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A large population of the world believes that the consumption of animal products is the healthiest lifestyle. From childhood, humans are taught that eating animal products is healthy while eating foods like grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables is less important. People become accustomed to needing meat for optimal health. We are taught that we need milk to grow and maintain strong bones and that plant-based foods just are not enough to keep them alive and healthy. For years, research has shown that the standard American diet, focusing on large quantities of meat as well as meat products and less so on plant-based foods has negative effects on health and other aspects. A better option than the standard American diet is the vegan diet. Choosing a vegan lifestyle is not only better for health, but is also better for the environmental sustainability, and the ethical treatment of animals. However, while it is easy to give the facts of why being vegan is better, it is just as important to know that each individual person who chooses to take on the vegan lifestyle is contributing to a future of less destruction to our world and future generations.
We cannot say for sure what will happen in terms of agriculture, animal factory farms, ethical views, or environmental and equality laws in the future. We have no way of knowing that. I would agree that it is unlikely, at least in my time, that the entire world will transition to full veganism, for we are sadly either ignorant and unaware, or have been made aware, but choose not to change. I do think more and more humans will realize how important it is and make the switch. Even if only 90%, or 50%, or 10% of the world comes to this realization and changes their ways – this is still far better than none. A small change is still significant, and so much better than no change at all.
What if I said I believed in environmentalism, but felt my actions would be too insignificant or unrewarded so decided to just leave my water running all the time? Or if I thought “well yeah, bigotry, sexism and racism suck, but that’s just the way things have always been, so I’m going to perpetuate and contribute to them because there’s no point trying to make a difference.” Just because social change seems difficult, a long way off from perfecting, or even an isolated battle, does not mean you should abandon your beliefs and contribute to the problem. The main issue with this pattern of thought is that many people seem to cling to it. They reason with, “I want the world to be different but I’m just one small person, what impact could I have on my own?” But imagine if everybody who had that thought stood up for what they believed in. We’d all be standing together. I’m not pointing fingers here, I used to feel the same way – powerless. It wasn’t until doing more research for myself, strengthening my beliefs and understanding how important it is for our whole planet to make a shift to living this way that things really clicked.
Since I have become more educated on matters of animal cruelty, animal products affecting health, the environment, and global poverty, I did lots and lots of reading, viewing and seeking out information, and I set about to change my ways. That might be a very small act in the grand scheme of things, but alone I’m already diminishing the greenhouse gas emissions, amount of animals murdered, and most of all greatly reducing my chances of developing diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and heart disease. Moreover, since making that change and becoming more outspoken about what I learned, I’ve had hundreds of people collectively contact me via Instagram or Facebook to tell me that I influenced them to go plant-based too. So if you think one person can’t make a difference – that’s incorrect. Take this perspective: What if you worked at educating others about animal cruelty, pacifism, drugs or whatever your concern is, and each year just one other person accepted your philosophy? What if that person did likewise? And so on. After six years 32 would have adopted your philosophy. Another six years and the number would have passed 2000, or if we halve that to allow for those who lose commitment or die, 1000, all coming from what you started a decade or so earlier. That’s quite a difference.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of the process of supply and demand, but it’s a pretty key one in this argument. Animal agribusiness does not exist on its own, it exists because consumers continue to pay for it. In purchasing meat/eggs/dairy/fur etc, you are directly supporting that industry not only morally, but financially. We vote with our dollar, so it either goes in favor of a product or against. Every time you buy a dead animal – be it to eat or to wear – you are letting the world know that you accept and actively support the practice. You are directly paying someone to kill that cow/baby chick/piglet/lamb/etc and helping them continue to do so. I know this may sound like confronting stuff, because we have developed a strong cognitive dissonance to protect our consciences, but it’s important we know and take a stand for what we believe.
Even if someone wasn’t able to provide any information and supporting evidence, would it matter? Surely if you believed animal cruelty or the killing of others was immoral, that should be enough grounds for you to not support it? By paying to have others killed, exploited, raped/artificially inseminated repeatedly without consent and so on, you are directly fueling this industry – so you better agree with what they’re doing. Things like grinding baby chicks alive in a big blender, suffocating piglets, and ripping babies from their mothers cannot be what humans feel is the morally right thing to do.
There is never a bad time to start doing the right thing. Of course, the best time is now. The days you haven’t been vegan are gone, and you can’t have them back. Forget them. They belong to the past. Make today, tomorrow, and every day after the priority. They are yours. Each of your consumer choices is a vote for the kind of world you want to see. Each of your choices in the past helped build the world of today, and each of your choices from this moment forward will help build the world of tomorrow. The question is not “can you make a difference?” You already do, it’s just a matter of what kind.
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