will you gain access to a car-free street?
Many use Critical Mass to clear the streets. Others block off the cars entering at a certain point and wait for the rest to clear out.
b. How will you keep the street car-free? Once the streets are filled with people, there are no cars getting in. But in the mean time you need a
blockade. Many events use people to block the way, but others like to get creative. Have people on stilts, or a scaffold tripod block the way*.
c. How will you make this a party? Find a local musician or DJ willing to join in the fun! Make sure that he or she has enough speakers. Food for the party is usually provided by your local chapter of Food Not Bombs.
d. How will you make your cause known? Remember this is not just a party for fun. You are doing this for a cause. Try to have anti-oil, anti-car, or anti-private property signs on hand.
4. As always: advertise, advertise, advertise. Posters, flyers, brochures, you name it. Keep in mind everything about advertising from the Food Not Bombs section, and one more serious issue. Unlike FNB, police will not take kindly to flyers that proclaim your intent to illegally block off a road for a street party. Try not to include information on location, but rather provide a meeting spot. On the day of, it is your job to inform everyone about the details and lead them to your chosen location. In the meantime, your dedicated group can already be acting to take the street.
5. When the time comes: Party! Have fun! Be creative! Make some artwork. Wear a costume. Or, if youre feeling especially confident that you wont be getting arrested, you can plant a tree. Many times at an RTS event people will come with equipment to plant a forest, right in the middle of the street. A pneumatic drill, a set of goggles, and a sapling is all it takes. In one well-known case, a woman on stilts wore a costume so elaborate and large that others were able to hide underneath and plant a number of trees. The environmental implications are obvious.
6. by the police. Whoever is there risks being arrested, though for the most part it is only those in charge who are charged. Make sure that you already have a lawyer who believes in your cause and has worked with this sort of thing before on hand. It may help to pass out his or her business card just in case.
An RTS participant hides under an elaborate costume to plant a tree
*How-to: Reclaim the Streets Scaffold Tripod As described previously, one effective way to block the streets a necessity for any RTS event is with the creation of a scaffold tripod. This consists of a set of scaffolding with a person on top. IT is large and impassable, and with the human element it cannot simply be destroyed. The instructions included here are taken from the RTS London page. Considering the nature of their group, I am sure that they are perfectly fine with my taking and altering the information. But I have only changed formatting and have put a  where I have removed pieces. See pictures below for extra clarification. For your basic Tripod, acquire:
3 scaff-poles, about 25 feet long 2 swivelling scaff-clips Rope (cheap blue poly-prop available from the local
hardware shop is fine) Spanner to tighten scaff clip
A Spanner is needed for the nuts on the clips. You also need a fairly large (high if indoors) space for fixing them, experimenting and practicing.
1.  The main assembly is formed by securing two poles in an A Shape and using a third to prop the two up.
2. The securing clip for the third pole has to be about a foot below the A shape clip, this allows the main poles to close over it in the folded position. This clip should be mounted at roughly 120 degrees in relation to the main clip in order to swivel open correctly.With a little experimentation you will find where to place the clips so that the poles lie parallel for transport yet are easily opened into a tripod.
3. You will probably need at least 5 people to erect a tripod made with steel poles:
a. At least one strong person lift each of the two main legs by walking down beneath it from apex to base;
b. One person to do the same with the third leg and at a crucial moment to swing this leg out and to prop up the A;
c. And one person with their foot braced against the base of each main pole to stop it skidding forward.
With aluminum poles the job is easier, demanding only 3 people.
4. Once the tripod is erected, at least one person must shin up the pole at the speed of light in order to be out of reach at the top. A simple circumference rope tying the poles together about three feet from the top can be fixed prior to erection if desired and used to take the weight of up to three people.
5. A simple hammock sling is  comfortable and stylish. Its made out of a length of strong light material, such as rip stop nylon, knotted at either end, with the two ends of a short rope tied securely just inside these knots. The rope can be slung over your shoulders as you shin up the poles, and when you reach the top simply slipped over the poles making your stay much more comfortable.
