Have you ever wondered why more people around the world are turning towards a plant-based lifestyle? From the products they use, to the clothes they wear and most importantly, the food they eat, veganism has been erupting as a global trend to the masses. Could it be that amidst all the fault and suffering we’ve imposed onto the environment, we’re finally getting the picture?
Last month, The Kuwait Vegan Society did its part in spreading the word about the vegan movement by hosting a two-day workshop with renowned speakers Dr. Melanie Joy and Tobias Leenaert at the Australian College of Kuwait.
KVS, a non-profit organization (currently under establishment) has a vision to create a world in which people are healthy; a world where exploiting animals is a thing of the past and where the environment is clean and protected, and finding like-mindedness was key. Who better to invite to step up alongside KVS representative, wellness advocate Dr. Abir Alsharhan than the two valued guests?
“They’re both brilliant people,” Dr. Abir swooned with contentedness that comes from what one may assume are the benefits of a healthy, plant-based lifestyle. “They’re practically celebrities in the vegan world!”
In a world that centers around good ethics and wholesomeness, notoriety in the vegan stratosphere comes from a place of morality and noble behavior. Both Dr. Melanie and Tobias are published authors, helping make the world a greener place through psychology, theory and the power of message. Dr. Melanie Joy, public speaker, psychologist and animal rights activist is known for coining the term “Carnism”, which she describes as the opposite of veganism.
“It’s the invisible ideology of why people still choose to eat meat, despite knowing all what they know about animal suffering.” Spending years of researching psychological inclinations towards meat in average joes and janes during her doctorate program, Dr. Melanie would interview people, asking them about their experiences behind eating, butchering and killing animals.
“I found that they had the same attitudes and same feelings around it which were inconsistent. They cared about animals, were uncomfortable with the idea that animals had to suffer or die, and when the suffering is completely unnecessary, and yet, they continued to do it.” Further illustrated in her book, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism, Dr. Melanie concurred that people used these psychological mechanisms to really distance themselves mentally and emotionally from the truth or reality of what they were experiencing.
The Vegan Strategist blogger Tobias made his global mark with a similar message. Living with two dogs and six cats, it’s no question that the cofounder and formal director of the Belgian organization EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative) is an animal lover, and a big part of his message conveys that a love of animals and the environment should be enough to sway people towards veganism.
“But I know firsthand that it’s difficult for people to make the full transition into a plant-based lifestyle. It takes a lot of time. It took me ten years to stop eating meat after my “a-ha!” moment, and even then, I was still having pasta with meat sauce!” The food struggle, led him to vegan teaching via a pragmatic approach, highlighted in his book How to Create a Vegan World: A Pragmatic Approach.
“I think that the most pragmatic approach to encouraging people towards a life of veganism is through food. Vegans have more options now than they have before, and the food can still be exciting – it isn’t the way it used to be.”
The two-day workshop welcomed the public in for holistic thought, theory and conversation. Dr. Melanie and Tobias started dialogues curated to consider how an abundance of the world’s issues could be solved with veganism, or at least a vegan alliance.
“That means that people don’t have to go cold tofu and switch to veganism automatically, but awareness and small changes here and there can surely make a difference,” Dr. Melanie pointed out. Some topics that attendees were engrossed in included Sustainable Activism, Effective Vegan Outreach, Making a Difference for Animals and Making Compassion Easier.
With at least 95 people registering for the workshop weekend, Kuwait’s efforts towards a healthier lifestyle are more prevalent than ever. “I think that awareness about veganism isn’t only positive for the environment, but for health as well,” Dr. Abir says, following KVS’s mission to provide resources and support the community in adopting a plant-based life style. “It’s the best way to get the country back on a healthier track.”