Nothing feels better to me than being vegan. I love knowing that I am saving animals and making a difference for the planet. I have only been vegan for 28 days, yet I have saved 252,000 gallons of water and 1,344 pounds of grain, and 16 animals. This is incredible, and clearly demonstrates the power each individual holds to make a difference in the world.
To me, the impact of being vegan is too great to ignore. It is the single best action anyone can take for the good of the animals, the planet, and the future. I know that if we want to reverse the damage humans have imparted to this earth, our most promising course of action is to promote veganism globally. But most people have never heard about the power of veganism to save the earth. I didn’t become aware of it until after I became a vegan. I heard tons about car-pooling, hybrids, solar panels, and recycling, but nothing about going vegan. Why are we ignoring the elephant in the room: our food choices? Why is it so easy to hide the massively destructive consequences of the animal industry? Attempting to save the environment without going vegan is like trying to plow a driveway with a spoon when a snow blower is within arm’s reach.
Which brings me to a question I have been contemplating this week: How does one make a change in the world? I now see the incredible power of veganism to stop this massive holocaust of innocent animals, repair our tortured Earth, and diminish pressing health concerns. But how do we show this light to people who do not want to change? Telling people that their dinner is mercilessly killing both animals and the planet is taboo. No one wants to hear that they are wrong. No one will to listen to someone telling them what they can and cannot eat.
The first step to making a change in the world is undoubtedly making a change in yourself. But as I complete my first month of being vegan, I am ready to do more. But how? The consumption of animal products is deeply rooted in American culture, as well as many others, and is not going anywhere soon. Animal products are everywhere. They are served at almost every restaurant, grocery store, and home. The poison of the animal industry has seeped into almost every cell of our society. It is embedded so deeply, that it seems almost inseparable now. Most regard choosing to consume animal flesh as their right as a human. To even hint at an alternative lifestyle would send many into hysterics.
In a world of climate change, massive deforestation, and rapid extinctions, we need to realize that though humans have consumed flesh for many years, the Earth cannot sustain this practice any longer. Even “sustainable” and “free-range” animal products are not a long-term solution. There is not enough land on earth for all meat to be raised as “free-range”, and accelerated deforestation is the last thing our planet needs. We need to stop fighting it and accept the truth. Animal products are in no way sustainable, and if we want future generations to inherit a healthy planet, we need to step up and take action now. Taste, tradition, and freedom of choice can no longer justify this destructive practice.
But unfortunately, most people will not listen. They prioritize their own lives above those of other sentient beings. They would rather not know about the horrifying suffering and death of the animals they consume. They are unwilling to give up their favorite foods for the health of our planet. In blissful ignorance, they continue, turning a blind eye to the path of destruction animal products take to get to their table. And they want vegans, who have acknowledged the truth and are taking actions to make the world a better place, to let them consume their animal products in peace. They cling to their foodstuffs with fierce tenacity while eating away the planet we all share. For them, the reality is out of sight and out of mind. And they want it to stay that way.
How do you reach the hearts and minds of these people? I think the answer lies in myself, as well as in anyone else who has not been a lifelong vegan. We all thought it was fine to consume animal products at one time. If I could tell my non-vegan self anything, what would I say? After giving this question some thought, I decided I would tell her, “Why are you ignoring where your food comes from? Just because it does not affect you, doesn’t mean you can keep shoving it out of your mind without consequence. It’s time to face the truth, step up, and make a change. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Start today. No excuses, no justifications. You can do it!” Then, I would slide a pamphlet across the table to her that would reveal the horror she has been contributing to, but also show her that the power to save the world lies in her hands. And I believe that this would show her the light and put her to action.
The world will not change in a day. But we have to start somewhere. After all, the strongest and most overwhelming tides of change must start with a single drop.