On Iceland, orangutans, and palm oil

Orangutans

Over the past few days, you’ve probably seen the Christmas advert that Iceland, a UK supermarket, were planning to show on television. The advert has been deemed to be ‘directed towards a political end’ by the broadcast code for advertising practice, and Iceland have therefore been prevented from showing it on television, but the full advert has been doing the rounds on social media. It’s actually a short film by Greenpeace that highlights the devastation of the palm oil industry on orangutans and their rain forest homes.

People are up in arms, and why wouldn’t they be? Not only is the banning of the advert worrying, but it has stirred up a lot of emotions about orangutans – they are beautiful creatures, (ones that already feel tragic because of their droopy faces) and their homes are being razed the ground for us. Anything that can make people think about the human impact on the world is a good thing; if you do any amount of reading on the subject of the environment, you’ll know that we’re very nearly at a point of no return when it comes to the resources that we use.

My main issue as I watch my newsfeeds clog up with petitions and sad-face emojis, is that the vast majority of the people who are upset are committed meat-eaters. I’ve made a promise never to be a preachy vegan, and I think that, for the most part, I’ve stuck to that in the ten and a half months since I swore off animal products. I’m not perfect, and there are plenty of things that I know I can still do to reduce my own impact on the world.

But as your friendly neighbourhood vegan, I’m here to say that if you’ve watched this Iceland advert and felt truly worried about what we, as a species, are doing to this planet, you may want to take a look at some of the statistics about animal agriculture. Greenhouse gases, water consumption, pollution – all things on which you can make an impact by going vegan, or at least by reducing your meat consumption. Take a look at the Veganuary website for a detailed look at some of the benefits of changing your diet. If your conscience has been pricked by an animated short film, take this chance to find out more about how your lifestyle can make a difference.

As a non-preachy vegan, I’m not even going to get into the discussion of why the plight of a baby orangutan elicits sympathy in a way that a baby cow doesn’t. Again, there’s a whole wealth of information at your fingertips if you’re interested in learning more.

It’s interesting when something I spend a lot of time thinking about, both on a personal and professional level, hits the headlines, and I see what I know is true: as a society, we’re all worried about the future, and for the most part, we all love animals. And I’m sure that as time goes on, more and more people will connect their own actions and choices with the future of the planet. It can be daunting, especially as we know that real change can only come via the people in charge. But I truly believe that my own choices are important.

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