Empathy Can Save the World

Social justice can only be achieved when a society empathises with its neglected social groups. From the 18th century campaigns to tackle child poverty through the anti-slavery movement, woman’s suffrage to gay rights, none of these revolutions would have been possible without the rise of empathy and the regard for human life.

Empathy is the reason we have the principles of freedom and fairness, which are necessary components of social justice.

Social justice cannot start and finish with the human race; it must encompass all living creatures. Not only are we needlessly slaughtering tens of billions of sentient beings each year under the false belief that we need to feed on them, but to facilitate this we are wiping many other species from the face of the planet.

Our oceans are literally being destroyed and fish species are being wiped out at a rate never seen before in human history. The coral reefs are crumbling; dead zones are appearing across our oceans and seas.

We all know in our hearts that this is wrong, unsustainable and is destroying our fragile environment, but we continue along this path because the educators, our leaders are short sighted, guided by the thought of losing their position at the table.

Empathy takes courage, risk, and self-sacrifice, and can often be so very difficult. It is challenging, at times perhaps even excruciating, to dare to put the good of another, be it human, animal or environment above ourselves.

The only chance we have is to work together but in our capitalist world where competition is king and greed is good, we are heading towards oblivion. Only by working together, by empathising with the world around us can we pass on the lessons we have learned to future generations.

Suffering must be a lesson to us all, something we learn from, not a consequence of our actions.

We all have the ability to empathise, to imagine how it feels to walk in someone else’s shoes. Be it the mother holding her dying baby in drought ridden Africa, the child who is told that his father, a soldier, won’t be coming home or the cow, chained upside down by one leg, having it’s throat cut while still conscious because of outdated religious practises.

The power of empathy has changed the world many times through co-operation and understanding of right and wrong. It is without judgement, criticism or confusion, rather the selfless action of doing what we know to be the right thing.

The greatest and most beautiful gift I have ever been given is the miracle of empathy. The foundations of our human world rest upon it; without it we will crumble and fall.

The Food of Kings – A Brief History of Carnism

I’m going to publish a few excerpts from a talk I gave recently at a vegan festival. Here is part Two.


Humans have been eating animals for a long time, no argument there.

But it’s only relatively recently that the masses have had such easy and affordable access to so much of what had long been known as “The Food of Kings”.

Up until the Second World War meat, dairy and eggs were much more of a luxury than they are today.

During the six years of war and the nine years of rationing that followed, animal products were scarce and this was a problem because scarcity fuels demand.

If you could get yourself some meat, some eggs, some milk or cheese, even if it wasn’t completely legally, you took it.

It was a good source of both protein and fat, two things that were absent, or at least lacking, in many of the diets of the time.

And 15 years is a long time to live under the conditions of war and then rationing.

None of us should be surprised that as it ended and everything gradually became more plentiful, the mind-set remained.

Meat, dairy and eggs were firmly established as not only the best food you could eat, but it was also the affluent choice.

It made us feel like the kings that went before us; it became a symbol of status.

If you and your family had a meat rich diet, you’d made it.

This idyllic, healthy lifestyle, this freedom, it was why we went to war in the first place!

I can still remember as a child my own father proudly carving the meat in readiness of our Sunday family ritual.

Of course, and to my parent’s huge dismay, I only ate the roast potatoes and the vegetables.

And almost no one questioned it, in homes the length and breadth of the country families were living the post war dream and the meat on their plates was a symbol of their freedom and our victory.