6. For extra stability and a convivial number at the top, three short horizontal poles with clips can be used as braces. Leave each short pole dangling from one of its clips until the tripod is up, then do up the second clip. Before climbing remember to take the spanner you may not have a second chance to get up with it. A climbing harness and slings make this job easier. This augmented tripod will be heavier and may require a greater number of people to lift it. A tripod lacking these bars can be stabilized using a circumference rope linking the feet above the ground. This will secure
against collapse due to accidental slippage, but not against attack. Car exhaust clips are useful to stop ropes riding up.
7.  Painting L, R and M on the poles near the bottom, so its visible from the outside, can really speed up the process of raising the tripod.
8. Practice! Now that you have the tool of the trade, go out and reclaim some streets!
From top to bottom Step 1 & 2, Step 3, Step 6, & the final product in action
Groups and Movements Conclusion
From free food to freeing the streets, from climbing trees to climbing scaffolds, the movements described here are diverse. But while they come from different approaches, they are all working towards the same goal. Together, with movements like these, we have the power to truly transform our world into one more closely embodying Green Anarchist ideals. As Gandhi once said:
A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
Eating like a Green Anarchist
For all the good done collectively for all the power in forming groups and movements there would be nothing without the individual. It is within the power of every individual to make change in the world, of whatever size. Edward Everett once said I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. While not everyone can be the leader of a mass movement, everyone can do something. And what is more universal in its applicability and personal in its application, than what we eat? Everyone in the world must eat, and almost all choose for themselves. Almost all of us have the power to change our diets. This requires some personal sacrifice but the sacrifice pales in comparison to the effect. It is hard to put a value on the senses. But it is harder to put a value on values. Is the taste of steak worth violence in developing nations? Is a hamburger worth the destruction of the rainforest? Is an omelet worth pain and mutilation to a living creature? These are the questions that we must ask ourselves before every planned meal, before every thoughtless snack, if we are ever to achieve a society of the ideals that we long for - for revolution begins with the individual.
Eating Local It is generally well known that eating local benefits the environment. The concept is simple - if you eat food that is grown nearby, fuel has not been wasted in transporting it. An apple from your local farmers market, being from just down the road, only had to travel a few miles to get to you. A few gallons of gasoline were burned getting that apple to you. On the other hand, an apple from across the country has travelled thousands of miles either by airplane or truck. Regardless of the method, thousands of gallons of gas have been used. Burning gasoline, of course, is one of the primary contributors to atmospheric CO2 and therefore global warming. Also, as previously mentioned, the social effects of dependence on oil-based fuels are tragic. Oil has fueled (no pun intended) wars, dictatorships, terrorists, and violent cartels. Arguably, much of the conflict in the Middle East has been due in large part to oil and the inequalities in wealth that go with it. In the Niger Delta, Shells lust for oil has caused environmental destruction in the form constant oil spills that affect the local environment and people killed innocent people notably author and activist Ken Saro Wiwa and launched major conflicts militant groups fighting for their right to the oil on their cultural land (note that these militants too are driven by greed). Anything that uses less oil than is necessary is good for the world. But the effects of eating local go far beyond the obvious fuel conservation. While we can measure gallons of gasoline used, what is the value of meeting the man or woman who grew your dinner? Anarchists agree - our society has become disconnected. We play our roles in the capitalist system and neglect the humanity behind all that we do. Workers on garbage trucks pick up your waste weekly and bring it off. To you, it disappears. You put out your trash, and the next morning it is gone thats that. But do you ever take the time to remember that there is a human life behind this service? The same is true of farming. Food does not just appear in the supermarkets. People spend their entire lives growing
it. It is invaluable to human connections to understand this fact, and eating local can help you do so. At a farmers market you can meet what I like to call the face behind the food. Maybe you could even thank them for all the work that they put in to growing your food. But not only are you meeting the local farmers - youre supporting them. Most of the farms that you are going to find at a local farmers market are small privately owned businesses. Considering the monopolistic nature of the current agro-industrial system, it is often hard to not support companies like Monsanto. With eating local comes your best shot at buying food that does not support corporate agricultural giants and all that comes with them. Conflict in Niger, human disconnection, and monopolistic corporate agriculture are these really worth it for the ease of buying food grown far away? How-to: Eating Local While some consider themselves localvores, for most people eating local isnt about a total life change. It would be extremely difficult to get every meal every day from entirely local sources. Rather, it is about the effort; it is about putting in the active effort to buy as much of your food locally as possible. So if you are willing to put in this effort to do your part, here are some tips:
Best sources As I have mentioned, one of the best places to find local food is at the farmers market. If there is one near you it should be easy to look up on the USDA website in the farmers market section. Here, local farmers gather to sell their produce face to face with the customer. Another option is a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture. Through these programs, you pay a certain amount to a specific farm and get a box of whatever assorted foods are available on a regular basis. These can be picked up or delivered. At regular grocery stores, some
produce will be marked with where it is grown. While this is less reliable and much less local than farmers markets and CSAs, it is still better to find produce from the next state over than from across the world.
