In my life as a vegan I have spent so much time explaining what a vegan is and answering the “Why vegan?” question that I have my answers down by heart: Because it is healthier. Because it is environmentally friendlier. Because it is more humane. Because we are not biologically carnivorous. And most of all: Because somewhere in our minds, consciously or unconsciously, we vegans have decided that we would rather try to live in harmony with the planet than in supremacy over it.
I was spouting this memorized list to a new acquaintance recently and the response I got was something along the lines of, “Wow. Wouldn’t this world be a different place if everyone lived like that?” So I started thinking. What if everyone did live like that? What if… vegans ruled the world? How different would it be? The possibilities are of course, endless, but I think I’ve got it down to 3 basic areas of life on this planet where the vegan ideal would really improve things.
- Personal and Public Health – You would think this one would be a no-brainer, but it is actually astonishing how many people don’t know that eating huge amounts of animal proteins is really unhealthy. The public is still being fooled into thinking that fat is the big bad health wolf, but in fact hard science has come up with some pretty irrefutable evidence that consumption of animal protein (which does include fat) is directly correlated with an enormous number of illnesses. So if everyone in the world ate only plant-based foods, then heart disease, diabetes, and many forms of cancer would pretty much be eradicated. The strain on the public health system would be non-existent and doctors would have all the time and resources they needed to concentrate on those whose illnesses were not diet related.
- The Environment – We all know that most vegans are interested in eating and promoting organic food – which is of course environmentally friendlier – but I am not sure how many people are truly aware of the terrible toll non-organic farming is taking on the environment, particularly on factory farms, which are responsible for at least 25% of greenhouse gas emissions. If vegans ruled the world, the air would be that much cleaner, as would the chemical-free soil and water, and the forests that have been cleared for animal feed production would still be standing. There would be plenty of trees to produce oxygen and fresher air, and the planet wouldn’t be getting quite so hot. Hemp, which is a great (and complete!) source of plant protein, fabulous for soil quality, and can be used to make everything from paper to car parts, would be widely planted. Maybe we might even change the song to “…and amber waves of…hemp…”
- The Economy – Would the economy really be that different if vegans ruled the world? Think about it. If the idea is to live in harmony doesn’t that effectively punch a great big hole in a lot of big business models – you know, all those mega-corporations that are racing toward world domination? I think that if vegans ruled the world, we would see a lot more small businesses operating as centerpieces of self-sustaining communities. There would still be cities, but they would function as centers of art and culture – and great vegan cuisine!
Perhaps this view is a bit rose-colored, and of course the whole idea of vegans ruling the world is a contradiction, since, as I said, vegans aren’t into the whole supremacy thing. But being vegan does have its perks and with the fate of the planet and its inhabitants hanging in the balance, it makes you wonder…