Updated: May 31, 2022
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything. But still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do” – Edward Everett Hale
The idea that individual actions are meaningless is either a gross misunderstanding or a symptom of denial and patriarchal brainwashing. If individual actions are meaningless how did we get ourselves into this environmental mess in the first place? We have continued the omnivorous behaviour of our ancestors to the detriment of the planet. The idea that what you do is meaningless, I feel, gives us insight into the spiritual void present in our consumerist, convenience-obsessed, hedonistic culture.
But very choice you make does have a consequence. If at times you forget about the power of one life, I encourage you to watch the trailer to the documentary, Forest Man, about an Indian man who has single handily grown a forest bigger than Central Park. I feel assured everyday that I am doing the best I can for the environment, just by making thoughtful food choices. Even more encouraging is that others are doing the same; in 2015, the volume in which the word vegan was googled surged 32%.
FACT: Each day a person who eats a vegan diet saves 4,165L of water, 20KG of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 9KG of CO2 equivalent and one animal’s life (Cowspiracy)
You may have seen in your Facebook news feed recently, an estimate that the only way to guarantee enough food in 2050 is for the world to turn vegan. This along with other scary estimates such as the sea being emptied by 2050 if current rates of fishing continue. I choose to remain hopeful for a vegan world, no matter how unlikely.
Around the same time as the article about global food resources appeared, there was a storm of rhetorical articles arguing “We don’t all have to go vegan to stop climate change”. I agree. The author of a one of these study stated, “You might have the most sustainable beef, but it would still have more of an impact than other foods… In terms of emissions, water, and land use, factory-farm-raised chicken would be a better choice.” This is true of course, but raises an obvious ethical dilemma for a "conscientious omnivore" surrounding animal welfare issues. She continues, “We do think they can have a significant impact on their diet just by making small changes to their consumption of animal-based production—specifically beef and dairy—and making switches to poultry and pork, and eating less of it,” she continued. Therefore, at the very least, for our generation and the ones that will inherit the earth from us, in the years to come we must reduce (or better still eliminate) beef and dairy from the Australian diet. There are plenty of initiatives around this including Meet Free Monday, Veganuary and Meat Free May. As a nation we must become accountable for being the biggest global polluters per capita.
Something I heard a few weeks ago on Triple J spurred that hope. A new survey determined that more than half of young Australia’s were undecided on who to vote for in the federal election today. However, Asylum seekers, marriage equality and climate change were cited as the main issues of concern in this population of 16-25 year old’s. If anyone is going to make a difference, it is us millennials. Offensively referred to as the “selfie generation”, this survey highlights to me the fact that the vast majority of us are passionate about social justice issues and very interested in living in a safe climate in our foreseeable future.
Here's to hoping we inherit a government with our same values tonight. Though I feel as a nation we’ve become disenfranchised with politics, with social pressure there is great potential for change. If you're passionate about animal justice issues, such as live export and unsure how to vote, here is one of many policy-based voting guides available:
Thanks for reading,
References and Resources
Report: We Don’t All Have to Go Vegan to Stop Climate Change: http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/04/20/diet-shifts
China encourages citizens to eat less meat: http://www.smh.com.au/world/china-encourages-citizens-to-eat-less-meat-20160527-gp62mi.html