By Stephanie Feldstein
Everything we do has an impact on animals, from what we put on our plates at each meal to how we celebrate holidays. There are endless opportunities to make choices that are better for animals, the planet, and our own well-being. It can be overwhelming to try to do it all, so here are three small changes that can make a big difference for animals:
1) Choose more plant-based foods.
Animal agriculture isn’t just cruel to the animals in factory farms, it’s also devastating for wild animals. By eating less meat and dairy and choosing plant-based options instead, you’re helping countless animals – from chickens, cows, and pigs to wolves, salamanders, and even butterflies.
If you’re already vegan, help your friends enjoy animal-friendlier foods by inviting them over for dinner, taking them to your favorite plant-based restaurant, and sharing your favorite cruelty-free snack recommendations.
2) Buy less.
Everything we purchase comes with a cost beyond the price tag. Products – even ones made from organic or recycled materials – require energy to manufacture and natural resources that we need to share with wildlife. Plus, there’s the waste of packaging and pollution in wild habitats.
So before you buy something new, ask yourself if you really need it. If the answer is yes, consider whether it’s something that could be bought used or if there’s a version you can invest in that will last longer and have less of an impact on the environment.
3) Give the gift of experiences.
It’s often hard to find the perfect present. In most cases, it’s hard to know if it’s something the person will really use, or even like. And, while thoughtful in the moment, stuff has a way of accumulating, being forgotten, and eventually being tossed. That’s no gift to wildlife. By giving experiences, you can create lasting memories.
Your non-material gift can even do double-duty for animals – in addition to saving natural resources, you can share an animal-friendly experience, such as a homemade vegan meal or a hike in your favorite wilderness area.
Living an animal-friendly lifestyle doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, it’s often about simplifying our choices to leave a lighter footprint and leave more space and resources for animals.
Stephanie Feldstein is the Director of the Population and Sustainability program at the Center for Biological Diversity. She recently authored The Animal Lover’s Guide to Changing the World, an inspiring, accessible, and empowering book for everyone who loves animals and wants to live a more animal-friendly life, even if they aren’t ready to join a movement or give up bacon. She has more than 20 years of experience in animal rescue and advocacy. When she’s not advocating for animals or the future of our planet, she can usually be found working on her next book in the company of assorted rescued dogs and cats.
Photo by paweldotio