Category Archives: Animals

To Save a Rainforest

CathedralGrove save walbran
“I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved.” — Derrick Jensen

Pacific Coast people have always defended the places we love. Most of British Columbia is unceded indigenous land, because native peoples never abandoned, sold, or traded their land away. Many fought fiercely against the power of the British Empire. Cannonballs are sometimes still found embedded in centuries-old trees along the shore – leftovers from the gunboats that tried to suppress indigenous uprisings in the late 1800s.

Photo: Nuu-chah-nulth war canoes by Edward Curtis, BC Historical Society

Nuu-chah-nulth war canoes (Edward Curtis, BC Historical Society)

A century later, descendants of the settlers have joined forces to battle corporate raiders. In the 1980s and 1990s, a groundswell of eco-organizing brought thousands of people together to stop clearcut logging in the cathedral forests of Vancouver Island’s Pacific coast, where timber companies were busy converting ten-thousand-year-old ecosystems into barren stumpfields and pulp for paper.

During those years, police arrested hundreds in Clayoquot Sound and the Walbran Valley at mass civil disobedience protests. Young and old alike sat in the middle of the logging roads and linked arms. The resistance went far beyond the peaceful and symbolic: unknown individuals spiked thousands of trees to make the timber dangerous to sawmills. Shadowy figures burned logging bridges and vandalized equipment. The skirmishes went on for over a decade.

Clayoquot Sound, 1993

Clayoquot Sound, 1993

We won a few battles. Several coastal valleys are protected as parks. But many of them have been logged. And now the logging companies are coming back for the valleys that remain unprotected.

One of the worst corporate offenders is Teal Jones, the company currently bulldozing the majestic Walbran Valley, two hours west of Victoria, BC. They are laying waste to a vibrant rainforest for short-term profit, without the consent of the Pacheedaht First Nation, the Qwa-ba-diwa people, or anyone else outside of government and industry. Teal Jones does not even own the land; it was taken from indigenous people in the name of the BC government sixty years ago.

Pacheedaht territory

Pacheedaht territory, Vancouver Island BC

This year, the elected leadership of the Pacheedaht First Nation threw its support behind building a longhouse in the contested valley, on the land that has sustained them for countless generations. At the same time, locals are pushing back against the logging by occupying roads and logging sites. This in spite of the company’s court order telling police to arrest anyone who blocks their work. Forest defenders are regrouping, but the destruction continues.

Women for the Walbran and Forest Action Network are ramping up to break the deadlock. We’re hosting direct action trainings to share skills and develop strategies for defending ecosystems. The agenda includes tactics like non-violent civil disobedience, occupying tree-tops, and backcountry stealth. We’ll have info on legal rights, indigenous solidarity, and more.

Tree-sit occupation, Langford BC. (Photo: Ingmar Lee)

Our adversary, Teal Jones, is a relatively small company. Its owners are relying on the police to protect their “right” to strip public forests on Pacheedaht traditional territory. Profit margins are slim, and lawyers are expensive. The forest defenders are poor, but we have community support and a wide array of strategies for beating Teal Jones at its own game. Every tool in the box: we can launch a mass civil disobedience campaign, carry out hit-and-run raids on costly machines, coordinate a knockout legal strategy, or deliver the tried-and-true “death by a thousand cuts” with a combination of tactics.

However it plays out, Teal Jones is on borrowed time in the Walbran. But that’s cold comfort when the machines are mowing down thousand-year-old forests like grass.

Photo: Walbran Central

The forest defenders do have certain advantages. On the practical side, we’re investing in the gear and training that will provide the leverage to win. We have a legal defense fund that’s both a war chest for litigation and a safety net for those who risk their freedom on the front lines. But our best defense is the thousands of people who love this land like life itself. Many live nearby and visit every chance they get, others came once and fell in love, and untold numbers have yet to see the Walbran’s wildlife firsthand, but they hold it in their hearts.

Photo: Stasher BC

Those who love the land are a community. We are the organizers, sponsors, and volunteers who drive this movement forward. Everyone who shares these values can be a part of it; no contribution is too small. We’re going all-out to defend the forests, rivers, bears, cougars, otters, and eagles of the Walbran Valley. They sustain us and we give back by fighting to protect them.

