With my continues growing interest in health and well being through plant based nutrition, natural word and effects we as humans have on it, I question my own consumption choices (that is all my buying behaviours not just food) every times I think I NEED something.
On regular bases we face habitual buying scenarios such as family food shopping, being sucked into fast fashion shopping spree, or even investing in high value goods such as technology and cars. In MEDC we are so lucky and privileged to have all of these choices and alternatives. Right now, on the other side of the spectrum someone is struggling to survive and support their family life.
WE, supposedly highly intellectual species, can distinguish between what’s wrong or right. We take the initiatives in inventions to make our quality of life and health better through science and technology, we take leisure in education, exploration, adventure, love, compassion and sometimes risk. Of course our desires change with age, but what stays consistent is the ability to love and share ourselves with community around us. What we don’t always consider is that our communities involves more than just our own species.
Communities, populations and organisms
Biologically speaking a community consists of many different groups of organisms divided into populations e.g. in our neighbourhood organisms would be us the humans, populations are groups of organisms of the same species like us and neighbours, and communities are us, foxes, hedgehogs, trees, birds etc. We all have to learn how to coexist to insure a happy and striving community. When there is a fall in one population group like foxes being hunted and killed, we are facing increase in rodents and pests populations, which as a result can have a possible effect on livestock numbers, which effects businesses etc. We call this disruption in equilibrium of the community.
It is really important that we all identify our own communities, and what part the different populations and individual organisms play in it to insure there is a healthy balance. We as humans, in the end, pay a very important role in all of this since we are the the leaders of the communities, write policies, laws and regulations that structure life itself. Plants and animals have NO voice, so we have the obligation to speak for them in fair manner that is in their best interest. Sometimes it is not well received within the government, so we need more animal and environmental activists or public figures to push for the change and bring as much peace to our communities and even ecosystems as possible.
On the other hand, WE as individuals are very much in complete power of our own actions, so changes to how we live and how we treat nature effect how the community grows and thrives collectively. It is also all about education and sharing stories and ambitions with others, so that these can become other individuals ambition and stories, inspiring generations to come.
It sounds like an amazing and simple idea, but it’s very challenging to execution. Some individuals have strong opinions against specific organisms within the community, so do we dare to try and challenge their believes and opinions? No. We have to have conversations rather than strong debates. We want to open peoples’ minds, not scare them into the corner where they feel either alienated, threatened or angry. These feelings will never help bring change.
This is something I have noticed being done a bit in vegan community. I completely understand the passion these activists have towards saving as many sentient beings as they can, but the language used towards some none-vegans seems a bit strong and negative. I have heard from a few people that this kind of behaviour does not portraits veganism as a piece seeking move, but rebellion. In the end, it is our right to voice our opinions, which is complete fair for everyone to do, but it’s important we consider people we speak to first and adapt our language to get them to see out point.
Religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and some indigenous tribes portrait some if not all animals as sentient beings or even holy, respecting and sometimes worshipping them, forbidding animal consumption to some extent.
So what do we classify as sentient beings?
Till not long ago a lot of communities have believed that none human animals, just like plants, don’t experience and don’t poses the same neurological build as we do, meaning they can’t experience life, love and even pain in the same way we do, right? It has now been scientifically proven that this perception was wrong.
On July the 7th 2012, The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was announced, explaining that none human animals posses the “neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states” making them capable to make intentional decision (click here to read the statement). Animals including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses possess neurological structure much like humans, which generates consciousness and awareness just like we do. This indicates that they feel emotions and physical sensations like we do, to some extent.
We have seen evidence of this many times during recent history. Animals such as elephants rush to help when the younger members of the heard are in distress (video here). They also come back to mourning sites where their friends and families have passed on, and grieve for them which is one of the most emotional things I have even came across (video here). We also see animals like some species of eagles, penguins, albatross, beavers, barn owls, sea horses, lovebirds, grey wolfs, puffins, some lizards and many more, pair for life in true love courtship, just like some humans. Whales and dolphins exhibits high levels of social behaviours such as hunting, playing together, interacting with humans and sometimes even take part in sexual interactions not only for reproduction purposes, but for pure pleasure, just like us.
What we witness more and more, even with domestic and farm animals, is their ability to understand relationship they have with humans, and how they learn to adapt and coexist with us. They are happy when we feed them or when we play with them, but they also show distress when we hurt them or take their babies straight after birth and kill them to take their milk, which is something that’s practised on may dairy farms in UK and all around the world.
I think to summarise the above point, let’s stay COMPASSIONATE 🙂 We can collectively make change by expressing our understanding of the environmental and injustice issues, continue having discussions about them, and sometimes even ask for help if the path to change is not so clear.
I always like to think, you can start with small alterations to our recurring habits made over the years, step out of your comfort zone and try new things if you believe that’s the step in the right direction. These could be:
- Starting to separate recycling better. Make sure to check your local council for their specific recycling instructions.
- Re-use containers to store food. You can use these to meal prep for the week and freeze, or store dry products such as pasta ad beans from zero waste shops or when you buy in bulk.
- Buy less plastic. Check your local farmers markets for fresh produce.
- Cook fresh food. It’s better for your health and environment. Think long term.
- Make things you buy last longer (clothes, tech etc). You don’t need a new phone or a car every year, or sell on if you can.
- Reduce your meat and animals product consumption, or buy from organic farms. The pain these animals experience, we can’t even comprehend. This doesn’t need to happen. I would really recommend everyone to check out video of Oscar winning actor Joaquin Phoenix as the dedicates his Actor of the Year speech towards raising awareness on animal rights. You might have seen it already, and I know I found it really inspiring.
- When you see litter on the ground not too far from a bin or somewhere in nature, why not pick it up if you can and bin it. This could potentially stop it from getting into a canal or a river and into the sea.
- Appreciate natural world in your local community. You never know, you might notice a Robin nesting somewhere close. How cute would that be.
- Leave vegetable food scraps in the garden for small animals to munch on or maybe make your own composting bin for some high quality fertiliser.
Psychologically speaking, when you make these small changes and start practising them on regular bases, you feel better every day. I think it almost feels like experiencing a new purpose in life which is making change that’s bigger than you and your immediate needs.
Remember, SMALL CHANGES MATTER AND NO ONE IS PERFECT. If you are trying and failing, don’t put yourself down. I think one of the best qualities of human species is communication and understanding one others. We are all in different life situation. One shoe does not fit all when it comes to environmental footprint. It is important to see what information and resources are out there, test what works for you and your family, and see what changes you can adapt to make a long lasting difference in your community.
STAY INSPIRED AND INSPIRE OTHERS