By Rebecca Libauskas
When a ubiquitous figure like Queen Elizabeth II passes away, many of us confront our own morality. We may ask ourselves, “What will I be remembered for?” and “Did I make a difference?”
The queen made a difference by banning fur from the royal wardrobe — a decision that spared animals painful deaths and set an example of compassion for the world to follow.
Country music legend Loretta Lynn, who recently passed away, too, also left a legacy of kindness. She permitted PETA to use her 1971 hit song “I Wanna Be Free” in a campaign urging people never to leave their dogs chained up, alone and miserable, and instead to let them live inside with their human families.
But we don’t have to be famous to make a difference.
A nurse in Pennsylvania, for example, wrote a letter to her hospital’s personnel department asking that it stop selling circus tickets to its employees and detailing how animals are chained and beaten in order to force them to perform. When her letter went unanswered, she told the hospital’s president that she would send a copy of it to the local paper. The hospital quickly decided to stop offering the tickets.
In another case, a Missouri woman’s persistent efforts led to the permanent closure of a dreadful roadside zoo and the amendment of laws to prohibit keeping tigers inside cages in backyards.
Each of us has the power to make a tremendous difference. If you’re unsure where to begin, may I suggest starting with your next meal? Going vegan is the single best thing anyone can do for animals, the planet and their own health.
Chickens, pigs, cows and other animals are clever, complex individuals who love their families, have highly developed communication systems, invent games to amuse themselves and more. Yet animals used for food are kept in filthy, windowless sheds and crowded into wire cages, metal crates or other severely restrictive pens. They’re never allowed to care for their young, feel the soil under their feet, make nests or do anything else that’s natural and important to them before they’re slaughtered. Each vegan prevents nearly 200 animals from enduring this misery every year.
Factory farms in America ARE NOT THE FARMS WE GREW UP SEEING IN THE MOVIES. THE ANIMALS ARE NOT TREATED LIKE LIVING BEINGS WHO NEED SPACE TO SLEEP, WALK OR RUN, BE WITH THEIR YOUNG ONES… IT’S A MASS-PRODUCTION OPERATION WITH ANIMALS TREATED LIKE MACHINES, FACTORY PARTS … AN INHUMANE SITUATION. This is where most supermarkets and convenience stores buy their meats, etc. Most American restaurants, too!
Going vegan makes a difference for the Earth, too: By eating foods made from plants instead of animals, each of us can save 1,100 gallons of water, nearly 40 pounds of grain and 30 square feet of forested land daily. We can also slash our carbon footprints: A University of Oxford study shows that meat-eaters are responsible for almost two and a half times as much dietary greenhouse gas emissions per day as vegans are.
Let’s choose healthy, delicious vegan foods for every meal of every day and do even more good by supporting vegan hunger-relief organizations like Food for Life Global. We can also donate nonperishable vegan food items like oatmeal, rice, beans and shelf-stable boxes of almond milk to a local food bank and consider supporting a health charity like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which never experiments on animals and which advocates healthy vegan eating, including to support cancer prevention and survival.
In light of all these benefits, why not defend animals for a living? Animal rights organizations are always looking for passionate, talented people to join the team. And never underestimate the power of your pen. Like the nurse who ended her hospital’s promotion of cruel circuses, we can achieve significant change just by writing letters to people in power.
Even if we grew up eating meat, eggs and dairy; wearing leather and fur; and attending abusive circuses, it’s never too late to change for the better. Our choices can make a difference for animals, the planet we share and our own health. Let’s start today at breakfast — by making it vegan!
There are so many vegan options at Trader Joe’s in Shrewsbury – and at your local supermarket!