The Lone Vegan

Ok, ok…I left you hanging.  I left you wanting to know where the journey goes and what comes next.  I hope I left you with enough time to search in both your soul and the internet 🙂 for where your journey is taking you.  Mine lead me down a road where I was a lone vegan in a society of omnivores.  I was different.  I was odd.  People didn’t understand.  It is something you learn to accept…the being different.  However, it is, also, something that pushes want to be vegans right back to the other side!  I never realized I was lacking a sense of community until a friend brought it to my attention.  She used those exact words…”It’s sad.  You do not have a community.”  I didn’t understand it at the time.  I thought it over.  She was right.  Where was the vegan community?  Why was I a lone activist?  Activism, you see, is something very different to each person.  I was the lone vegan conducting acts of quiet activism by posting FB posts about animals, enlightening friends on what I “could” eat (PS:  I “can” eat anything…I just “choose” not to.), allowing chefs to create experimental dishes for me at restaurants and placing stickers on my car.  There are strong vegan communities where the activism is much louder.  I wasn’t part of that because it didn’t exist here.  I was fine with my quiet activism.  I was fine with being different.  I still am.  When I’m asked, I give my opinion.  I tell people it is my choice.  I do not force my opinions on anyone…not even my family.  I have one vegetarian child and two omnivores.  (Yes…I love them equally!)  🙂  If I had been vegan when they were born, they would definitely be vegan, however, I began my journey late in life and could only educate them on what was going on with their food, I couldn’t force them to make the switch!  I know you have questions.  Everyone does.  Why do people become vegan?  People usually become vegan for one of three reasons.  1) For the animals–an ethical vegan 2) For health 3) For the environment.  In the end, though, we usually end up becoming the trifecta and associating with all three.   What do you eat?  Well…anything you do only “veganized” as I like to call it. Where do you go out with friends?  I tell my friends to choose the restaurant and I will find something.  I know…there are strong vegan activists cringing at this statement.  I actually got yelled at by a vegan for drinking an unsweetened iced tea from a well-known cafe that serves non-vegan food.  My response to him….”Well, plain tea is vegan!”  I did know what he meant.  Some vegans will not even shop/eat/support an establishment that isn’t totally vegan.  I tend to disagree.  We need to give people the opportunity to learn about our “culture”.  How will they do that if we do not go into their restaurants/shops and “veganize” things?  The teachings about what is involved in a vegan diet and lifestyle are forms of activism that can be done politely and almost invisibly.  More questions?  Sure…go for it!  What is the difference between a vegan diet and a vegan lifestyle?  Well…good question!  🙂 A vegan diet means the person doesn’t eat any products from an animal including honey, eggs, milk, butter, meat, fish, etc.  A vegan lifestyle means we do not eat, wear or use animal products or byproducts.  No leather, suede, silk, wool, etc.  Our clothing is vegan, our beauty products are cruelty-free (check my Vegan Teacher FB page for some great ones) and our food is compassionate.

Did I need the community?  No….I didn’t…I thought.  However, somewhere along the journey I find it and realize that the community is such a wonderful thing.  It means like-minded people.  It means the ability to be you no matter where you go without question.  It means they understand.  We do need community no matter what our journeys are.  I will fill you in on how and where I found my community next time.

In the meantime…take a moment to sit quietly with yourself…see what resonates within you.  Where will your journey take you?

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The Divisions

I tend to look at my life as divided into two very distinct parts.  Ok, yes, it’s probably more complicated and more divided than that, but for the sake of veganism, mind/body/soul, the divide is clear.  My journey into the holistic world started when I was 18 with my first Philosophy class.  I had the most amazing Professor who encouraged me to take class after class until…what do you know…I had taken all of his courses and gone on to a BA in Philosophy and Cultural Studies.  I remember him speaking about Zen retreats and Buddhism.  It was all so fascinating and spiritual.  I knew it was something I wanted to try, but, as we all know, sometimes we live in a world/community not conducive to who we want to be and we end up being who we are at the moment.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with who we are at the moment, heck, it got us to who we are now, but at the moment doesn’t always mean in the moment. Living in the moment is a deeper sense of being and something that we all need to practice.  (Meditation helps greatly with this.) It took me a while to understand that I could be both spiritual and religious at the same time and that they meant different things.  The spiritual side of me now loves all things Buddha and Karma.  I have prayer flags from Tibet and crystals from around the world.  Ok, ok, so my kids call that being a hippie…I’m ok with that.  I embrace my inner hippie!  The religious side of me follows tradition and goes to Church and knows that it’s all ok.

Along with a spiritual transformation comes the realization that something else should be different.  For my entire life, I never really ate meat.  (Yes, I said it.) I looked up to a wonderful vegetarian friend and wondered what her world was like.  After some planning, I decided to become vegetarian.  I won’t lie to you.  It took me two tries.  The first time, I think I was eating like fries and oreos and got sick.  The next time, I had studied, done my HW, and made it!!!!  EXCITEMENT!  Years later I came upon a group of Vegan Activists who handed me a PETA brochure and asked me to watch the videos on the site.  Well, one video down and I was hooked!  How could anyone eat friends after learning about what goes on?  I won’t give you the gory details here, PETA has a great site for that, but know that it’s NOT good!  We do not have the right to treat any sentient being that way.  There’s so much that goes along with Veganism–compassion, activism, spirituality, environmentalism, and the ability to stand up for what you believe in and rally for some of the cutest, softest and most loving creatures on the Earth–the animals.

The division had been made….I went from the young religious omnivore to the older (Yes, the food divide happened in my thirties!  It’s never too late!) religious, spiritual. vegan activist (and lovable hippie!)!  Who would’ve thought I would find the place I belonged so late in life?  The transformation and journey had begun….  What comes next will amaze you!