How often have you told yourself there is no point in trying to reduce the amount of plastic you use, or take the train instead of the car, or give up meat – because everyone else still buys or uses those things?
Although it might seem as though individually it’s impossible to make a difference in this world, if we all took the attitude that we can’t bring about change on our own, we would never evolve. Collectively, we can bring about real progress, but it starts with the efforts of just one person. Think Martin Luther King or Emmeline Pankhurst – all significant change starts with the vision of individuals.
So, how much change could one person make by going vegan, even just for Lent?
The average person who goes vegan for just one month could save the lives of 30 animals. So, over a period of 40 days that’s around 40 animals saved. That’s a huge number of lives saved in such a short space of time – imagine how many it would be if you went vegan for a year, a decade or even for the rest of your life!
But it’s not just animals’ lives that you’d be saving by going vegan. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change, and producing meat or dairy uses an incredible amount of land and water. If you went vegan for a month you’d save 620 pounds of harmful carbon dioxide emissions, 913 square feet of forest – which is razed to the ground to make way for farmed animals – and 33,481 gallons of water.
In fact, going vegan is the single biggest way you can reduce your impact on the planet, according to scientists from Oxford University.
So, while it might seem as though going vegan won’t change anything because your friends, family, colleagues and peers all seem to be eating animal products, you’re actually making a huge difference to the environment, animals, and potentially also your health by opting for a plant-based diet.
But won’t it take forever for things to really change?
A staggering number of animals are killed each year for food – more than 70 billion land animals and trillions of fish. Going vegan might not save the millions of animals in farms and slaughterhouses today, but by opting for plant-based foods you’ll be part of a larger collective of people reducing the demand for meat, dairy and eggs. And the fewer animal products that are sold, the fewer will be ordered by shops, and in turn the demand for the animals will decrease. Veganism has grown exponentially over the past few years, and it seems every supermarket in the Western world now offers a massive range of vegan foods – so change is already happening, and the more people who try veganism, the more that demand will increase and the need for animals to be farmed will decrease.
In the UK alone, veganism has grown by a staggering 360% in the last decade, while the amount of vegan products available in Australia grew by 92% in 2016. Globally, the meat-alternative market will reach $5.2 billion by 2020, and the global non-dairy milk market is expected to reach nearly $11 billion.
Meanwhile, sales of fresh meat, fresh milk and fresh cheese are all down – in the US sales of meat have been declining for a decade, and that trend is spreading across the world.
Influencing friends and family
By opting for vegan alternatives, you’re also influencing friends and family to try plant-based foods. While they might take some convincing to go vegan, the power of a positive example can never be underestimated!
And think of what individuals are able to achieve in spreading the word. Genesis Butler, the American activist and leading figure in the Million Dollar Vegan campaign, was just 10 years old when she gave her TEDx talk about her vision for healing the planet. That video has now been watched nearly 70,000 times on YouTube and has no doubt inspired countless people to switch to meat and dairy alternatives. And although Genesis now has a large online presence from which to share her views, she’s still an individual who is inspiring change across the world.
So, if in doubt, remember that you might just be one person, but together we can achieve great things.Get the Vegan Starter KitSign the petition
Caroline Burgess-Pike is Million Dollar Vegan’s International PR Manager. She has been vegan for over three years and made the switch after watching documentaries such as Cowspiracy and Earthlings. Caroline went vegan for ethical and environmental reasons, and has also spent much of her professional and personal life campaigning for a better world for animals. Her career spans journalism, marketing for vegan brands, charity campaigns and corporate communications.