BEING VEGAN – Earth Day Needs To Be An Every Day Reality
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
I was fortunate to grow up and live most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they certainly knew how to put the “hip” into hippie. During the 60’s and a good part of the 70’s it was a very colorful time, and the consciousness surrounding me was always a reminder of the relationship that we needed to have with our planet. We had a very progressive environmental sciences program at my high school and it was there that I first learned about the concept of recycling and just the art of living and making more with less. Being a responsible steward of our planet. Even then there was the realization that if we didn’t properly take care of this planet that offered itself to take care of us, both the planet and life that we lived upon it would be in peril. Four decades later we are seeing the results of the lack of stewardship of our planet in our air, ground and water pollution, the sad state of our oceans, climate fluctuations and a constant pillaging of our Earth for dirty fossil fuels that we are having a hard time breaking our dependence upon.
I celebrate Earth Day…and I enjoy the opportunities for people to become more aware of the alternative energy options that we have and all of the positive work that is being done to repair our planet and build a better tomorrow.
Yet I also feel a little bit about Earth Day like I do about Valentine’s Day. I still celebrate Valentine’s Day, yet I remind myself that it is kind of silly to have one day where we express our affection in a certain way for others when in reality it should just be a way of life…something we are conscious of doing every day of the year. I think that is a key to healthy relationships. Just like the relationship we have with our planet. We need to express our care and love for the planet by daily living in such a way that we are decreasing our “footprint” upon the planet and living in such a way that we are bringing as little harm as possible to our environment. The job of taking care of this planet is not something that should be left for “environmentalists.” We should all be environmentalists as citizens of this Earth. We cannot take and take and take without hopefully giving back more than what we have used. What we do today is going to affect future generations to come. No matter where I go or what I do, my goal is to always leave that place better than I have found it. That is the very least that we can all do as well.
When I decided to forego animal products in my life almost six years and began to live and eat consciously at a level I had never known before, I began to discover how our lifestyle, and particularly what we eat, impacts the environment around us. Though my initial reasons to cross that bridge were for health reasons, my reasons now for being vegan are so much more than that. When someone asks me why I am vegan, and they do on almost a daily basis, I tell them that I cannot separate the ethical, health, environmental and spiritual reasons for doing so. All are equally woven into the fabric of who I am. The sensibilities that I already had about our responsibility to care for the Earth went to another level when I became vegan. I realized that by this one decision we were not only making a tremendous difference for animals, our bodies and spirits, but this is also one of the greenest personal decisions that we can make for the good of the planet. Animal agriculture accounts for more greenhouse gases than all the modes of transportation on this planet combined. It impacts deforestation and pollution to our soil and water along with the air. When we choose not to partake and support in an industry that exploits animals and robs the Earth of its precious resources, we are decreasing the demand which is already impacting the supply in many ways.
It would seem obvious that people who are concerned about our planet’s resources would adopt a plant-based lifestyle. James Cameron, an environmentalist and director of movie blockbusters like Titanic and Avatar, adopted a plant-bases diet along with his family for the good of the planet. He is challenging all of us, and especially environmentalists, to remove all animal products from our diets. He says, “You can’t be an environmentalist, you can’t be an ocean steward, without truly walking the walk in the world of the future, the world ahead of us, the world of our children, not eating a plant-based diet.” That is a challenge for all of us to think about on this Earth Day…a reality that we should live in each and every day of the year. I would also like to challenge anyone that is already living and eating consciously to remember to hold up the banner daily for our environment, just as you hold up that banner for health, spirituality and animal rights. We cannot relegate the environmental reasons for living apart from animal products to some lesser status. Part of making this world a better place for both humans and animals alike is making sure that we protect the resources upon this Earth to keep us all alive. Our earth has never been in the perilous condition that it faces today. The only way things can change for this Earth is if we change our habits and lifestyles. There are a growing number who believe, and I concur with them, that this generation is one of the most critical to ever live upon this planet because of all of what we are facing. I am convinced that great good can and will be done and it begins with us.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul’s e-book, Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere is now available at www.sullivanstpress.com.