"If every vegetarian nets one more vegetarian in the next five years (and most of us can do a lot better than that), we should have a vegetarian country by then (there are about 10 million now, so in five years there will be 20, and then 40, 80, 160, everyone)."
~ Bruce Friedrich, PETA VP and co-author of The Animal Activists' Handbook
I was catching up on my reading of old VegNews magazines several weeks back when I came across a short interview with Bruce Friedrich. about the future of veganism. The above quote comes from his responses to the ten quick questions he answered. And, were the words that mulled about in my head for a week or two before I came up with a fabulous challenge for myself.
I've mentioned the challenge to a few people already, but I feel as if i should share it more openly with every one. Perhaps, by sharing my life with you, I can inspire you ... which is the premise of this challenge.
For most of the seven years of my journey in vegetarianism, I have been the token "vegetarian/vegan" (veg*n) in most groups I socialize in. In the last three months, as I've become more involved with the Vegetarian Organization in my community, this has changed. And, it's not just because I spend more time with the vegans, raw vegans and vegetarians I have met through my work with VVOA. I feel like the more veg*nism I fill my life with, the more veg*ns are drawn to me. Or (in a more hopeful tone), veg*nism is just becoming more mainstream.
Regardless of why I keep meeting more veg*ns, I have realized that I want to inspire more veg*n trends in the lives of people that I have met in the past, or meet from now on. So, inspired by Friedrich's quote, I challenge myself to inspire a veg*n change in the lives of 12 people every year.
Of course, as per usual, I will remain open to all walks of life and not pressure anybody into doing something that they haven't chosen on their own. But, I want to inspire people to live a better life. In my opinion, veg*nism is a better life, and I support any steps taken towards living more compassionately. The person does not have to become a hard-core, card-carrying vegan overnight. It took me five years to go from "no factory farm" vegetarianism to "the occasional omnivorous baked good" vegan. As such, I feel like I will have made a difference in the world if I can at least get people started on their own veg*n journey.
It does have to be more than just going meatless once a week, though. I think that's a great step that every omnivore should do, for their health AND finances. But, being a vegetarian at home is a great first step. Becoming a pescatarian is also great. (i existed there for eighteen months after my year as an anti-factory-farm vegetarian. Even an ova-lacto vegetarian is great. )If you manage to "give up" cheese, though, your colon and I will love you!) I have a friend who is currently a vegetarian, and she's going to try veganism for a month this summer. That definitely counts.
One person in five years just seems too easy...so, I've challenged myself to twelve people a year. I feel like inspiring a small change in a person's life every month is completely reasonable! However, I don't want to feel the pressure every month. Some month, I may convince a couple of people to reduce the amount of animal products in their life, and some months I just might not.
The goal for this year - 2011 - is twelve. We'll see how successful I am. So far, this is my list:
- This January, a long-time best friend of mine began a blog about an omnivore trying to be a vegetarian. This made my month! She's been friends with me since before my first month of "trying" veganism. Last fall, we had a few great conversations about the politics behind meat as well as her family's obsession with the social meanings behind the amount of meat they consume. (Think My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but in Chinese.) The fact that she is still managing to eat vegetarian at home, living in the same building as her family, makes me very proud of her.
- One friend texted me on a Saturday morning in early March with a, "So, I've decided to become a vegetarian!" We met up the next weekend to find her first vegetarian cookbook and talk about the logistics of being a vegetarian. I lent her a few copies of my old VegNews for further inspiration and have answered a few "dining out" questions for her since then.
- more to come!