Be wary But buying based on labels is always risky. It is possible for a label to say grown in California if it is grown in California, shipped to China for processing and packaging, and shipped back. This would, obviously, defeat the purpose.
Think seasonally If you are getting fresh watermelon in the middle of a harsh winter, chances are good that you are not getting it locally. Try to be aware of what produce grows in your area for each season and eat based on that. It is more likely that the watermelon will be from nearby if it is summer. You could also try to preserve certain foods (often through pickling) for other seasons.
Think geographically But no matter what season it is, there are some things that are just not going to be local in certain geographical regions. If you have a special affinity for pineapples, I suggest you move to a tropical region before making the decision to eat local.
Restaurants If youre lucky, you dont have to give up fine dining in order to eat local! Considering the extraordinary growth of the local food movement, restaurants are springing up that devote themselves entirely to the commitment of using local foods. For an example, if youre ever in the Providence, Rhode Island neighborhood, head to Local 121. Other restaurants are not entirely local, but buy many local ingredients. Ask around to find out what ingredients your favorite restaurants buy, or could buy, locally. Lobby them if you want change. Local cuisine can be a great break from cooking local food at home.
Lobby - It is also always worth the effort to try lobbying manufacturers or stores to buy and produce locally. While
this wont bring immediate change, if enough people keep the pressure on, who knows?
Enjoy it! - Eating local isnt much work and it does not involve much sacrifice. In fact, chances are you are going to be buying more fresh produce: great tasting and healthy!
Eating Vegetarian and Vegan What do Paul McCartney, Lord Byron, Pythagoras, and Tobey Maguire have in common? What about Gandhi, Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, and the muscle-bound man from the Old Spice Hey Ladies commercials? The first group is a part of the largely underestimated number of vegetarians in the world. All members of the second group are part of a still small but strongly growing number of vegans. The ideas behind becoming a vegetarian or vegan are extremely comprehensive, so before delving into them I should quickly outline the distinction. Those who do not eat red meat but will still eat poultry and seafood go by many names including semi-vegetarian and pouletarian. One who will not eat land animals but (for some unexplained reason) find seafood to be a good cut-off line is a pescetarian. Those who do not eat any meat are (ovo-lacto) vegetarians. If they give up either eggs or dairy then they are lacto-vegetarians and ovo-vegetarians respectively. Finally there is the vegan who does not eat (or use) any animal products. For the most part I will choose to focus on vegetarians and vegans as these are the most definitively cut lines. To consider seafood, for example, as acceptable while land animals are not is an arbitrary distinction. Both fish and chickens have fully developed nervous systems and therefore feel pain. Also, the modern fishing industry is devastating the environment of our oceans so there is no low-impact argument. This being said, it is without a doubt a step forward to give up some things, even if there is an arbitrary limit. This also goes for limiting the quantity of intake. Just eliminating one meal of red meat a week is without a doubt helpful! But if you choose to do this, it shows that you believe in the principles of vegetarianism, but simply are not willing to make the sacrifices. However, I do recognize that, unfortunately, the ability to eat entirely vegetarian or vegan can be (but doesnt have to be) expensive, and is often regulated to the upper-middle class. In the end, my point is this every little thing helps, but I urge you to, if you believe in the principles, take every
possible step because, as we will see, the issue of eating animal products is in an enormous one. For most people, vegetarianism and veganism are just about the well-being of animals. This is why, I believe, more people are not taking part. They do not realize the diversity of issues affected by these diets. But they are partially correct the well-being of animals is definitely one of the most important reasons to be a veg (vegetarian or vegan). When it comes to vegetarianism, the reasoning is obvious. Living beings (with fully developed nervous systems therefore capable of feeling pain to the same extent as you or I) are killed so that you and I could have a burger. From birth to death, the system is fraught with unnecessary pain to animals (Note: the following are documented as true but by no means occur in every case). In the farms, especially factory farms, chicken and turkey gain
so much weight due to growth hormones that their legs break and they cannot move. Breeding sow are forced to live in a cycle between sets of cages in which they cannot move and must lie on hard cement that leads to
bruises and sores. Careless workers, desensitized to the violence, beat the sickly and unwanted to death, or half to death and leave them to die. All animals are cramped in as much as possible to maximize amount profit per area available. Calves destined to be veal are taken from their mothers while babies and chained to posts in cages, never to move for their whole lives. Fully conscious bulls are castrated. Geese are force-fed through tubes in a cruel process known as gavage to fatten their livers for foie gras. The list of cruelties goes on.