Walbran River, the heart of the Walbran Valley, spring 2016. (Photo: Walbran Central)

Remember: Forest Defenders Are Heroes! 

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Filed under Animals, Derrick Jensen, Environment, Legal Battles, Love Letters, Politics

Watching the Detectives

Undercover surveillance in Vancouver from the 1980s to 2006
April 2005

I was heading out my front door on a sunny spring afternoon, thinking only of catching the next bus downtown, when an overwhelming sense of dread nearly stopped me in my tracks. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I looked around and realized I was surrounded by plainclothes police officers, and they were watching me.

Three shiny SUVs with dark windows were lurking outside my apartment in a quiet Vancouver suburb. Inside the nearest, a clean-cut man wearing dark glasses was in the driver’s seat, staring at me. I turned to find a man in his early forties walking toward me on the sidewalk. Pasty face, navy blue suit, black shoes,  Ray-Bans and a Tom Selleck moustache: all that was missing was the badge. The agent was carrying two cups of coffee from the McDonald’s two blocks away. Glancing up, he caught my eye. His mouth dropped open and he flinched, almost spilling the hot coffee. Then he lowered his eyes, clenched his jaw, and strode briskly past. I stared after him.

It was Tuesday, April 19th, 2005, and I made it to the bus stop on time, the agents following. I was convinced they were ready to bundle me into the back of one of the SUVs for a joyride to some unknown destination. I was thinking: “Shit! I’m going to jail! I’m going to miss work! Do I know any lawyers I can call?”

I should mention that I’m not involved with any underground groups. I’ve never been accused or questioned about any serious crime. I’m a non-profit director and I write about eco-defense and civil disobedience, among other things.

Innocent people are targeted by security agencies based solely on their political beliefs or association with other radicals. This report presents a snapshot of the tactics the police like to think of as “secret,” like spying on individuals and infiltrating groups. These tactics can be extremely dangerous and destructive, even for activists who have never committed a crime. By studying these incidents, we can start to dispel the mystery surrounding covert operations and see the big picture.
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Deep Green Resistance: Words as tactical weapons

Review by Zoe Blunt | Originally published in the March/April 2012 issue of Canadian Dimension  magazine. Subscribe here.

Deep Green ResistanceI first heard about Deep Green Resistance in the middle of a grassroots fight to stop a huge vacation-home subdivision at a wilderness park on Vancouver Island. Back then, it hadn’t really occurred to me that a book on environmental strategy was needed. Now I can tell you, it’s urgent.

Deep Green Resistance (DGR) made me a better strategist. If you’re an activist, then this book is for you. But be warned: at 520 pages (plus endnotes), it’s not light reading. Quite the opposite — DGR dares environmental groups to focus on decisive tactics rather than mindless lobbying and silly stunts.

“This book is about fighting back. And this book is about winning,” author Derrick Jensen declares in the preface to this three-way collaboration with Lierre Keith and Aric McBay.

Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth, opens the discussion with an analysis of why “traditional” environmental action is self-defeating. For those who’ve read Jensen’s Endgame, or who have experienced the frustration of born-to-lose activism, Keith’s analysis hits the nerve.

The DGR philosophy was born from failure. In a recent interview, Jensen recounts a 2007 conversation with fellow activists who asked, “Why is it that we’re doing so much activism, and the world is being killed at an increasing rate?” “This suggests our work is a failure,” Jensen concludes. “The only measure of success is the health of the planet.”

If we keep to this course, as Keith points out, the outcome is extinction: the death of species, of people, and the planet itself. Environmental “solutions” are by now predictable, and totally out of scale with the threat we’re facing. Cloth bags, eco-branded travel mugs, hemp shirts, and recycled flip-flops won’t change the world. Wishful thinking aside, they can’t, because they don’t challenge the industrial machine. It just keeps grinding out tons of waste for every human on the earth, whether they are vegan hempsters who eat local or not. So these “solutions” amount to fiddling while the world burns.

