By Ben Williamson
When my daughter was born, an animal advocate friend asked me if I felt a greater need to improve the world now that I was responsible for raising one of the future generations. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot because I think my answer surprised him.
I told him I didn’t feel a greater need to ensure the planet’s survival because my child was going to be personally affected, any more than the billions of other children not related to me who are going to be affected. But the focus of my efforts may have shifted to something more personal.
Working hard to pursue a kinder and fairer world for animals has never been a problem for me. I love what I do, and I’m so grateful that the generosity of Compassion supporters allows me to do it every day.
The scale of suffering of factory-farmed animals—over one hundred billion every year—is enough motivation for me to want to change the status quo. The urgency borne by the climate crisis—and the need to reduce meat consumption by at least 70% in high-consuming countries if we’re to limit global warming to 1.5-degrees as set by the Paris Agreement—is reason enough for me to work harder.
For me, the overwhelming emotion gained through fatherhood is just a desire for my daughter to be proud of me.
My father went vegetarian when I was born, in his words, to set “a good example.” He hasn’t eaten meat since. I was raised vegetarian, ate meat during my rebellious teens, and now follow a plant-based lifestyle. I’m proud of my father for setting this example and not wavering in his commitment all these years.
My daughter’s life has brought mine balance and perspective. I know that if I’m to last another ten years working to end factory farming and animal exploitation, I need something to come home to every day that gives me joy and refills my optimism.
It has also upped the stakes in the consequences of my actions. Not necessarily because her life will long outlast mine and, therefore, she will be left with the results of my generation’s efforts to alleviate animal suffering and climate change—though it likely and hopefully will. But because every day, I have to look her in the eyes and prove that I’ve used our short time on earth the best I can.
I must lead by example and show her right from wrong, not just tell her.
If I can make my daughter proud of me and my pursuit of a better world for animals, it will have been a life worth living.