COMMENTARY: Practicing veganism is community service


Community is a word that gives us a sense of comfort and belonging. A community is not only a group of human beings, but also the bird that sings in our backyard, the cat that meows on the couch and the dog that waits for you to come back home.

However, there is a group of beings in our community we have largely ignored. These are the animals that end up on most of our dinner plates. We do a great disservice to these beautiful beings when we ignore their unnecessary suffering. Last year, there were 9.2 billion land animals killed in the U.S. alone. These animals live in crowded cages with their beaks cut off or in metal crates, which barely allow for any sort of movement let alone room to walk around. In our industrialized world, we have put profits before the most valuable thing of all, life.

We have long denied attention to our animal counterparts. And while we serve the community of humans in need by donating money, clothes, toys, holding food drives and soup kitchens, there is little that we need to do to serve our animal counterparts. We simply need to choose veg, eat less or no meat and avoid as many animal products in our daily lives as possible. There are countless products that imitate animal products in our local grocery stores. I am a fan of brands like Gardein, Lightlife and Boca that make delicious meat alternatives.

The suffering the animals endure in the process of food to plate cannot be quantified, but what can be quantified is the enormous amount of land, water and food consumed in that process. According to Peter Singer, a bioethicist at Princeton, if we fed the grain we use to feed livestock to the 1.4 billion impoverished people in the world, they would receive twice the amount of food needed for survival. By choosing veg, not only are we helping the animals but also our human brothers and sisters. We also decrease our carbon footprint by choosing veg because animal agriculture is the single biggest source of global warming as it contributes to 51 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions. By going plant-based vegan, we help make the world a better place for future generations. There is no better service to the community than that.

It may seem hard, but perhaps start with meatless Mondays via Rutgers Veg Society is also a great organization on campus to be a part of if you are interested in veganism or vegetarianism. As a service to the community, I implore you to try eating more plant-based  foods and create a better future.

Rushil Patel is School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior majoring in environmental and business economics.

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