Aric McBay, organic farmer and co-author of What We Leave Behind, says Deep Green Resistance “is about making the environmental movement effective.”

“Up to this point, you know, environmental movements have relied mostly on things like petitions, lobbying, and letter-writing,” McBay says. “That hasn’t worked. That hasn’t stopped the destruction of the planet, that hasn’t stopped the destruction of our future. So the point is if we want to be effective, we have to look at what other social movements, what other resistance movements have done in the past.”

Keith notes that a given tactic can be reformist or radical, depending on how it’s used. For example, we don’t often think of legal strategies as radical, but if it’s a mass campaign with an “or else” component that empowers people and brings a decisive outcome, then it creates fundamental change.

“Don’t be afraid to be radical,” Keith advises in a recent interview. “It’s emotional, yes; this is difficult for people, but we are going to have to name these power structures and fight them. The first step is naming them, then we’ve got to figure out what their weak points are, and then organize where they are weak and we are strong.”

Powerful words. But by then I was desperate for a blueprint, a guidebook, some signposts to help break the deadlock in our campaign to save the park. Two hundred pages into DGR, we get down to brass tacks, and find out what strategic resistance looks like.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a guerrilla uprising.

To be clear, Deep Green Resistance is an aboveground, nonviolent movement, but with a twist: it calls for the creation of an underground, militant movement. The gift of this book is the revelation that strategies used by successful insurgencies can be used just as successfully by nonviolent campaigns.

McBay argues convincingly that it’s the combination of peaceful and militant action that wins. He emphasizes that people must choose between aboveground tactics and underground tactics, because trying to do both at once will get you caught.

“The cases of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X exemplify how a strong militant faction can enhance the effectiveness of less militant tactics,” McBay writes. “Some presume that Malcolm X’s ‘anger’ was ineffective compared to King’s more ‘reasonable’ and conciliatory position. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It was Malxolm X who made King’s demands seem eminently reasonable, by pushing the boundaries of what the status quo would consider extreme.”

What McBay calls “decisive ecological warfare” starts with guerrilla movements and the Art of War. Guerrilla fighting is all about asymmetric warfare. One side is well-armed, well-funded, and highly disciplined, and the other side is a much smaller group of irregulars. And yet sometimes the underdog wins. It’s not by accident, and it’s not because they are all nonviolent and pure of heart, but because they use their strengths effectively. They hit where it counts. The rebels win the hearts and minds and, crucially, the hands-on support of the civilian populace. That’s what turns the tide.

McBay notes, for example, that land reclamation has proven to be a decisive strategy. He argues that “aboveground organizers [should] learn from groups like the Landless Workers’ Movement in Latin America.” This ongoing movement “has been highly successful at reclaiming ‘underutilized’ land, and political and legal frameworks in Brazil enable their strategy,” McBay adds.

Imagine two million people occupying the Tar Sands. Imagine blocking or disrupting crucial supply lines. Imagine profits nose-diving, investors bailing out, brokers panic-selling, and the whole top-heavy edifice crashing to a halt.

The Landless Workers’ Movement operates openly. Another group, the Underground Railroad, was completely secret. Members risked their lives to help slaves escape to Canada. A similar network could help future resisters flee state persecution. Those underground networks need to form now, McBay says, before the aboveground resistance gets serious, and before the inevitable crackdown comes.

DGR categorizes effective actions as either shaping, sustaining, or decisive. If a given tactic doesn’t fit one of those categories, it is not effective, McBay says. He emphasizes, however, that all good strategies must be adaptable.

To paraphrase a few nuggets of wisdom:

Stay mobile.
Get there first with the most.
Select targets carefully.
Strike and get away.
Use multiple attacks.
Don’t get pinned down.
Keep plans simple.
Seize opportunities.
Play your strengths to their weakness.
Set reachable goals.
Follow through.
Protect each other.
And never give up.

Guerrilla warfare is not a metaphor for what’s happening to the planet. The forests, the oceans, and the rivers are victims of bloody battles that start fresh every day. Here in North America, it’s low-intensity conflict. Tactics to keep the populace in line are usually limited to threats, intimidation, arrests, and so on.

