So I'm going to be a father! A vegan father at that! I have thought about the idea for some time but wasn't sure if I was ready to become a parent. Kenya, on the other hand, has been ready for some time but agreed that we'd wait until the time was right to try.
Before trying to conceive I started thinking about the state of the world today. I don't want our child to believe in fairy tales. I don't want our child to be brought up on lies that soften her or his critical thinking skills. I don't want our child to be ridiculed for being “different”. I don't want our child to ridicule others for being “different”. I don't want our child to be brainwashed by the mainstream media. I don't want our child to be targeted by very intelligent psychologists working for corporations that simply want her or him to mindlessly consume, consume, consume. I don't want our child to face resource shortages, or toxic pollution, or the effects of environmental degradation, each of which are a result of mindless consumption practices and, even more so, the predatory nature of capitalism.
I currently live in a world in which compassion and respect for others beings is stunted from an early age and the exploitation of humans, other animals, and the Earth is condoned and encouraged if one can derive mere pleasure and perceived benefit from it. I live in a world in which wars are accepted as a natural way to peace. I live in a world in which violence is considered to be an acceptable problem-solving tactic. I live in a world where people don't think about the consequences of their actions. I live in a world where people will do just about anything to “belong” and uphold the status quo. I live in a world in which racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism, and speciesism run rampant. I live in a world in which the majority of people do not have the basic necessities to survive while only a small minority live comfortably as a result of the labor of those who are struggling. I live in a world where all this is seen as “normal” and/or “natural”.
I don't want our child to be taught (or brainwashed), as I was, to believe that some people just aren't as good, or efficient, or capable, or smart, or worthy, etc. as we in the West are and therefore are doomed to live in the horrendous conditions that they live in. I don't want our child to ever deem anyone inferior to her or him, human or nonhuman. Yet, I live in a world in which humans create hierarchies of who is most deserving of our consideration and who is least deserving of our consideration. Every other being on this planet is susceptible to being dominated by us humans, including other humans, simply because we feel “we can” dominate them. In the U.S. Some 12 BILLION land animals (not including aquatic animals) are killed just so that humans can eat them. Around 50 BILLION is the worldwide estimate. Our best justification for this is that we like the taste. We proudly display our domination over other animals in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the products we apply to our bodies. Their lives aren't even worth our consideration because they have been deemed so inferior to us simply because they are “not like us”.
I don't want our child to be brought up in THIS kind of world where this mentality is the norm!
But then I got to thinking. How are things ever going to change for the better if there aren't more children being raised and taught to reject the exploitation and oppression of other beings? For me it's clear that the notion that we can exploit “others” for our own perceived gain is at the root of many problems we face today. Therefore, a rejection of the mentality that we humans can do whatever we like to those who are vulnerable simply for our pleasure or perceived benefit is the solution. Veganism is a rejection of that mentality. Veganism, at it's core, means showing compassion and respect to all, especially to the most vulnerable among us.
I want to live in a peaceful world. I don't want to see any war. I would love to see vital resources freed to benefit those in need. I would love to see more people taking a stand against injustices rather than sitting idly by as many struggle to survive. I would love to see more people waking up to the way we are conditioned to over consume, and to the problems our consumption practices cause. I would love to see more people waking up to the way we are conditioned to treat each other and other beings. I desperately want to see a world where humans recognize that other animals have an interest in their own lives and realize that enslaving, torturing, and murdering them is against our moral principles. Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely that I will ever see this kind of world. But maybe, just maybe, through the right, compassionate education, our vegan child will be able to, at very least, catch a glimpse. Our vegan child will be brought up to challenge to do something considered impossible. Our vegan child will defy standards and reject traditions and societal norms based on exploitation and exclusion. That's the kind of change we wish to see. That's the kind of change we, as a family, will be.