“One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, ‘What are you doing?’ The youth replied, ‘Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.’ ‘ Son,’ the man said, ‘don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!’ After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said. ‘I made a difference for that one.'”
Welcome to Vegan Edge and our first blog!
After 12 years’ managing the Investigation department of a large animal protection organisation in the UK, and seeing the darkest side of humanity, I have found that in setting up Vegan Edge, I have regained the excitement I felt when I first became Vegan 37 years ago.
At that time, I was young and idealistic, and thought that real change would come about soon and that everything was possible. While I still retain the ideals of my 18-year old self, the idealism and optimism perhaps aren’t always quite what they were in my late teens; progress can seem frustratingly slow at times, but I have seen a very real change for the better in those years, which gives me real hope: in time, a stream can become a river….
Sometimes the task we face can seem insurmountable, but we can take inspiration from the story of the boy who rescues starfish. While he can never rescue all the starfish on the beach, he can make a difference for those starfish whom he throws back into the sea because he sees them as individuals. Seeing animals as individuals is one of the fundamental keys to the whole debate about veganism. In making and implementing the decision to stop consuming or using animal products, a new vegan will be immediately instrumental in future-saving thousands of sentient lives.
According to the Veganuary website, the average meat-eater in the UK will eat some 10,252 animals in their lifetime, including fish and shellfish. This is an estimated figure arrived at by taking the total number of animals killed in the UK and dividing it by the number of people in the UK, but it illustrates the kind of statistics we are dealing with.
If these figures are actually converted into the number of individual animals, which are consumed by each meat-eater in their lifetime, the sheer scale is grim:
- 3 cows
- 11 pigs
- 19 sheep
- 21 turkeys
- 19 ducks
- 1190 chickens
- 5668 fish
- 3275 shellfish
That’s an extraordinary number of animals killed for just one person…
If you ever doubt that you can make a difference, then consider this, it has been estimated that the average person who goes vegan for just one month can save the lives of 30 animals. It’s not only animal’s lives that will be saved by people going vegan, animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change as it uses massive amounts of land and water as well as being a heavy polluter of the environment. By going vegan for a month, you would not only save 30 animal lives, but also 620 pounds of harmful carbon dioxide emissions, 913 square feet of forest, and 33,481 gallons of water.
Enormous strides have been taken towards change since the word vegan first came into use in the 1940s. It is no longer a euphemism for the people who were considered by wider society to be “weirdos” and “sandal-wearing hippies” at the fringes of society – it’s a global movement with millions of people, some who are lifestyle vegans, others dietary vegans and who come from all walks of life and cover all professions.
If the only thing an individual decides to do today is to become vegan, then he or she will be joining hands with the boy or girl who rescues starfish, and then on, with another and another and another. So too will our actions and decisions reap the rewards, not just for the animals, but for the planet we share with all its myriad lifeforms. Going vegan is not just for the present, it looks to a brighter possible future and one that leaves a legacy for the life of this planet.