Our Future is Vegan
Originally published in This Crazy, Sexy Life e-letter, June 2009
By Will Tuttle, Ph.D.
We live on the road. For fourteen years now Madeleine and I have been plying North America’s highways in our ’86 diesel pick-up that pulls our solar-powered fifth wheel “rolling home” across this beautiful land. Although we only drive about fifteen to twenty thousand miles per year, following the geese in spring and fall, and presenting around 150 lectures, concerts, and workshops annually, we are able to get a pretty good glimpse into what’s happening here. For me, two things especially stand out. One—monoculture agribusiness. Huge fields of corn, soybeans, hay, alfalfa, and other grains and legumes grown primarily to feed our billions of hyperconfined cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and fish. Two—hospitals and medical facilities. They are springing up like mushrooms after the rain—mainly for the flood of people hyperconsuming the flesh, eggs, and milk of the aforementioned creatures.
North and south, east and west, monocultures and hospitals. Drugged and poisoned land with all its inevitable results. According to recent statistics from the Department of Agriculture, a whopping 86 percent of U.S. agricultural land is devoted to just four crops— corn, soy, hay, and wheat—the main crops used to feed and fatten confined animals. By contrast, growing all the vegetables in the U.S. requires only 1.5 percent of our agricultural land! And for all the orchards and vineyards that provide our nuts, berries, and fruits, it’s just 1.6 percent! Just three percent of our farmland produces all our fruits, veggies, and nuts! Talk about small footprint! Last fall, for example, as we were driving through Iowa, and I was delivering lectures promoting veganism in cities and towns throughout Iowa (whew!!), we traveled through countless thousands of acres of soybean fields. We found out that only one small field in the entire state grew soybeans that were used for tofu and soymilk for humans; virtually the entire vast Iowa soy crop was squandered to fatten cows, pigs, and other enslaved animals who were hidden away in their stinking sheds and feedlots far from the major roads. In contrast to this, Russia has been encouraging small-scale family gardens (“dachas”), and these dachas have been an amazing success, now supplying 93 percent of Russia’s potatoes, and 80 percent of all vegetables and fruits! This could be our future as well! If we understand and act.
By reducing vast expanses of our precious forests and prairies to toxic monocultures, where only one species is allowed to grow in order to feed the mistreated animals whose flesh and secretions we are all pressured into eating, we create the ongoing conditions of psychological, ethical, ecological, cultural, and spiritual disconnectedness. These prevent us, as a society, from understanding the roots of our unyielding dilemmas. The violence on our plates reverberates through our bodies, our minds, our culture, and throughout our world. How can we or our elected representatives act wisely while the blood that is running through our veins and brains is polluted with hormone, drug, and pesticide residues, cholesterol, and the fear, panic, and psychotic depression lived by the animals we eat?
It is way beyond time for all of us in our culture to look behind the curtain of institutional denial and bring the light of compassion and awareness to our meals and what our meals require.
Everyone in our culture feels it, I think. The existential doubt, visceral and haunting, about our future. The future of our species. Of the Earth. Our way of living. We feel it, but it’s just too much—so we turn away and focus on the familiar distractions, turning up the volume to drown out the inner knowing.
Yet our sanity longs for truth. More than anything else, veganism is truth. The truth of awareness—of what we’re actually eating! Of what it takes to get it on our plates! Of all the implications of our routine actions. The truth of our interconnectedness with all beings. The truth of our radiant essential nature, free, awake, loving, merciful, and wise. The truth of the ramifications of our meals: of our devastation of oceans for fish to feed chickens and cows whose bodies, babies, and yearnings we steal. The truth of our repressed and deadened horror. The truth of our inability to make some pretty obvious connections. Eating violence and terror, we long to avoid the truth.
Everywhere, though, the truth is popping up! It’s increasingly difficult to avoid hearing and seeing the obvious. Eating animal foods destroys the Earth. Drives global climate breakdown. Drives species extinction. Drives ocean depletion and forest devastation, drug addiction, disease, soil loss, water pollution, acidification, toxification, despair, and the mentality of exploitation and elitism and war.
Like the rising sun, the truth is shining brighter every day, revealing the interconnections. Bringing healing, insight, and understanding. And we are awakening. Veganism is the stark and liberating solution to the omnivore’s dilemma, the cultural conundrum bearing down ever more relentlessly as our massive violence toward animals and the Earth and future generations ripens before our eyes.
Happiness, peace, and freedom flow from nonviolence. We are all connected, and our joy is in blessing others. I don’t know how it will happen, but this I know in my bones: our future is veganism. Our future selves are vegans – delightedly and powerfully aware of the ancient truth of our magnificence. We are not shrinking, reducing, commodifying, cruel and numb people who heartlessly destroy the Earth and the sacred web of life—who have no future and have lost our purpose by stealing the purposes of others. We are consciousness, grace, kindness, creative inspiration, joy, and understanding. When light shines, darkness simply disappears without a trace. No fight is required. Letting the light shine through, breathing deeply and fully, we partake of the infinite, moment after moment.
This, then, is the situation in a nutshell:
We are all beings of light and awareness and love, born into a culture of violence, ignorance, and exclusion. We take on its darkness and fear, and the core ritual used by our culture to effect this is our daily meals, where we are forced to participate in routine killing by eating and buying the flesh and secretions of imprisoned, terrified animals. Our path to freedom lies in freeing these animals. Veganism is the feminine wisdom of interconnectedness, the spiritual and practical key to happiness and peace for all. She is our future. She is beckoning to us.
We all live on the road—the road to vegan living and to the harmony, sustainability, freedom, and co-creative celebration shining within.
Will Tuttle, Ph.D., composer, pianist, Zen priest, and author of The World Peace Diet, is cofounder of Karuna Music & Art and of the Prayer Circle for Animals and Circle of Compassion ministry.
Back to articles