As most vegans are well aware, empathy is everything. It’s the foundation for how we treat our planet, how we interact with our fellow humans — and how we engage with the animals that share this world.
The importance of empathy cannot be overstated. Researchers have found that empathy skills lead to a reduction in racism and bullying, better work environments, improved health care, and a laundry list of other positive outcomes.
Magaly Madrid is the founder of the Empathy Project, an organization which helps to foster this crucially important trait. As part of her efforts, she’s created Everyday Humane, a program which — among other things — improves children’s empathy skills by teaching them about the experiences of animals. In her words, the effort “provides tools and information to inspire you to align your values with your everyday choices and co-create a world of compassion and kindness for all living beings.”
After traveling overseas — particularly through South America, Madrid has some heartbreaking experiences. “I saw the need for humane education and inspiring people into compassionate living,” she explains. From there, Everyday Humane was born.
The program covers many topics and issues, from the plight of circus animals to ethical consumerism to plant-based eating. Veganism is the philosophy behind the curriculum, though for anyone concerned about “indoctrination” — there is none, Madrid says. “I’m inviting them to this new possibility,” she says. “I’m not forcing them to make any type of changes in their lives. I’m just providing those tools and opening their hearts and they can make the choices themselves.”
She’s currently working with three schools in South Florida, and hopes to expand the program. While other groups may do humane education, there are none with curriculums as comprehensive as hers, Madrid says.
As far as food, Madrid introduces children to the world of farmed animals, and teaches them about tasty, plant-based foods (and how their production involves no animals at all).
In the future, she hopes to start teaching low-income families and the homeless about vegan food. “I’d love to be able to provide soup kitchens some vegan options, and to set up some tables at homeless shelters or do some outreach at community events,” she says.
You can learn more about Magaly’s program at EverydayHumane.org.