A Little Less Cruelty in a Cruel World

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Everyday it seems like the world is becoming a more hopeless and helpless place. The news is rife with negativity, as human injustice, environmental disasters, violence, and war plague our media. With 24-hour news channels and our phones’ abilities to keep us updated, it’s almost impossible to get a break from the negativity, and I almost forget that there are good people in the world who are working hard to make it a more positive environment.

We live in a world where the American government persecutes immigrants, threatens nuclear war, robs from the poor to give to the rich, takes away medical insurance, attempts to strip minorities and women of their rights, and denies climate change. As someone who is passionate about all of these issues, I often feel overwhelmed. I’m unsure where to put my energy. I debate about whether or not I should focus on one issue or spread myself out. I wonder whether it’s more productive to march in the streets or write to my representatives. Additionally, with only so much free time, trying to figure out how to help change the world can feel like another job.

During these times of uncertainty, I take comfort in my veganism. While I didn’t initially become vegan for political reasons, being vegan has become very political for me and has made me feel a sense of control in a world full of chaos. Veganism is something that doesn’t take any extra time, but impacts the environment in a huge and positive way.

Meat and dairy production have brought devastating consequences to the environment. Land and water resources are being strained to raise animals for human consumption. Cattle emit an astonishing amount of methane and carbon dioxide. Since Brazil has become the second largest meat producer in the world, the country has experienced terrifying water shortages, leading to riots. Furthermore, the deforestation of the Amazon to create factory farms is affecting the health of our planet. Without the Amazon, significant amounts of carbon is released into our atmosphere. According to a study by the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, widespread adoption of veganism could reduce emissions by approximately 70 percent. Although I am only one person, I am one less person who needs meat produced for consumption.

The meat industry also has a negative effect in government. Their lobbying groups are very influential in Washington, and, of course, they are against anything that might negatively impact their business. The fact they have so much influence in the government is why very few politicians speak out against the meat industry, especially in regard to its impact on the environment. By being vegan, I am able to control where my money goes, ensuring it does not go to the meat industry. Additionally, when I am asked the inevitable question, “Why are you vegan?” I am given the chance to educate people about the political impact of the industry.

Through honest, open exchanges with curious individuals, I’ve inspired many friends and acquaintances to go completely vegan or move toward a plant-based lifestyle. I’ve discovered with cordial communication and education that people are often more willing to listen to the nutritional, economical, and environmental benefits of being vegan and give it a try.

Veganism also helps me connect to the earth, appreciate its precious resources, and feel love, compassion, and respect for animals. Feeling that connection and acknowledging that animals are beings who deserve life has made me more compassionate in all aspects. I am kinder and more empathetic toward people, especially those who are struggling. Veganism has taught me to protect vulnerable beings, which helps make the world a better place.

I love being vegan because the food choices I make every day remind me that I’m doing a good thing for the earth and all beings who inhabit it. Being vegan has also inspired me to make other environmentally beneficial food choices as well. Because of my veganism, I’ve cultivated a love of shopping at the farmers’ market and buying what’s local and seasonal, as well as experimenting with new produce. I’ve also learned how to successfully shop in the bulk section and use glass jars for food storage to minimize waste. Veganism has taught me to appreciate food in a way I hadn’t before and keeps me grounded in this unstable world.

While the world’s problems often feel overwhelming, being vegan is something I know I can always do. Being vegan has made me a more aware, healthy, and compassionate person. I feel more connected to myself, both physically and mentally, the planet, animals, and my fellow humans. For that, I am thankful for being vegan.