Embracing Empathy

Embracing Empathy

By: Bianca Rose Martinez
Published in the Ventura Breeze
6/23/11

 

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When I became a vegetarian about 11 years ago, it was a result of an empathy circuit in my brain that had been re-activated. I had always loved animals as a kid (who didn’t?) and had lots of pets and stuffed animal toys to play with. There is a big disconnect with the neatly wrapped packages of meat at the store and the fact that they came from a living breathing being, that most likely endured a tremendous amount of suffering, pain and abuse, just to end up on our plates. Most of us don’t like to think of these things when we take our meals, and the producers of these products go to great lengths to make sure that you don’t know what goes on behind those factory farm doors. The mass production of animals for food is behind nearly every environmental disaster and human health issue we face. It comes in the form of contaminated water, food borne illness (from the unnatural conditions animals are kept in and processed), disease outbreaks, clear cutting forests for cattle ranches… not to mention the incredible amount of resources it takes to produce animals for food (fossil fuels, water, grain). With the human population growing each day, making ever-increasing demands on the Earth, doesn’t it make sense to eat in a way that is more sustainable and better for human health and the health of the planet?

The awareness and empathy I now have for the suffering of other sentient beings has spread to encompass a larger picture. Across our country and even in our own county many agricultural practices that have become standard are actually harmful to the environment; from chemical pesticide use to the planting of genetically modified seeds. In our effort to “better” nature or make things more “efficient” we run the risk of damaging the natural systems we depend on so much.

I encourage you dear readers to vote with your forks. What we spend our money on and the things we support with our choices have a huge impact on how the human story will play out. Buy some local organic produce, cook a plant-based meal at home or order that veggie burger next time you are at a restaurant. Your body, the animals and the planet will thank you.

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