Someone recently asked me a question that really got the gears in my head turning.
“If you had a platform big enough to say anything about being vegan to the world, what would it be?”
What a heavy question. If I could saying anything to the world about veganism, what would I say? It forced me to think about what matters the most to me, what matters the most to the world, what people are most likely to be responsive to, how to address the masses with enough tact and grace to discuss such a heavy subject without starting a war. It made me think about cultures that are vastly different than my own, less technologically advanced cultures that survive by hunting, countries without grocery stores. Do my views on the subject really have a place in all corners of the world? Would I be vegan if I lived in a different country? The question made me feel small, carrying a subject that is so big.
Would I talk about the horrors of factory farming? Would I address destruction of the rainforest and coral reefs, or greenhouse gases? What about diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, high cholesterol, and obesity? Would I show videos of animals being skinned alive for clothing, or elephants spending 50 years in shackles and being whipped and stabbed for circus training? Surely, if I went into detail about everything it would drain people, and I’d lose them. So what is the most important message about veganism that the world needs to know?
Since this question was sent to me in an email, I found myself basically writing entire speeches, and then deleting them because I felt the answer was too long. I think this is a question that will hang with me for a long time, and my answer may change repeatedly over time. I’m grateful for this question, because it is now a way of thinking that I will continue to incorporate in my efforts to build a successful community wellness center whose heartbeat is a sanctuary for those animals who have suffered and need a voice that can be heard by the world.
If I had a platform big enough to say anything about veganism to the world,I would start by letting everyone know that it is a safe place, and tell them not to worry about being judged. I would ask people to take a moment to let go of all preconceived notions about diet, meat and dairy, and veganism, and be open to everything they’d hear. I’d tell them to take away from it whatever they want to take, and do whatever they want with it. I would have them think about who they are as people, and the standards and morals they hold themselves to in other areas of their lives. Think about the people they love, what they’d do for those people, how they’d feel if anything bad happened to them. Think about the impact they’d like to have on the world, whether that impact is great or small. Think about how much love – and how much harm – they’d like to put out into the world. I would address the issues that drive veganism, and ask them if they believe enabling those issues is inline with who they are as people. I would tell them that it doesn’t take a perfect vegan to have a major impact on the world.
What would you say?