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  • Rukmini Ravishankar

Vegan Tales I - Why Veganism?

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

The United Nations in March 2019 announced that we have but 11 years to prevent irreversible environmental damage. This came in the wake of several world leaders denying the prospect of climate change and snidely ascertaining that we’re all safe as long they’re in power. One of the most shocking pieces of data released during this period was about cattle farming and how the consumption of meat could be the largest cause of environmental degradation. As a child growing up in a city like Bangalore whose recent immigrants have nothing to complain about except traffic, I did all I could to reduce my ecological footprint. I became an amateur plumber in that I could stop any tap from dripping (the key is to turn the tap a few millimetres in the opposite direction), I noticeably expressed my displeasure at anyone who smoked or anyone who didn’t know what an emission test meant. I kept any litter to myself and even picked stuff off the road sometimes. But only recently did I learn that none of these things could create as big a change as the cessation of meat consumption. I grew up in a vegetarian household. We refrained from the consumption of not only meat, but also wool, leather and cosmetics. All of these measures were taken on ethical grounds more than anything else. Until a few weeks back, I kept trying to do my bit to create awareness by posting borrowed Instagram stories and musings. But I realised that I myself wasn’t doing much. I was only a vegetarian – animals and more importantly, the environment were still sacrificing a hell of a lot so that I could eat my daily curd rice. So I decided to dig deep – maybe even give veganism a shot. Here's a gist of what I found. 

Statistics on the impact of cattle farming on th environment

References

(1)   https://www.downtoearth.org.in/factsheet/how-livestock-farming-affects-the-environment-64218

(2)   http://theconversation.com/five-ways-the-meat-on-your-plate-is-killing-the-planet-76128


The one thing about non-vegetarianism that I just cannot wrap my head around is the hypocrisy of it all.  Dozens of people I know are fanatic dog lovers who post slacktivist Instagram stories about violence against dogs and wonder aloud where humanity has disappeared. But when asked about their binge consumption of farm animals, they have no answer. I was told that this happens as a result of something called speciesism, a biased approach in which one species is considered to be superior to another. Whatever the reason, it is simply wrong to propogate something while choosing not to follow it. 

In John Oliver's  May 2019 episode about the Green New Deal, he talks about indignant news reporters claiming that the Deal aims to rid the country of its hamburgers. Now while the rest of the episode dealt with the fact that the Deal doesn't even mention beef or cows or anything else that might cause such indignation, I argue - Even if the deal does claim such a thing, it is important. It is necessary that some new deal/ bill stops you killing the world around you, bite by bite. Warning - Controversial statement ahead. I'm glad the Indian government banned beef - I just wish it had been done for better reasons.

So there. This is a call to action - Not the typical ones you find on every other blog, about sharing this story or about donating on PayPal. I write this article with the hope that someone, anyone reading it would maybe be a tiny grain influenced by all of this and do something about it. Even if it's a single person, I'd be glad I made a difference. 

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