Live and think differently and the world will be different

This is an emergency – the imperative of being vegan

This is the text of my speech that opened the Irish Vegan Festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Sunday 9 April, 2018.  Concentrating on the devastating environmental impact of animal farming and other abuses by humanity of our fellow Earthlings, the speech confirms that our best chance to save ourselves from ourselves, as well as respecting our fellow Earthlings, is for all of us to go vegan.  You can see the video performance here.

This is an emergency.
The threat is there before us.
The choice is being made for us.
We either change or we destroy… ourselves and everyone else.
There is no luxury of pausing, reflecting, wondering, considering,
slowly meandering to… thinking about thinking …
and only then weighing up and deciding …
and finally getting up
to do what we have to do.
We are at the tipping point.
We are on the precipice.
The abyss
is below us
right there to show us…
we’re all about to fall.
The global environmental catastrophe is everywhere around us, because there is no place to hide, and that disaster is…
today,
this morning,
this afternoon,
this evening,
tonight
taking us closer and closer to the end point, the moment from which there is no return, no retreat, only the end game.
Game over.
Except that this is no game,
this is the shutting down of human society,
the breakdown of the human community,
this is death for trillions,
the devastation of life on Earth.

This is an emergency.

We are seriously running out of time.
We have wasted time.
All the time we had
we have thrown it all away.

The problems have been obvious
in front of us
for decades, centuries, millenia…
We have been warned across the ages that we cannot abuse life on Earth without consequence, that we can take but never give back, take all for ourselves today without thought for tomorrow.
We have always known…
that the exhaustion of the land and sea, the killing of uncounted billions of individuals in thousands of species, the destruction…
of forest and wilderness,
the laying to waste of once pristine grasslands,
uplands,
rivers and coastlands,
more and more of us taking more and more of all of that,
that all of that
would one day mean that we ourselves would be left without support,
dependent utterly as we are upon the natural world…
A smashed and trashed landscape and seascape can support none, no-one.
We always knew that.
We always did not care.
We always shrugged and looked elsewhere.
We figured that was just tomorrow’s problem.
But…
It is tomorrow.
We are here.
The biosphere that sustains all life, including our own and that of all of our children, is collapsing,
Crushed
by the violence
and the ignorance
of humanity.

This is an emergency.

We have never before faced such an immediacy of comprehensive disaster, affecting so many, everywhere, with such little chance of survival.
We have to act now.
We have to stop what we are doing, right now, and change how we are living, right now. There is no time left. We have idled too much already. Too many have died already.
We have ignored reality for too long, pretending we…were doing nothing wrong.
We have put aside the evidence of our eyes, our minds, our hearts and our souls. But it is not credible to turn away from the devastation. And now, right now, prevarication is not an option. Deliberation is not acceptable.
The time is now.

This is an emergency.

We know the facts – the ever-increasing and ever more dramatic changes to the climate, the elimination of vast swathes of the Earth’s forest regions, the pollution of the world’s water, the retreat of polar ice, the warming of the atmosphere, the melting of the permafrost, plummeting numbers of birds and insects, the acidification of the oceans, the degradation of the soil… the extinction of species.
We see too the worsening of health outcomes for our kind because of lifestyle diseases, awful diets and rampant resistance to antibiotics, rendering much of modern medicine redundant, exposing ourselves once more to death by toothache and the prick of a rosebush. No medication left to treat infection.
Why are those the facts?
Because the foundation of our failure as a species is our attitude towards non-human animals.
Behind the destruction lies one simple, searing conceit – humanity’s abuse of other animals: the exercise of what we believe is our right imposed by our might at the cost of every right that should belong to all those others.
The primary cause of the worst of that which ravages our planet is animal farming. Whether the violent abuse of farmed animals on land, or the brutal annihilation of trillions by the fishing industry, our ruthless desire for the flesh, milk, fur and eggs of other animals is what has drawn us so close to self-imposed obliteration.

This is an emergency.

