What is the first thing you think of when you think of the word vegan? I think of craziness. I think of mobs of people pushing their way into health food stores yelling. I think of anger. I am vegan. But the word vegan makes me nervous.
Just like any group, there will be those that have to force their ideas on others in order to create what they feel is right, whether that be religion or lifestyle or opinion. I understand it. I just think there are better ways. Because veganism is really a peaceful, beautiful thing. My husband said that when I posted on Instagram and then on my farm facebook page the other day that we are vegan and opening a sanctuary we would lose followers. We did. The word vegan makes people nervous.
Others have changed the term to plant based diet. A benign term that means lots of delicious plants and denotes more of a health food approach then a save the cow message. I told the teller at my bank that I was plant based and she looked at me very confused. “I’m vegan,” I corrected. “Oooh,” she answered, “what do you eat?”
My friend is in the trenches. She and a group of dedicated, emotional, loving people go out to cities all over the country. They stand on street corners with masks on, wearing all black, holding televisions that display the atrocious way that animals become meat. Blood, fear, and reality fills the screen. Videos of these events show people walking briskly by. Does empathy enter any of the bystanders? I don’t know. I hope so. They go out to factory farms and create an unnerving presence. They rescued a hundred turkeys before Thanksgiving. The thing is, that when I see my friend, the violence and the plight has so greatly affected her. Her emotional wellbeing. Her eyes. I worry that it is slowly destroying her.
I have been on both sides. So, I know that anything anyone told me while I had my blinders on when I was farming would not have changed my mind. Only I can change my mind. I taught herbalism for many years and a plant based diet was a central part of my teachings because you can only heal symptoms for so long before you have to look at diet and lifestyle. I am surprised still how many of those students became vegan. At least one or two a class. Including the aforementioned friend. Friends have sanctuaries now. My writings whisper and inspire. My friends know I am vegan. I make amazing food. They make amazing food for me. No one is being forced to do anything. Most people do not want to harm animals. They can only eat meat because they can’t see the suffering, the crying, the blood. They don’t see families, they see packages. But sometimes people want to see what this is all about.
So if you want to try veganism, keep these things in mind:
1- You don’t have to tell anyone. You can just do your thing. I didn’t want to cause harm. I know there are cow parts in my tires and I still drive. I know there is no way to completely avoid it all but I can be vegan. My anxiety has notched down to near nothing. Depression is not an issue. Karmically I feel better. I love animals. Why would I want to consume them? I smell like death when I eat them. Plants create vibrancy. But I don’t have to wear a PETA shirt to the grocery store. I can inspire in my own way.
2- Don’t go out and buy new leather shoes, but the old boots you been wearing, keep wearing them. Throwing them in a landfill doesn’t bring that cow back. Be reasonable but be mindful moving forward.
3- Just peek at the labels of cleaning, beauty and bath products and make sure they are vegan and didn’t test on animals. Goodness knows, no one wants dogs and rabbits to be stabbed and tortured in the name of good eyelashes.
4- You don’t have to go no-oil, no sugar, no gluten, only whole foods vegan. The health benefits of giving up animal products is huge. Knowing that you saved one more animal. One more animal. That is enough. You can use veggie meat along with your veggies and fresh bread and glass of wine. There are no rules. The meat and cheese substitutes out there are awesome. No better time to be vegan.
5- Follow farm sanctuaries on Instagram or facebook. The animals speak for themselves. Know that you are saving hundreds of animals in your lifetime from pain and slaughter. Watch some documentaries if you don’t know what goes on. Don’t be tricked by the term “humane meat.” There is no such thing. You are also helping the environment, your health, and so much more just by one simple, light decision.
Let’s take the craziness out of veganism and replace it with compassion. I am Animal Friendly!