But the “war in the woods” gets real here, too. I’ve been shot at by loggers. In 1999, they burned our forest camp to the ground and put three people in the hospital. In 2008, two dozen of us faced a hundred coked-up construction workers bent on beating our asses.

Elsewhere, it’s a shooting war. Canadian mining companies kill people as well as ecosystems. We are responsible for stopping them. We know what’s happening. Failing to take effective action is criminal collusion.

Wherever we are, whatever we do, they’re murdering us. They’re poisoning us. Enbridge, Deepwater Horizon, Exxon, Shell, Suncor and all their corporate buddies are poisoning the air, the water, and the land. We know it and they know it. Animals are dying and disappearing. There will be no end to the destruction as long as there is profit in it.

This work is scary as hell. That’s why we need to be really brave, really smart and really strategic.

We have strengths our opponents will never match. We’re smarter and more flexible than they are, and we’re compelled by an overwhelming motivation: to save the planet. We’re fighting for our survival and the survival of everyone we love. They just want more money, and the only power they know is force.

As Jensen says, ask a ten-year-old what we should do to stop environmental disasters that are caused in large part by the use of fossil fuels, and you’ll get a straightforward answer: stop using fossil fuels. But what if the companies don’t want to stop? Then make them stop.

Ask a North American climate-justice campaigner, and you’re likely to hear about media stunts, Facebook apps, or people stripping and smearing each other with molasses. Not to diss hard-working activists, but unless they are building strength and unity on the ground, these tactics won’t work. They’re not decisive. They’re just silly.

Of course, if the media stunts are the lead-in to mass, no-compromise, nonviolent action to shut down polluters, I’ll see you there. I’ll even do a striptease to celebrate.

© 2012 Zoe Blunt

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Uncivilized

Derrick Jensen

Author and activist Derrick Jensen would consider the label “uncivilized” a compliment. But then, he’s not your garden-variety white California environmentalist. He’s an outspoken anti-authoritarian and vehement anti-capitalist, yet he refuses to be categorized as either an anarchist or a socialist. Instead of controlling the means of production, Jensen calls on workers to destroy the means of production in order to save the planet. “Luddite” fits, but it doesn’t go far enough.

In an interview earlier this year, Jensen said he rejects the term “primitivist” because it’s a “racist way to describe indigenous peoples.” He prefers “indigenist” or “ally to the indigenous,” because “indigenous peoples have had the only sustainable human social organizations, and … we need to recognize that we [colonizers] are all living on stolen land.”

Jensen has fifteen books in print, including Listening to the Land (1995), A Language Older Than Words (2000), As the World Burns (2007), and Lives Less Valuable (2010). His most influential work, the 2006 best-seller Endgame: The Problem of Civilization, is the subject of the 2010 indie film END:CIV.

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Survey: Most Juan de Fuca residents don’t want new resort development


New roads planned along the Juan de Fuca trail. Photo: Alysha Tylynn Jones

A survey of Juan de Fuca residents indicates that the vast majority prefer environmental preservation to real estate development and resort tourism. The poll results show that only 7.5 percent of respondents  support new development and resort tourism in the Juan de Fuca electoral area, while 85 percent prefer habitat and watershed restoration.

A coalition of students and community groups conducted the direct-mail survey of people in Port Renfrew, Jordan River, Shirley, and Otter Point. The Wild Coast Campaign is compiling a report to be presented to the Capital Regional District in spring. Preliminary results will be presented during the Juan de Fuca land-use committee’s public information session tonight at Edward Milne School in Sooke.

The surveys were sent to all 423 households in the rural area via Canada Post in December and January. Residents were asked their opinions about land use in the former Western Forest Products lands in the Juan de Fuca electoral area.

Among other questions, the survey asked “What would you prefer to see happen in the Juan de Fuca forestlands?”

Out of 53 responses, only nine (17%) support resort tourism in Juan de Fuca. Four of these (7.5%) also want to see more real-estate development and subdivisions in the future.

