It’s true that I am new to veganism and the movement in general, months new to be exact. However, I feel with an ever growing certainty that whilst mistakes can (and have) been made, in terms of what I put into my mouth on a daily basis – keep your minds clean please . Less “issues” seem to present themselves to me around the founding principles of supporting a social, ethical and environmental movement such as this one.
In fact, what is ever-revealing to me is the sheer mental and emotional strength that is required by vegan activists when they choose to bare witness to fear, pain, suffering and ultimately death, on an ongoing basis. Whether the activists in question are owners of animal sanctuaries; the compassionate souls standing outside of a slaughter house week after week; the illegal undercover reporters and film makers recording what was supposed never to be seen, or heard; or an out of work Australian mother who decided to take a job in a Slaughterhouse and subsequently became a vegan after she could not – in her own abridged words – “wash off the smell of blood and death from her body no matter how many showers she took”. It’s all activism, and it all takes an inordinate amount of human strength to see life repeatedly taken from those who simply wish to live. Those who innocently trust in humans, often to their deathly detriments in the process.
Instead of being thought of as emotionally rock-hard I wonder why vegans and those who adopt a vegan diet are somehow seen as “weaker” and “less than” in the eyes of society? I propose that it is in large-part because the mainstream media – including the medical industry – overly focus on what is stopped, removed, omitted and taken-away from a vegan lifestyle. Only lost, as opposed to focusing on what a person can also gain once they (re)make the connection and try their hardest to adhere to “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” [Vegan Society Definition of Veganism].
Whilst it’s true that to be a vegan, or to follow a vegan diet does mean omitting major food groups, such as: meat, fish and dairy from your diet. By its very definition removing something also means to make space for new (and not always tangible) things to grow in their place. What it is that I am trying to say is that when you go vegan, or adopt a vegan diet; there is more to be gained than simply a nutritional deficiency (sarcasm alert).
One major addition to my life, for example, has been a sense of connecting with my sensitivity and seeing it as a potential motivational tool for positive change, as opposed to an XX chromosome defect and subsequent life-long handicap. Like the face of the beautiful girl in the above picture; you can see that her pain is real, because it is defined by her actual inner strength and not from the societal label of “over-emotionality”, or “weakness”.
In fact I believe that her outward emotional response is derived from her heartfelt sensitivity and subsequent connection to, as well as liberation from, “societal norms”. Her and her comrade are at once witnessing oppression, whilst simultaneously being witnessed as liberators of their part in the process.
It seems that there really is so much more to be gained from losing than I could have possibly realised in June 2016, when I set out to properly try a vegan diet. A diet which I had truly thought about adopting on and off for years, but equally a diet and lifestyle change that I didn’t think fully applied to me. Yes I’m losing out every single day, yet I’m also gaining in equal measure too.
And whilst – objectively speaking – my dinner plate might look like it’s ever reducing in its options and in its taste, which in “Carnistic terms” could be said to be true. I feel, however, that in actuality my awareness of my inner annals of peace, compassion, interconnectedness to other species, respect and freedom of choice are freely growing in the space.
Plus, as a vegan eater I’m laughingly under-deprived! Ultimately, for where it is that I am currently at I suppose that what is most important for me is that when I eat I feel as though I now eat peace. This is my universal truth. Yes it takes time to change viewpoints, cultural indoctrinations and biochemical bodily-triggers, of course it does, but time is literally all that we have.
It’s our commonest denominator as nitrogen-oxygen inhaling, muscle matter pumping, entropy defining Earthlings. And NO matter how much we consume of another beings time on this earth, we simply cannot deny the words of Henry Rollins when he states there is:
Shake, rock and roll people.
Caring is cool.