Finally their torture on the farm ends, but the cruelty does not. In the case of birds they are thrown into trucks. All animals are packed in as tight as possible. Sometimes animals, especially smaller ones, are killed or seriously injured by being shaken
around on sharp turns or from the heat in certain areas. Finally, after enduring painful transportation, they reach the climax of their lives, their reason for existing being killed. While not intentionally so, due to lack of attention and concern, the methods of killing are often ineffective and unnecessarily painful. Not fully killed chickens are lowered into boiling water for de-feathering. Cattle that were not efficiently killed are hung by their legs as they are subject to slow painful deaths. According to one former
slaughterhouse worker Some would survive as far as the tail cutter, the belly ripper, and the hide puller. They die, piece by piece". Finally, death comes and their suffering ends. Not long thereafter, it is on your plate, between two buns with some lettuce and tomato. Delicious! While this description may seem harsh and graphic, these practices widely occur and are even well known. Many have an idea of the suffering that goes on in the slaughterhouse and prefer not to think about it. But few are aware of the suffering caused even by the practice of getting milk and eggs. As with the cows to be slaughtered, milk cows are often forced into small areas where they can barely move made to stand up for long periods as every last bit of milk is extracted by a machine. Even milk cows are subject to painful branding. Egg hens are forced into crowded cages so small that they lose enough muscle mass that they cannot
even be used for meat. Feathers are rubbed off and sores develop as they struggle to move. They would, most likely, hurt or kill each other in these cramped conditions, but their beaks (one of their most sensitive body parts) are mutilated (cut/burned) so that they
cannot. They, of course, are fully conscious during this procedure. If you feel that these descriptions are too violent, they are nothing compared to actually seeing it occur. If you truly wish to know (and your ignorance is not bliss to the animals) try
meat.org to see what really goes on. But even if you are completely immune to empathy with these conscious, feeling, creatures, there are many other factors to consider. For one, the meat and dairy industries are some of the leading causes of environmental damage. As vast numbers of animals become concentrated in one area, so too does their waste. This, often kept to decompose in cesspools, is an environmental problem waiting to happen. The bacteria in the fecal matter, including things like E. Coli, can leach into the groundwater. This water may then be used by other humans for drinking, or for watering crops that will someday be our food. But this is only on a local scale. The environmental hazards are far more extensive than that. In fact, the raising of cattle is consistently shown to be one of the leading causes of global warming. Cattle, like many living creatures, produce methane. But by their sheer size and numbers, the effects are enormous. This is compounded by the fact that much destruction of the rainforest (a significant carbon sink and valuable for many reasons) is to make room for land for cattle to graze. By eating meat and dairy, you are supporting a system that allows this environmental destruction to occur.
