Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.

~ Jane Austen


My sister has recently started reading about the meat and dairy industry. Anyone who has read about these industries will understand why her initial discoveries are leaving her horrified and wanting to remove any trace of animal product from her life. How we treat animals, for the most part, in these industries, is wrong.

Prior to educating herself on the animal welfare issues associated with hoeing into that succulent piece of steak, that you purchased in it’s airlock packaging off the clean-as-a-whistle refrigerated shelf, she would never have thought twice about cracking a couple of eggs for her omelette, or giving her children big glasses of milk.

My point, is not that we should all turn vegan (though, I strongly believe that if people read half as much as my sister has, that would be the inevitable outcome); rather, that 2 weeks ago, my sister was actively, but unknowingly, funding and facilitating an industry that is cruel and inhumane, because the packet on the shelf told her it was ‘free range’ and ‘cruelty free’.

We find ourselves in the middle of an era of information; which would imply that we, as a species, are currently at the height of our intellectual intelligence – we know more today than we have ever known. Our cups are overflowing with data.

The problem, is that our cups are too often being filled with knowledge that is not supported by evidence. It is not factual. It is opinion. And ill-informed opinions, are dangerous things, especially when they become accepted as fact.

My point… is that education is key.

It is something that no one can take away from you. It is your most valuable asset, your strongest weapon, and most diverse tool.

Make sure, whatever is filling up your cup, is accurate. Based in evidence. Based on facts.

Before you decide that refugees should ‘go back to where they came from’, find out what you would be sending them back too.

Before you make derogatory comments about individuals receiving welfare payments, or suggest that they should be screened for drugs, find out the statistics regarding the reasons why those people are on welfare, and the evidence suggesting that screening recipients would be a costly and ineffective action.

Before you make racist remarks about the Indigenous community, educate yourself about the history of this country, and the atrocities committed. Build your understanding of why things are how they are.

Before you condemn people associated with any particular religion, make an effort to learn about what they actually believe.

Not only does this thirst for knowledge and deeper understanding mean that you will be more equip to make decisions about some of the most prevalent issues in today’s society, it is also an attractive trait.

There are not many aspects of my being that I am confident about. My pride and joy is not rooted in feather-touched eyebrows, perky boobs or legs up to my armpits.

It was not until I was studying my Bachelor of Social Science and working 2 part-time jobs that I even realised what it was about me, that I was confident about. I would serve customer after customer in a retail job, and so many of them would treat me as less than them because I was standing on the register side of the checkout. I even had one woman, who was particularly disgruntled, turn to her children and state, “see kids… this is why you stay in school.”

Never mind that it is beyond inappropriate to think of yourself as better than another person because of their job… but more than that, and the reason why those customers made me so frustrated, was because they were treating me like I was stupid. It was then, that I realised just how important it was to me to soak up every piece of information I could. That if I wanted to be involved in the discussion, then I needed to educate myself on the topics.

I am not surprised by my big sister’s vegan venture; having a deep desire to dive into uncharted waters and fill our cups to the brim with new information, is a trait we share. But it has reinforced for me that it is never too late to reassess your position. To take a look at your tea-cup. To consider whether it is actually full of tea… or something considerably less appetising.