It’s easy for us to think, “There is no way that the MAJORITY of people in the world are going to go go vegan. What is the point of me being vegan? Unless the majority of the world does something there will be no change.”
AGirlNamedAlly responded to this sentiment beautifully and thoroughly so instead of rehashing, I’ve attached her response unabridged. I’m currently not a vegan but this was so inspiring to me! I hope that it will inspire and educate you, too.
Usually I would ignore this kind of thing but I really actually do want to help you (and anyone else who thinks this way) understand how it works because this is really important.
I apologise if I sound or get rude/agitated explaining this, it’s just that I am very passionate about this and find defeatist attitudes quite frustrating.
Alright, first things first, (damn it, Iggy truly has ruined that for me forever) we/you 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, but I do think more and more will realise how important it is and make the switch. Even if only 90%, or 50%, or 10% of the world come to this realisation and change 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 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 EVERYBODY (or many people) seems to cling to it. They reason “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 or 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.
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you doare in harmony.
– Mohandas Gandhi
Since I became 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 may 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 over 100 people collectively contact me on here, 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!”
The U.N. urged the world to move towards plant based living over 4 years ago, claiming that “a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to saving the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.” The report also points out that as the world’s population approaches over 9 billion people by 2050, it will not be possible to sustain the per capita consumption of meat and dairy products that we are currently eating. We literally cannot go on living this way.
“Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”
Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: “Animal products cause more damage than producing construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as burning fossil fuels.” [x]
To quote this article, the U.N. is not alone in its analysis. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute. Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from a standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against climate change than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid. And a German study conducted in 2008 concluded that a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is. The verdict is in: If you care about the environment, one of the single most effective things that you can do to save it is to adopt a vegan diet.
All it takes is one person.
One spark to ignite the flame.
Sixty years ago, maybe it seemed like not enough people believed in equality for POC for them to ever get the vote or be treated as humans. Then, in ‘55 and ‘63, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. each stood up and fought for what they knew was right. At the time, they would have felt small, part of a minority, and fearful that no change would come, but they spoke up anyway, and inspired others in the process. The same goes for Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Jane Goodall and Malala Yousafzai. Even Adolf Hitler. Though his motives and actions were horrendous, he was one person and he made a huge difference in the face of history, simply by following what he believed to be right and true. If you are strong in your views, have the passion and knowledge to educate others, huge changes can be made. (I think it’s clear that I am not defending or glorifying Hitler, the Nazi party or anything to do with WW2, but simply acknowledging the power one person has to change the world).
“Dietary changes could therefore not only create substantial benefits for human health and global land use, but can also play an important role in future climate change mitigation policies.” [x]
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 favour 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.
The demand (i.e. how many people want to purchase the product) directly influences the supply (i.e. how much of that product is made). On a smaller scale – look at your home life. Were you to stop eating animal products, your family would subsequently buy less. If you went to your auntie’s house, she might prepare one less meat dish. Similarly, visiting vegetarian and vegan eateries financially supports their organisations and allows them to further their ethical business. On a larger scale, look at your weekly shopping. Say your local grocer orders a certain amount of eggs each week. If you and a few other people decide you no longer want to support/purchase them, their demand decreases. There will come a point where the buying and re-selling of those eggs is no longer profitable as they are left with a surplus of unsold eggs, so they will order less in the future. There is then less demand to produce a certain amount (even if only on a small scale), and it works all the way back up to the factory farms and slaughterhouses.
I like this perspective too. “Suppose a particular vegan in no way affects supply, sets an example, or educates others. They are still doing the right thing. Imagine a scenario involving humans: Several thousand people across the world regularly pay to see live internet video of women being raped and tortured. Dave receives an email inviting him to view these events, but he chooses not to participate. You probably agree with me that Dave’s decision is morally obligatory — even though the women will still be exploited and none of the viewers will notice his absence”.
Care about our environment?
On average it takes 11 times more fossil fuel to make one calorie of animal protein as it does to make one calorie of plant protein. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 78, No. 3, Pimentel & Pimentel, Sept. 2003)
In the U.S., livestock production is responsible for 55% of all soil erosion on cropped land and pastureland, 40% of which ends up in water resources. (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, “Livestock’s Long Shadow”, 2006, p. 73, Box 2.5)
It takes 5 times more water to yield 1000 kcal of meat as it does to yield 1000 kcal of fruits, vegetables or grains. (Malin Falkenmark & Johan Rockstrom, “Balancing Water for Humans and Nature”, 2004, p. 50)
You could save more water by not eating one pound of California beef than you would save by not showering for an entire year. (Based on 1 shower/day, 7 minutes/shower, using 2 gallons water/minute). (John Robbins, The Food Revolution, 2001, p. 237)
Despite currently having the resources to feed every mouth on our planet, billions of people are living in and dying of poverty each day. Rather than using plants from the Earth as our nourishment, we instead waste it by forcing it into the throats of animals to fatten them up, so that we can then kill them and eat them (along with all the other animals, flies, poop, hormones and junk inside their bodies)… rather than just eat the grains and vegetables ourselves. We are choosing to feed the animals rather than ourselves, and its making for a great imbalance worldwide.
“It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh. Making meat consumption a very inefficient use of grain and wasteful of our land. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world’s poor.” – Worldwatch Institute
What about your health? We all hear those common phrases thrown around – “you need meat for protein” or “dairy for calcium”, but have you ever looked into the truth for yourself? Recent studies have shown meat and cheese may be as bad for you as smoking. Reducing or eliminating animal flesh and by products from your diet can also reduce or eliminate high mortality rate illnesses like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, and heart disease, as a plant based diet contains little to almost non existent bad cholesterol or unhealthy fats. We humans are the only animals that continue to drink milk after weening (kinda creepy if you think about it) and the only ones to drink the milk of another species (almost creepier, picture yourself standing under a big mama cow’s udder to get the milk for your cereal). Because that stuff is created in pregnancy for the sole purpose of feeding her baby calf, it isn’t designed for our consumption. As the cows are pumped full of hormones and chemicals, their milk is too. Despite what our parents and TV commercials have told us over the years, dairy actually depletes our bones of calcium and can result in osteoporosis. Here and here you can read my posts about why dairy is so harmful for us to consume, so if you think going plant-based wont make any difference – consider your own health!
Even if I hadn’t been able to provide any of this 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 fuelling this industry – so you better agree with what they’re doing. Things like grinding baby chicks alive in a big blender, suffocating piglets,
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”. [x]
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.
And then, because she’s fabulous, she ended with these links for more resources:
Farm to Fridge
Factory Farming in 60 seconds
Best speech you will ever hear
More reasons to go vegan
101 Reasons to go vegan
Meat increasing gas prices
Veggie brothers why go vegan
Does being vegan make a difference?