(This was the my prepared speech for the National Animal Rights Day celebration today at the Rizal Park, Manila. I delivered it a bit differently but basically the contents are the same.)
Good afternoon everyone. I feel extremely honoured to be standing in front of all of you today, knowing that all of us here are people who dared to think, feel, and work beyond our own needs and wants. We are here for the animals.
Although you have seen it in the program, I am not here to talk about Vision Vegan World, my online initiative, but do allow me the opportunity to do a shameless plug. Please do like Vision Vegan World on facebook. So many plans are on the pipeline in creating original content to bring more awareness not just on the current state of animals, but also on the future that we are trying to create. Volunteer and help us grow the community if you are passionate about animals and skilled in social media.
But as I have mentioned I am not here to talk about the facebook page, but about Vision: Vegan World, the compassionate, cruelty-free future we want to create for the animals, for ourselves and other living beings on earth. But in doing so, I have to tell you part of my story. I am a dreamer. Since I was a kid I’ve spent countless hours dreaming on top of the roof of my childhood home. I grew up reading fairy tales, so even if the world turned out to be farthest from one, it never stopped me of wishing for something better.
It is not surprising then that when I grew up, I would focus my energies in trying to make the world a bit better. I became a teacher, then an environmental worker, then humanitarian. I volunteered locally and abroad. I became vegetarian, and 17 years later, on September 2015, I became vegan. I also consider myself a futures student. And as one it’s not surprising that my initiative would be Vision: Vegan World. Our task is mainly clarifying the vision and working to help achieve it.
So what is a vegan world? A vegan world might look different from different perspectives. Let’s try to see if we can envision some aspects of it.
What is a vegan world for the animals? A vegan world is one where animals are given their right to life, freedom, and live their nature, or dharma. Wild animals will no longer be hunted for food, exotic materials, and medicine. Domesticated animals will have homes where they are cared for, as not as pets, but as family. Farm animals will no longer be bred for slavery, for food production, or any other use. They will no longer be abused, tortured, and killed for profit. Animals will be free yet protected, and in most cases, left on their own. They will have rights, and through humans their voice would be understood. They will be treated as individuals, indeed, persons, and as living, feeling beings that they really are. In a vegan world, humans and animals are allies, not adversaries.
What is a vegan world for mother earth? In a vegan world, Mother Earth will finally have a respite from the pollution, degradation, and devastation man causes in line with how we currently treat animals. Because in a vegan world, man’s respect for the rights of animals means Mother Earth is respected and cared for too. Since animals could live their lives free, the ill effects of animal agriculture will be reversed. Forests will regenerate and will no longer be denuded. The carbon footprint of animal agriculture will be down to zero, since animals will no longer be bred for food and profit. Lakes and water bodies will be free the filth of poultry and livestock factories. Soil will be clean and the air healthy. Farmlands will be utilized to raise plant crops for food and not for feeds.
What is a vegan world in terms of language? As our world becomes more compassionate, our language also becomes kinder. Words such as vivisection and animal slaughter will only become memories of a dark past. There will be no words referring to animals and anything from them as food. Words such as: meat, poultry, livestock, beef, veal, mutton, pork, leg of lamb, chicken wings, seafood, foie gras, caviar, honey, dairy, ghee, Frogs’ legs, essence of chicken, etc. will all be things of the past.
There will be no words that represent violent industries and ways that torture and violate animals like animal husbandry, vivisection, animal testing, cannulization, culling of animal populations, slaughter, and the likes. There will be no words that refer to animals for entertainment such a rodeo, bullfight, cockfighting, zoos, aquariums, and circuses that use animals.
There will be no vestiges of animal imprisonment and slavery such as cages, pigpens, poultry farms, or ranch. Because no matter how big the cage, a prison is still a prison. Instead, there will be wildlife reserves and sanctuaries.
Animals will be referred to as a he or she, befitting them as non-human persons. They could also be referred to as they, if the sex is not determined. Vegans are already doing this.
These appalling words would no longer be in use in the future but will still be kept in the human lexicon only as reminders of a dark past when the majority of humans were malzoists.
