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Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

Jo will make every attempt to answer each question personally, however, due to her schedule, this may not be possible. If a reply is forthcoming, it could take up to a few weeks, so please be patient. It is also possible that your question will be answered directly in the "Ask Jo!" column rather than an individual response.

If you'd like to view previous questions Jo has answered, visit the Ask Jo! Archives.

Hope for Humankind?

I know that more and more people are being won over to veganism, but this is happening at such a slow rate that compared with the burgeoning population of meat-eaters it makes virtually no difference in the scheme of things. Let's face it, average intelligence is fairly low and most people do not care to think of much besides their own selfish interests and customs. Add to that their lack of knowledge, fostered by agribusiness, which bombards us with ads for animal products and even controls the USDA, forcing these items into school lunch menus. With the world population currently at around six billion and the mounting taste for meat, dairy, and eggs by developing countries, the prospect of reducing the torture and slaughter of farm animals seems very slim. Compounding these problems is the amount of energy required to produce animal products and the resulting pollution.

Consequently, the prospect for a peaceful life on earth appears dim. It is tough enough for a vegan to have a pleasant life, given the suffering and death surrounding us on nearly every table worldwide. Unless we can stay at home in a self-created vegan paradise, we have to interact, viewing this misery and trying to stop it. But how can a few vegans take on billions of meat-eaters?

My scientist husband believes that the current world situation is evidence of Darwin's theory of natural selection and that collectively we are bound to eventually destroy the planet and ourselves by overpopulating and destroying our fellow creatures. This matter-of-fact view of the world and the suffering humans have brought about makes life easier for him. While I must admit there does seem to be some truth to his view, I am not comforted.

Although no one can predict the future, what’s your read on the human situation and the dire mess we have created? How do you think events will play out in the next hundred, five-hundred, or two thousand years? Will humans ever stop torturing and eating animals? Will humans ever stop torturing and killing each other?

Shouldering the problems of the world can seem overwhelming, because there is so little that we as individuals can do to initiate dramatic transformation on such a sweeping scale. As a result, it becomes self-defeating to ponder the boundless plight of animals and people when we feel powerless to alleviate their suffering. Thinking globally is smart, but only to the point of awareness, not despair. Believing that we can somehow save the entire world is impractical and merely causes us either to give up or freeze up.

None of us has all the answers. We only can live in the manner we deem best for ourselves at this instant. If vegans truly believe they stand on a higher moral ground than others, it's time to balance pride with humility. Vegans are no more superior and no less fallible than nonvegans, and veganism is not the sole barometer by which to measure compassion. While we are busy analyzing what is "wrong" around us, we miss the goodness and beauty that coexist simultaneously. Each minute we grouse about the ills of the world, we forfeit a minute of our lives.

It is senseless to moan and worry about matters over which we have no control. As is stated in the Serenity Prayer:

...grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Don't let the magnitude of the world's problems paralyze you from taking charge of your own corner. Be a joyful example of how you would like others to be, as no one is attracted to gloom, and hope that your peaceful patterns will inspire others to follow you.

Where will the world be generations from now? I don't have a clue. However, I do know that what I do this moment will impact the next moment, and the next moment, and the next moment -- and that is all any of us have at our command.

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