Every day we make dozens of choices that have a ripple effect on the world around us and the animals who we share it with. Our impact on the planet can be overwhelming. But it also means we have endless opportunities to create a more sustainable, humane, and compassionate world.
Here are five ways you can start using your power to help other animals:
1. Choose More Plant-Based Foods
It’s not just the animals raised for food who are counting on you to eat less meat and dairy. Animal agriculture is the single most destructive industry on the planet. It’s responsible for devastating habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and other threats to wildlife. Good thing you have at least three chances a day to choose food that’s better for animals, the planet, and you.
If you’re new to plant-based eating, it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Start with Meatless Mondays or replacing one meal or ingredient at a time with plant-based alternatives. If you’re already vegan, help your friends enjoy animal-friendly, Earth-friendly foods by sharing your favorite dishes and dining spots. Urge your local restaurants to carry more plant-based foods so there are more options for everyone.
2. Buy Less
Everything you buy comes with costs beyond the price tag, including the product’s carbon footprint, the water and other natural resources used to manufacture it, and what happens to it once it’s no longer useful. And those extra costs are paid by wildlife.
One of the best things we can do to start treading lighter on the planet is to lighten the load of stuff we carry around with us. Before you buy anything, take a second to ask yourself if you really need it. Sometimes the answer will be yes. But you might be surprised by how often you find that you can take a pass, or choose a version that will last longer and have less of an impact on the environment.
3. Ditch Traditions That Aren’t Working for You, Animals or the Planet
Let’s face it – sometimes holiday traditions get stale. They become outdated or no longer match your values or your lifestyle. That one dish shows up on the table every year even though no one really likes it. Those traditions that bring you more hassle than happiness probably aren’t working for animals or the planet either. “Traditional” holiday foods are often meat-heavy dishes. Gift exchanges and decorations often produce enormous amounts of waste.
So if you don’t love a holiday tradition, stop doing it. Use the next holiday as an opportunity to reconnect with what really matters to you. Give meaningful experiences or homemade gifts and refocus on spending time together instead of spending money. Create new traditions like trying plant-based dishes or collecting donations for your local animal shelter.
4. Use Your Voice
Even though every animal on the planet is affected by our society and its laws, none of them get to vote. But you do.
Injustice against animals can only be prosecuted if there are laws in place to protect those animals. Cruelty-free products and sustainable alternatives – including our energy and transportation systems – need commitment from decision-makers, innovators and businesses to become more easily available and affordable for everyone. Use your voice to praise policies, products, and practices that benefit animals and the planet, and protest those that don’t. And never miss a chance to go to the polls and vote for representatives who will stand against animal cruelty and support laws that protect the environment.
5. Show Compassion to Humans, Too
As animal lovers, we sometimes take it for granted that people can fend for themselves. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Our lives are so intertwined with other animals that when we’re cruel to each other, animals often suffer, too. But by helping people we can help animals.
Supporting social services like food banks, shelters that accept animal victims of domestic violence, and education for law enforcement on signs of cruelty can help protect people and the animals they care for. And when it comes to making animal-friendly lifestyle choices, give people the benefit of the doubt. Change isn’t always easy, and animals need as many people making as much of a difference as they can.
It only takes a few minutes on social media to realize we live in a world of animal lovers. And together, through action and compassion, we can make it a better world for all of us.
Want to learn more about how you can change the world for animals? Check out The Animal Lover’s Guide to Changing the World.
Image Source: Pixabay