Research and personal experience tell us that the way we often use social media—as a tool for comparison and mindless scrolling—is not working. The same is true of the way we use animals for food, though the detrimental impacts can be less obvious than those of Facebook or Twitter.
I never thought I’d work for a social media company. I’ve had an Instagram account since 2012 and, until this summer, had a grand total of four posts, two of which were identical because I accidentally created a duplicate that I didn’t know how to delete. My Twitter presence has been equally scarce since creating an account in 2014, and my Facebook use consists mostly of thanking people for birthday wishes. I’ve always had a healthy skepticism around social platforms and considered their drawbacks—namely, their impact on our mental health and attention spans—to outweigh their ability to connect people.
Until a few years ago, I was skeptical of plant-based eating, too. This skepticism turned out to be far less healthy, however, because it was based largely on ignorance. I knew a few people who had reduced or eliminated their consumption of animal products but honestly didn’t give it much thought. When I did, I preferred to label their choices as extreme, as if that made them any less logical. Since learning more about the topic over the past few years, I’ve realized that shifting to a more plant-based diet is often the most impactful choice we can make to improve our health, lessen our environmental impact, and reduce unnecessary suffering.
Research and personal experience tell us that the way we often use social media—as a tool for comparison and mindless scrolling—is not working. The same is true of the way we use animals for food, though the detrimental impacts can be less obvious than those of Facebook or Twitter. But social media isn’t inherently unhealthy, and our food choices can be a major force for good. So, how might we use social media more mindfully to eat more sustainably? That’s the question abillion is working to answer.
abillion is a Singapore-based startup creating a social media community for social good. Our platform makes it easy for people to review vegan food and cruelty-free products with photos and star ratings and share those reviews with friends and strangers across the globe. Each time a member creates a review, they receive $1 to donate to one of our nonprofit partners. Brands and restaurants can claim their profiles to respond to reviews and easily engage with our sustainability-minded community in a more targeted way than traditional social media platforms allow. This core focus on sustainability grabbed my attention when I stumbled upon abillion in the app store last spring, and working at the company this summer has allowed me to experience the genuineness of that ethos.
As the platform grows, the team must be intentional about appealing to more than just vegans. Over half of abillion members are self-described omnivores, which is a great start! While serving as a tool for brands to reach current plant-based eaters is good, the platform can be so much more than that. To achieve that potential, abillion is doing things differently than its social media counterparts. The donation program mentioned above is one differentiator, and the impact diary, which prompts members to reflect on the changes they’re making, is another feature that sets abillion apart. As the team continues to design the platform for mindful engagement and impact creation they will win over skeptics of both social media and plant-based eating, and that’s a good thing for people, animals, and our shared planet.