Eve - Animals ask only for one right, the right to be left alone

Eve makes it possible for more of us to consume consciously by creating awareness around the injustices of animal rights abuse and by being an advocate for veganism in Shanghai.

Where are you from and what brought you to Shanghai?   

I’m from Chennai, a city in Southern India. The company I work for moved me here from the states. I was thrilled to come to Shanghai because I wasn’t really ready to go back to India. Violence against women and sexism in India is still really bad, even in the work place.

What does sustainability mean to you?

I don’t use that word that often. It’s become a very fashionable word to sell a product or idea. The word sustainability is something the West seems to bank on to sell ideas and concepts. In other countries, sustainability is a way of life. Countries like India and China had the technology and a history rich in environmentally friendly practices, but they’ve lost a lot of it.

What are you passionate about?

My real passion is making people laugh and having a good time. Something you’re passionate about is something that makes you happy. If you ask me what I’m very motivated about, it’s animal rights. Someone has to be vocal about it, but it’s a dirty job. There has been a lot of changes once these things are exposed, but overall the awareness just isn’t there yet.

How do you do to consume consciously?

For me, it’s what you eat, what you wear, where you live and how you move, transport. I know for a fact that where I’m living is unsustainable, Shanghai isn’t built to be sustainable. Even the societal structure is unsustainable to me, greed is a virtue in Shanghai. Especially in entertainment, people would rather spend time being entertained than learning about something valuable. How people choose to spend their time is a big part of the problem.

I can’t buy local vegetables without fearing that it’s toxic, so I end up buying imported products. I have to think twice before buying avocados and some lentils because they’re imported. Avoiding imported products is nearly impossible. Even if you buy local the amount of packaging of some local products and the use of plastic is insane. It’s all part of city life.

What I do have control of is what I wear. I haven’t bought more than 8 pieces of clothing since 2012. After watching the short documentary, Unraveled, I became more conscious. I buy everything second hand now. Electronics, shoes, bags, you don’t have to buy anything new. Sometimes it just takes a bit of hunting to find the things you need.

What else could you do to consume more consciously?

I’m going through a moral dilemma of living in Shanghai. I’m trying to find out what‘s more sustainable, but since I’m not a local it’s a challenge to find out if you can be sustainable or not. I don’t have a say or control over a lot of thing as an individual so I’m questioning if I should be here or not.

As women, we should also ask ourselves if we really want to have children. The planet won’t survive even if we're all vegan and environmentally conscious. I’m pretty sure a lot of women wouldn’t want to have children, but they do, just because that’s what society tells you to do. Countries like India are struggling already. The population has to stop growing.

When did you become conscious of your consumption?

I became conscious of my consumption when my dog died in 2012, it was a painful time. I bought him from a breeder who was part of the puppy-mill industry. He was severely inbred and was born with a severe genetic disorder. He died at the age of four months because of a Parvo virus infection. He was perfectly healthy until a week before he died. It was very sudden and left me emotionally shattered. Before that time I was ignorant of what I was doing, but I then started to read and educate myself about the pet breeding industry.  Pet welfare lead me to veganism for animal rights.

How would more people becoming conscious of their consumption change the world?

If you start thinking about the beings around you, you’ll have a positive effect, it’s impossible not to.

What’s the easiest part of consuming consciously?

Being vegan would be the easiest thing.

What’s the hardest part of consuming consciously?  

Realizing you might be alone in this. You might have to go down a road where no one else is with you or following you. You just have to do research and go on facts. None of the social changes came about because these groups and people already existed. If you have the facts and research on your side the community will come, don’t be afraid to influence and get people onboard.

What are your top 3 practical changes?

  • If you’re a woman who doesn’t have children, seek counselling and decide whether you really want a child. If you want a child to consider adoption. Be an advocate for adoption.

  • Do your bloodwork, if you’re healthy, change your diet to a vegan diet.  Know that it will take time and research. Seek support from friends and family.

  • Most importantly, make a conscious step to learn.

Watch: Professor Bartlett's talk on human over population, Unraveled, a short documentary about clothing recycling and Earthlings a documentary about the ways in which people use animals.

What are the biggest challenges we face today in the food industry?

Selling food for entertainment and not selling food for nutritional requirements is the biggest problem in the food industry today. In cashew nut milk, for example, most of the nutritional value is in the filtrate. Most industries don’t use the filtrate, people only use the creamy tasty part of it. The most nutritious part is wasted. Where will this end? We need to think about why we're eating the food. Food is something that brings people together, but if you live to eat it’s not sustainable. 

If the whole world was listening, what would you say?

Animals ask only for one right, the right to be left alone.  

What do you do?

I’m a chemical research engineer.

Cornelia BlignautComment