Why live a green & conscious life?

Cycling into a head wind on your way to the local farmer to buy organic fruit and vegetables, you wonder why you didn’t just buy them from the supermarket around the corner. That would have saved you a long chilly bike ride.  Instead of fussing with your recycling, you could just dump it all in one bag and be done with it, couldn’t you? One garbage bag doesn’t make any difference, does it? Twenty-four hours into an over-land bus journey you are annoyed at the smells and recurring, often loud, phone calls from fellow passengers and you wonder why you didn’t just take that damn plane, you would have been sitting in the sun with a nice glas of wine by now, AND it would have been cheaper!

Why make your life so complicated? For whom or what are you actually decreasing your energy consumption (other than to save money), conserving water, buying as little plastic as possible, installing solar panels and banning animal products from your life? And all this while being made out to be a hypocrite or gutmensch by people living with ‘after us the deluge’ as their motto. 

Maybe you wonder why on earth you’re doing these things, while polluters continue polluting and our governments keep helping them.

Pretty frustrating, right?

Click here if you’d like to read my story:


Many thanks!

First story on MEDIUM. Let’s connect! I keep on writing here as well.

Con Amor,



One Health.

Damn, where is this going to? The Netherlands back in lockdown. Yes, it makes you feel down when you think of the small businesses, the folks working in hospitality,  theatres, healthcare, the constant loneliness, insecurity and fear that is pumping through young and old bodies.

Exactly one year ago, I was in the Netherlands for a month. Strolling in Amsterdam with my sister and niece never had been so unforgettable as back then. The silence, the peace. Beautiful, but also strange. Because something wasn’t right here. Now exactly one year later, the same. I will never forget the café owner, sitting behind the window, a cup of coffee in his hand. He looked at the abandoned streets with just a handful of people passing by. There was something sad about it. 

Perhaps this could be a good read for Christmas: Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” from his famous book Walden.

Meanwhile in Spain minister-president Pedro Sánchez has declared this morning the current covid-19 situation in the country as an “extreme risk”. This Wednesday the Minister of Health, the government, and all autonomous regions will discuss the situation. In Spain almost 90 percent of the more than 47 million inhabitants has been vaccinated and the “booster campaign” is at full speed. Omicron got in between. It seems like a never ending story which needs another approach, which is proportional and just. I don’t believe another lockdown is.  

A sustainable plan to fight pandemics as covid-19 is still missing, so the chance covid 2.0 arrives, is high likely. This will be the era of viruses if the political will is still lacking to fight the roots of it: intensive animal farming which expands the risk of zoonotic diseases (especially the Netherlands is at extreme risk with a population of 107 million of cattle and poultry to 17.44 million of people living on a small surface), deforestation, the destruction of eco systems, the climate crisis, the severe cuts in Dutch healthcare for many years.

It’s all intertwined.

Where’s the political will to fight these crises and to understand there’s only one health? That of humans, animals and our environment together.

Con Amor,


Illustration: Vanessa Rose Graham

Be A Change Maker.

With disgust we speak about a people. With contempt we speak about a country, whereas we need to aim the arrows at their leaders.

We worry about our next holiday, while half the world is on fire.

We talk about left or right as it is it the one and only truth.

I yell at her, like I am the one who’s throwing bombs.

But I only defend my kingdom, my overgrown garden of thoughts.

As she is protecting hers.

We all live in our bubble.

It’s true, I like to be around like-minded people.

Men and women, who share somewhat the same values. 

Idealists with dreams, talking and doing, who are not afraid of change.

Admit they were wrong before, and can change their minds if they have to.

As we are evolving humans.

Those who know we should rather hold back and not always give ourselves priority. In our consumption, flying, travelling, living, polluting, having children. Our industry everywhere. This isn’t a step backwards, but a step forwards. 

Men and women, who know that simplify our lives is easier than we are supposed to think.

I still hear myself saying to an Ibizan yogi that veganism is extreme, but meanwhile I admired a friend for being one. 

No, I’d rather stay vegetarian and allow myself the pleasure of a pink piece of salmon in a beachy restaurant if I want to. That was my excuse for a long time. Or the tasty Spanish sheep cheese. I just needed to have that every now and then.

Now I understand veganism doesn’t mean sacrifice, but to me it means a richer life. A fuller life, because I’m complety aware I’m a part of a larger whole. I feel interconnected. I am not the only one with interests.

I don’t want to be the cause of suffering. I couldn’t stand by anymore. I couldn’t turn a blind eye to the animal holocaust, normalized by our culture. 

We need a political and cultural change if we want the keep the natural world alive – if we want to live on this planet. To rewild our world, changes must be radical. We can wait for our governments to act, but if we -for example- see the amount of livestock won’t shrink, big agriculture being in control, the production of meat still on the rise, and as a result deforestation everywhere, we need to change ourselves. 

There’s still no political desire of governments to drastically reduce the amount of livestock, to end this miserable, polluting and wrong industry, and to stop the intense suffering of animals. Commercial interests always have priority. Farmers who feel trapped in a wrong system and take their lives, as it is the only way out.

Until governments finally have the guts to make radical changes to protect our natural world and environment, we have to step away of this fear to change and be our own change. Fear to change paralyses and nothing happens.

Meanwhile, we can be change-makers. You and I, let’s be one.

Make a difference about something other than yourselves.” ~ Toni Morrison

Con Amor,


Art work: Vanessa Rose Graham

The Painful Contrasts in Today’s World.

We live in an exceptional contrasting world. Unlike power and vulnerability which, if practiced consciously, strengthens each other, the contrasting forces in our world weakens the whole and therefore some important issues, such as climate breakdown and health, aren’t getting any easier to solve.

