Have you seen this headline in your newsfeed: “Ben & Jerry’s Launches New Non-Dairy Ice Cream to Help Fight Climate Change”? I’ve seen it pop up on multiple pro-vegan news sources this week, celebrating the plant-based move that Ben & Jerry’s is making. Although I am thankful for every step in the direction of a vegan future, when companies make very small steps that make them look like heroes for the planet, when they could instead make leaps and bounds, I do feel like it’s exactly that: a PR move.
Ben & Jerry’s recently released a plant-based ice cream flavor called “Unfudge Our Future,” pointing out that if we don’t make climate conscious changes now, our future is in trouble. Ben & Jerry’s says, “Un-fudge our Future isn’t just a tasty new vegan flavor you can’t miss, it’s a climate crisis call-to-action you can’t ignore. Ben & Jerry’s is supporting climate leaders 350.org Australia & the inspiring global movement of young people demanding climate action.”
Although I do cherish a good vegan ice cream, especially when they bypass the horrors of the dairy industry, Ben & Jerry’s seems to be missing the point. They are the third largest ice cream producer in the U.S. and are owned by corporate giant Unilever, with an already established handful of delicious plant-based ice cream flavors. If they really wanted to unfudge our future, and listen to the global movement of young people demanding climate action, they would go completely plant-based.
The Smithsonian says: “An abundance of science analyzing the impacts on the earth of livestock farming has concluded that humanity’s appetite for meat and dairy products is having serious environmental consequences. Livestock species contribute directly and indirectly to deforestation, water pollution, air pollution, greenhouse gases, global warming, desertification, erosion and human obesity, and virtually anywhere you go in the world, the damage done by ruminants, pigs and poultry, and those who grow feed crops for them, is visible on the land…”
Another fact that Ben & Jerry’s, and most people for that matter, overlook is that the dairy industry IS the meat industry, which is also highly destructive to our planet. Most “spent” female dairy cows who no longer “produce” milk go to the slaughterhouse so that humans can eat their flesh, and most male calves are killed and turned into “veal”.
There is no way around it. Dairy plays a large part in the destruction of the planet, the murder of animals, and exploits the female reproductive system.“Slaughter-free” “small family,” “humane” and organic dairy farms are less sustainable, not more, as they use more resources. And claiming to be a part of the climate conscious movement while running an animal-based dairy company makes a mockery of real sustainability.