Watching the Oscars might not be your thing, and that’s totally OK. But even amidst the glitz and glamour that may, for many seem unwarranted and unnecessary, there transpires moments like this, that needs all of us to stop and pay attention. I adore it when people use their platforms to influence change, and I’ve been shocked and awed at Joaquin Phoenix for translating his accolades this past year to do just that, fearlessly, and unapologetically.
Although, after his incredible Oscar acceptance speech last night, I am appalled that the media is focusing on his homage to his late brother and largely sidestepping the rest of his message, just because it makes us all feel a little squirmy.
Yes, it is icky to learn truths about things we’ve taken for granted, easier to keep the butcher and the butchered out of our minds when we plate up our meals every day, to never question where the things we use everyday come from, the methods in which they are sourced, or the lives and ecosystems they wreck as they find their way to our possession.
Nature teaches us time and again that creatures that refuse to evolve with the changing times, are those that surely perish. It is also a fundamental truth that there are no constants. Doing something over and over again, just because it’s how it’s always been done, is folly.
A social evolution is brewing, and more and more of us everyday are waking up to it, and learning to stand up to what is right.
Thankfully, we are now entering an era of spectacular change, yet again. This war we are all in, the one that most of us live happily ignorant of, is a war for life itself. It is a war against injustices everywhere in the name of convenience, comfort and wanton gluttony. A social evolution is brewing, and more and more of us everyday are waking up to it, and learning to stand up to what is right.
When I began learning about veganism, (as a meat eater) I felt it an affront on my person. At first, I was shocked, then offended, followed by resentment towards these people who, I believed, hated me for what I ate. But soon, as I kept reading, and learning the how-s and the why-s behind the movement, all those emotions began to be replaced with one: doubt. Maybe I was in the wrong here. So I kept reading. Watching. Paying attention. And I knew. I was in the wrong. From there onwards, everything began to make new sense, and I stepped into a new, renewed life sans meat and dairy.
There’s a reason why most vegans, like overtly religious people, are almost fanatics. In less than a year of giving up animal-sourced food, the ideals of the plant-based movement went beyond my plate, and seeped into the rest of my life. The food was just a starting point. The realization that we, the humans, as Joaquin so eloquently puts it, live under the “belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity” brought me shame, and deep pain, and spearheaded changes into other aspects of my life.
But most of all, everyday, I ask myself: what can I be doing more?
I began to cut out single use plastics from my life. Composting became a daily thing. I started growing food in my tiny garden. Granted, I’m not quite a pro at it, failing more than succeeding, but I do source almost all my herbs, tomatoes and peppers from home now, at least during the summer. I recently started saving water from the kitchen used to rinse and wash vegetables, rice and lentils to water my indoor plants. Not only does this encourage me to water regularly, my plants are thriving (and even blooming!) from the residual nutrients from the refuse water. I carry a reusable bottle everywhere I go, and take my own containers to bring back leftovers when I eat out. But most of all, everyday, I ask myself: what can I be doing more?
Before you dismiss me as just another fanatical vegan pushing a plant-based agenda, I urge you to read my views on being a Liberal Vegan from this earlier Perspective post, and understand that I am neither blind, fanatic nor hate all meat-eaters.
We’ve all been too collectively blind and entitled to realize the havoc we have wrecked on our plant’s ecosystem, most of which are now irreversible. We cannot take anything for granted, not for a second longer.
But above all, let’s raise our voices for the voiceless everywhere, because whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re all collectively talking about the fight against injustice.
Let’s wake up, and make changes to our lives, re-align ourselves back with Nature, and hold our leaders to more sustainable responsibility. ‘Ecosystem over economy’ should be our war cry. But above all, let’s raise our voices for the voiceless everywhere, because [to quote Joaquin] “whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re all collectively talking about the fight against injustice”. And injustice is something, we can all agree to unite against.
If you haven’t yet watched Joaquin Phoenix’s impassioned speech at the Oscars, please do.