The iconic activist lived in "Luna" for 738 days.
Are you a vegetarian? Why or why not?
I am a JOYOUS Vegan! I never say I am Vegan without adding the word "Joyous" to it because when some people hear "vegan," they think things like rigid, boring, bland, angry, and judgmental. I LOVE life. I love celebrating my connection with Creation through the mindfulness of what I eat. Ultimately, I want people to eat with awareness and mindfulness, which means that first and foremost, eat local, local, local. People who say they are vegetarian because of animal rights but then have their food shipped from hundreds to thousands of miles away are not recognizing the enormous impact on animals (including human animals) from energy consumption.
I have walked in lands destroyed by oil extraction and I am clear that animals are being killed, maimed, and suffering terribly because of this process. I support indigenous people’s rights to live as one with the land and to eat animals for food. After living with a tree for two years, I am clear that plants and all life communicate. I recognize that the vegetables I eat deserve my humble gratitude and respect for my taking their life for food. I do not see any aspect of life as more sacred than any other. To say that I am more sacred or important than a plant is to be a part of the disease of disconnect that is at the heart of the destruction of the beauty and health of our world. I am clear that our forks and plates are weapons of mass destruction or tools of mass compassion based on the choices we make.
As an eco-advocate you undoubtedly try to walk the talk. But what do you have the most trouble changing about yourself or your lifestyle?
I recognize that my biggest challenge is to remain awake and in integrity in my daily life. So much in our society is geared towards making unconscious and harmful choices. I have to remain vigilant and mindful every moment of every day. I am committed to always looking for how I can live in more alignment and integrity with the vision of the world I wish to live. I am committed to always looking for how to ever reduce my footprint on this beautiful planet. These commitments are challenged every day as societal structures work to numb me and make these commitments difficult to live.
Who could be the environmental movement’s most unlikely allies?
The environmental movement needs to take a really hard and deep look at race, class and gender. Until it is ready to deal with its inherited racism, privilege and gender-biased power structures, it will never be the ally it needs to be. We are always looking at how to get "others" to join us. We need to look at what it truly takes for us to be the embodiment of healing disconnected consciousness. The more we embody this healing and integrity, the more we will be, and thus manifest, the allies we all need.
Which environmental group do you most admire and why?
I admire the grassroots, local groups across the country and around the world. While I appreciate the work of larger organizations, I find them to be resource intensive and very difficult for people to actively engage and be empowered in making a difference in their own communities.
Which green trend do you most distrust?
I am not a fan of huge corporations (i.e.: Shell, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart) who have "green" campaig
ns. Ultimately these are corporations that are designed to make a huge profit from exploitation of the planet and all its life, including humans.
I also challenge the idea that we can somehow buy our way to sustainability. The path to planetary health is in walking away from consumption and towards reducing our ecological footprint. This does include being mindful of what we buy, but first and foremost REDUCING what we are taking from the Earth. The average American consumes approximately14 generations worth of resources in one single generation. We are a society of addicts, and we are going to have to heal our addiction to consumption if we are to heal the wounds we have and continue to inflict on our planetary home.
What’s your favorite Earth-friendly mode of transportation?
My favorite Earth-friendly mode of transportation is my bicycle! I am so joyfully car free! I ride my bicycle just about everywhere. If my destination is a bit too far for me to ride, I take public transportation which is my second favorite Earth-friendly mode of transportation.
How could the environmental movement reinvent itself?
I do not feel that the environmental movement needs to reinvent itself. Rather, I feel what it needs is to take the time to be with nature’s rhythms and wisdom. Everything we need to know and do is already and always present in the natural world of which we have forgotten we are profoundly intertwined. We have forgotten the "nature" in our "human nature." Our disconnection is all over our lives, language and actions. I do not see separate movements (i.e.: environmental, human rights, animal rights and spiritual.) I see that we are all facets of the same movement towards a world that works for all. It is not "our" Earth; it is "us" Earth. It is WE THE PLANET. When we truly get this and begin to act accordingly, the planetary crisis will heal as we heal the human crisis of our hearts and spirits, and shift our lives to BE the world we wish to see.
CONTACTS: Circle of Life
BRITA BELLI is Managing Editor of E.