As I was going through videos in the StoryCenter on Youtube, I found this very powerful video that I think truly exemplifies what it means to speak out. The video is narrated by a journalist from Bangladesh who gave his life for justice for a poor housewife that was killed by her mother-in-law for lacking a dowry. His story is especially powerful because of the images and imagery he uses throughout the story. The details of being beaten almost to death just for trying to help reveal the injustice done to a woman were moving beyond words. From then on instead of focusing on the immense injustice done to him, the journalist dropped his own case and fought for someone who couldn’t fight for herself. This act of selflessness really demonstrates what it really means to speak out.
Last week we were asked to take a newspaper article and create a small dramatization that gave light to the social or political issues discussed in the newspaper, just like the Living Newspaper back in the 1930s. It was a fun and interesting experience as my group included a majority of science majors with a couple musicians. We felt that none of our scientific brains worked in a creative or artistic way which made this slightly uncomfortable. Yet this did not stop us from enjoying the interesting look into the lives of actors in the 1930s as well as having the opportunity to really delve into a current social issue.
Possessing a strong written voice has been extremely important since the earliest societies began writing their history. Writing ones thoughts has always been the best way to ensure that they are shared for years to come with any number of people. This is even more true today. With the help of the internet, it has never been easier for an average citizen to spread their ideas to the world, proven by this blog. Because of this it has now become crucial that every emerging student be able to communicate effectively in a written manner. This is particularly a challenge for students like me. I have never felt that writing has been my strong suit. I haven’t yet learned how to express my ideas effectively without the help of voice inflections and body language. This picture to the right clearly expresses how I feel when I attempt to write.
While writing this blog it is evident that because of this weakness in my writing skills, I attempt to qualify a majority of my statements with phrases like “I noticed” and “I realized.” By making my ideas personal opinions I feel like they are less likely to be challenged or attacked. I also lack the ability to charm readers into agreeing with me and my ideas. As a result I instead have constructed my blog in an educational style in hopes that if the reader has the evidence that supports my ideas, they will eventually agree with me. People would much rather learn about a topic and then choose to take a stand on it, rather than just believing something simply because they were told to. With the use of credible sources and clear ideas, my blog can be a trusted and educational source on topics that I care about.
There are very few people in the United States that fully realize how they’re diet affects more than just them. Ever since I switched to a plant-based diet my eyes have been opened to my connections to the world around me and exactly how much of an impact my decisions make. Switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet is the best thing for everyone and everything living on this planet and here’s why.
Firstly, it is great for your health. Some of the largest and most intensive scientific studies done to date have studied the relationship between the traditional, meat-based Western diet and health. According to the CDC, most of the number one killers in the U.S., such as cardiovascular disease, some cancers, stroke, and diabetes are nutritionally related. In the United States, one person is killed by heart disease every minute, says the Heart Foundation. And according to the CDC, from 1980 to 2011, the crude prevalence of diagnosed diabetes increased 176%. All of these illnesses can be prevented and even, in some cases, reversed with the adoption of a plant-based diet and a healthy lifestyle. Considering how processed most meat is today, it is obvious that a balanced, plant-based diet is the best option for your health. When you begin feeding your body with the nutrients it needs in the way that nature intended them to be eaten, your body thrives. Your body becomes healthy from the inside out, acne and skin clears, your hair and nails become stronger, and you are full of more energy than you ever knew you could have without that third cup of coffee. If you simply love your body by giving it what it needs, it will be everything you always wanted it to be.
Secondly, it’s good for animals. According to the USDA, in 2013, close to 10 billion animals were killed to be consumed. This is excluding fish which make up a large portion of the animals killed to be eaten. For more information on the numbers of animals slaughtered each year, here is a link to a statistical chart. Throughout the years the number of slaughtered animals has increased while the treatment of them has only gotten more inhumane. Dairy cows are artificially inseminated again and again only to have their babies taken form them within hours so that their milk can be collected and sold. Baby male chicks are ground up alive to be made into food pellets for farmed fish. Did your tuna salad taste a bit like chicken? These are only a few of the cruelties that these animals endure for the sake of satisfying human taste buds that don’t need meat to survive in the first place.
Lastly, it’s good for the environment. Global warming is one of the major global threats today. The UN determined that raising livestock for consumption generates more climate-heating gases than all carbon-dioxide-emitting vehicles combined. Livestock accounts for almost 10 percent of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions, 37 percent of methane emissions (methane is more than 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas according to the US EPA), as well as 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions (nitrous oxide is over 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide according to the US EPA). Not only that, according to a FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) study, livestock operations accounted for 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface use, much of which was deforested to create pastureland. The Save Our Seas foundation says that overfishing has lead to 80 percent of fish stocks either fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted. While bottom trawling is responsible for destroying miles of coral reefs and countless habitats.
