The truest meaning of Valentine’s Day is the expression of love and deep appreciation for another. Valentine’s Day allows us to move away from our selfish focus on ourselves and our needs, and to move towards a selfless focus on another.
What our culture and world need more than anything else is love and selfless acts. The single most selfless act a person can do is to make the choice to go vegan. 10 billion land animals and billions of fishes are confined, tortured and murdered for food in the United States each year. The amount of cruelty, violence and suffering inflicted by such a diet is neither loving nor selfless. It is in direct opposition to those values.
In addition to the untold suffering caused by eating animals and their secretions, such a diet takes its toll on the human population. The grain, corn and soy produced for animals to be eaten by humans could easily feed countless starving human beings. In the U.S., animals raised for food consume 90% of the soy crop, 80% of the corn crop, and a total of 70% of its grain. According to the World Health Organization, starvation is the single gravest threat to the world’s public health. Over 925 million human beings are malnourished as of 2010.
In 2010, the UN released a report advocating for a shift towards a vegan diet, saying that is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change. Animal agriculture, especially meat and dairy products, makes up 70 percent of global freshwater consumption, 38 percent of total land use and 19 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide combined are the largest cause of global warming. Animal agriculture is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide and the single largest source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Eating meat, dairy and eggs is the most selfish act one can do if you are concerned with the environment and global warming.
On Valentine’s Day, if you are truly considering your Valentine and your family, the most selfless act you can give them is to become vegan. A vegan diet has been shown to prevent and reverse chronic disease such as heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, some cancers, high blood pressure, hypertension, and kidney and liver disease. It is a selfish act to eat yourself into disease and to decrease your life span by eating meat, dairy and eggs. The most loving act you can provide for your Valentine is to show up for them, healthfully.
One of the most selfish acts that one can ask of another is for them to have to murder another sentient being for your tastes, comfort or convenience. All food animals are brutally slaughtered at some stage of their production, including dairy cows and egg laying hens. In addition to asking workers to kill for you, factory farms and slaughterhouses are among the most dangerous professions in the world. They have the highest rates of injury and low or nonexistent standards for worker safety. Undocumented immigrants are routinely taken advantage of in these industries.
It is enormously selfish to use products like household cleaners, lawn and garden chemicals, and cosmetics that have been tested on animals. Allowing tens of millions animals to endure torture and death in research labs so you can have shinier mirrors, greener grass, and lusher eyelashes is the height of human arrogance.
Let’s use Valentine’s Day as a reaffirmation of our veganism and our work to liberate animals. If you are not vegan, please consider making the commitment to your loved ones, the animals, the planet, laborers, the millions starving, and to yourself that you will choose to make selfless and loving decisions about food, clothing, entertainment and the purchase of household goods and personal care products. Happy Valentine’s Day.