We are living in the midst of the mindfulness awakening. This movement is a direct backlash to the mindless practices of the 20th century. The food we consume and the institutions we support matter. Our food matters. The latter part of the 20th century was a time of greed and exploitation leading to factory farms, sweatshops, and the highly processed diet of the western diet. These practices have led to the suffering of the environment, animals, and humanity. When we harm the environment, we harm ourselves. When we cause suffering to animals, we cause suffering to ourselves. Everything is connected.
Family farms turned into factory farms, which brutally massacre and cause great suffering to chickens, cows, and pigs. These factory farms cause great suffering to the animals, the workers, and the environment. The sewage runoff contaminating freshwater rivers and lakes while killing thousands of fish. The factory farm workers are usually illegal immigrants who have to deal with psychological and physical damage from unethical working standards.
Starting in the 1970’s, the government gave huge subsidies to farms to increase corn, soy, and wheat production. This cheap corn, soy, and wheat are then processed into most of the foods we see at the grocery store and at fast food chains. These government subsidies coincide with the rise of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
In the same time frame, we saw the rise of cheap material goods made in China, Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh. These sweatshops use unfair labor practices and cause suffering to their employees. The rise of cheap goods has led to the hoarding movement of 1990’s. The average American household has 300,000 items, most which find their way into landfills.
There is hope.
Organic locally run farms are popping up all over the country and companies like The Ocean Cleanup are devoted to cleaning up the environment. Movements like minimalism and plant-based diets are growing exponentially. We the consumers can change the future with our wallets and conscious. I have adopted a pescetarian diet with plans on going vegan in the near future. I support ethical clothing companies like Conscious Apparel. I buy Tom’s toothpaste and deodorant which doesn’t test their products on animals. I buy organic foods as much as possible. By changing your habits you are in fact changing the world. Knowledge isn’t powerful unless there is direct action. Once we have knowledge we have a choice on how we live our life.
“There is no difference between healing the planet and healing ourselves.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh