Connecting to the Truth

I think you're exaggerating what’s going on and it can’t be that bad for the animals and the environment.  

While the truth about what's happening readily inspires life changes for some people, others challenge the information with various thinking strategies:  

It’s only happening in a few places.

I’ve never heard of this before.  

If this were really true, why isn’t it on the evening news?

If I don’t think about it, I don’t have to deal with it.

When people begin to understand the connection between how other animals suffer and are brutally killed, how our health is compromised, and how the earth is suffering globally, the information challenges unquestioned habits.  Sometimes the truth is difficult to acknowledge, confront, and accept. We may initially turn our heads away in disbelief, fear, sadness or discomfort.  Changes in attitudes and behavior do not come easily.  

We are all raised to believe that it is morally acceptable to harm and kill innocent species for human consumption.  Society makes it easy for us not to question these ethics.  We shop at the market where everything is packaged for sale and do not witness the cruelty, violence, and pollution behind the scenes.  Pastoral images of contented species frolicking the day away are preserved in childrens' books, television commercials, songs, magazine ads etc. 

Leo Tolstoy, Leonardo da Vinci, Mahatma Ghandi and Albert Einstein are just a few of the well known figures throughout history that have practiced and advocated more compassionate food choices.  Today, there is a growing number of citizens, respected doctors, ethicists and ecologists promoting vegan food choices.  We encourage anyone who feels that the reality is exaggerated to conduct their own independent research from various sources.  

While I care about animal cruelty, my health, and the environment, I don’t think I could be vegan.  It seems so radical.  

We all want to feel comfortable in our lives.  When information challenges long held notions and perceptions, it can be threatening and make us feel uncomfortable.  While many people would say that they care about their health, their children's health, the well being of other animals, and the environment, their daily food choices do not reflect these values.  Many vegans feel that the violence being inflicted upon the earth and billions of innocent beings is very radical and unacceptable.  Becoming vegan is a natural and logical extension of their values.  

While some interested in living vegan may begin slowly, others are energized to make big changes fast. Mainstream markets are selling a wide variety of vegan foods. More and more vegan restaurants are opening up. The National Restaurant Association has found that one in five consumers actively search for a vegetarian option on the menu, and one in three will order a vegetarian entree if available.  

If you aspire towards veganism but feel overwhelmed, we recommend that you connect with like minded people or a local organization and to stay mindful of why you wish to make vegan choices.  RIVA is always available as a resource and supportive guide.  

I want to become vegan but I'm just one person.  Do my choices really matter?  I don't see how they can change anything.

Congratulations on your desire to choose vegan!  You are not alone in how you feel; especially with the enormity of global suffering and harm that non-vegan choices have on all life.  First, your choices matter to you and how you feel about yourself and that is very important.  The following two questions will hopefully help you begin to think about your question in a different way.

Are you willing to live in a way that is inconsistent with your values? 

If cows, chickens, pigs, etc. could speak, how do you think they would respond to your question?

We often don't realize it but the choices we make can impact family, friends, and acquaintances in a variety of ways.  You may help them to see how wonderful and varied vegan cuisine is, how one can put their values into action, or that vegans aren't some other species altogether!  The reason so many billions of innocent beings are being killed for food annually is because the consumer demand is so high.  Choosing vegan is a daily vote for compassion, non-violence, and health for all.  As more and more consumers make vegan choices, the collective votes of people like you will create a food revolution long overdue. 

Historically, the social movements that have changed history started with a small number of people who thought, believed, and acted differently than the norm.  Whether we look at the rights of women or enslaved humans, individuals that opposed these injustices were in the minority.   The values that gave birth to the modern vegan movement have existed in many cultures since pre-ancient times. However, many societal forces have tragically pushed our culture away from a deep connection and reverence for other life. From a very young age, we are socialized with erroneous attitudes of superiority and separateness from the rest of the natural world. The fact that you want to become vegan is wonderful.  You and others like you can help us move toward a vegan world.  Every minority can become a majority if enough people put their values into action!