My Rebellion

Last summer, I watched a documentary where an anthropologist had returned to one of the indigenous villages he'd visited ten years before. Upon arriving, he felt taken aback by the extent of the damage inflicted upon it. The villagers had been displaced from their homes and put into communal-type housing because their land and homes had been taken for palm oil forestry. The documentary discussed the impact on the people, animals and environment in the direct and surrounding areas.

It made me angry on many levels, one being how much our actions influence others.

The anthropologist spoke about how palm oil was being used in chocolate factories to feed the increasing demand. Seeing the physical realisation of the situation hit me, imagining how I would feel if they were kicking me or my friends and family out of their homes.

So, I decided to stop eating chocolate, imagining that if just ten people stopped eating chocolate in a year, that impact alone would affect chocolate factories. I began choosing food items that didn't contain Palm Oil. Initially, I related palm oil only to sweets such as chocolate or wine gums. One day, however, on a hot summer day, I went into the shop to buy ice cream. As I was standing in the shop queue, I became intrigued to see what ingredients were in ice cream. Much to my dismay, I saw palm oil on the list and promptly returned the ice cream, checking curiously if any were without. I then extended my not-eating range to all sweet things. I did not think I was going to change the world, but it felt good in my heart.

When around people, I would tell them I'm not eating the sweets on offer, explaining briefly why. In one of the meetings, someone turned to me and said, "Well, everything has palm. We aren't going to be able to eat anything". I had not thought or known about it at this depth and started to find Palm everywhere! Everywhere! What was I going to do? The small print was much, much bigger than I had imagined.

As with any realisation in life, at first, I felt truly defeated. My aspirations for life went out like a whoopie cushion. I decided to continue with what I had started, not eating sweets, even if it was a great big mountain I couldn't defeat

I continued paying attention to the ingredients in the foods I chose and was selecting more wisely. And yet, I was still burning with anger about how, we could feel forced to buy food that would harm others.

At this point, feeling hopeless, I realised that this is one of those fascinating things about life. I reflected on Albert Einstein's "We cannot solve today's problems with the mentality that created them".

This quote from Einstein couldn't be more valid. I realised that my thought patterns, were following the general consensus by saying things like "time" and "money". For a moment, I stopped, pausing to ask myself if I was saying that "time" and "money" are more important than the life or home of another human or animal. What sort of person am I?

Along my journey, I continued looking at labels and making wise choices, and I learnt something quite magnificent. When I changed my perspective, I saw more options. I started to buy only from local bakeries, butchers and groceries. It was safe to say they didn't contain palm oil. My needs and priorities had changed, and my habits followed, and time and money didn't play a role.

The lesson I learned that I am sharing here is that neither "time" nor "money" are really important on a larger scale. I can live and eat without supporting places whose values go against my own. On another good side, I was choosing to support those near me and eating healthy food that is good for my mind and body. Even if I couldn't stop palm oil forestry, if we all lived more towards our individual values, that would make the biggest, and the most important impact on the world around us.

Like my wise mentor says, you can't change the energy around you, however, if you change your own energy, it will reflect outwards.

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