During these quarantine days, I have been fortunate enough to read lots of interesting articles and books.

I have learned more about power and vulnerability from the incredible Brené Brown. I watched her brilliant interview with the witty Russell Brand and have been reading her beautiful words.


As I’m exploring these articles and books during these slow weeks it couldn’t be more obvious: we live in an exceptional contrasting world. Unlike power and vulnerability which, if practiced consciously, strengthens each other, the contrasting forces in our world weakens the whole and therefore some important issues, such as climate breakdown and health aren’t getting any easier to solve.


So, what’s new, you may think. Maybe it are the walls that are closing in on me, but I feel it is essential to speak up about some of these contrasting forces and the toe-curling hypocrisy it delivers. It must end.


Let me begin with a headline in a Belgian newspaper that caught my eye: “Countries from Angola to Venezuela will face the largest famine ever.” Food-experts are sounding alarmbells about an approaching ’hunger-pandemic’ in countries across the world, that are already weak, poor or in state of war, like Jemen.

Lavish bunkers

It’s very likely that more people will die from the economical impact of Covid-19 than from the virus itself, while the rich ran from the pandemic and escaped to lavish bunkers equipped with special air-filtration systems, swimming pools, movie theaters, saunas and gyms. The harsh inequality between rich and poor is emerging even stronger than before.


A moment later I read about the massive bailouts of airlines. European governments have come to the rescue and granted billions to airlines on the brink due to the pandemic, but without binding environmental conditions. What? I can’t see the ‘green’ in the ‘deal,’ here and I’m not color blind.


The ’Green Deal’ is a plan by the European Commission that aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent. It makes it questionable how serious plans are to fight ‘the other crisis’: the environmental crisis. Or maybe it’s better to speak of one big crisis, for both are inseparable, as some top scientists explain:

‘There is a single species that is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic — us. As with the climate and biodiversity crises, recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity — particularly our global financial and economic systems, based on a limited paradigm that prizes economic growth at any cost. We have a small window of opportunity, in overcoming the challenges of the current crisis, to avoid sowing the seeds of future ones,’ top scientists state in respond to the recent multi-trillion-dollar recovery and economic stimulus plans.

Billion-dollar industry

Another powerful industry in Europe, livestock farming, nearly collects a fifth of the EU’s total budget — more than € 27bn of taxpayer money — to support livestock farming across Europe, according to research by Greenpeace in 2019. The EU invests billions in the intensive factory farming industry and promotion of consuming meat and dairy, despite its serious environmental and health impact on animals and humans. The Dutch ‘Green Deal’ president has no intentions to change any of these giant subsidies.

The powerful lobby of the biggest polluter has political influence and already knocked on EU’s doors asking for a significant financial injection. In the meantime livestock keeps on growing fast in Europe, using over 63% of arable land to produce animal feed instead of food for people.

Meat consumption

In the EU the average person in 2019 consumed 79.8 kg of beef and veal, pork, poultry and sheep meat. The meat consumption of an average American in 2019 was 100.5 kg.

Despite the trend to switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet and the numerous (plant-based) alternatives available, figures demonstrate that meat consumption hasn’t shrunk. Yes, there’s a slight decrease in beef and veal consumption, but the consumption of poultry is increasing.

You may be asking, “So, what about the wide range of veggie burgers that are occupying the supermarket shelves?” So far these products are just complementary, they are not actually replacing meat.


When you cycle through desolated parts of Spain and France you see — and smell — huge factory farms, hidden from the public, where cows, pigs and chickens are packed and have miserable lives. In the meantime governments and banks keep on subsidizing these enormous factory farms. Obviously, these bail outs are no signals to reduce Europe’s livestock even though it’s known that intensive industrial factory farming is a major contributor to climate change and a breeding ground for animal diseases and zoonoses (animal disease that transmits to humans), which is dangerous for animal and human health.

One health

The prominent Italian virologist, veterinarian and professor at University of Florida, Ilaria Capua, can’t stress it enough: our human health is inextricably linked to the health of animals and nature. She wrote a book ‘Circular Health’ in which she advocates a ‘One Health Revolution’.

The curve of zoonotic viruses, has risen steeply over the last fifty years. The danger for public health is the uncontrolled trade in wildlife, such as bats, at Asian markets (bats are carriers of many viruses) and intensive animal farming, where viruses have the right circumstances to fully emerge and transmit to humans.

I had read that the coronavirus stems from animals; it could have been transmitted from a bat to humans directly, but it’s also possible that another animal has been in between before the virus transmitted to humans, according to global leading virologists.

Experts, scientists and virologists, basically they all say the same: to prevent future pandemics we need to change how we treat the natural world, including animals in intensive factory farming and to recognize that human, animal, food and environmental health are closely interconnected.

Will governments no longer be deaf to their warnings and will the Covid-19 pandemic present a turning point?

Transformative change

According to top virologist Ilaria Capua, the problem of displacement of animals from their natural habitats is linked to other factors, such as the growth of mega-cities, labour exploitation and inequality. It demands a transformative change of how we have set up our systems; a quick fix won’t do it.

The agricultural and food system, for example, needs to become more sustainable and subsidies need to be reversed to support the smaller, sustainable farmers.

The explosive growth of global air travel needs to be contained. It demands to make brave choices where the money goes to: to people, to health (people, animals, plants and our shared environment: one health) or to big polluting industries.

These political choices should make the impacts on this interconnected world less contrasting. But how can we — as citizens — contribute to these most needed system-changes?

A good start will be to use your vote, support those causes you believe in, use forks over knives, and dare to be different.

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off ” ~ Gloria Steinem.

This article has been edited and published on Elephant Journal. The entire article you can read here !

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