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Thursday, 25 October 2012

Environmental Debates within Paganism

Environmental issues have always been close to the hearts of many Pagans. This is probably because Pagans generally believe we sprang from the earth rather than being placed on it, they celebrate the divinity in the natural world.

However, that doesn’t mean they agree on environmental issues.

One of the longest running debates on this is, what I’m going to call: “The Vegetarian/Vegan Debate”. The pro-vegetarian/vegan camp argues that animals are as much a part of the earth as we are, and shouldn’t be eaten or commercially farmed. Their cause is further strengthened by the large levels of global emissions produced by commercial farming of meat products which is a huge contributory factor to global warming.

However, there is a counter argument to these beliefs which is no less compelling. Meat loving Pagans would argue that, humans are natural omnivores, the Gods don’t want us to stop eating roast beef anymore than they would want foxes to stop catching rabbits. A lot of them also point to the fact that the manufacture of soya products -(a popular meat/dairy substitute)- is causing real lasting damage to the environment, and the “food miles” associated with this , often GM, food source are a real environmental concern.

This issue is further complicated by the fact that soya is used in animal feed, so whilst the vegetarian/vegan camp shout “That shoots down your argument!” the meat eaters shout “That means we need to support the meat industry so farmers can afford more organic feeds”… And around and around we go.

Another topic that has led to some heated discussions is the proposed badger cull. A large part of the Pagan community dashed straight to the petition websites and on to social media, trying to stop the cull from ever happening. In their view badgers are native to the UK and they enjoy a protected status that should remain very much in place. They pointed to TB vaccines as an obvious reason as to why these culls simply were not needed. A lot of them saying that mankind has meddled with wildlife far too much and it should be left alone to recover.

However, there’s another point of view on this too. Some Pagans would point to the fact that the vaccine isn’t totally effective, and that the -(although limited)- evidence we do have, points to the fact that cases of TB do fall in areas where culls have been used. They also remind us that this isn’t an issue that just effects commercial farmers, and it shouldn’t just be about TB, many small holders who are at the fighting front of self-sufficiency and eco-living are devastated by livestock being attacked and killed by badgers. Although we my not like the idea of mankind meddling with wildlife, unfortunately we’ve been doing just that for centuries and we need to take responsibility for our own mess. Many other wild animal species are culled to help stabilise and maintain their population, why not badgers… And around and around we go.

Some people will read this article as a complaint, please don’t. If anything it is the opposite. One of the reasons I’m so proud to be part of the Pagan community is that they actually care enough to bother to inform themselves and form opinions they can stand behind, which ever side of the fence that opinion may be on.


  1. Good article Lily. I'm anti-cull myself. I've never been sure that the Badgers aren't actually getting TB from cattle, not vice-versa
    As for statics, I only trust them if I fiddled the figure s myself!

  2. Thanks! I'm sort ofhovering somewhere in the middle... don't want huge blanket culls, but in our area Badger numbers are quiet high and they've spilled over from the nature reserve and some local small holders have had animals killed by them. Would be nice if it could be decided upon by local councils looking at there individual situation, rather than on a national level.