Photograph by Istockphoto.com/Petoo
Vegan lifestyles are often perceived as being based on sacrifice or compromise; when quite the opposite is true for animal activists, pet owners and others who care about the suffering and use of animals. Here are some thoughts on beginning and maintaining a vegan lifestyle or vegan diet.
Paul McCartney tells the story of how as while fishing as a young boy he witnessed the manner in which a fish struggled when forcefully removed from its natural aquatic habitat. During that brief moment, he realized animals feel and experience pain just like humans. This one experience caused a shift in his consciousness and put him on the path of becoming a practicing vegan.
When we see the way animals are treated, and come to our own conclusions about the extent we contribute to it, it is natural to feel overwhelmed by how many changes a vegan lifestyle may require. But we need not make radical choices overnight; in fact it may be that only a small change is possible at first. For example, a pet owner might choose to spay/neuter their pet. A fashionista might pass up a leather handbag in favor of one made without animal skin or hair. Parents or grandparents might treat the children to the amusement park or a baseball game instead of the circus.
Perhaps someone isn't ready to convert to a vegan diet overnight (give up turkey cold turkey, if you will) or become a full-fledged animal activist. However, they may be willing to switch to cruelty-free shampoo, cut out red meat, adopt a pet from a shelter instead of buying one from a breeder, or buy an upholstered sofa instead of one made from leather. Any small change someone is willing to make helps alleviate the plight of all suffering animals. Once we realize that a vegan lifestyle does not require sacrifice, and allows us to live more authentically according to our ethics, it inspires further change.
Most people simply don't know about the practices used to manufacture ordinary goods. People buy leather shoes, but don't realize or think about how the shoe is actually made. It's a shoe company, and that's all, as far as most people understand. When people become aware that in the manufacturing of shoes, cows have chili pepper rubbed in their eyes and have their tails broken, it becomes very difficult to buy leather shoes and most will more than likely stop. We have already seen this to be true, as more people have become aware of the inherent cruelty in the fur industry.
Vegan options in food, clothing, personal care, house wares, and entertainment exist at the same quality and value. When we choose non-vegan options instead, we are not only directly using animals; we are rewarding others for their treatment of animals by paying for these goods.
Earthlings is a feature length documentary about humanity's absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also illustrates our complete disrespect for these so-called "non-human providers" The film is narrated by Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator) and features music by the critically acclaimed platinum artist Moby. Visit: http://www.earthlings.com for more information and to view a 7-minute clip of the film.
Written by Shaun Monson
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