The world is a pretty scary place, between the wars, the IMF, the IRS, and the pollution. It is worse to an uncountable degree for the other species we share the earth with, because everything we do to our fellow humans gets visited on the other earthlings in yet worse ways. They have no sanctuary from the pollution we dump in their homes, no recourse from the decisions we make about their lives and deaths. Granted this is true about all too many humans as well, but humans at least have a voice and organizations like Equal Exchange and Human Rights Watch. Imperfect, but better than nothing. All the animals have is our consciences.
I was thinking about this last night and today as I processed some pictures from Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. I was reading their stories at the same time. The chickens that jumped from the truck on its way to slaughter, an amazing enough feat, and survived the fall to the ground, something that few manage. The cow that escaped from a truck, the cow that the farmer couldn’t quite kill – either through a change of heart, or by the cow’s intelligent refusal to board the slaughter truck.
These are the exceptions. Most broiler chickens live only a few short weeks, their mangled deformed bodies a product of the living conditions and grotesque breeding practices that have created unnatural bodies in unnatural time frames. They still have natural desires – to take dirt baths, to sun themselves, to live. Most cows are killed a few weeks after their birth, if they’re male, and a few years later, after they can not produce as much milk as their exploiters wish, if they are female. Billions of animals every year share this fate.
The animals that aren’t farmed still are deeply and negatively impacted by humans. The 10 million homeless animals killed by shelters every year, the garbage in the ocean, the fishing, the reef destruction, the melting ice caps, air pollution, and essentially an endless list of ways the earth has been harmed. Harming the earth always leads to harming its residents, and that includes humans as well as every other species.
There doesn’t seem to be much hope in that list. My hope comes from things like the vegan dosa cart in Washington Square Park in NYC and the long line of people waiting for their tasty vegan lunch. Going vegan is just one thing that can be done by each of us, but what we chose to eat is something that has a profound impact on our health, the environment, and the animals affected by our choices. There is nothing else we can do that will have as big of a direct impact on so many levels. The cynics among us know that it won’t miraculously change the world, at least not overnight, but that does not change the fact that what we choose to consume is almost always within our control, and it is a choice that matters. There are other things we can do in addition to going vegan, such as grow some of our own food (yes, even in urban settings, we can grow food not lawns), drive less, use more efficient light bulbs, unplug our chargers from the wall when we are not using them, buy locally grown organic produce, donate time to help others, rescue some animals…what we can do to have a positive (or at least less negative) impact is another list that is endless, really.
Get busy, is what I mean to say. There is a lot to do, a lot that we can do, and no excuses for doing nothing. The dosas, by the way, are delicious.