“Every time we spend a dollar, we’re casting a vote that says, ‘Good job, Do it again.'” – Zoe Weil at TEDxYouth
My dear friend, Amanda, a high school teacher, told me about this TEDx Talk on compassion that Zoe Weil did at a high school in Bangor, Maine. Amanda played this video for her animal rights awareness club (how cool, right?!) and she said it had a big impact on a lot of the students in the group.
The talk is a great one, and I think it’s so important to be having these talks with kids and young adults, whose minds are more open and who are more prone to compassion and driven to action when they perceive something as being wrong. I love that Zoe drives home the arbitrary difference between our pets and the animals that we choose to ignore or turn away from.
My favorite line from the video was her call to action, to not put your dollars towards anything that doesn’t support your values. “Every time we spend a dollar, we’re casting a vote that says, ‘Good job. Do it again.'” I would even expand on that, to say that we’re casting a vote for, “Good job. Do it again. Do it cheaper, do it faster, do it bigger.”
We have to remember that, particularly in the U.S., when we vote for something with our dollars, we’re not just voting for more of those things, we’re voting for them to be mass produced on an environment-crushing scale for as cheaply as possible. This is why I no longer see meat-eating as a “personal choice.” It’s not. Everyone who eats cheap, factory-farmed animal products is supporting an industry that is killing our planet, ourselves, our economy (read Meatonomics peeps, it’s awesome and eye-opening!) and billions of animals. I love that Zoe addresses the idea that what you buy, what YOU financially supports, matters. It matters! It’s not personal, just like we’ve all decided that smoking cigarettes isn’t a personal choice, or driving drunk, or dumping toxic chemicals.
I had the occasion to sit with one of Amanda’s students from the animal club at a recent cooking class, and I was so heartened to be able to speak with a “youth” (ughmahgawd I’m getting O-L-D) intelligently about things like compassion, veganism and animal rights. She said a lot of kids at her school are really open, interested and concerned about these issues. I’m hopeful that we have a generation growing up in a world where plant-based eating is more normal, where they enjoy plant-based options as much as animal-based ones, and where they are aware that there is an issue around eating animals, that there is a conscious decision to be made on whether or not to support the meat and dairy industries with their dollars. They seem to be aware that there’s a problem with our consumer culture, and that there’s consequences for everything being cheap and mass-produced, our food included.
With the awareness I see spreading through my generation, and the awareness of the generation behind me, we might actually see some real changes in the near future. It makes my heart feel two sizes too big :)