November 1st is World Vegan Day. It’s a great opportunity to take a step back and think about things from a broader perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in veganism as a set of dietary selections. Yes, that is the facet of veganism that gets discussed the most among vegans and not-yet-vegans (Yep, I’m an eternal optimist) because we all make decisions about our food choices several times a day, every day of the year. People ask lots of questions about our food choices, and while it might get old sometimes, it’s important to remember that each question represents an opportunity. In fact, every conversation is an opportunity to get to know someone better. Whether it’s a stranger or a close friend, there is always more we can learn from each other.
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products and it is also an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. The sheer number of animals raised and killed for human consumption is so staggering that it’s certainly appropriate for animal rights discussions to center around farmed animals. And for the same reason, the choices we make every time we visit the grocery store quite literally seal the fate for more animals than we can even imagine. Just today I saw a poor chicken on the conveyor belt at the grocery store and I almost jumped. It has been so long now since I have purchased an animal to eat that I was actually startled to witness it.
Veganism is about being mindful of our choices, and about doing no harm, or as little harm as possible. In shopping for a new winter coat this week I made sure to buy one without any fur, down, or wool. Those things are for rabbits, geese, and sheep to stay warm, not for me. When I bought new winter boots I made sure to select ones without any leather. No animal needs to give its life for my personal vanity. It might take some effort to seek out cruelty free products, but it certainly can be done, and the more we do it, the easier it will become. Every item you purchase casts a vote for or against animal products.
It can be daunting at first, but the more choices you make that are in line with your own values, the easier and more automatic it becomes. At the very heart, veganism is about having a heart and extending compassion to all creatures. It’s easy to be compassionate toward cute and cuddly creatures, but it takes an open mind to extend compassion to every one.
In honor of World Vegan Day, find a way to support veganism by choosing a plant based meal, making sure your purchases are mindful. If you are an animal lover, spend time today and this week thinking about things you could do to make more conscious decisions to use products that are free of animals or animal products. Simply becoming aware of the effects that your choices have on others is a great step in the right direction. We are all a part of a greater community and we can all do a little bit more to make the world a more compassionate place.