Decolonizing Sustainability: Food Sovereignty, Animal Liberation, and Land Justice


by Z. Zane McNeill, Sentient Media

April 27, 2021


During the pandemic, sustainable food products like organic milk and cage-free eggs have continued to drive economic growth. The problem is, they’re not as sustainable as they claim to be. They are also marketed 39 percent higher than conventionally marketed products. But this shift has shown to be more than a marketing ploy. Companies have taken note of consumer’s concern for the planet, recognizing the turn towards more conscious consumerism as an opportunity to get rich at the expense of marginalized communities around the world.


Getting to the heart of what sustainability means is more important than ever. Humans’ ecological footprint has exceeded the Earth’s capacity, our biodiversity index has fallen by more than 50 percent as species continue to go extinct, and the world has lost nearly half of its tropical forests. Factory farming is a major driver of global climate change, which has affected, in some capacity, the Australian forest fires to the unprecedented snowstorms in the South of the United States. Animal agriculture uses 83 percent of the world’s farmland, causes 41 million metric tons of CO2 per year, produces between 37 and 65 percent of global methane and nitrous oxide emissions, and generates between 14.5 and 51 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the global transportation sector. 


In order to challenge this upward trend of environmental disasters, we must act sustainably. But sustainability’s meaning can be elusive and context-dependent. Introduced by the World Commission on Environment and Development over 30 years ago, sustainability was defined as a way in which to pave a path for future development that would meet the “needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” However, even the Environmental Law Institute has admitted finding a working definition for this concept remains challenging.


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