Is plant-based and cruelty-free the future?

I’ve been a vegetarian for a number of years; not for the first time as I’ve always crumbled and my will-power has failed me. This time though I’m in for the long-haul and I’ve gone one step further – veganism… I can’t claim to be liberal and an advocate of equality if it’s limited to just one of the millions of species of life on the planet. If I’m to advocate cruelty free, then that must surely extend to the rest of the animal kingdom?

One of the most annoying questions I get asked if I have to announce that I have a plant-based diet is ‘what do you eat?’ This is a question from pure ignorance as if one is to use their imagination they’ll realise that a plant-based diet requires you to sometimes leave your comfort zone and try food that you wouldn’t have previously considered, and as someone who’s not particularly food motivated this has been an important journey of experimental cuisine for me.

“Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment.” – Vegan Society

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Is Earth destined for a post-apocalyptic or dystopian future?

At the turn of the last century; during the end of the First World War, or the affectionately titled, ‘Great War‘; in which millions died in trench warfare, the planet was hit with the ‘Spanish flu‘ and a third of the population became infected. 500 million people from a global population of approximately 1.5 billion became infected and unfortunately for 50 million people it was fatal. A hundred years on and we could potentially be in a similar predicament with ‘COVID-19’ on a rampage throughout the world; and just today there’s been 50 thousand new cases in the U.K. (but.. from recent videos I’ve seen the testing method is far from accurate, but that’s another story for another day). Yet this time the global population is closer to 8 billion.

I’m sure that you’ll agree that’s a massive increase in such a short time, and it makes you wonder what the population will be like in a hundred years if people aren’t living in a post-apocalyptic world, or some other awful dystopian existence. With there being so much hatred, intolerance and bigotry around it makes me genuinely worry for the future of humanity as we know it; and there are a few other concerns that are quite evidently against humanity as a collective:

The arms race and the potential risk of nuclear destruction on an unprecedented scale.

The environmental disaster that’s imminently coming that’s going to dramatically affect the planet’s climate and inhabitants and is going to cause massive upheaval and potential destruction as the ice melts.

Religions gaining state theocracies and ruling under an iron fist.

Technology is the backbone of modern society. It could also be our downfall.

A potential catastrophic event like an asteroid collision with Earth which some historians think may have been responsible for the demise of the Dinosaur kingdom.

Nuclear devastation

Fortunately since World War II there’s been no devastation of the scale of what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 at the hand of America (with the consent of the U.K.) where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were killed by two atomic bombs; Fat Man and Little Boy. Despite that potentially fuelling further actions, thankfully 76 years later, we haven’t experienced anything of that scale, but we are well aware that some world leaders could potentially change that. Notably Iran and North Korea are countries that could unleash nuclear devastation.

Environmental disaster

There are many people that are climate change deniers but the evidence far outweighs conspiracy theories or religious beliefs. The Earth has spent the majority of its 4.54 billion year existence in a state of greenhouse effect where the atmosphere has warned up and has been predominantly carbon dioxide, which acts as a shield keeping the heat in, and in between that several contrasting ice ages. The Earth has always gone through cycles so it’s no surprise that the atmosphere is warming up and glaciers are melting as this has happened before, but this time humans have played a significant role with the burning of fossil fuels and the release of gases from factories and industries. Within the next few centuries the Earth’s life will experience much upheaval and detrimental geographical changes.

Catastrophic event

A catastrophic potential event is called a existential risk, and this could range from bioterrorism, cyber terrorism, pandemic, nuclear war, super-volcanic activity, asteroid or meteor collision, earthquake, mega-tsunami, solar flare, coronal mass ejection (CME) (which is a plasma explosion from the Sun) or a plethora of other things that could lead to near-extinction to humanity or species of wildlife that could dramatically alter the equilibrium of the food chain. The future of our species has a level of uncertainty.

Secularism: Protection or Persecution

There are a few cases in the U.S that’s sparked the secularism debate. The first is the much debated 40 feet tall cross in Maryland. The justices voted a 7-2 position to allow the cross to remain on public land. The American Humanist society decided that the ‘peace cross‘ erected in 1925 in Bladensburg violated the first amendment, which prohibits the government from establishing an official religion, or favouring one religion over others. The issue here was not all of the soldiers were of a Christian faith, so the peace cross should be replaced by something neutral.

Whilst I agree with the sentiment, the cross symbolises the fallen in World War I and to take it down would surely be disrespectful to them and their families? The second case to come up is the 92 year old Ten Commandments plaque that was situated at the Joseph Welty Middle School in Ohio. The freedom from religion foundation (FFRF) said it was a flagrant violation‘ of the first amendment and it made children of other faiths, or nonbelievers uncomfortable and makes them feel like outsiders.

The (FFRF) said.

”We applaud the district for taking action to remedy this violation, students in our public schools are free to practice any religion they choose — or none at all. In America, we live under the First Amendment, not the Ten Commandments.”

I’ve read many Christians claim that it’s a sin, it’s persecution against Christianity , and America was founded with God in mind. All this is completely disregarding the first amendment which is essentially stating that the U.S is a secularist state and no laws, or priorities shall be given to any one religion. We all know that there are plenty of states that don’t adhere to this, and the removal of the plaque will set the motion for many more future cases.

The meaning behind secularism is often misinterpreted, and the religious seem to think it’s against them, but little do they realise that it also protects their religious freedom. When states are not secular, like Saudi Arabia for example, they obviously value Islam over any other faith. This means that Christians have few rights, if any. This is why secularism is important to all, as it guarantees the freedom of all religions.

Humanists U.K. say this:

”The communal institutions that we share (and together pay for) should provide a neutral public space where we can all meet on equal terms.

Many religious people claim that giving the LBGT community rights and focus is destroying religious values that they believe their country is based upon, but in essence it’s all about equality and everyone has the right to express themselves. Despite this and other attempts to make the U.K. a secularist society, religion still has a firm grip on some areas. Assisted dying, religious state funded schools or Humanist weddings are a few key areas that need working on.

Below are the areas where Humanism U.K. are campaigning to promote secularism:

Have you, or someone you know ever been in a situation where something could have been prevented if you lived in a secularist society?

More information on secularism can be found at National Secularism Society