The ending of a year is always a bitter affair to me. While the world rejoices amidst parties and fireworks, I take stock of what the year brought me, and what I made of it; as the clock ticks down to a New Year, I steal myself away to a period of internal reflection and contemplation that almost always ends in disappointment and tears resulting from the ill-use of the time given to me. I have almost never crossed the threshold of a year without a tear in my eye.
This year, however feels different.
For those who are new around these parts, 2018 was my first fully-VEGAN year, but it seems like a lifetime. While the transition year (2017) was rather rocky, and there were most definitely times when I doubted if I’d ever be able to stick to this goal, by the time I worked my way into 2018, I was absolutely sure of what I had gotten myself into. Giving myself an entire year to transition was the best thing I could have done – it gave me enough time to fail and pick myself back up several times, truly understand why vegansism may be a good starting point for environmental change, and use that information to strengthen my resolve. So every time I failed hence, it got easier to get back up again. This applies to all of you with any kind of New Year’s resolutions: give yourself time, embrace your failures, remind yourself why you’re doing it and keep at it until it becomes a part of you.
To the well-informed, Veganism isn’t a diet – it’s a lifestyle fueled by the awareness that we, humans, are spear-heading a major extinction event – on par with the kind that took down the dinosaurs. Except this time, we’re the asteroid, and all other life is being decimated by us. Humans and livestock now account for 96% of all mammals on this planet. Trillions of species co-existed in perfect harmony and balance since the dawn of time, then we come along and push them out of existence.
Global Warming is not an elaborate hoax perpetuated by scientists, media or corporations. It is real. It is here. It is happening all around us and anyone who says otherwise is misinformed. The empirical data is out there for all to see. Another 1°C increase in global temperature is all it will take for the polar ice-caps to melt. All that extra water will affect coastal life everywhere. Forested areas are being cleared out to accommodate an exponentially growing human population, reducing the human to plant ratio. So all the carbon dioxide we breathe out, in the absence of sufficient plants to absorb them, is reacting with seawater to form carbonic acid, acidifying our oceans. Sounds like a disaster movie, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It’s the world we live in right now, and the ever darkening future we are looking at.
I believe that if you KNOW something, DO something. Knowledge is power only if we put it to use. Remember the ozone crisis about 25+ years ago? Due to collective international efforts, we’ve given the Ozone layer time to repair itself. Can we do the same for global warming and halt the alarming loss of biodiversity? I think we can.
Make small changes to your lives – if an all-out dive into a plant-based diet is not your calling, then start with reducetarianism. Even as a vegan, I am not against eating meat – it is the natural order of the food chain that maintains the balance and harmony of life- but the way we eat meat today has gone to a point where it’s neither ethical, necessary nor sustainable. An alternative solution is to source your meat from responsible farms, use every bit of the slaughtered animal and actively reduce the number of times a week you consume it. If changes to your diet isn’t feasible, here are 20 tiny changes I made during the course of this year to reduce waste, energy usage and greenhouse emissions. Start somewhere, start small and start now.
This one year as a vegan has truly been a life-changing experience – not just because it has done wonders for my physical health, but because it has made me feel a part of a significant global change for the better. And while there is no going back for me, I would never ask anyone else to become a vegan – something my non-vegan spouse will attest to. That’s a choice I’ll leave for you to discover for yourself.
But I will ask that you kick-start 2019 with ‘change’ on your mind – a change for the planet, a change for life and a change for the future.
May this New Year be happy, healthy, peaceful and GREEN.