“Resort tourism” ranked 13th on the list of 16 options, ahead of “real estate development and subdivisions” with eight votes, and “clearcut logging” with three.

The top answer, selected by 85% of respondents, was “watershed and habitat restoration.” Second in the multiple-choice poll, with 72% support, was “forest protection.” Third on the list was “park creation,” chosen by 68% of those who answered.

The poll did not specifically query residents on their support for a
proposed resort development on Juan de Fuca trail, now under
consideration by the Juan de Fuca land-use committee.

The survey was distributed to every household in the Juan de Fuca communities via unaddressed Canada Post mail. This is not a scientific poll and should not take the place of full community consultation; however, it represents a fairly random sample of residents.

Here is the question as it appeared on the survey form, followed by the responses for each option.

What would you prefer to see happen in the Juan de Fuca forestlands?

45  Watershed and habitat restoration
38  Forest protection
36  Park creation
34  Public consultation
32  Moratorium on new development
31  More community planning
30  Eco-forestry
26  Eco-tourism
25  Research forestry
22  Traditional indigenous activities
21  Community forestry
20  Education programs
12  Cultural tourism
9    Resort tourism
8    Real estate development and subdivisions
3    Clearcut logging

Related posts:

Why rural residents oppose the Juan de Fuca resort plan

If you can’t trust smooth-talking millionaire real-estate developers, who can you trust?

Update: Committee to reconsider proposed resort on the Juan de Fuca trail

 

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Why rural residents oppose the Juan de Fuca resort plan

A volunteer stands over a septic field test hole near the trailSeptic field test hole near the trail. Photo: Alysha Tylynn Jones

Public comments requested Thursday, March 3 at Edward Milne School, 6218 Sooke Road, Sooke. Hosted by the Capital Regional District.

Residents of Shirley, Jordan River, and other nearby communities are turning out in force to denounce a rezoning proposal that would permit 263 vacation homes, lodges, recreation buildings, septic fields, and roads within 100 meters of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a popular wilderness destination west of Jordan River.

The seven properties in question are former Western Forest Products tree farm license lands south of West Coast Road and adjacent to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail Park between China Beach and Sombrio Beach. The current zoning allows one home on each property.

The resort plan is widely viewed as a threat to the park and the tourism dollars generated by an estimated 300,000 visitors each year. Dozens of critics have also noted that the plan contradicts the Capital Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy and promotes uncontrolled urban sprawl in designated Rural Resource Lands. Elders from the Pacheedaht First Nation have publicly stated their opposition to the project and their demands for a moratorium on development on the nation’s traditional territory.

West Vancouver real-estate developer Ender Ilkay and his supporters cite “economic development” as the main reason to allow this huge resort to go forward. However, Ilkay’s optimistic economic report fails to address negative impacts on existing tourism operators and park visitors. The report also ignores impacts on wildlife, the risk of damage to the park, increased demands on local volunteer fire and rescue services, and the increased infrastructure costs that would be borne by all tax-payers in the CRD.

Ultimately, five people will decide the future of this plan. A majority of CRD directors have serious concerns about the proposal, but the final vote rests with the CRD’s Land Use Committee A. The members are:

Mike Hicks, the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director (who also chairs the Juan de Fuca Land Use Committee and has the power to appoint its members)

Denise Blackwell, a Langford councillor and cheerleader for the failed Bear Mountain Resort

Janet Evans, the pro-development mayor of Sooke

Dave Saunders, mayor of Colwood, and

John Ranns, mayor of Metchosin.

Those opposed to the project include MLA John Horgan (Malahat-Juan de Fuca), MP Denise Savoie (Victoria), MLA Rob Fleming (Victoria), and MP Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca), who has long advocated expanding the wilderness park.

Concermed? Send a letter to the directors of the Capital Regional District.

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Ender Ilkay: If you can’t trust smooth-talking millionaire real-estate developers, who can you trust?

Ender Ilkay

Real estate speculator Ender Ilkay, Marine Trail Holdings

Originally published in Focus Magazine.

Ender Ilkay’s proposal for a sprawling resort on top of the Juan de Fuca Trail draws heavy fire.

