Abundant Living – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith( Veshengro)

Abundant Living in the Coming Age of the Tree
by Kathleen Jannaway
Published by Movement for Compassionate Living 1991
44 Pages A4

This book is available as a free download from http://www.mclveganway.org.uk/Publications/Abundant_Living.pdf

abundant_living-1Kathleen Jannaway's classic text sets out the practical and philosophical basis for ecological veganism – that we can feed the world healthily and compassionately and protect the planet with a diverse, mostly home grown, plant-based diet that includes tree crops – from the Movement of Compassionate Living http://www.mclveganway.org.uk

“We are faced with the challenge”, they say, “of providing for the needs of a rapidly increasing world population from the diminishing resources of a finite and endangered planet. Fundamental changes in the values and practices of the dominant world system, which has created a situation in which millions of people and animals already suffer extreme deprivation and die prematurely, is essential. What is needed is a trend towards compassionate living the vegan way, with the emphasis on the use of trees and their products. As people face the challenge of environmental crises, as the supreme importance of using awesome intellectual powers with compassion for all sentient beings is realized, an evolutionary leap will be achieved. An era of truly abundant living will dawn in which humans, at peace with themselves, with each other and with all living creatures, will reach heights of creativity as yet unimagined.”

While the principal point of the book is that of promoting veganism the book does, however, not just deal with veganism but with the importance of trees and wood and the many products and food that can be had from trees, and that line of thought can surely not be faulted.

There are a few things in this small volume one can and maybe even must disagree with such as some claims as to the vitamin B12 issue but more importantly the production of Rayon from frees, as it is still a chemical production path and thus a man-made fiber and products from Rayon are not biodegrabale. The use of flax, hemp and nettle for plant fibers from which to make clothing and other cloth products would be a much better choice.

When the author makes mention of the use of human excreta for fertilizer on crops it is not a new approach and this has been done by gardeners in many countries, including China and also Germany, without any ill effect. While it may be good to “carefully treat” it, as she puts it, but it has been used untreated in China and years ago in Germany. In those cases, however, it was from the pits of the outhouses though rather than from today’s sewage system. In actual fact we may entirely change the way we deal with our bodily wastes, and use composting toilets as a rule. Still in the early part of the 20th century night soil was collected and it was indeed spread as fertilizer on farms.

Though with reference to forest and woodland management the author could have done with doing a little more research, especially with regards to the ancient system of coppicing and the benefits of the same for woodland health and a continuous supply of wood for all manner of things, without the need to ever having to fell and replace trees as, in rotation coppice, the felled trees regenerate into more stems and a stool, as that is what a coppiced tree is called, can live for a thousand and more years. For more information on this kind of woodland management “Managing our Woods” (Michael Smith (Veshengro), 2014).

© 2015