Reconciling Veganism and Nihilism

Kimberly's picture

We're doomed.

If I had to sum up the human race in one word, it would be "suicidal". I have no faith that civilization will last another ten thousand years. I'm not sure we can last a thousand, considering the issues we're having after defiling the oceans. I thoroughly doubt we'll ever colonize other planets and the thought gives me peace, because other planets will be much better off if homo sapiens gets killed off before it can spread. Our race is on an inevitable road to grateful extinction, the only problem being we're going to take at least fifty percent of all other life on Earth with us. We are spiraling downwards into the new Dark Age before all of our candles are extinguished as randomly and capriciously as they were lit. We face an age of untold suffering, an economy like bubble wrap in the hands of a bored twelve year old, and a slow but steady down ramp to constant climate disaster, failing infrastructure, ossified government, super-flus, continued ignorance, and diminished standards of living. We're out of oil, out of money, out of fresh water, and out of time. Any chance we had to save ourselves from unmitigated disaster as our ecosystem collapses (and all human empires with it) passed decades ago. The biggest favor I ever did for my children was not bringing them into existence.

I reserve no hope for the human race. I believe we are causing our own extinction as fast as we are able. Considering the statistic 99.9 percent of all species on planet Earth have gone extinct, my forecast is altogether based upon high probability. We are causing the death of rain forests -- fifty percent of the world's forests are already gone. With them go the fauna who once breathed their air and flitted through their shadowy leaves. Every week, about a thousand species go extinct, which is anywhere from a hundred to a thousand times greater than the natural rate of species extinction. Any person alive today has seen one of the last polar bears, tigers, and whales ever to grace the planet. We are waving goodbye to much of what made our world beautiful and though we may cry over it, it is all our fault.

Will people wake up in time? Oh, hell no. For one, climate change is irreversible by the year 2017 and the human race shows absolutely zero sign of spending less of the planet's finite resources. People keep consuming, destroying, and burning everything in their wake. We're absolutely screwed: instead of the Midas touch, everything the average human touches turns into a pile of garbage: discarded plastic doodads, rotting lawn chairs, plastic water bottles, sodden maxi pads, and blown-out tires seeping poisoned water. Even if I were to kill myself in utter despair, there's two hundred sixty seven people being born every minute to take my place. Humans truly do love themselves and are keen on pumping out millions more, just in case our total dominance and self-proscribed right to ruin everything is questioned by any other species.

So why am I vegan if I have no hope and I see my whole world as doomed? Shouldn't I party like it's 1999? Why am I not snorting cocaine off of a cabana-boy's suntanned shoulder in a hot tub right now? Am I not lying if I broadcast a message of peace? Isn't my lifelong task to spread the word about the joy of a plant-based lifestyle a Sisyphean task I'd be better off without?

Somewhere, deep down, I have known all the world was doomed since the day I was born. Though I used to care, now I don't. The human race can and will destroy itself. I am vegan because I love animals. I know being vegan is the right thing to do, even though the right thing to do doesn't technically exist.

As long as I was helping the world handily self-destruct, as much as I denied it to myself, I was miserable. Cognitive dissonance, that uncanny handicap of humans that enables them to disconnect from what they know is right in order to do what is convenient or popular, is a bitch to live down. Back when I ate animals, I was in the ironic possession of hope for the human race. My beliefs were very complex and involved superstitions and gods. I put faith in lots of fun things, like an apocalyptic computer-driven meltdown when the year 1999 became 2000 and the idea that my human body was omnivorous. I had a bunch of nagging feelings that something was awry -- yet I could never quite put my finger on what was wrong with my life and had moments of psychosis where I thought I found the culprit, only to find that my ever-present nagging worry was still there. It took going vegan in the year 2010 to remove me from the delusion the eggs I was getting from local farmers were humane and that milk of any sort could be produced without rape, kidnapping,and environmental destruction. The scales were removed from my eyes despite my stubborn resistance and cravings, but I saw other realities too: I truly began to see a world where wars over fresh water are inevitable and where the addiction to animal products was so profound that the everyday user would rather suffer the death of a thousand cuts via cardiac-arrests, diabetic retinopathies, liver transplants, and Parkinson's shakes than give up his thrice-daily fix.

Against all odds, I am happier than I have ever been in my life. As a former major depressive who suffered periods of several years where I never emerged out of the black hole for so much as a brief smile, I realize how valuable happiness is. I have been richer in my life for certain and my misspent youth is on its way out the door, nevertheless, I am no longer depressed. Once upon a time, I begged a psychiatrist to prescribe me a battery of heavy medications in an effort to capture enough elusive joy to keep me from hanging myself in a closet; as an automaton programmed by the pharmaceutical industry, she happily obliged. That was then, this is now. I have been fifteen years free of all antidepressant and non-antidepressant drugs. Depression, as it turns out, is not cured by drugs.

Like a reformed alcoholic, I accepted that there were things I could not change. I accepted the fact smart people do not run the world. Or maybe they do but they are a bunch of ancient, psychopathic space lizards who hate and occasionally eat their human slaves. My acceptance does not solve anything or make it better, however, it does mean I no longer fight uselessly against a rising tide to my own detriment.

Another past problem of mine: like a 1981 commercial for dishwashing liquid that theoretically softens skin, I was soaking in it. I have always loved animals, trees, and unspoiled nature yet I was fully engaged in destroying the things I loved via the dead animals on my plate and the forests cut down for those sentient beings to graze. Before, I partook. Now I don't. So it can and will all go to hell but at least I'm not poking additional holes in the Titanic's hull as she capsizes into the briny drink. Before, I put blinders on to the pain and suffering of animals and the general idiocy of people because of their insistence on the unsustainable to please their palates. As hard as it was to take those blinders off, I was only pretending I could ignore it before. My outrage at how stupid most of the people on our blighted planet was not helped by participating in the outrageousness of animal agriculture. Like most who eat meat, dairy, and eggs, I didn't even realize the depth of my complicity or my stupidity. I am one of the lucky few: I found the stupid in my life and tore it out by its roots before it could destroy my health and my soul.

Now I am free to be me, and not having any investment in the notion of my own immortality allows me to be as wicked as I want to be. I will act according to my own golden rules, which seem to exist regardless of whether or not I believe in god. Nothing matters, therefore all I have is now. I feel privileged to finally take charge: no human will dictate what I will do with the tiny amount of time I have on this doomed planet before I blink out of existence forever. As a former shrinking Violet and go-along Charlie, this is tremendously liberating. I'm not afraid of death, nor do I attach any meaning to my life. I'll be happy to die and never come back. If there is an afterlife for me, it will be the ecstasy for a brief second before my brain dies of never having to come back to our doomed planet or our stupid race; an instant of knowing I loved my fellow animals and lived every day like I meant it. Sounds pretty good to me.