As if you needed more reason after all of this, by eating meat and dairy you contribute to a system that allows for starvation in other countries. Basically, because of the globalization of the market, it has become cheaper for farmers in developing nations to grow cash crops to sell and import their food instead of the subsistence farming that occurred for millennia. Not only does this have a large carbon footprint, but it means that these farmers have become dependent for their food most of which is grain because that is all that is affordable. Then, when there are inadequate supplies of grain, or grain prices go up for whatever reason, these farmers are left with a farm of cotton and no food. So how do we ensure that there is an adequate supply of grain? One way is to not feed all of it to cows. Obviously, we should not also allow all cattle to die. But we continue to support an industry that wishes to increase the number of cattle as much as possible. So what do we do? We stop eating meat and dairy. While it just seems like we would eat the grain that would have been given to the cow anyway, the difference is significant. It takes, on average, 3 pounds of grain to get one pound of meat from a chicken, and 7 pounds for one pound from a cow. If we, instead, just ate the grain without the animal middleman, there would be six times more food to be eaten. If you become a veg, there is more food available for the starving in other nations! But if this isnt enough if you need more personal benefits before you will be convinced, consider the health benefits. Meat and dairy are major factors in causing obesity and high cholesterol both of which can lead to heart disease, and other major health issues. Considering the epidemic of obesity today, this is something we should definitely be concerned about. Furthermore, meat and dairy intake is directly linked to some cancers especially colon cancer. According to Web MD those who eat the most red meat -- beef and/or pork and/or processed meat products -- get colon cancer 30% to 40% more often than those who eat these foods only once in a while. Many are concerned that if they do not eat dairy they will not get enough calcium and will get osteoporosis. While calcium does play a role in regenerating bone
health, it is also important to prevent loss in the first place. Interestingly, most loss of calcium is caused by an excess of protein from animal products actually leeching calcium out of the bones. So while calcium is important to prevent osteoporosis, you are much better off getting it from the many calcium-rich leafy greens than from dairy. It seems that becoming a veg isnt much of a loss after all it is great for your health! I feel that both the environmental and anarchistic impacts of becoming a vegetarian or vegan are clear. As the environmentalist wishes to protect the environment, the anarchist wishes to prevent suffering, especially from those most vulnerable the poor and starving and the animals themselves. How-to: Eating Vegetarian and Vegan Considering the enormity of good that comes from being a vegetarian or vegan, I hope that you greatly consider it. However, it is not something to be taken lightly. This is a major change. That being said, here are some tips.
Make sure you are dedicated Being a vegetarian or vegan is surprisingly easy if you have the proper dedication. If the decision is made too lightly, though, it will be difficult to resist the urge for some good buffalo wings or grilled cheese. So, in making your decision, just be positive that you know your reasons well and feel strongly about them.
Watch your health - Talk to a physician before making the decision to change your diet. He or she will be able to make recommendations or guide you in staying healthy along the way. It is generally agreed that both of these diets are healthy ones. But, of course, there are health factors that need to be considered. In removing certain foods from your diet, it is often necessary to replace them with other foods of similar nutritional content:
o Protein Without a doubt, the most common response you will receive to telling someone you are a vegetarian or vegan is how do you get your protein? The answer is mostly that you just do. It is not hard to get your recommended daily amount of protein. Protein deficiencies are rare, if even existent, in the developed world. Beans, nuts, legumes, grains, and even vegetables all contain enough protein that your body wont be lacking. In fact, as previously mentioned, excess protein from animal products is common and even unhealthy. Vegans may have to be attentive to eating enough legumes and grains, but it is by no means difficult.
o Calcium For vegans, and not vegetarians, adequate calcium may be a concern (though, as mentioned, the positives of calcium are often counteracted by the negatives of excess protein for omnivores). But, once again, adequate calcium is not difficult to come by. Dark, leafy greens, legumes, and nuts are often good sources of calcium, as are a number of miscellaneous foods such as sesame seeds and brown sugar.
o B-12 While vitamin B-12 deficiencies are rare, if they occur they tend to be serious. But deficiencies, a problem only for vegans, are easily avoided. Many vegan products, such as soymilk, are fortified with B-12. Another option is vegan nutritional yeast, taken for the direct purpose of meeting the recommended daily value of B-12.
o Vitamin Supplements If you think that you cannot handle your nutritional needs by careful diet alone, vitamin supplements are a great option. It is easy to find vegan calcium vitamins, and there are many vitamins that are made especially for vegetarians.
