Love has many faces, and veganism is one of them. Happy Valentine’s Day to people who know how to love!
It seems the world softens up a bit as we turn from the end of January and toward the beginning of February. We remark how the stores have changed their decorations from New Year’s hats and banners to giant chocolate-filled hearts and stuffed animals with roses sewn to their paws. Our emails jam up with spam from flower companies promising the fastest delivery at the lowest price. And somewhere at a very trendy coffee bar, a barista is pouring a heart made of frothed soy milk into a latte. Unlike David Lee Roth, it appears the world is talking about love.
But let us talk about a type of all-encompassing love. And that is the love which inhabits the core of a plant-based lifestyle. Think about it for a sec. At its very roots, no matter your reason, veganism stems from love. Let’s break it down.
I’d say that my biggest, as well as my wife’s biggest, inspiration to adopt a vegan lifestyle is our love for animals. We have a cat and two boxers who can stand as witnesses to our love for animals. We would have a dog park-animal sanctuary-cat cafe operated from our home if we could. At the end of the day, we love animals even more than we like some people (We still like most people, just some animals rank higher than some humans). We seem animals as sentient beings who are not always willing participants in their lot in life. Our love and dedication to them is what we know will bring about change for them to have better lives.
But what if you’re plant-based for environmental reasons? You’ve done the research. You know that methane from cattle farms contributes a gargantuan percentage to ozone depletion and groundwater contamination. You understand that there is nothing sustainable about raising animals for consumption, especially when their grazing lands could be used to grow crops that could feed a starving planet several times over. Is this, then, not love? If you said yes to this awkwardly-posed question, then you are a smart vegan cookie! You have a love for humanity and for the planet you live on. All attempts to reduce pollution and hunger are in fact acts of love.
I know a lot of people who eat vegan simply to live longer, to delay the inevitable, or to make the most of every day prior to the inevitable by being as happy and as healthy as possible (take my newly plant-based in-laws as an example!). Well, dear reader, there is nothing wrong with this sort of self-love. It is incumbent that we all delight in the food that enriches us. A handful of cashews for a sound mind. Turmeric dashed in into your rice for some cancer-fighting properties. A banana before the half-marathon to stave off cramping. If you have a love for life and a desire to preserve your health and healthfulness, then going vegan is the best possible way I can think of in order for you to fully and adequately love yourself.
Moving forth, whatever your reason may be, however you choose to identify be it Vegan or Plant-Based or Fruitarian or On an Elephant’s Diet, remember to be a lover first. Because embedded in all of these titles and our shared experiences exists love.