If every American simply reduced chicken consumption by one meal per week, the carbon dioxide savings would be equivalent to removing 500,000 cars from the road. Most of our agricultural land is used to grow grain for livestock. According to Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer, the 756 million tons of grain consumed by farm animals would be enough to provide 1.4 billion people living in poverty with approximately 3 pounds of grain a day. That is more than twice what is necessary to survive. The choice is simple and the facts are all there. Making the switch to a compassionate, healthy life is a slow journey. One filled with delicious and new foods that you may never have even heard of. Try incorporating a new, meatless recipe into your diet every week. To save our planet and all of those living on it, including ourselves, we must fill our plates with compassion. Together we can save the world!
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I have noticed that my greatest passion is being vegan. Being vegan means three things, it means that I care about myself. I take care of my body and my mind, as well as sharing my world in hopes that others do the same for themselves. Secondly, it means that I care about animals, these creatures without a voice of their own that get mistreated every day. Lastly, it means that I care about my planet. The planet that provides me with everything I need to survive and gives me a place to go when I’ve died. This is the subject that matters most to me.
I often see articles and news headlines on the latest idiocies that the people in the government have decided in regards to the environment. These are the main things that get me fired up and ranting. Yet even then I am never inclined to respond directly to these people in any way. It has never been my way of expressing myself. My main response to the happenings of the world around me is to go and tell my family and friends all about it. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve even considered writing a letter to my state representatives and even then it has only been a thought. I would really like to be more vocal with my ideas and my passions and be able to share them with more people than just my family and friends. I found someone who I think does this beautifully in a blog and her name is Emily Nolan. Her blog, My Kind of Life, is inspiring and most importantly, always kind. Her tone is warm and encouraging, making her blog feel like a safe place. I ultimately hope to be able to achieve that in my expressions to the world.
“If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”
— Jonas Salk, Biologist
If you went to your local Walmart or any other general store today you would find an entire aisle dedicated to skin and body care. In that aisle there will be enough products containing microbeads to fill at least one shopping cart. Microbeads are minuscule balls of plastic found in many face personal care products such as facial scrubs and toothpaste. They are typically made of polypropylene or polyethylene and are so small, sometimes as small as 1 mm, that they pass through most water treatment systems. This means that after they swirl down your drain they head straight for the oceans. Along the way, these microbeads tend to absorb any number of chemicals like a sponge. They are then mistaken for food by thousands of fish, many of which retain the plastic and eventually die of starvation. These fish eventually eat so much plastic that they can no long eat any actual food. Not only that, these microbeads also tend to release all of the chemicals they absorbed on the way once they are ingested. These chemicals are then absorbed by the fish and then kindly shared with whatever eats the fish, including humans.
I don’t understand how humans can knowingly cause harm to their home. This planet is the only one we get, that alone should be motivation enough to take care of it. The fight against harmful microbeads has already begun. According to an article by NPR, state lawmakers in Illinois and New York have approved legislature banning microbeads in their states. This is amazing. I decided to do my part by educating the people in my community about the dangers of microbeads. With the help of DoSomething.org, I found a campaign where I went to my local convenience store and took a picture of some of the products that contain microbeads. I then posted this picture onto all my social media accounts along with an educational paragraph in hopes that if the people around me become aware of the problem they will do their part to stop contributing.
This week has really given me the chance to realize how lucky I am. I found that I personally have never been a victim of injustice. As I reflected I remembered that I do know a young boy who is not so fortunate. Previously when I thought of bullying, I would imagine the typical scenarios that everyone is told to look for but I never imagined them happening in real life. It wasn’t until I found out that a fifteen year old boy I know and highly regard was being bullied in school, that I realized exactly how real this problem is. According to stopbullying.gov, approximately 1 in 4 U.S. students report being bullied in school, most commonly in middle school. Just because someone is different does not give anyone the right to attack and demean them. Bullying can be extremely detrimental to a person’s self-worth and has even led to the loss of too many young lives that should have been busy loving themselves and others. Seeing the hurt and distress behind this sweet boy’s eyes had me riled and ready to sit some fifteen year old punks down and give them a piece of mind. Instead I decided to check out DoSomething.org, a great activist organization, to see how I could do my part to fight bullying. There I found a campaign to raise awareness against bullying. I joined it and involved some of my friends in an interactive texting game that taught us how to spot and stop bullying. I figured that if I couldn’t go and talk to fifteen year old punks I could at least raise awareness in my circle of friends in hopes that they do the same and spread it throughout. Spreading awareness helps the problem but the real solution lies in spreading acceptance. If we can all accept each other as humans, with flaws and differences, but also as creatures that are all similar then no one will ever have to be afraid to be themselves ever again.