Inch in or jump Like making your way into a cold pool, there are two ways to go about your change in diet. Many like to inch their way in. Slowly reduce the amount of meat you eat over the course of a few weeks. Set deadlines and benchmarks. Start with one meatless meal a week and work from there. On the other hand, many myself included prefer to quit the unhealthy habit cold turkey. It is often best to enter a cold pool by simply jumping in. This should not be done on a whim, with waking up one morning and deciding that it is the day, but by setting a deadline. The day I get to college I will be a vegan, for example. Or The day after Thanksgiving I will become a vegetarian. Go with whatever method sounds the best for you.
Reduce Unfortunately, too many see this as an all or nothing break. I cant give up chicken wings, they say, so I cant be a vegetarian. But this is not a black and white issue. In the same way that some inch in to vegetarianism, you could simply help by reducing the amount of meat in your diet, one meal at a time. Even if you cant give up pork chops, reduce your meat intake the rest of the time and eat pork chops as a treat once a month.
Cooking Many think that in becoming vegetarian or vegan they are sacrificing taste. But there are many great tasting foods that are vegetarian and vegan-friendly if you know where to look. To get started, figure out what is vegetarian out of what you already eat. If you like pasta, chances are good that your regular diet already consists of a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals. Use these recipes more often in cooking. There are also many great vegetarian and vegan cookbooks to guide you in your change of diet.
Restaurants As with local food, there are many all vegetarian and vegan restaurants. These are common enough that you can find them with a simple Google search. But even if the restaurant is not only there for
vegetarians and vegans, almost all restaurants will have an option available.
Alternatives As vegetarians and vegans, there are many alternatives to your omnivorous favorites. Whole companies are devoted to creating meat substitutes. Milk can be replaced by soy, almond, rice, or hemp milk. Even vegan ice cream is available! My only caution is that these are often very processed and fake, so eat these sparingly.
Things to look out for There are a number of foods that have surprising non-vegetarian or vegan aspects. There are extensive lists online. But look out for gelatin in marshmallows and gummies it is made out of animal bones and hooves. Also, watch out for cheese made with rennet enzymes found in animal stomachs.
Some final advice My final words of advice and this goes for more in life than simply being a vegetarian or vegan, is this: Dont think about what youre missing -think about what you have.
Freeganism Is eating local not enough? Does being a vegan seem like too small of a step? Well, if you are really radical and dedicated in your efforts to change the world, there is a relatively new movement that is just for you freeganism. Freeganism covers a wide range of practices, but, for the most part, it means removing oneself from the capitalism of eating. In a method very similar to that of Food Not Bombs, freegans attempt to minimize their social and environmental impact by eating only what is leftover by a society of waste. Companies and people waste perfectly good food food that impacted people and the environment in its production. Freegans, in a variety of methods that we will soon look at, use this waste instead of contributing more. I have previously explained some of the impact of the capitalist system. But the enormity of the effects is so expansive that there is no place for them in this handbook. Rather, I will leave it as a given, and as a basically accepted anarchist belief, that the current state of the capitalist system is inherently degrading to human rights and freedoms. As for the environmental impacts, I will leave that explanation to the go-to website for freeganism, freegan.info: Treading lightly on the Earth Our high impact, produce & consume society puts a very intense strain on the Earth and her resources. Rainforests are clear-cut to provide more land for food production. Food production also consumes vast quantities of fresh water, one of our fastest-depleting resources. And then there is the packaging! Go look in your trash right now and most likely it will be filled with plastic, paper, and Styrofoam packaging from food products The act of consumption is the transformation of natural land and resources into money for corporations and acres of trash in landfills. (This is not a good thing.) The concept of freeganism is abstract and hard to define. But once the practices are explained, the philosophy becomes clear.