At his public presentation, West Vancouver-based developer Ender Ilkay was calm and self-assured—until he got angry. Then the claws came out.

Ilkay and his company, Marine Trail Holdings, plan to develop seven parcels of forestland purchased from Western Forest Products—land that, until recently, was part of a publicly-managed Tree Farm License. In 2007, the province’s sudden decision to release 28,000 hectares of forestland from TFL status to WFP without consultation or compensation triggered a storm of controversy and court actions. Complications scuttled Ilkay’s earlier plans to develop two of the parcels.

Now, Ilkay’s back, with an ambitious plan for a sprawling resort that includes a recreation centre, tourist lodge, and 279 cabins stretching along seven kilometres of choice land between Mystic Beach and Sombrio Beach.

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Activist Zoe Blunt Defends Canada’s Forests and Urges Us to Join In

Interview by Mickey Z, Planet Green

A self-described “journalism school dropout living in Victoria, British Columbia,” Zoe Blunt lives the eco-activist life and writes about it. For example:

Zoe Blunt. Photo by Tony Bounsall

“I’m standing at the base of the tree leaning back on my harness and peering at the platform sixty feet above. Ingmar is encouraging me to get up there. The press conference is supposed to start in forty-five minutes and we need to get into position. Ingmar’s fully informed about my slightly spastic condition and I can tell he’s not sure if I can still do this. I give him a thumbs up and start up the rope. By the time the camera crews arrive, we’re both up on the platform with our feet dangling down.”

Zoe likes to say she’s no action hero, but I say we could use a few million just like her. That’s why I interviewed her about old-growth forests, tree-spiking, direct action, and more.
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Stump broke

You ought to be taken out to the back forty and stump broke,” reads the message from a guy calling himself “Bronco.”*

The discussion was about a resort that went bankrupt, leaving hundreds of millions in debts. It wasn’t my fault – I just published information about it. Of course, it’s not the kind of information that the developers want the public to see.

Stump broke. I look it up. It means to tie an animal to a stump and rape it.

Turns out Stinger knows him by his business name. Bronco Excavating.* I find the number, a rural address in Saanich. I got a recording – a middle-aged woman’s voice, a cell phone number. The same woman answers the cell phone.

“I’m trying to reach Don Kringsborn*, please,” I say
“Who is this?”
“Zoe Blunt. I’m calling for Don Kringsborn, if he’s available.” I’m very polite.
“Where are you calling from? What do you want?” She’s knows my name and she’s upset.
I’ve blocked my number. “I’m calling from my home. Is it possible to speak to Don?”
“Not unless you give me more information!”
“How about if you give him a message. I need to know if I have the correct definition of ‘stump broke.'”
“Stump broke? Stump broke?” Her voice rises.
“Yes, I’m looking for the definition of ‘stump broke.'” I repeat.
“We’re not even in the country right now!” the woman exclaims, apropos of nothing.
“Tell him he can reach me on my cell phone. Thank you.” I hang up.

I find the postcard, a colour photo of an unfinished construction project that the resort was building until it ran out of money. “Greetings from Langford Bridge to Nowhere!” the card reads. I address it to Don Kringsborn at his Saanich address and inscribe it: “To my biggest fan! Love, Zoe.”

*Names and pseudonyms have been changed.

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Dear Auntie Civ: Why do environmentalists eat meat?

Auntie Civ

Ask Auntie Civ, the world's first anti-civilization advice columnist

Dear Auntie Civ:

Thanksgiving is here, which prompts me to ask about a matter that’s been bothering me for quite some time, namely, why are environmentalists and the social justice crowd not on board with vegetarianism?

To be fair, I’m not talking about people with allergies or sensitivities, whose eating options are narrowed for reasons not of their choosing. Instead, I’m recalling the countless environmental meetings where meat and dairy products are served without question, often at the expense of animal-free offerings.

As early as 1971, we had books like the Diet for a Small Planet, exposing the degradation and social injustice of mass meat consumption. There have been hundreds of books and documentaries highlighting the health, environmental, and social equity benefits of animal-free eating.

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