Happy World Vegan Day!
Days of the year that get a special designation are proclaimed for various reasons - to remember, to reflect, to honor or to celebrate and to inspire. World Vegan Day is for all those reasons.
Veganism is about avoiding exploitation of, and harm to, animals. When people think of veganism, diet is usually what comes to mind, but that is only a part of it. Eating a plant-based diet is a big step to eliminating the demands for meat, dairy and eggs that result in the mass suffering and slaughter of billions of animals a year.
Addressing the exploitation of animals in other industries such as fashion, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, medical experimentation, military training, and entertainment such as marine parks and circuses are also a crucial part to what it means to be vegan.
It can be overwhelming to think about, but the key is to start with doing what you can and then learning how to do more. And the good news is that every positive action you take makes a difference. What may seem the simplest of things has impact – your diet choices, for example, most likely are observed by people around you and will inspire some of them to ask you questions, to seek out information for themselves. The information you share, the life you live, will plant a seed in someone else’s mind. Those seeds get watered the next time they see information or meet someone who makes them want to know more about helping animals. It’s like kindness and friendship and love – all those good things that flourish with sharing and positivity.
The number of vegans continues to grow worldwide. More people choosing compassion as their guide for making choices about food, fashion and entertainment. It also means that a growing number of citizens are realizing they must demand more accountability from their governments and their leaders about how policies are crafted and enforced and decisions are made that impact animals and also the environment they live in.
Compassion, animal protections, animal rights – these are things we have to fight for because all too often they are trampled when we do not remain vigilant and engaged. It is up to us to make a difference in the lives of animals.
Because the election in the United State is mere days away, the policies of this administration regarding animals should be examined more closely.
In 2017, two weeks into the new administration, the UDSA abruptly pulled all records of animal welfare violations from its website. These inspection records and animal reports for every commercial animal facility in the US including zoo, breeders, factory farms and laboratories, are crucial to monitoring what is happening behind closed doors and locked gates. After much public outcry, the agency relented.
This year, the Trump administration rolled back rules to protect wildlife and now allow hunters in Alaska to shoot fleeing animals from aircraft and snowmobiles, swimming caribou from a boat, bait hibernating bears out of their dens and slaughter wolves and their pups in their dens.
This administration has rolled back the Obama era ban on importing elephant “trophies” into the US and actually awarded dozens of lion hunting “trophy” permits to GOP donors.
Without regard to animal suffering or human safety, this administration has allowed the savage increase of kill line speeds at slaughterhouses. Earlier this year the allowable slaughter speeds for chickens were increased from 140 birds per minute to 175 birds per minute – which means three birds every second. As you are trying to wrap your head around those numbers, let’s not forget that these are living, feeling beings – shackled and whipped through a machine that doesn’t make allowances for mercy. Last year, the line-speed caps were removed entirely for pigs, allowing their slaughter to increase from 1,100 to 1,300 pigs per hour, or 22 per minute. If you’ve seen a pig in person, you know how large they are. To try to imagine this system at work is heartbreaking and haunting.
This administration put the bee-killing pesticide “Sulfoxaflor” back on the market, rolled back protections for endangered species last year and just this summer stripped essential protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic, home to endangered whales, 1,000-year-old corals and other fragile sea life, to allow industrial fishing.
This is but a tiny representation of the assault upon animals by the Trump administration.
There are so many issues critical to this election day, but because of what World Vegan Day represents, I thought it was fitting to highlight what is at stake to the animals. Our conscience is only as powerful as our actions. On World Vegan Day, please pledge to take action on election day to change the future for animals. In addition to choosing compassion, choose to take a stand on behalf of the animals.
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