Making a difference through small vows

The tale of the boy and the starfish by Loren Eiseley, though familiar to many, is a timeless story worth revisiting. It serves as a reminder of the profound impact that individual actions can have in a world where grandiose resolutions and overreaching promises often dominate the discourse.

In this story, a man observes a boy carefully tossing starfish back into the ocean. Curious, the man asks, “What are you doing?” The boy explains, “Returning starfish to the ocean.” The man, considering the vastness of the beach and the countless number of starfish, questions the boy’s ability to make a difference. After listening politely, the boy picks up another starfish and throws it back into the surf with a smile. “I made a difference for that one.”  Small acts of kindness do have a ripple effect. Starfish give birth to 1,000,000 babies at a time! Think of all those born because of the boy.

This remarkable phenomenon parallels a broader movement. Anuvrat, or “small vows,” founded by Acharya Tulsi, encourages individuals from all walks of life to voluntarily commit to simple, yet powerful principles and practices, regardless of their profession, caste, or nationality. These vows promote values such as truth, non-violence, and self-discipline. Such practices foster a more compassionate and harmonious world free from exploitation and conflict.

In stark contrast, we must recognize that millions of animals, including mice, rats, rabbits, primates, cats, and dogs are exploited for cruel chemical, drug, food, and cosmetic tests every day. They endure a never-ending cycle of being poisoned, probed, tormented, and injected while languishing in a constant state of fear, frustration, and loneliness. There’s not a shred of comfort or companionship. Day in, day out they wait in desperate apprehension of the next painful procedure that will lead to illness, injury, and ultimately, death.

It’s impossible to fathom why animals are being purposefully harmed in laboratories around the world when scientific advancements are achievable without using living beings. In vitro testing and computer simulations provide reliable results, ensure product safety, and lead to better outcomes. This is where small vows can make a big difference!

For this week’s Anuvrat, I encourage you to be mindful of the products you purchase by reading labels and making a conscious effort to avoid those that have been tested on animals. It’s easy! Many companies are embracing cruelty-free practices, and their labels prominently display this commitment. From bath salts to shaving cream, toothpaste to shampoo, there are thousands of products that do not contribute to the suffering of others.

These small vows, when embraced collectively, can bring about meaningful change and lead us toward a more harmonious and responsible existence. By supporting cruelty-free products and avoiding those tested on animals, you can make a significant impact just like the boy with the starfish. Learn more by visiting

As a vice president of PETA, Shalin Gala helps lead a dedicated team of scientists and researchers—who have expertise in biomedical and behavioral research, neuroscience, veterinary medicine, and public policy—as well as campaigners and support staff to modernize laboratory experimentation and training methods by replacing the use of animals.

Images courtesy of ( and provided

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