I think the vegans most likely to be accused of being preachy are the animal lovers. These are the ones that respect and love all animals and from this base decided it was logical to stop supporting their use and abuse. I put myself in this category and yes, in my early years was accused of being preachy, or as I see it, I was just struggling and barking up the wrong tree.
I extend my normal, natural innate compassion for humans to all other animals. That does not mean I love them all, I just hope they can avoid suffering as much as possible. This means I want to do whatever I can to relieve their suffering where I can. As an animal loving vegan I was overwhelmed by empathy having seen and made a connection with the lives and deaths of farmed animals and fish. Before that I was comfortable, reassuring myself that it is just the way nature operates. After much research and watching wide ranging footage of slaughter, factory farms and of fish asphyxiating on the decks of trawlers, I woke up to the profound difference between nature and what we do to animals. We unnecessarily and deliberately confine, exploit and kill billions of animals with no justification. For me, to go on accepting this would pollute my mind like accepting the mass murder of people. In the early days of being vegan, this was a difficult awakening.
To help non-vegans understand, I would ask them to think of their own response to seeing a child being bullied or abused. We all naturally want to help the child right? Now imagine you see others enabling this violence to continue. Consider that this might be frustrating enough to motivate some action, or at least speaking up.
My particular interest is in animal lovers who have not yet made the full connection and are not yet vegan. I believe that even having a small proportion of these people become vegan would be a profound and powerful step for our society and all life on earth.
Animal lovers in particular will be concerned about the 150 to 200 entire animal species that go extinct every day. This manmade disaster will have an impact far beyond that on the individual animals. While this alone is a true developing catastrophe, in partnership with climate change, the entire ecosystem and all animal life on earth is under threat. Intimately related to this is the now complete dominance of factory farming, where upwards of 70 billion individual animals are slaughtered every year, after a short life confined in wholly unnatural conditions. These two particularly horrifying situations are tragic for all living creatures, particularly animal loving human beings who are able to contemplate the gravity of the situation.
Approximately 8 million animal species live on earth. They have evolved over millions of years, each finding a remarkable balance and connection with all the others sharing the planet. Each species is a triumph of an incredibly slow and complex process of natural selection. Inevitably some species go extinct, as competition, climate, and environmental factors conspire against them. In a balanced healthy ecosystem a few extinctions per year are expected, rather than the current rate of over 50,000.
Massive sudden environmental change is the biggest threat to the animals on earth. This rarely happens and the last time was about 60 million years ago. Since then changes have been continuos but gradual, allowing species to adapt. We would expect this to continue except mans impact is so dramatic that countless animal species fail to adapt and die out forever. As a result of what we do, more than 30% of all the animal species will be lost by 2050.
While the animal lovers are worried, the scientists that fully understand the situation are more concerned. They know that large loss of species is irreversible and has untold impact on the earths ecosystem. Without drastic change, the current situation will almost certainly have a fatal impact on our living planet. So what is it that we all do that is so destructive?
Obviously human population has grown incredibly in the last century, which is a factor but the real potentially manageable problem relates to our wasteful destruction of habitat to grow food.
By wasteful I mean that we currently grow enough food to feed 10 billion people but because so much of the crops are used inefficiently to feed factory farmed animals grown for meat, we struggle to feed 7 billion. Destruction of habitat to create pasture for grazing cattle is another huge factor. As it is 1 billion people don’t get enough food today. It is not really the population that is the problem it is the wealthy countries (like Australia and the USA) and their “need” for more and more wasteful things, most notably meat and other animal products. Per capita, Australians eats more meat than any other country, and disturbingly, this is still growing. Not surprisingly we also lead the way in climate change footprint with animal agriculture one of the top contributors.
I am an animal loving vegan but I am not preachy. I just want other animal lovers to know there is a profoundly effective way to help animals and the planet. Personally I feel happy that there is such an obvious and realistic path. Even when only 10% of the animal lovers on earth make the connection, and start refusing all products of animal exploitation, we have a powerful movement for change that will then grow exponentially. Food producers will take notice and start providing more into vegan options. We then arrive at the point where all vegan curious people would find it an easy decision to become and stay vegan, and join the movement. This has certainly started already. To date I have not heard any other ideas that come close to this. It makes sense, it is ethically solid and it is in line with the basic human instinct for compassion to all living creatures.
My plan is to keep talking to animals lovers about this situation. A living earth for future generations of humans and non-humans, is worth the risk of being called preachy.
For more information, check out our web site www.eversanctuary.org.
Rick – EVER