I don’t think you need New Year’s Eve as an excuse to make a resolution (any day is a good day to make a positive change) but seeing as how it’s the last day of 2015, I thought it would be apt to consider how we, as a society, can make better decisions for the animals with whom we share this planet.
It’s been almost a year since I switched to a vegan lifestyle and in that time I’ve seen my sister-in-law transition from meat eater to vegetarian to vegan. I’ve seen friends question the source of their meat, reduce their consumption, and become vegetarian. I’ve seen my dad checking out vegan cookbooks from the library! Andy’s decision to become vegan has made waves, and it’s fascinating to watch the message spread and see friends and family embrace a more compassionate lifestyle.
Going into 2016 I’d encourage everyone to look at their day to day choices not just in terms of diet but with regards to the products we consume and the entertainment we choose to be part of. Animal cruelty is a sad facet of every day life, and we must make a stand against it if we want things to change for the better. We have a choice in everything we consume so why not choose the option that doesn’t contribute to animal pain, suffering and death.
It’s so easy to buy cruelty-free products that don’t test on animals or use animal derived ingredients. It’s so easy to not go to the races and enjoy a sport where animals aren’t pushed to their limits and then euthanised for not being fast enough. It’s so easy to not wear leather, wool, or fur. Let the animals keep their coats because they certainly need them more than you do. It’s so easy to adopt a wonderful dog in need of a home rather than fork out thousands for the puppy-farmed pedigree of your choice. It’s so easy to not eat meat. It’s so easy to not eat dairy. It’s so easy to be a vegan.
I know there’s not going to be a global change overnight, or even over the next few years, but change is happening. Change is growing. More and more people are opening their eyes to the plight of our fellow earthlings and actively choosing to not contribute to their suffering.
Everyone’s journey to veganism is different, and I know there are some who argue that things like Meatless Monday are unhelpful, giving people a sense that they are doing enough by simply cutting down on their meat intake. I disagree, and think that if someone truly believes that having one meatless day is good enough then they’re probably not ready to make the switch anyway. What things like Meatless Monday are good for is providing a stepping stone for further insight into a cruelty-free lifestyle. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the vast majority of us are brought up to believe that we should be eating meat and that we need dairy or we won’t get enough calcium. It’s hard to change your way of thinking when society is massively biased towards carnism. In my experience – in the way I made the change and in the way I’ve seen friends and family do the same – a person first starts to consider where their animal products come from and then makes an effort to try and buy more ethically. They then begin to reduce the amount of meat they’re eating. This leads to either a pescetarian or vegetarian diet and then finally a decision to exclude all animal derived products. And from there I think a person becomes more aware of other aspects of a vegan lifestyle such as clothing, make-up, household products etc. I’ve seen a snowballing effect where one decision leads to another and the person gradually works their way towards a vegan lifestyle. Some people know this is their end goal and others end up there unexpectedly.
Of course I don’t want people to stop with a reduction in their consumption of meat and say that’s enough, but I think that any positive change, no matter how small, can lead to bigger and more meaningful choices.
You can start making compassionate decisions at any time, but this year is drawing to an end and the new year starts tomorrow. So why not start 2016 by making some vegan lifestyle choices. It’s good for you, it’s good for the planet and it’s good for all those animals who have no choice whatsoever.