Bushfires have always been a part of Australian life. As a young girl living in QLD, I was often glued to the news watching wildfires rip through people's homes. Kangaroos darted across the screen, as cattle ran circles, and koalas clung to fire-fighters. “ugh why is Australia so dry, why does this keep happening??” I would ponder. I felt helpless. I donated the precious $2 I made from shovelling horse manure to relief efforts. This gave me some comfort. Next, came the floods. Animals, people's homes and land were now engulfed by an inland sea. It was like an outpouring of tears from Mother Nature. None of this made any sense to me. All I knew is that this was Australia. Fires and floods were normal. And soon I forgot all about the people's homes, the animals, and the destruction. I had to worry about myself after all and truth is, I was often happy it flooded because the school bus couldn’t get through and I got to stay home.
Fast forward to November 2019.
It’s been 30 years since that day I gave away my horse manure pennies to the fire relief. I now live in a wet tropical rainforest in Australia. It’s monsoon season here and pouring rain as I make this video. One day back in November I took a trip to visit my mum who lives in Northern NSW. Towards the end of my trip, the sun turned a deep red. The air became heavy with smog. Australia was burning, again, but this time more ferocious than ever. These fires are different, even more brutal, unrelenting, and hellish. I felt sick. I saw horses running circles in a fenced paddock calling out in fear as a wall of fire bore down on them. Tears rolled down my face. I grew up with horses; they are amazing animals; they were my friends. The horse keeper also cried saying there was nothing she could do. It was heartbreaking. The horses burned to death.
A friend lost her house in the blaze but thankfully she and her family were fine. She was forced to live on the beach. For the first time in years I became obsessed with news updates. “Risk of mega-fire coming as 11 million hectares are burned”, “Smoke from Australian bushfires seen from space”, “death toll rises to 28 as fire destroys 500 homes”, “Over 1 billion animals killed in bushfires”…1 billion animals. Let's just take a moment for that to sink in. That is like the whole human population of china being burned to death. Do you have a pet? Well, that’s like the entire world's population of dogs being wiped out, including yours. Gone forever. Look, this is not ok. Obviously, any sane human is disturbed by these figures and wants to stop this occurring.
Amidst the carnage locals have been amazing rescuing animals, doing food drops, hydrating koalas, I feel proud to see this level of caring for non-human animals. But, then, I feel engulfed with frustration. I can’t help it. The hypocrisy is too strong. The fact is, these caring people will then go home to eat other animals. As a global population, every 2 days humans collectively eat 2 billion animals (double that of the fires) when let's be honest, they can just live on plant foods instead. It’s disturbing, to say the least. Bunnings, for instance, a hardware giant in Australia thought it was a good idea to put on a sausage sizzle in aid of the bushfires. A vegan rightfully called them out. Think about it. That's like me selling bullets to raise funds for the victims of school shootings. Ridiculous.
Look, Im not going to sugar coat this for you. I’m here to deliver an urgent message. If you eat animals, you are a big part of why my homeland, Australia, is on fire, and you don’t have to be.
I’m sure you will agree, that most people, including yourself, are biophilic and don’t want to live in a dried up, lifeless wasteland, am I right? I know I don’t want to. So tell me then, why do you eat in a way that creates this hell on earth? When all you have to do is to buy the tofurkey at the grocery store instead of the turkey. Or nut milk instead of cow milk. Or plant-based burgers instead of meat-based? Or load up on rice, pasta, potatoes, bananas and beans. Some of the cheapest foods on the planet. Because as of now, 60% of Australia's entire land area is used to graze animals because you fear an imaginary protein deficiency. Or because you don’t like the taste of tofu or soy milk. Honestly, it’s pathetic.
The United Nations is telling us, we gotta change, meat consumption must decrease by as much as 90% in order for us to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. Yes, we are heading for doomsday because you still want to eat like a barbarian. Look, I’m giving you a prior heads up. Veganism isn’t some fad diet. It’s a revolutionary act. Veganism is the future and quite frankly your lack of awareness and commitment is holding up important progress. It’s embarrassing that you are falling behind like this and there is a word for it: laggard. If you still eat animals and their secretions in 2020, you are a laggard. A slacker. Basically, a lazybones. And I too used to be an animal-loving-eating laggardian hypocrite. But I made the change 13 years ago this month and I haven’t looked back.
Australia is on fire, and meat, dairy and eggs is the fuel. Every time you line up at coles or Woolworths and pay for meat, dairy and eggs you throw petrol on your backyard fires. Scientists confirm that Global warming is a major contributor of the Aussie bushfires. The carbon emissions from all the world’s planes, trucks, ships, and cars are equal to the emissions from animal agriculture. If you truly care about climate change, then you would change your diet immediately, as a very first step. It’s that simple. Your diet is not only killing individual non-human animals but also a major cause of climate change. Going vegan requires no governmental initiative, it doesn’t matter which politician you vote for; because you vote with your dollar. EASY. And each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and at least one animal’s life.
Take the Amazon, for instance, most fires in the Amazon have been lit to clear land for cattle. Last year the country raked in over 6 billion dollars in cow flesh export revenue, the highest in history. The burning will not end until your flesh-fetish ends. Australian fires have burned almost twice as much land as the 2019 Amazon fires, and guess what is going straight onto that land? Cattle. Not trees. Because they make the most money for the country.
Livestock now covers 45% of the earth’s total land. Cows are literally eating the planet. 2019 was the hottest year in Australian history and the second hottest year in the world. Longer and hotter summers are yet to come. Australia is experiencing more extreme heat and longer fire seasons because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. That will mean more extreme fire weather days - up to 300 per cent more by 2050 compared to the climate in the last decades of the last century.
A whole family can feed themselves year-round with a thriving food forest on the same amount of land that it takes to feed one cow. (2-5 acres) of land are used per cow. Global warming is one of the greatest challenges facing the world and Australia is particularly vulnerable, having "exceptional sensitivity to climate change”.
In the past 20 years, 9 million hectares of land have been cleared in my homeland of Australia. 93% of the clearing was to establish pasture for livestock grazing. Most of the land cleared was primary forest. Over 90% of the Amazon rainforest that’s been cleared since 1970 is used for meat production, either for grazing or for growing food for cattle.
So, please stop embarrassing the human species by continuing to eat animals instead of plants. Wake up and smell the carcass. You are burning Australia. If you would like to donate to the Australian fires then this is the most powerful thing you can do - GO VEGAN.