Veganism: The Burden of Knowing

Even though veganism has improved my quality of life ten fold, it has also forced me to grapple daily with some pretty harsh realities. Going from a primarily meat centered diet to one that consists mainly of whole plant foods is undoubtedly challenging, but it cannot compare to the challenges I face now as a full-fledged vegan. Documentaries such as Earthlings, Cowspiracy, and What the Health along with countless studies and lectures have shown the immoral, corrupted, grotesque, and unsustainable face of the human race. Yet even exposed, the lurching sickness of our legacy on planet earth continues.

When I was younger and only knew of the moral implications of veganism, I was full of fire. There were animals suffering and I knew that it would end. That I would make it end. That time would bring humanity to its knees before the immense shadow of pain we’ve created and there would be a new era of compassion on earth. I knew that my voice would add to the cacophony of animal agony and that every ounce of energy I exerted was pushing society to this inevitable peak. Each day I was breathless and flushed with anger and passion.

Then in 2014 when Cowspiracy was released, the rug of blissful ignorance was pulled from underneath me for the second time. Before this documentary I had no idea that the practice of animal agriculture was having such a devastating effect on our environment. As the documentary went through every aspect of our earth: air, water, land, my chest became heavier and heavier until my breath was shallow and rapid. It is already too late. This thought continued on repeat inside my head. The only conceivable hope humanity has is to start RIGHT NOW. I felt the urgency in my bones. For the first time in my life I desperately desired power, the power to change this damning destiny I saw laid out before all of existence.

But I wasn’t powerful, and I’m still not. And three years have passed by. And more animals are suffering as the population grows. And the Earth is still decaying under this heavy greed. And this is why it’s hard to be vegan. Veganism is the burden of knowing. It is the burden of seeing the eventual fate of our earth but being unable to change its course. It is seeing the futility of your efforts and giving everything you have anyway.

At some point each day I find myself coming back to this reality. Over every good moment hangs the specter of the future. It is daunting to plan for years that you may never get to. It is even harder to find counsel and help coping from a society that doesn’t believe you. In the beginning I was so eager to share what I had learned but soon realize this was more painful than silence. It was agonizing to hear again and again from so many friends: It will be okay. The scientists will fix it. Things will change before anything get’s “too” bad. I’m not worried about it. 

Psychology has taught me that human beings are hard-wired for hope. We as a species are known for underestimating the likelihood of negative outcomes. However, even revealing to others the science behind the optimism bias doesn’t seem to shake their confidence that everything will be fine. Even other vegans seem to brush off this sobering science with ease, finding more fuel in small victories and advancements. But my fire is burning low these days. It is so tiring to struggle against this enormous momentum. I wish I had a solution for these feelings I have, a way to comfort other vegans that may be suffering in the same silent way. I hope that my solidarity will suffice until then.

I am pleading with those of you who have yet to adopt a vegan lifestyle to please educate yourselves about the dire state of our earth, human health, and animal rights. So much damage has already been done to our environment and there is no indication it will be slowing down. I truly believe based on the scientific evidence that this is a pivotal moment in human history. It’s time to choose whether we will change or perish.

And to any vegans that may be reading this right now that feel the way that I do, I am always here for you if you need consoling conversation. Just remember that your actions and choices in this life still count immensely. Although we may lose the earth, every vegan day is another day less animals had to suffer to stifle the sickness of human selfishness. And every moment of peace we can give them is precious.

♥ Keep fighting. They need us. ♥