Imagine yourself in a cave.
Arms, legs and head bound, forced to look at the stone wall in front of you. You’ve known nothing but that wall. Along with you, several other prisoners live the same fate. You have no idea what’s beyond that wall. Like a newborn, the outside world is a figment of a limited imagination.
Fear, but also wonderment and longing play a constant loop in your mind. Something nags you, telling you there is more than this wall, this dank and gloomy cave. But you also fear what that could be. You fear the possibilities of danger, of reaching out beyond the comforts of what you know. Back and forth, your heart yearns but then retreats.
Behind you, a fire crackles and illuminates the wall. Not only a source of warmth inside the cave, the light casts shadows of what appear like people and other creatures. Activity bustles around you. Sounds foreign yet intriguing, you want to see more. Sometimes you even cry out, rattling the heavy chains, hoping someone or something will set you free.
Day after day, year after year this is your existence.
But what if you escaped? What if through your persistence at rattling the chains, they finally broke? You’re able to walk out of the cave. A bright, powerful light hits you in the face and you shy away, almost eager to run back inside and hide from the strange world you encounter. But something drives your feet forward. Hand shielding your face, you continue walking. Soon your eyes no longer hurt from the light and you’re able to gather in your surroundings.
It is beautiful and frightening.
Awestruck, you wander through a world unlike anything you could have ever imagined. Foreign scents assail your nostrils, vivid colors stimulate your retinas and sounds hit you like a battering ram, but you keep soaking it all in. With the sun warm on your face and heart soaring, you realize the cave was a lie. Once blinded, your eyes are now open. A reality you truly believed was valid engrained in you from the beginning collapses before you.
With this revelation, you want to tell others of what you’ve found. Running back to the cave, you tell them what’s beyond their prison. They don’t believe you, of course. Some even threaten to kill you for spewing lies, for disrupting a life they have grown complacent with. Still, you fight for truth. You fight hard and try convincing them there is so much more out there than the bleak wall in front of them.
Have you ever heard of The Allegory of the Cave by Plato?
When I heard the parable in college, I never would have imagined comparing it with veganism. The more I read it over and meditated on the story, it all made sense. I see the parable describing humanity trapped in the conformist ideas by society. Covering both the fallen and risen state of mankind, from the phase where you’re in search of truth and once you’re made aware of it. After that, all you want to do is share it and free others from the bondage of ignorance.
This is exactly how I felt when I became vegan. I wanted to shout from the rooftops. With a sense of urgency, I wanted everyone to know what I had discovered about the billions of animals slaughtered each year for consumption and fashion, and I couldn’t stop talking about it.
Veganism is all about taking those blinders off. From childhood we’ve been led to believe a certain way and defying that norm is almost taboo. Going against the conventional flow, challenging what we’ve grown up to believe is true sets us apart. I’m not saying we are above others. Far from it. What I’m saying is now we have the knowledge and the tools needed in fighting the system.
All we want is a better world.
We fight for a safer, cleaner and healthier planet for future generations. It may sound silly, but it all starts with our plates. Peace truly begins by what we choose to put in our mouths. A simple choice of a selfless act of compassion has a bigger impact than you can possibly imagine.
The battle is not yet won in lifting the blinders from everyone's eyes, but we continue to make leaps and bounds across the world. Our voices are being heard. People are listening.