How do we react to all of that?
We go vegan.
If we act, if we change, if we do something now, then that is how we stave off the total disintegration of human society. But it has to be now. The current pace of change is insufficient, inadequate. It’s not enough and it’s not good enough. It is up to all of us and all of us must respond now.
Pesticides drenching our fields has to stop. Pouring antibiotics into farmed animals has to stop. Pointlessly testing human medicines on non-human animals has to stop. Dumping our plastic in the oceans has to stop. Skinning animals for their fur has to stop. Murdering wildlife for fun and trophies has to stop. Imprisoning animals in zoos and parks has to stop. Fishing, industrial and recreational, has to stop. Wiping out forests to grow food for farmed animals has to stop. Polluting the air, the ground, the water with filth from animal farms has to stop … because farming animals anywhere and everywhere has to stop. Every slaughterhouse has to be shut down. It all has to stop. We have to stop doing it all, and stop doing it all now.
The most effective change we can make is to stop using (and therefore abusing) other animals. Human society is not separate, set aside from the non-human world. We are part of the same complex ecosphere as all other lives and we are totally reliant on the natural environment for our survival. Abusing other animals means abusing ourselves and the planet that is our only home in the immensity of the cosmos. None of us have anywhere else to go. The destruction of Earth is dominated by our domination of non-human animals and our predilection for their flesh, fur, lactation fluid, eggs and even their vomit (in the case of bees, in case you were wondering). It is farming animals for meat, dairy, fishing and our further abuse of animals for fashion, superstition, religious ritual, pharmaceuticals, entertainment and half-baked so-called research that drives the global disaster unfolding before our eyes.
Our best chance to stop the rot is for all of us to go vegan. An honest acceptance that humanity does not have the right to abuse other animals to death in their trillions, despite our supposed privilege and undoubted power, is the greatest response we can make to this overwhelming tragedy that is already the cause of immense suffering. A recognition that no human life depends upon the deaths of non-humans in order to survive and thrive represents our finest answer to this most daunting of challenges. We can do it. It is possible. It is easy. With tens of thousands of edible plant species, innumerable foods, clothes, cosmetics and other consumer products readily available to all, no-one need persist with the old ways that have proven so destructive to so many and which will be our downfall unless we act.
Given all that confronts us, everything we know, we have to change.
To continue to be non-vegan represents an existential threat to humanity. This is not hyperbole.
Our violence against other animals has taken us to the very edge of self-termination. It is not morally defensible to continue to behave as we have done in the past and perpetuate into the future the violence of meat and dairy and every other abuse of all those other species. Because if we don’t change, there will be no future.
The global human society as we know it is at risk of extinction. This is not an exaggeration.
The facts are clear, direct, easy to understand. They remain facts whether we like them or not or whether we wish to agree with them or not.
The reality of ecological catastrophe does not care for the whims of humanity.
That which is true remains true.
It is obvious what we must do.
We must change and we must change now.
This is what we all have to do. And everyone can do it. If we are serious about surviving as a species and the continuation of the human community then we will do it.
We are an adaptable species and now is the time for us to adapt. This is not something for “later”, because there will be no later. This is not a problem for “others to deal with”, because there will be no others.
But if we go vegan, we can survive. Go vegan and we thrive.
We may right now have our backs against the wall. But we can allow our hearts to hope because change is within us all.
We are stepping forward, we are rising to the challenge, and we are changing the world.
This is the time to stand together and proclaim our desire for freedom for all, justice for all, rights for all. This is the time we turn the failures of the past into the realised promises for the future. This is the time we make peace in our world; we break the chains that have bound our animal brethren; we free ourselves from the lies of the meat and dairy industries; we tell the truth and we live the truth. This is the time.
Land will be returned to nature. The wildlife will be born and roam free. We will take only what we really need. This is the time.
The slaughterhouse will be abandoned. It will be razed and all traces erased. Where blood used to flow, now trees and flowers will grow. This is the time.
Compassion shown to everyone, kindness extended to all, love offered to every life for whom home is this fragile planet we call Earth. Our shared home. Our only home. This… is the time.
Yesterday does not matter. It’s all about what we choose today. And we can make tomorrow the greatest day there has ever been. This is the time.
We do face the gravest threat. But we already have the answer.
Go vegan and we survive. Go vegan and we all survive. Go vegan and we all thrive. And we will be, absolutely, alive to joy and the finest love the world has ever known.
The power to save the world is right here, right now, inside each and every one of us. It’s you, it’s me, it’s all of us working together, sharing our dream and making our every dream come true. Here, now, is the emerging, stirring, inspiring force for good within us all to change the world and to set billions free.
Now is the time.
This is an emergency – so let’s get out there and save the planet! Place your foot upon the floor and know that the entire Earth is below your feet. Every step we take is a step towards a whole new world. When we walk, we walk into the future and that future will be made by us.
Now is the time.
When we rise as one, we can save everyone. With our hearts filled with love, our minds packed with the truth, our souls on fire with justice we are unstoppable, we are magnificent, we are the makers of history.
Now is the time!

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