Yes some of these words might even continue to exist but with a vegan meaning. Meat would be animal-free, milk would be plant-based, beef would mean mushrooms, aquariums would be fishless, like the proposal of vegan Saudi Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, and have 3D digital marine life instead.
What about entertainment, would a vegan world not be fun at all? In a vegan world, entertainment would be clean and fun. No animal has to go through years of torture during training to perform human skills or skills that go against their very nature just to entertain people.
It won’t be boring right? But what about grooming, beauty, and fashion? In a vegan world beauty would no longer be skin-deep. Real beauty is love and compassion expressed, not based on material things that we wear on our faces and bodies. People can make themselves clean and well groomed with products not tested on animals, and not in any way use animals as ingredient or raw material. This way we can look better without shame, we can wear beauty without guilt. Our fashion would make us feel better. There will be no wool or fur violently stripped off sheep and wild animals. We can feel warm without cashmere, or down from duck. Kuntal Joisher recently summitted Mt Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world, 8,516 meters above sea level wearing synthetic gear making himself the first ever vegan to summit the mountain. He made it possible during our time. And time will come when everyone would climb mountains without anybody else’s hide or fur or feather on their back.
What about livelihood in a vegan world? Living everyday on killing is not the way to earn a livelihood. There will be no butchers. Work would be done for all life to thrive. Farmers will have no need to create a living out of suffering. There will be no rape of cows to produce more female calves and more milk and grinding day old chicks just because they are male and could not produce eggs.
There will be no veterinarians whose main occupation is to find ways for animals to be efficient slaves and bring on more profit for the corporation. There will be no doctors whose task is to find ways on how to make animals “humanely” die. They will be animal doctors who care and work for life. They will find ways on how to cure animal diseases, and make sure animals do not reach the brink of extinction that so many other have sadly crossed.
A vegan world is not about uniformity but equity, not cruelty but compassion; not about dystopia but euphoria about all the beauty, peace, and kindness it brings.
Does it sound like madness, this vision of a vegan world? Does it seem not possible to achieve? We already know people will say that. But didn’t Schopenhauer say “All truth passes through three stages? First it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third it is accepted as self-evident.”
If somebody says – it can’t be done, tell them what Paul Hawken, author and environmental entrepreneur said, “People who say it can’t be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
Peter Drucker (or Abraham Lincoln, depending on which source you’ve read) also said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. How do we create a compassionate world if we don’t know what it is about? It is as important to clarify and hold the vision as to work for it.
Then with all these happening, our thinking and perspective will change; our ways will change, our language will change. And further with these transformations, a new world will emerge. A vegan world, not perfect, not uniform, not equal but equitable for everyone, and is ruled by compassion, kindness, fairness, and justice.
I would like to believe that animal rights is one of the last frontiers of social justice movements before the battle with artificial intelligence sets in. As a futures student, my fearless forecast is that this is the century when that will happen. We are at the cusp of a new era, we don’t even know if it would be called a vegan world. Maybe it will be called a genuinely sustainable world. We could even call it “a whole new world”. But what it is called doesn’t matter as much as what it means. It could simply be called the future. And more importantly, in the future, for it to be called today.
Some people might think our vision of a vegan world is extremely romanticised. In a way it is true. We want to achieve our vision because it is always the ideal. So we try to ground the dream and then we see how it would never be 100% in reality. But even knowing that it would never be perfect, we still try to clarify the vision and work to help achieve it.
In a way a vegan world is a scary world, like all unknown worlds are. But what will get us through is the motive and intention in creating such a world. If we don’t lose sight of that, then we could go on courageously, even romantically dreaming and being scared at the same time, but knowing how many trillions of lives would be better as a result, would make the journey and the destination worthwhile.
A vegan world is for the animals. But the task is on us to make it happen. It is for them that we are doing all of this, but having said that, a vegan world is also for us. It is on us but it is also for us. Paul Hawken once said you don’t create change by changing things. You create change by changing. And what do you know, when we give them their freedom, the freedom and life that are theirs in the first place, we are actually receiving more for ourselves, for our planet, for our health, and even for the well-being of our very soul.
Thank you and lets dream together for a vegan world.