Many times I hear from people who are just learning
about the rampant abuse and exploitation of animals taking place in our
world. While surfing the web, reading books, or looking at leaflets,
they come across photos and stories depicting horrible abuse ranging
from factory farming to domestic animal abuse cases. After absorbing all
of this information, people become despondent and overwhelmed, wondering
what one person can possibly do to alleviate so much suffering. Sadly,
many decide that they can't possibly make a difference or that they
can't deal with such horrible things. Instead, they put on blinders and
do nothing, throwing their hands up in the air and giving up before ever
If you were to do nothing but dwell on suffering, you
would become immobilized. So what can you do to help billions of animals
when you are just one person? The answer is simple -- you can control
your own actions. You can be a living example of a compassionate
lifestyle. As Gandhi said, "You must be the change you want to see in
Start with your own immediate environment:
When you are in the supermarket and you have the choice
between a product tested on animals or a product not tested on animals,
choose the product not tested on animals.
When you are in the mall and you have the choice between
shoes made from leather or shoes made from man-made materials, choose
the shoes made from man-made materials.
When you are in a restaurant and you have the choice
between a steak or a vegan entree, choose the vegan entree.
Your choices empower yourself and, in turn, empower
animals who would otherwise be forced to sit silently on the sidelines.
People will notice. More importantly, business owners will notice. As
the market for animal products decreases, more and more businesses will
produce cruelty-free merchandise and food.
It is not difficult to find cruelty-free products.
Because of the demand for products not tested on animals, it has become
very easy to find products made without animal testing or ingredients in
mainstream stores. Look at the label of any shampoo, face cream, even
dishwashing liquid -- you will see that many items are clearly marked
"No animal testing -- No animal ingredients." This is because
manufacturers are realizing that there is a demand for this sort of
product and they are responding. Vegetarian "hot dogs" and "hamburgers"
can easily be found next to pig and cow carcasses. The choice is yours.
Many restaurants have added vegan entrees to their menu or are willing
to accommodate the dietary requests of their customers.
If your local stores and restaurants do not offer vegan
products, request them! How will store/restaurant buyers and suppliers
know what customers want unless customers request it? Speak to the
manager in person or, if you are uncomfortable with that, make a phone
call or write a letter. It doesn't matter how you choose to communicate
as long as you are polite, respectful, and clear about what you want.
Do not forget to extend your compassion toward
domesticated animals as well. Millions of animals find themselves
languishing in shelters or on the streets. In the United States, the
exact number of animals who die in shelters is widely disputed -- the
number ranges from 3 million up to 12 million. Even if we go with the
lowest estimate -- 3 million -- isn't that enough to make people stop
and take notice? Remember, the "shelter death" estimate does not include
homeless animals who die on the street -- discarded companions who die
unnoticed. When you decide to add a new companion animal to your family,
choose to adopt. You can save a life while enriching your own life at
the same time.
You do not have to make great sacrifices or "give up"
anything when making these choices. Instead, think of it as giving an
animal back his/her life. As much as you "must have" that pair of
leather shoes, think of the significance of your actions. With every
pair of leather shoes passed by, for every steak that goes unordered,
animal using and abusing industries and their supporters will take
notice. They will have to take notice -- because of you.
You are concerned for other species and you want to
help, yet you feel small, insignificant -- lost in a world where Chicken
McNuggets and leather shoes are the "norm." You feel that you can't
possibly make a difference. You are wrong!
You -- yes, YOU -- are part of a much bigger picture.
Your hand is being held by an invisible partner. There are other people
who feel exactly the same way as you and, together, we can improve the
world for all. Your choices do matter. You do count. You can make a
difference. Don't put it off any longer. Don't dwell on the sadness.
Focus on the positive changes that YOU can make ... and start right now!
Remember -- "You must be the change you want to see in
Go on to Job
Return to 16 June 2002 Issue
Return to Newsletters
** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been
specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this
not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the
copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright