Veganism is a way of living where we seek to never deliberately hurt innocent animals unnecessarily. There are multiple lines of scientific evidence pointing to the need for humanity to transition to a largely Vegan world by 2026. Wild animals are dying at such a fast pace that we are on track to lose almost 100% of wild vertebrates by 2026 if we continue business as usual. The earth’s climate system is so delicately poised on a knife’s edge that continuing business as usual until 2026 might tip irreversible nonlinear positive feedback loops and runaway climate change.
As a systems engineer, I have been analyzing our environmental predicament, modeling the possible solution space, concluding that a Vegan World by 2026 is the only viable lifeline for humanity. Six years ago, after making this determination, I was reading a story to put my 5 year old granddaughter, Kimaya, to bed at our home in Phoenix, AZ, when she laid her head on my shoulder and asked,
“Grandpa, who were the first human beings?”
Now, I’ve promised Kimaya that I will always tell her the truth and never, ever lie to her. Therefore, I decided to explain the theory of evolution to her as best as I can:
“Imagine that you are standing on the street and you are holding your mama by your hand. You ask your mama to bring her mama to stand by her side. And so on, so that you create a long line of mothers on this side of the street.
On the other side of the street, you ask a chimpanzee to do the same thing with her mother, her grandmother and so on.
When these two lines go from Phoenix to Tucson, they will merge because both lines are going to say, “Hey, that’s my mama too!”
Immediately, she sat up in bed and said,
“What??? Are you telling me that animals are my family?”
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam had become visceral for her, much more than it had ever been for me. I knew the theory of evolution, but I had never put it together like that. I said,
“Now that you put it that way, yes they are your family.”
At that point, Kimaya started bawling,
“People are eating my family! Grandpa, make them stop! Make them stop!!”
She started naming names of those she knew who were eating her family. I realized that with my attempt at scientific candor, I had created a world full of monsters for my granddaughter.
Desperately trying to console her, I said,
“Kimaya, that’s what I do. In fact, it’s my job to make them stop.”
She stopped crying instantly. She looked at me wide eyed and said,
“What?? This is your job? This is your job??
You know you haven’t done your job!
Do your job!!”
She shook her index finger in my face.
“When will you do your job??”
I blurted out,
“I better do it by 2026 or else we are all in big trouble.”
“Will you promise me that?”
“Sure, I’ll promise you that.”
“Will you give me a pinky promise?”
I had no idea what a pinky promise meant, but I said,
“Sure, I’ll give you a pinky promise.”
She asked me to hold out my pinky, locked her pinky in mine and said,
“You can never ever break a pinky promise.”
Then she laid her head on my shoulder and went to sleep.
And I couldn’t sleep. I realized that I had made a very serious promise to a five year old little girl and I better figure out how to keep it. At first, I thought,
“Who am I to make this promise? I’m just a systems engineer with no real power. Why did I make this promise on behalf of my generation?”
Then I finally dozed off. When I woke up in the morning, it was clear to me that I’m the right person to make this promise. After all, in any engineering project, it is the systems engineer who figures out the optimum solution from within the solution space, which then gets implemented by the engineering team.
Climate healing is an engineering project with a measurable objective, but with 8 billion engineers on the engineering team. Everything that we do impacts the climate of the planet and it is time we come together and hold each other accountable to meet our ecological responsibilities. Whether we like it or not, we are all engineers on a global climate engineering team.
Fast forward six years and Kimaya is now 11 years old. She was invited to deliver a speech at the International Conference on Ancient Medical Sciences and Technology in Coimbatore, India on Jul 16, 2022. She called on the world at large to take better care of the environment and appealed to Mother India to use her ancient spiritual knowledge to show the world how to do it. Here’s the text of Kimaya’s speech:
“Honorable Minister Dr. Mathiventhan, Chairman Dr. Ramasamy, Dr. Shan, Dr. Jaya, Dr. Akila and honored guests:
It is my privilege to speak to you today. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity.
We are at a critical time in human history. We all know the facts. The earth’s climate is changing faster than expected. The world has seen record temperatures, fires and floods. People are dying due to climate change.
India had record temperatures of 62 deg Celsius, 143 deg Fahrenheit in May of this year. Birds were dropping dead out of the sky. Animals were dying in the streets due to the heat.
Wildfires have become so common in the American Southwest that fire season is now year round. Record floods took the lives of dozens of people in Italy, China and Australia just in the past month.
Spain and Portugal are experiencing the driest climate in over 1000 years.
Wild animals are dying everywhere. Our waste and appetites are killing them.
These are the facts and they are not in dispute. But how we respond to these facts is up to us.
Benjamin Franklin said that there are three kinds of people: those that are immovable, those that are movable and those who move.
I am in the presence of those who move. I am pleading with you to move in the right direction.
We know what to do. Animals teach us every day on how to become better humans. Dogs teach us to be faithful and protective. Pigs teach us to be affectionate and curious. Sheep teach us to take care of each other. Cows teach us to be gentle and strong.
Our ancestors have also given us the knowledge to act wisely.
I am the daughter of three continents. My Akimel O’otham ancestors from the Valley of the Sun in North America taught me that all earth is sacred. The mountains are sacred, the rivers are sacred and all my fellow beings are sacred. They taught me that we must tread lightly in sacred relationship with our mother Earth if we wish to thrive on this planet.
My ancestors from Africa taught me about Ubuntu: I am because you are. I have taken the Ubuntu pledge: I pledge to honor and protect all the animals, people and the planet herself by following an infinitely sustainable, cruelty free, Vegan lifestyle that heals the climate and restores right relationships in the true spirit of Ubuntu.
I invite you all to take the Ubuntu pledge.
My ancestors from India taught me about Yoga and Ahimsa. Yoga showed me to look for happiness within myself.
I am beautiful from within.
Every one of us is beautiful from within.
Ahimsa is nonviolence towards all beings. Ahimsa is Veganism. India is the land of Ahimsa and also the birthplace of Yoga.
The solution to climate change is to build our lives around Yoga and Ahimsa. Look for happiness within. Be kind to all life.
This is not hard. This is especially not hard for the people of India.
I have a dream that the words of all my ancestors are put into action in our daily lives.
I have a dream that India will lead the world in building a new way of living around Yoga and Ahimsa.
I have a dream that schools, colleges and universities around the world will teach everyone to look for happiness within and be kind to all life.
I want to join such a school. I want to grow up and join such a university.
I call on those who move and those who are movable to create these schools and universities so that my friends and I can look forward to a bright future on this planet.
A future in harmony with nature.
A future where animals are not afraid of humans.
A future where the climate of the planet is healed.
A future where no one goes hungry.
A future where the rivers run clean and the ocean has no trash.
We can do this.
If not us, who?
If not now, when?
Let us get to work.
Thank you. I love you all!”
About the Author
Kimaya Rainy Rao is an Animal Hero Kid, Vegan Climate Activist and a Youth Ambassador for the first ever Worldwide Vegan Climate March of 2023. Kimaya received the Inaugural Homo Ahimsa award from the Interfaith Vegan Coalition in 2021 and the Transdisciplinary Excellence Award from the Siddha-Vetha Center for Transdisciplinary Studies at the International Conference on Ancient Medical Sciences and Technology in Coimbatore, India, in 2022.
Dr. Sailesh Rao has over three decades of professional experience and is the Founder and Executive Director of Climate Healers, a non-profit dedicated towards healing the Earth’s climate. He is a Human, Earth and Animal Liberation (HEAL) activist, husband, dad and since 2010, a star-struck grandfather. He has promised his granddaughter, Kimaya Rainy Rao, that the world will be largely Vegan before she turns 16 in 2026, so that people will stop eating her relatives, the animals. Dr. Rao has authored two books and produced or appeared in 10 documentaries to raise awareness on the environmental predicaments facing humanity and how to go about solving them systematically.