It is becoming increasingly obvious that a new cultural narrative is required if we are going to be successful in our human quest for wisdom, meaning, and harmony in our rapidly changing world. Understanding how the deep structure of our culture confines us to the shallows of consciousness provides keys to this new narrative, and to authentic personal and planetary transformation. Learning to connect the dots between our culturally mandated mistreatment of animals and the environmental, cultural, psychological, and health challenges we face is an essential key to evolving new perspectives that provide the foundation and inspiration for lasting positive change.
Our confinement to the shallows of living is due primarily to the enormous power of the food program that is injected into all of us from infancy through our culture's meal rituals of disconnectedness that require us to participate in the abuse and commodification of living beings. The beckoning frontier of authentic positive change lies in understanding the consequences of these food actions and attitudes, and in bringing our lives into alignment with this understanding, at both the individual and collective levels. Veganism is thus increasingly recognized as the cutting edge of engaged and empowered social and environmental healing in our world.
The ideas in this book can guide and inspire us on this adventure of transformation. It’s dawning on us all that fundamental changes in our orientation to our Earth, to animals, and to each other are required. We can see that continuing to function primarily as consumers is ravaging our beautiful and abundant planet in ways that destroy the viability of the living web that supports all life here. In this book’s metaphor of the Caterpillar, we can see that there is nothing in the Caterpillar’s existence or approach to life that would predict his sudden cessation of destructive consumerism and subsequent transformation, and the same is in many ways true of us. And yet, at a certain point, the Caterpillar simply stops his rampant consuming and turns his attention into a completely different direction, undergoing a complete metamorphosis and emerging through this as the beautiful, delicate Butterfly, dancing on breezes, sipping nectar, and inspiring us humans with the possibility that something similar could happen with us.
As the primary cross-cultural symbol of transformation, Butterflies exemplify experiences that many of us have had in our lives, and for many of us, going vegan is primary among these transformational experiences. As beings with an innate yearning to learn, grow, and create, and also with a basic sense of ethics, we are naturally interested in understanding how our lives and actions affect others. But because we are born into a culture that mandates relentlessly eating the flesh and secretions of abused animals, we disconnect from our inherent intelligence and empathy, and lose track of our purpose on this beautiful and abundant Earth. Now, we see signs everywhere that we are awakening from this culturally-imposed trance of rampant consuming and abuse, and beginning to discover our purpose as benefactors and protectors of life here. How all this will play out in the immediate several decades we are facing is fascinating and daunting to contemplate indeed.
May our hearts and minds open to deeper wisdom and compassion for each other and for all life in these critical times. And may we understand, as this present volume helps illumine, both the consequences of our actions and also the positive vision of a future that beckons to us. Perhaps, as this book suggests, we have been fulfilling our destiny all along, and now it is time to take the next evolutionary leap.
The old stories of human superiority—of domination, exploitation, and rationalization—are becoming loathsome in our mouths, and as we spit them out in disgust, sensing their toxicity, our yearning hearts discover new narratives that feed and satisfy us with their health, meaning, and nourishing beauty. These new stories draw on the ancient wisdom of the infinite interconnectedness of all expressions of life, and of learning to respect our intuitive yearning to evolve. As we make our effort to understand and contribute, we help humanity to awaken. We can discover and fulfill our purposes, and celebrate our lives and bless each other, as we are intended.
Dr. Will Tuttle