Our solar system orbits the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy with a period of 225Ma-250Ma, the Galactic Year or the Cosmic Year.
Wayne Dyer, the noted self-help author and motivational speaker once said,
"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
That is precisely what our story does by reversing the mainstream perspective.
Throughout his life, Gandhi urged Indians and the whole world to adopt a simple lifestyle for the true pursuit of happiness, for such pursuit is entirely inward looking once basic necessities are met.
Dr. Vandana Shiva, the Indian humanitarian and environmentalist, said recently,
"There are two great trends sweeping the world: one, a trend of diversity, democracy, freedom, joy, culture, people celebrating their lives. And the other, monocultures, deadness, everyone depressed, everyone on Prozac. We don't want that world of death."
It’s fitting that at this time of great transformation, we see extreme polarization so that people can clearly discern the fork in the road.
Veganism is like a four-legged stool with health, ethical, environmental and spiritual reasons for elevating our lives. While the health reasons are becoming increasingly well known with the advocacy work of numerous health and nutrition professionals and organizations, the ethical, environmental and spiritual reasons reinforce them to make a truly compelling case.
The final change that will help dismantle the hierarchical system of the Caterpillar is when we transition to agro-ecologically grown, local, plant-based foods. To grow animal-based foods, humans had to create vast monocultures and an industrial infrastructure encompassing almost half the land area of the planet.
The Vegan movement has the same role to play in dismantling the hierarchical system of the Caterpillar in the early 21st century as the "Khadi” movement, spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi, played in dismantling the British colonial empire of the early 20th century.
Just as the Khadi movement was a necessary first step on the road to Indian independence in the 20th century, so is the Vegan movement also just a necessary first step on the road to global sustainability in the 21st century.
If it’s true that the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is unstoppable and our major coastal cities drown, humans can rebuild cities inland. If it’s true that the scorching of the American Southwest will be irreversible, humans can move out of Nevada into Utah. If it’s true that it is going to be impossible to grow food in Syria, humans can migrate from Syria into Europe.
I have spent the last eight years working with indigenous communities in India on our global environmental crises. These communities experience climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification and toxic pollution first-hand and they have been among my best teachers.
Over the past six years, Climate Healers’ collaboration with the University of Iowa on the Winterim program has been a tremendous boon to our healing efforts.
To experiment with the traditional chulha in a controlled setting, the team decided to build a makeshift chulha in the backyard of our hotel in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Though our makeshift chulha was going to be made with bricks and would not have mud caked around it as the traditional version in the villages, we felt that having a controlled setting would be useful for making comparisons. Once that chulha was built, I was tasked with starting the fire.
The Setting: Rural Village in Rajasthan, India
There’s no sign of the sun yet, but the sound of Kamlabai, the wife and mother of our host family, slipping on her shoes means it’s not far from peeking over the horizon.
The MA has potential to spread organically by simply sharing the idea. The design is simple and flexible enough to be manufactured and distributed in localities around the world, which can also provide economic opportunities in small communities.
At present, we are being bombarded with apocalyptic stories predicting doom and gloom based on the linear extrapolation of our recent history. But we forget that our past is littered with nonlinear transformations that completely changed the linear course of history.
The rise of Veganism is a swift kick in the rear to such linear thinking. We know that the current socioeconomic system, based on mindless consumption, is incompatible with Veganism. When taken through its logical progression, Veganism necessitates conscious simplicity since any unnecessary consumption uses natural resources that impacts animals somewhere.
System change is not a new imperative. People have been designing and implementing novel socioeconomic systems for decades, especially since the 1960s. Examples abound of intentional communities where people have redesigned their lives and their interactions with the environment.
Location, location, location!
Where should we set up the laboratories for the Butterfly system and showcase prototype implementations?
The search for spiritual awakening, the search for environmental sustainability and the search for social justice are all part of the same search for moral singularity, a state of being where we routinely experience the ultimate happiness that is already within us.