Freeganism: How-to Considering the omnipresence of capitalism and the Himalayan magnitude of the food industry, it seems near impossible that one could truly remove oneself. In this there is a partial truth it takes extreme methods but it can be done. Here are the basics on how to stop contributing to societal waste and start eliminating it how to be a freegan:
Dumpster Diving Dumpster diving is the absolute basic practice of freeganism. It is where almost all food comes from for a freegan. Dumpster diving may have some unfortunate social stigmas, as well as often overstated but still true health risks, but to some, these are worth it for the sake of society and the environment. Dumpster diving is exactly what it sounds like. Find a dumpster behind a grocery store, co-op, bakery, or bagel shop. Forget social convention and jump in (being careful of course)! Just like I described in the FNB section, you can easily find produce that hasnt gone bad and day old bagels that are perfectly good. This forms the basis of a freegan diet (most freegans are also vegans so meat and dairy are not to be considered).
Urban Foraging Urban foraging consists of essentially the same practice as dumpster diving, except with residential waste as opposed to that of stores. This has
considerably more stigma, and may worry some homeowners, so I recommend letting them know. Try going door to door and rationally explaining who you are and what youre doing and why youre doing it. This can just be so that they are aware of why youre rummaging through theyre garbage at the curb, but it could also help you out. If you find someone who is understanding or sympathetic they may put food waste in a separate bag or even separate container. Then you can make your rounds and collect food regularly from the same set of residences.
Stores In a method similar to that of FNB you can simply ask stores for their waste to avoid dumpster diving. Talk to managers, explain your position, and ask for the same thing as FNB. Just make sure that you are not asking for waste that would otherwise go to dumpster divers or other freegans. If a manager refuses, try asking the employees who are more likely to actually be the ones to take out the trash.
Plate-Scraping Plate-scraping is a considerably more public practice that may elicit some unhappy reactions, but is nonetheless effective. If you sit in a restaurant you can try to eat the food that is left behind on plates before the waiters and waitresses get to it. As stated on freegan.info, be sure to be kind to the servers. If there is a kind server who allows you to do this, try leaving a tip. In that way, you are supporting a person and not the system.
Wild-Foraging Wild-foraging is self-explanatory. If you live in an area with access to the natural world, learn what is edible and enjoy the free gift from nature. Of course, you must be ecologically responsible in this practice dont wipe out all of one type of plant in an area, and leave enough for the real wild foragers.
Garden Gardening is a great way to remove yourself from the capitalist system while creating a more sustainable world. For more info, see the Gardening section of this handbook.
To most, the idea of freeganism not only seems impossible, but entirely undesirable. But for those who are truly willing to sacrifice and live the sustainable life, this is a unique and effective method.
Eating like a Green Anarchist Conclusion Ultimately, change in this world relies on the individual. Governments, groups, and movements are not sentient entities. They are collections of individuals, each of which makes their own personal choices. It is on this individual level that real change is made. And little is more of an individual effort than the changing of ones eating habits. Through these changes through sacrificing our animal desire for taste to a minor extent we have the ability to change the world.
The idea of gardening would, to many, evoke images of suburban housewives tending to flowers. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who associates trowels and seedlings with anarchists and revolutionaries. But every time you garden, you are planting more than physical plants. You are sowing seeds of a sustainable future. These seeds will spread their roots, forming a strong base, until they one day breach the surface sprouting and growing. They spread, growing ever larger, until a future free of oppression, free of human rights abuses, free of environmental destruction, and just plain free, emerges. But how does gardening accomplish these goals? How can kneeling in the dirt and picking weeds push us further down the path towards a green anarchist ideal? Gardening easily appeals to the environmentalist in us all. On the tangible level, it creates an alternative to environmentally destructive practices of major farms. It is a direct source of local food that you can be sure has been grown organically. But on the more abstract level, it is about a connection to the earth. It is about
feeling the soil and, as described in the section on food, understanding every level of the growth of natural life. In the typical vision of the anarchist, however, there is not much room for gardening. But in practice, gardening is one of the most basic anarchist practices possible. As with eating local and freeganism, gardening is a way to remove oneself from the oppressive capitalistic practices of major farms. Every tomato that you grow is one less tomato that both the Super Stop and Shop and Monsanto profit off of. Gardening further helps with social issues every vegetable grown is an affordable alternative to those who would otherwise eat processed, fatty foods, simply because they are cheap. But like the environmentalist, the anarchist also has more abstract reasons for taking part in gardening. What could be more DIY than gardening? It involves a lot of work, but it is something that almost anyone with a handful of dirt can take part in. Rather than participate in consuming our food with no knowledge of where it came from, gardeners take charge of their food source. They control themselves and the growth of their food. To the anarchist, gardening is about the individual taking control of what would otherwise be another sector of the capitalist system. I have made the benefits of gardening clear, but it still may seem that gardening is a singular practice that does not deserve its own section. While gardening (organically of course) is beneficial in all contexts, in this section we will look at a few specific gardening practices used by green anarchists. Each practice that we will examine has its own particular value. But throughout, keep in mind the value that comes with gardening itself, in all forms. But before you read these specifics, I wish to leave you with a few words by the band Catch-22 that I feel succinctly explain the beauty of the growth of plants to a green anarchist:
Don't you know that every seed wants to grow? We can't stay underground forever.
