Kindness and compassion towards all living beings is a mark of a civilized society. Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bullfighting and rodeos are all cut from the same defective fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well ourselves.- Cesar Chavez
This week, I celebrated my 5 years as a Vegan, and that made me think of what it means to achieve 5 years without consuming or wearing animal products. I remember the date because I marked it to see how long I would be able to make it as a vegan, & so far it’s 5 years and counting. I guess it wasn’t a phase as most had predicted hehe…. You see, I used to be very flaky, I would start many things and never finish them. I would get very excited about starting a new project, and half way through it I would start wondering, “why am I doing this?” or i would feel, “this isn’t what I thought it would be.” But veganism, has been different.
When I was younger, I hated dairy and meat, but I would eat it because I didn’t like the alternative, vegetables. I would constantly & annoyingly tell my mom, “Beans, AGAIN???!!” So for years I went on consuming a diet that I thought was healthy, I was a dancer so I really “watched what I ate.”
Seven years ago, I finally had enough of red meat & dairy & stopped eating it. I felt healthier & more eNeRGetic. I even felt like an environmentalist! When people would ask me if I wanted a dish with meat I would very arrogantly say, “Oh, I don’t eat meat, just chicken.” As if chicken were some sort of vegetable. Luckily for me, five years ago I came across a book that had a very interesting title, Skinny Bitch. Amused by the title, I picked it up to give it to a family member as a “gag gift”, but they of course were very offended and refused to take it. Since I had spent the money I figured the least I could do was glance at it, and after a few lines I was hooked. These women were rude & hilarious! I kept reading. I realized half way through the book, when I got to the animal rights part, that this was a book about veganism. I finished the book that night & promised to become a vegan the next morning.
Something inside of me felt awaken, and I knew that I no longer wanted to support the torture and painful death of other beings. I wasn’t a hippie spiritual person at the time, I simply felt there was no reason why I should be selfish enough to end the life of another being for my gluttonous needs. I didn’t do it for health, I did it for life! If I couldn’t stand reading the accounts by factory workers of how they would, “take those stunners and shove it up the hog’s ass… They do it with cows too…” or of how “(they) drug cows till their bones start breaking, while they were still alive.” Want more? How about, “One time I took my knife- it’s sharp enough- and sliced off the end of a hog’s nose… The hog went crazy for a few seconds…. So I took a handful of salt brine and ground it into his nose. Now the hog really went nuts… I still had a bunch of salt… and I stuck the salt right up the hog’s ass.”… I’m sure I make my point.
I’ve been an activist my entire life. When I was 8 yrs old I organized my first walk-out after our substitute teacher wouldn’t let one of my classmates use the restroom, and after my classmate peed themselves the sub laughed and pointed. I’ve been involved with pro-peace movements, immigration rights movements, women rights movements, anti-militarization of schools movements, human rights movements in general… I believe that everyone has the right to live a life free from pain & persecution, and I believe than animals should have those same rights. I also believe in the autonomy of communities & the access to knowledge. I believe in empowering communities that have been alienated by the Los Angeles vegan movement, and informing them of where their food comes from and what is in it.
In a country like the US, and in a city like Los Angeles, there should be no excuses for supporting this abuse. In L.A., I can EASILY have access to plant-based foods where I can get all the essential amino acids, calcium, fiber, omegas, vitamins, phytonutrients, etc that I need to be healthy. Don’t believe me? Check out the research by Caldwell B. Esselstyn MD, Joel Furhman MD, T. Collin Campbell R.D. PHD, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and many more. (Here’s a link to my “Healthy Food Resources” post.)
Why consume animal products? The only reasons; either ignorance or selfishness. There is no craving strong enough that can make me forget the pain & death I would support by only having a “little bit of cheese, or a tinny piece of carne asada.” And while I strongly believe in being compassionate with ourselves and others, I personally, can’t find any logic in feeling more compassion for my “cravings”, versus the life of another being.
I once had a conversation with a friend about being able to truly live a life of peace. And I mentioned that I felt that we could never truly be at peace if we are putting pain, fear and death into our bodies. Let’s be honest, most of the meat we have consumed or are consuming isn’t treated with respect, the animal doesn’t get to run around freely and enjoy a life of bliss. It isn’t honored, as our ancestors once did, before and after it’s killed. We never see it as a being. It is only a steak or a burger, not a COW that has been raped many times, given birth and then cried out for it’s stolen calf only to then end up on a kill floor and endure more hours of torture and pain…. We only see wings or drumsticks, not a chicken that has spent its entire life unable to spread its wings or it’s legs.These are beings with the ability to feel love, fear, happiness…. They are self-aware, they are sentient beings. How can we ever evolve spiritually if we support such horrific things?
If we all had more “cruelty free diets” we may be happier less aggressive people, or so Dr. Will Tuttle argues in the World Peace Diet, and I have to agree. After I went vegan, I saw the world & myself differently. I truly grew to respect life, and honor life, beginning with my own. Veganism has taught me to be compassionate with myself, it has brought great peace & much happiness to my life, I think more clearly, I have more eNeRGY, I’m healthier and in better shape than I was during my dancing days in high school & college.
Although, I know that the change I can create is limited, and at times that can be very frustrating and heartbreaking, I remind myself that, “My veganism isn’t out of hate, it’s out of love…”
I know most of you reading this will not become vegans, but I hope that you consider it and at least try. What’s the worst that can happen? You get healthier, lose weight & save a few lives?
Becoming insensitive to the pain we cause daily to defenseless animals, we also become insensitive to the beauty & luminosity of the creation that we oppress & from which we disconnect at every meal.- Will Tuttle
-Peace & NRGY
Like what I’ve shared? Buy me a cup of tea, a wheatgrass shot, a cup of atole, Veggie Juice or Dessert!YUM!