What is all this talk about preachy vegans?

preachy vegan1

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.

preachy vegan2To 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.

preachy vegan6

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.

preachy vegan4

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?

preachy vegan3

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.

preachy vegan5

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.

preachy vegan7

For more information, check out our web site www.eversanctuary.org.

Rick – EVER


A path to Inner peace and optimism – without ignorance

DSC_0137

There is a widespread misconception that evolution has made us selfish.  In fact even Darwin himself did not see it that way and it is now widely understood that cooperation and compassion are natural human traits. Our society dupes us into believing otherwise which helps us justify making harmful choices which lead to inner conflict and long term dissatisfaction.

The power of compassion is well known but the messages we receive almost from birth lead us to reject our natural instincts.  Our innate instinct for compassion is not something we can switch off or be selective about without serious personal ramifications.  Natural compassion will extend to all people and all sentient beings.  Anything else creates disharmony and discontent. We can fix this simply with self-awareness and acting accordingly.  The following is a relevant story from my own journey.

11 years ago my wife and I both had jobs in the CBD of Sydney. The daily walk home to Coogee had become a routine.  One day we came across a white rabbit beside a very busy Sydney road. As we approached, she ran away and hid in the roots of a large oak tree so we continued our walk home. We knew nothing at all about rabbits but we knew that she would not survive long there so we decided to return with some carrots and a small cage to attempt a rescue.  The rescue was successful and she lived out the rest of her life in our house, with our two cats. For six years we cared for her through sickness and health and in return we received copious amounts of joy and laughter.  At the end we had to make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep.  I now recognize this was an important experience on the road to living in harmony with my human nature.

Shortly after this I became motivated to take a deeper interest in the state of the earth.  I quickly learned that life on earth was being recklessly destroyed by human activity. This in turn led to more learning about animal agriculture and a decision to stop eating meat, and then later all animal products.  These sorts of decisions based on natural compassion felt right and kept me on the path towards inner peace and contentment.

I was learning more and more shocking realities but at the same time I was finding real happiness.  I am now at the point of feeling more optimism and energy than at any time since my childhood. I credit this to my willingness to face reality and to fostering my natural compassion.

So I learned that we humans are causing unprecedented destruction that will before long lead to the earth becoming uninhabitable for most species, including our own.  Three such examples of this, each a catastrophe in its own right, are the decimation of the oceans, species extinction and climate change.  I will elaborate further on species extinction but first a quick pause for some more optimism.

There is a realistic, practical solution to all of these man-made catastrophes that we can all happily participate in.  All we need to do is become self-aware and take steps to allow our true compassionate nature to flourish.  More on this below.

Here are a few current facts about species extinction:

  • We lose 150 – 200 species per day. That’s 1000 to 10,000 times the natural rate.
  • The rate is predicted to snowball.
  • At the current rate we will lose 30% of our species by 2050.
  • With the current direction, before long most life including human life will no long be able to live on earth.
  • Animal agriculture is the main driver of species extinction.
  • We grow enough food today to feed 10 billion people yet we fail to feed 7 billion. One big problem is a huge proportion of our crops directed to animals grown for meat.

Human civilization is now dominated by faceless, heartless corporations.  It is best for them if we remain dissatisfied and continually looking for a remedy, usually in the form of one of their products.  So, brilliant multimillion dollar marketing campaigns are aimed at keeping us wanting more which is often in complete conflict with our nature.

The most shocking example of this is the huge animal exploitation industries like seafood, meat, eggs and dairy.  Together they systematically abuse and slaughter 70 billion very young land animals and more than 1 trillion fish annually.  It is not just the vast scale of this cruelty and violence but also the huge disproportionate destruction to the environment.  Consider that a plant based diet requires 29 times less land than a standard meat based diet or that some studies suggest our oceans will be dead by 2050.  As long as we buy their products we support the cruelty and harm which conflicts with our natural compassion.  We pay a very heavy price.

There are now healthy food alternatives readily available so why do naturally compassionate people support these industries?  At least part of the answer is we have been duped.  With every purchase we deny our nature and our power is taken from us.

I will finish with these positive ideas.

DSC_0018

Adopting a vegan lifestyle is not the answer on its own.  It is just a natural human response in today’s world. It is not just for animal lovers or haters of violence and injustice. It is for every rational person who wants to be compassionate, and would like to enjoy inner peace, empowerment, and great health. The decision to be vegan stops our support for this unnecessary violence and destruction.  It also gives us back our power and enlightens us. This leads to contentment but what is really exciting is this natural way of being is contagious.

For more information, check out our web site www.eversanctuary.org.

Rick – EVER


Meat and the Environment

IMG_4735

 

When I first heard about global warming, like most of us in Australia, my personal footprint was astronomical.

Here in Australia, we are each disproportionately large contributors to this developing global catastrophe.  This realization was a big kick in the face for me and enough to drive anyone to drugs, alcohol and other emotional consumption. This response of course just makes the problem worse and feeds the shame. For me, the decent way to react to this is to have a serious think about it and the ways I stop being an environmental vandal.  This is a bit of a minefield.
Trying to zoom in on the big areas and the obvious issues seemed the best approach.  For example, when I needed a car, fuel economy and emissions were primary purchase considerations.  I installed solar panels on the roof as I had a good north facing roof ideal for this.  Other things like recycling, not wasting water, choosing environmentally friendly products, growing as much food as possible and thinking twice about unnecessary consumption were all sensible ideas.

There are many other considerations but meat consumption is huge and has now achieved the elephant in the room status.

 

IMG_4737
The excuse of not knowing the environmental consequences of meat has lost its validity. Short of science deniers, the impacts of meat are now  well-known facts.   The 2008 United Nations report found that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transport sector.  Later the report by Worldwatch suggested the UN report underestimated the impact and that at least 51% of all man made greenhouse gases come from animal agriculture. Another sobering reminder of this is the finding from a life cycle study on various foods that 1kg of lamb results in 40 times the emissions of 1kg of lentils.
Some people still try to justify their meat eating with the suggestion that vegan agriculture would require more crops and so do more harm.  In fact the complete opposite is true.  For example approximately 80% of the soy crops grown globally are fed to animals. In other words, meat consumption is a major disproportionate driver of the increase in land clearing, either for the massive amount of crops needed to feed the animals or to make way for pasture for animal grazing. This is only part of why meat has such a major impact on our environment.  To read more, check out our website link on meat and the environment.
The fact is that anyone genuinely concerned about global warming should give up eating meat. It’s not that hard and all the science says this is a very healthy thing to do.