They can cut us off as soon as we begin to show. What they don't know is that the roots still grow.
When the roots pop up...
Community Gardens Have you ever seen an unused, overgrown plot of land and thought to yourself, what a waste? But what could be done with it? Another building might be useful, but there must be something else Well a community garden may be your answer. A community garden is a self-explanatory concept it is a garden shared by members of the community. But the idea is a powerful one. A shared garden epitomizes what community can be. It means sharing. It means working together. It means neighbors doing more than passing each other in the streets or working in self-interested capitalistic exchange. It means people, coming together, working hard, and reaping the rewards in a socially just and environmentally sustainable way. Community gardens usually work in one of three ways. In the first, a plot of land is divided into different sections for different people. Individuals purchase access to a section from the owner, work on their own section, and enjoy their own product. This is more of a garden with members of the community, as opposed to a community garden, and is little more than capitalism. The second method is similar, but slightly more anarchistic. The land is either claimed from an unused lot or donated as a community garden by a generous owner. It is then divided and individuals can work on their own sections for free, taking their own products. While this is a step in the right direction, there is an even better option. The third method starts the same, with a reclaimed or donated piece of land. However, in a distinctly communitarian and anarchistic action, it is not divided. Rather, all members of the community have equal access to all parts of the garden. Ideally, each does his or her share of the work and takes an equivalent amount of the product on the honors system. In many cases, some produce from gardens of this system is donated to local food banks, homeless shelters, FNB groups, or freegans! In speaking of community gardens, I will mostly be referring to the second and third types for obvious reasons.
As I mentioned, there are two ways that the land for the community garden is acquired by the community. The first is that it is simply given for the purpose by the owner. This practice follows anarchistic principles in that it counts on an individual to voluntarily give up a personal possession for the good of the community. However, the second option is more likely and more anarchistic. This is the act of reclamation. Reclamation involves a practice similar to a mix between Reclaim the Streets and freeganism. Too often empty lots are left to stagnate, especially in urban areas. They serve no purpose aside from a refuge for litter. The owners do nothing to maintain them, often leaving grass, old tires, and various types of debris, to take over. This, to most, seems as wasteful as the throwing-away of perfectly good food. But in this case, unlike with the food, the owner still wants it (especially after the community cleans it up). This is where the reclamation comes in. If it would otherwise be wasted, they say, it should instead go towards the helping of the community. So they take it. (This is the act known as squatting common among anarchists so much so that it would deserve its own section in any anarchists cookbook. However, the environmental implications, while there, are not evident enough to merit a spot in this particular book. Further information is easy to find). They work with it. They clean it. They improve it. And they do something useful with it, namely making a garden. The land is transferred from waste of the capitalist system to a communitarian source of pride, and justly grown food. Community gardens are especially powerful when they exist in or near urban areas - especially those in which poverty is prevalent. In these areas, people often dont have the option of eating healthy, fresh, or local produce. They also rarely have access to work with the land. Through the creation of a community garden, they are provided with both of these things. This is especially beneficial in a garden in which all can take according to his or her needs. Those who truly need food have the option of taking all that they need even if they cannot work for it. In todays world, a community garden can provide a welcome relief for the
unemployed who truly want to work. They can work as much as they want with the knowledge that they are receiving and