One is an artisanal farmer committed to artisanal and responsible “omniculture”. The other is a vegan and anti-species activist calling for an end to animal exploitation. They cross swords in a scathing correspondence edited by Écosociété that spares neither the goat nor the cabbage.
Posted yesterday at 11am
Valerie Simard The press
Dominic Lamontagne, author of The Impossible Farm and The Artisan Farmer, settled in Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides with his wife Amélie Dion and their children to establish a subsistence farming project, that is, the farmer, his family and the community . In addition to the nursery, they raise laying hens and goats, from which they consume the milk.
Jean-François Dubé lives in Montreal. He was initially vegetarian and has been vegan since 2015. As a holder of a master’s degree in political science on the connections between animal and environmental movement ideas, he has participated in several awareness and disruption actions. He was there when a group of activists walked into Joe Beef restaurant for dinner in 2020.
After commenting on Dominic’s appearance on Rad Show, Radio-Canada’s journalistic laboratory, Jean-François contacted him. Not inviting him to dinner – we quickly understand that it would be an impossible meal! – but for discussion.
“I can’t invite him to dinner,” said the farmer. But if he wants, I’ll go! He says he likes food, we agree on that. »
Opposing points of view
Over a period of two years, they developed their arguments in twenty letters, which they summarized in the essay “The Goat and the Cabbage”. The two men confront each other on three issues: ethics, health and the environment, through scientific studies, philosophical writings, testimonies and peasant intuition. They don’t agree on any. And it goes beyond the love of meat or animals.
If the exchange is respectful, we also feel in her writings, as in this videoconference interview to which La Presse invited her, the impatience, the sharpness and the emotion that characterize the clash of opposite points of view. “There are limits to a compromise when the other wants to abolish your way of life! ‘ says Dominic Lamontagne. “If we consider a practice to be immoral, we defend its abolition,” replies Jean-François Dubé.
Regardless of the type of breeding, the activist believes it is immoral to “objectify” animals, which are sentient beings and therefore have the ability to feel emotion and suffering. “How can we continue to engage in the exploitation of animals that are ultimately identical to our dogs in their ability to feel pain? […] This is nonsense when there are alternative feeding options. »
Dominic Lamontagne refuses to subject his animals to any kind of cruelty. Smallholder agriculture makes it possible “to offer the animals pleasant, even enjoyable living conditions,” he argues. A statement that made Jean-François Dubé smile and shake his head, no doubt used to the lyrical flights of fancy of his correspondent.
“Actually, you kill animals when it’s not necessary,” he will reply later when the farmer explains that he creates happiness on his farm.
What Dominic Lamontagne defends is an ecosystemic approach to food self-sufficiency in which animal input is essential. “I think that rudimentary, sustainable and therefore ecological means should be in the foreground. To say that animal protein is unnecessary is a pipe dream. You must live in town and be able to go to the grocery store with a credit card. »
If you are in an environment where you are trying to support yourself, you need to be able to enjoy maximum biodiversity.
Because the future is here, he says. A future where city dwellers return to the countryside. utopian? “We’re the majority of people who watch our diet,” he replies. What is happening in downtown Montreal is not typical of what the average person does every day on Earth to ensure their survival and food self-sufficiency. We have large vacancies in Quebec. Reclaiming our territory should be a priority. »
“With a growing population, the solution is not urban sprawl, but densification, with rooftop greenhouses and urban agriculture,” replies Jean-François Dubé. On a small farm it is even more difficult to assess whether the animals are well cared for. The more there are, the less control we have. »
In his ideal world, where the vegan diet is widespread, we must continue to bet on industrialization, at least in the short term it is appropriate to meet the nutritional and protein needs of the population, yes even to produce the famous “enriched oat juice” that has been panned multiple times by Dominic Lamontagne as a symbol of the industrialization of this food choice.
Those who defend the importance of looking at the global trace of what we consume are convinced that the milk produced by their goats has a lower environmental impact than fortified oat milk, which their co-author dismisses. “There are different ways to make different animal proteins,” says Dominic Lamontagne. The numbers we often have are amalgamations that include industries that take up a lot of space. »
Furthermore, in its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advocates a “healthy, balanced and sustainable diet” that includes essentially plant-based foods but does not exclude those of animal origin “resilient, sustainable and low-emission systems”. On this the two authors agree… in their difference of opinion!
The Goat and the Cabbage: Debate between a Craftsman and a Vegan Activist
Dominic Lamontagne and Jean-François Dubé