Back in 2010, Shannon Cottrell was just a few minutes into the film Food Inc. when the she felt the stirrings of a life-changing decision: she would become a vegetarian-immediately. The 2009 documentary exposes the cruel underbelly of the North American meat industry and factory farming.
Cottrell, who is donor relations and volunteer coordinator, Resources for Mission Department, at the Anglican Church of Canada’s national office in Toronto, made the switch to full-scale veganism-even eschewing honey-in October 2011. “I realized I was still supporting the dairy and chicken-farming industries, and these fed into the meat industry and factory farming,” says Cottrell.
That decision produced a ripple effect that soon extended to several non-edible products she was using, such as animal-tested beauty and cleansing products. Now, she even tries not to buy leather shoes. “I am still in transition,” she admits. “I try to do the best I can, one step at a time.”
According to United Nations’ figures, livestock production is responsible for 18 per cent of climate change-more than all of transportation. A surprising 30 per cent of the earth’s land is used in some way for meat production. In Canada, 77 per cent of crops are grown to feed livestock. Then there’s the contamination of earth and water systems by pesticides and animal waste.
Cottrell has no regrets about changing her lifestyle. “It’s about safeguarding the integrity of creation and sustaining and renewing the life of the earth. I have one life, and I realized at age 32 that I want be more mindful and to live life in a kinder and more conscious way.”